Most universities would be happy with a 10-4 overall record for the season and just 1 loss in the conference, but the Nebraska defense couldn’t stop a high school team in their last two games and were sorely dissapointing to against the college football odds for their backers.
Nebraska lost in the Big-Ten Championship Game to a Wisconsin team that had 5 losses at the time to a tune of 70-35 and the Huskers attempted to redeem themselves in the Capital One Bowl against a very good Georgia Bulldogs team and were defeated 45-31. The defense simply couldn’t stop the run.
Can They Recover?
With a decimated defensive front, the Huskers have just two part time starters returning in Jason Ankrah (DE) and Thad Randle (DT). The Huskers will continue to have difficulties in stopping the run, but on the positive side, they retain the number 1 pass defense in the nation.
With the return of cornerbacks, Ciante Evans, Andrew Green, and Josh Mitchell, this is veteran crew that will give opposing quarterbacks and receivers fits when attempting to throw against the Nebraska secondary.
We could see some more high scoring games and senior quarterback Taylor Martinez will be increasingly looking to air it out a bit more as he’s gradually integrated the passing game throughout his college career.
I don’t think that Taylor Martinez will ever be your prototypical passer, but through his college career, he’s converted himself from a predominantly running oriented quarterback to a passer that can mix it up. Martinez still managed to rush the ball for over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, but he had some success throwing the ball with 2871 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Rex Burkhead is gone and look for receivers Kenny Bell (863 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Quincy Enunwa to have a major increase in production.
Nebraska won’t leave the running game when they have a 1000 yard rusher in Martinez and Ameer Abdullah eating up yards on the ground. Without Rex Burkhead, Abdullah is primed to have a huge season. Last year, he ran for 1137 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Abdullah really tailed off during the last few games and the Huskers can’t afford to have that happen as he’ll be the primary back.
A Recruiting Disaster
You expect teams like Alabama and Ohio State to get the pick of the litter with their recent history and a chance to win a championship, but Nebraska, who is one of the winningest programs ever, doesn’t seem to be the place that most high school stars want to play.
Out of the ESPN’s top 300 recruits, Nebraska managed to pick up just 2 recruits along with junior college standout, defensive end, Randy Gregory. Gregory is the top junior college recruit at his position and Nebraska has addressed their number one need. At 6 foot 5, 235, this is a long weiry player that will need to add some mass to play in the Big-10, but nonetheless, this is an intelligent pick with a high upside.
Ranked 248th in the nation out of high school, quarterback Jimmy Stanton is another Nebraska-like choice that can run and throw the football with significant size. He can learn a lot from Taylor Martinez. Overall, this isn’t a complete failure. Nebraska filled in a few holes and this is still one of the better teams in the country in the upcoming season. They should disappoint too badly when chosen as their backers College Football Picks.
An Easy Schedule
I must say, after looking at Nebraska’s schedule, they can be a lot better than expected. This schedule is flat-out weak with their key games being at Michigan, Michigan State at home, and at Penn State.
The Huskers will still need to find a way to stop the run, but their schedule is mighty weak. This can be a 2 to 3 loss team or even better if the passing game shows the improvement that’s expected.
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