Unlike the Nebraska defense that we previewed yesterday, the Nebraska offense is loaded with star power. Returning seven starters from an offense that ranked just 66th in total offense in 2011, the Cornhuskers look to make a huge jump into the top 25 this year. The running game ranked 15th nationally in 2011, averaged over 217 yards per game. Passing, however, was a major issue. Ranking just 104th(23 spots worse than UCLA), Nebraska will need to improve dramatically in order to have a more balanced, more consistent offense.
Led by Junior Quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Huskers offense is expected to be dynamic in 2012. With a revamped throwing motion, fans expect a major breakout year passing the ball. On the ground, Martinez is electric. Comparisons to Denard Robinson have been common in Big 10 circles. Martinez is a Southern California native, who attended powerhouse Corona Centennial. In High School, he was under-recruited on both the national and local level. He recently stated that he was waiting for a UCLA offer and wanted to be a Bruin. The offer never came and Nebraska snatched him up, and now in his 3rd year, he is out to prove that he is not only one of the best QB’s in the Big 10, but in the country. After an offseason to focus on overhauling his throwing motion, Martinez showed off last week against Southern Mississippi. In the Huskers big win, Martinez threw for 354 yards and tossed a career best 5 TD’s.
Martinez isn’t alone on offense, though. Senior Running Back Rex Burkhead is considered by most to be the best player on the Nebraska offense. Complementing the Martinez flash, Burkhead is the workhorse. Last week, Burkhead injured his knee, however, and is questionable for the game against the Bruins in just two days. If he cannot play, Nebraska will rely on its quality depth at Running Back and Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green will get a chance to pound the rock.
The Receivers and Tight-ends are also a talented group. Sophomore Kenny Bell is expected to make a big jump in production from year 1 to year 2. Receiver Quincy Enunwa and Tight-Ends Ben Cotton and Kyle Reed are also productive. Martinez does not have a go-to receiver just yet, but look for any of the aforementioned guys to step up and claim a spot on the All Big 10 team.
Nebraska’s offensive line returns just two starters, led by Right Guard Junior Long. This doesn’t seem to be an issue though, as Nebraska coaches are very confident in the newcomers filling in at Center and both tackle positions.
Although the numbers were middle of the pack last year, one cannot underestimate the talent of the Nebraska offense. With an expected improvement from Martinez in the passing game, the offense will make a big jump in 2012.