Monday, July 29, 2013

Nebraska Cornhusker 2013 Football preview.

Offense: It’s great that Taylor Martinez has no loss of confidence but let’s put the delusions of grandeur to bed here and now. Nebraska’s offense will baring injuries be really good and could be great. It will not however be the best in school history. They will not score 53 points a game like the 95 Huskers nor 52 points a game like the 83 Huskers however 40 points a game is not out of the question.
Nebraska is set at everywhere on offense but tight end. Taylor Martinez already owns much of the record book. If he stays healthy you may as well rename the record book The Taylor Martinez memorial playbook. Running back still looks strong but not as strong as it did before Braylon Heard’s transfer to Kentucky. Amir Abdullah ran  for over a 1000 yards last year and is set for another big year. Ball security appears to be his only weakness. Imani  Cross was the short yardage back last season. He lost 15 pounds to try and add some speed. 2 Highly touted Freshman provide back up. Nebraska doesn’t use Fullbacks to run much anymore but they do still use the to block and receive the ball. CJ Zimmer and Andy janovich are both solid there. Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Quincy Enunwa, Taariq Allen simply put  make this is the best wide receiving crew in Nebraska history. There are also some youngsters like Jordan Westerkamp  that the coaches are excited about. Tight End is the only question mark on the offensive side Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed are gone. Only Jake Long has any game experience. Long  is a great blocker but hasn’t caught many passes.  This is expected to be the best offensive line of The Bo Pelini era. The line 4 starters from a line that was good but inconsistent last season.

Defense: Can we talk  about offense some  more? First the good news. Nebraska  had a very good secondary  last season for the most part and it returns 3 starters and 4th man who played enough to be a  starter. This is the strength of the defense which would be great if Nebraska were back in the Big 12 and not in the Big 10. The Front 7 is Oscar The Grouch Green. Since Nebraska’s front 7 struggled so much last year that could in time  be a good thing but there will be growing pains. Only Jason Ankrah has any starting experience on the defensive line. Thad Randle also has playing some experience but that is  it. The coached believe what this group doesn’t have in experience it makes up for in talent. The Linebacking group is greener if that is possible. Atheism in the front 7 has been a huge problem for Nebraska sans Lavonte David for the last 2 years. That appears to be somewhat rectified. Still it’s hard to think  of a front 7 less experienced than this one other than maybe 2007. Do I have to remind you how that season turned out?

Special Teams:  Great Kicking is almost getting to be a Nebraska  trademark. At Field Goal kicker since 1995 Nebraska has had Kris Brown, Josh  Brown who both had long successful NFL careers. David Dykes and Jordon Congdan were both sold. Alex Henery was the greatest College Kicker I  have ever seen and Brett Maher followed him with great success. Now the job falls to Maurio Baundi. If the Spring game is any indication he’ll be fine. He made one kick from  50yards and barely missed from 58. If Anything Nebraska’s punting game has been stronger longer than it’s field goal kicking game has. Going back to the late 80’s  Nebraska had a string  of great punters. This year the job will fall to Freshman Sam Foltz who is also a back up receiver so maybe you can expect some fake punts this year. When Nebraska catches the ball on Punt and Kick returns they have been solid returning kicks. The problem is catching the ball. Amir Abdullah, Kenny Bell, and  Jamal Turner were all tried a year ago and all struggled to a field a kick. Eventually Nebraska put Rex Burkhead back to catch punts sacrificing  a return for  just catching the ball. Rex now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. It got to be such a problem last season that when  kicks were successfully fielded the fans  cheered. Obviously this needs to be fixed.

The Schedule. It’s hard to find a major college football team with one much more friendly.  Thanks to buying  off Southern  Miss’ ex coach the first 5 games are at home and only UCLA  would seem to be a threat. Here Nebraska get’s a break by the TV gods putting the game at 11. There is no Ohio State or Wisconsin. Home games against Northwestern and Michigan State will be anything but easy and road trips to Michigan and Penn State will be a chore. Still If Nebraska stays healthy on offense and plays at least average defense it’s hard not to find 10 wins here.

Finally: If they stay healthy Nebraska  will average at least 38 points a  game on  offense and with  their schedule that should guarantee another 10 win season  whether or not Nebraska takes the next step up off the 10-4 merry go round will be up to a very green defense. A good goal for this defense would be to average holding their foes to 21 points a game  or less. 99.9% of the teams in College Football are going to lose a game from  time to time and this team almost certainly will as well. Another sign of progress will be what will the loses be like?  Too often the last two years by halftime I was smoking a cigar and looking and reading a Modesty Blaise comic strip while keeping only a half eye on the massacre on the screen. Those days have to stop. Ohio State is the class of the Big 10 but the legends race appears to be a 3 horse photo finish between Nebraska, Michigan and Northwestern with Michigan State behind by just a nose. If there was any reason to believe Nebraska’s defense is going to be much improved despite their inexperience there then  I’d say this could be a very special season. But I haven’t seen it yet. The Spring game didn’t which isn’t a great way to judge such things anyway didn’t ease any fears. Nebraska will be good again. There will be many great memories this year again. There will be 10 wins again. Whether or not there will be 3 or 4 loses will depend on whether or not Nebraska wins the Legends…again.

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