Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:58 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Nebraska.
Spring Practice Starts: Sunday, March 4
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Returning Starters: Seven on offense, seven on defense, both specialists.
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Finding replacements on defense. The Cornhuskers may have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also four pretty big departures that need to be replaced. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Jared Crick are all gone. That's one key player on each level of the defense and none will be easy to replace. Though having Cameron Meredith on the defensive line will make the loss of Crick easier to absorb. That being said, Dennard and David were two of the best defenders in the Big Ten last season. It's not easy to just plug in new playmakers of that caliber, and as if the job wasn't hard enough, Nebraska will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season. John Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator after Carl Pelini left to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.
2. Rediscovering the T-Magic. Taylor Martinez's first two seasons as Nebraska's quarterback have been a bit of a roller coaster. He was able to stay healthy last year, but he also completed only 56% of his passes, which was actually lower than the 59% he completed as a freshman. Martinez's yards per attempt went down over a full yard as well. Some of this was likely due to it being Martinez's first year in Tim Beck's system, and Nebraska is hoping Martinez will improve in his second season under Beck. In fact, if Nebraska wants to make a serious run at a Big Ten championship in 2011, they'll need him to. So it's important for Martinez to have a strong spring and make sure that the Cornhuskers head into the summer with a clear cut leader at the quarterback position.
3. Giving Burkhead a breather. Rex Burkhead had a great season for Nebraska in 2011, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to making the All-Conference team. While there's no reason to believe Burkhead won't have another solid season in 2012, Nebraska would be better served to find a bit more depth at running back to keep Burkhead fresh. In Nebraska's first 8 games, Burkhead averaged 110.25 yards per game, but that number dropped to 95 yards per game over Nebraska's final five contests. The Huskers went 2-3 in those games. So if backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can show that they're capable of taking some carries this spring, it could go a long way in the fall.
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Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:23 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
NEBRASKA WON. Nebraska halfback Rex Burkhead and the rest of the Husker offense ran wild against a porous Wyoming D, and Big Red came away with a relatively stress-free 38-14 win in Laramie.
WHY NEBRASKA WON: There's no question that Nebraska is far and away more talented than Wyoming, and that was made evident early and often in this game. Wyoming's true freshman QB Brett Smith will probably be a productive player down the road, but his inexperience showed in this contest as Wyoming was forced to punt on its first five possessions. Considering Nebraska was missing All-American DT Jared Crick to injury, the effort and production were commendable up front for the Husker defense. Meanwhile, on offense, Nebraska rushed for 333 yards and four of its five touchdowns on 49 carries.
WHEN NEBRASKA WON: Midway through the third quarter with Nebraska up 24-7 when Ameer Abdullah fumbled on a 3rd down reception near midfield. Wyoming took advantage and drove into Nebraska's red zone, but a 32-yard field goal that could have made it a 2-possession game was missed, and Nebraska uncorked an 80-yard touchdown drive in response. 31-7, ballgame.
WHAT NEBRASKA WON: The message to the rest of the Big Ten is clear: Nebraska's here to rush the ball with authority, and the Huskers did exactly that on Saturday with 6.8 yards per carry and a 7-13 3rd down conversion rate. And yet, this was still a 14-7 game at halftime, making Nebraska 4-for-4 on slow starts this year. That's concerning as the team heads into Big Ten play against competition that isn't going to allow the Huskers to get away with taking a couple quarters off very often.
WHAT WYOMING LOST: Thinking about playing a heavy favorite in terms of "losing" things is a little counterintuitive, as really, Wyoming had nothing to lose except for health. Being that the Cowboys stayed pretty much injury-free on Saturday, this is a rather productive loss to take. Wyoming players shouldn't be happy or anything, but this isn't going to wreck the Cowboys' season by any stretch. They hosted a big-time program and gave it 60 minutes of solid effort. Not bad.
THAT WAS CRAZY: In the fourth quarter, on a 3rd and 6 at Nebraska's 10-yard line, Brett Smith threw a fade route to wideout Josh Doctson, who stretched to make the catch on the sideline in the end zone. The play was ruled incomplete, and the call stood on the field.