By CJ Harvey @Cj_Harvey 7
It isn’t everyday you get to have a quarterback who could play running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, and take back both punts and kicks, at the helm of your offense. Luckily, for Nebraska the Huskers have just that in their super star quarterback, Taylor Martinez. This talented, Heisman candidate made himself a household name after a sizzling 2012 campaign. Husker fans watched Martinez throw for 2871 yard, while adding another 1019 yards on the ground, but every Superman has his Kryptonite. When it came down to it Martinez could not win games by himself, which is the fault of a few blowout losses. Recently, a Nebraska booster pointed the same fact out, and of course the head coach Bo Pelini was blame. Pelini has averaged 9.8 wins as a head coach, but has not been able to get over the hump and make a BCS Bowl game. Pelini has been to 3 conference championship games, and come up short in every game, the latest included a 39 point blowout against Wisconsin. Most would agree that a coach averaging just under 10 wins a season wouldn’t be on the hot seat, but Nebraska is not just any team. Pelini is one more blowout loss away from losing his job. We all know the defense last year was atrocious, and this year’s starting eleven will not be much better. It is up to Martinez and Nebraska’s all-star offense to keep Pelini in Lincoln. These are the guys who are going to keep the head coach kicking around on the sidelines for at least a few more years.
Every year the Biletnikof Award is handed down to the best wide receiver in the country. Nobody would be shocked to see Marquise Lee and Sammy Watkins in the running for this prestigious award, but 2012 All-Big Ten Conference First Team (named by ESPN and CBS Sports) receiver, and Nebraska star, Kenny Bell is about to become a star. Bell has made all the catches you need a big time receiver to make. Big, strong, and deceptively quick, Bell has the potential to become an All-American, and a Biletnikof nominee. By the end of the season Bell should rack up close to 1,200 receiving yards, and a projected first round NFL pick. Bell, like always, will have a major effect on the season, and is Martinez’s go to guy in the red zone. Pelini couldn’t be more excited to have him for another year because this wideout is going to score a couple big touchdowns.
When you think of big time, college running backs guys like T.J. Yeldon, Ka’Deem Carey, and Todd Gurley come to mind, but Ameer Abdullah might be the most under appreciated, overlooked, running back in the country. Racking up a total of 1137 yards last season, while splitting time with Rex Burkhead for the beginning of the year, Abdullah is ready to explode on the conference. He is the unquestioned starter, with tons of up side, and he fits in the Spread Option perfectly. It is a running backs dream to have a quarterback who can make the correct reads of when to hand the ball off. Look for Abdullah to rush for 1,500 yards with 10 touchdowns, barring injury of course. When a coach is on the hot seat a good running back is key. Look for Abdullah to get a ton of carries this season, because Pelini needs another player out of the backfield for opposing defenses to worry about; not just Martinez.
The story of every season is not how well the stars played, but who stepped up and became another star. This Nebraska team is full of hidden talent that is about to be unveiled to the college football world. A few other kids have already made waves including the veteran Quincy Enunwa who separated himself as a good “2 receiver” on the team last summer. Enunwa is not as explosive as some of other talent, but a good option to have around. Jamal Turner is about to explode on opposing teams this season. He has great speed, good hands, and is a great kick returner. Turner will be an All-Conference player this season. Jake Long is not known outside of Husker Nation, but the 6’4 tight end does anything and everything you ask of him. He is a great option in the red zone, but above all he can block as well as an offensive lineman. Martinez always knows which side he is blocking on, and generally hits the outside because of Long. Finally, Terrell Newby might be the next Tavon Austin, of West Virginia, or Dri Archer, of Kent State, because this kid is something special. Newby came into camp as another running back in Nebraska’s camp, and has quickly proven his ability to catch the ball. Pelini has said they plan to use him in the slot and some on kick returns. If you get a chance go watch his highlights on YouTube go do it. This speedy, strong, and elusive back has a ton of upside, and if trained correctly could become Nebraska’s next big star. Newby should score a couple of touchdowns and rack up close to 300 rushing and 400 receiving yards by the end of the year. Pelini will be praying that this flower blossoms into his next big contract.
This my projected line up for Nebraska’s offense in 2013:
Quarterback: Taylor Martinez
I-Back: Ameer Abdullah
Receiver 1: Kenny Bell
Receiver 2: Quincy Enunwa
Receiver 3: Jamal Turner
Tight End: Jake Long
Left Tackle: Brent Qvale
Left Guard: Jake Cotton
Center: Cole Pensick
Right Guard: Spencer Long
Right Tackle: Jeremiah Shirles
After this season Pelini should still have his job, and possibly a birth in the Rose Bowl, but that will be determined by how many stops the defense can get, which might not be very many. Check back for my “Nebraska Football Season Preview” for more insight into how the Husker’s can finish this upcoming season.