Husker Fans Still Waiting for Pelini to Get Them to “Next Level”
When Tom Osborne canned Bill Callahan after the 2007 season and hired Bo Pelini, Husker fans were ecstatic. This was the coach that was going to get the Big Red back to the top. Or so they thought. Six years later, Nebraska has improved from the disaster that was the Bill Callaha era. But the Huskers have only been good under Pelini. Good isn’t good enough for Nebraska fans. Good isn’t the standard set by Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne, and to some extent Frank Solich. At Nebraska, you either win big or go home.
The problem is it’s not as easy to win big at a place like Lincoln, Nebraska as it was 15-20 years ago. However, Pelini can’t afford many more seasons of “good”. He needs a couple of BCS bowl seasons, if not a national title. Otherwise, he will have completely lost the fans. The honeymoon at Nebraska is over for Pelini. Now it’s time to get the program to the next level. Unfortunately, we aren’t so sure 2013 will be the year.
The Husker Offense
T-Magic Key to Big Red’s Success
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past two seasons, you know all about Taylor Martinez (or, as he’s commonly referred to, “T-Magic”) and his ups and downs as Nebraska’s starting quarterback. As a freshman, Martinez’ strength was as a runner. His arm strength still remains a question mark but his passing significantly improved in 2012.
Nebraska is going to have to find a replacement for the durable Rex Burkhead at running back. Burkhead was a workhorse the past few seasons in Lincoln. It won’t be easy to replace him. Ameer Abdullah will take over full-time at RB. He’s a big play waiting to happen every time the ball is in his hands. But he’s a smaller back so durability could be a concern. Martinez has a pair of capable receivers to throw to – Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner. Bell led the team in receptions (50) and yards (863). He had 8 touchdown receptions to go along with those impressive numbers. All-conference is something fans should expect from him in 2013.
The Husker Defense
Front-7 is a Concern, Back-4 is Not
One thing is certain – Nebraska must find a legitimate pass rushing threat. As of right now, they don’t have a proven pass rusher. Jason Ankrah is the team’s returning sack leader…with 2. Obviously, that isn’t going to cut it if the Black Shirt label will be put on this defense. The strength of this Husker defense is athleticism. But that’s not going to be good enough to contend in the Big-10 unless their offense can put up some insane numbers. Maybe they can…
The starting cornerbacks are a strength. Ciante Evans and Andrew Green can play, no doubt about it. But they’re going to need some help from the defensive line to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Huskers run defense might be a weakness as well. There are unproven commodities at linebacker. If Trevor Roach doesn’t step up and make plays like he’s capable teams will be able to run at will against this seemingly soft defense.
A Final Word on the 2013 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska is likely going to have to win games with their offense. Defensively, there are too many question marks. If they’re unable to find a fierce pass rusher, the offense might have to score 35 on some days. The good news for Husker fans is they’re capable of doing that. Taylor Martinez makes big plays and so does Ameer Abdullah. They play 4 home games out-of-conference, with the toughest test coming against UCLA. Ohio State and Wisconsin are off the schedule, so there’s no reason to expect anything less than 8 wins again for the Big Red. But will they be able to win enough to keep Bo Pelini off the hot seat? We shall see…