One big reason Nebraska has been so good this year has been the play of special teams. Early on in this season, Nebraska was getting great returns from Ameer Abdullah and Tim Marlowe in the return game. Nebraska was able to do so well on offense for a few reasons because of this.
First off, the offense was able to put lots of pressure on the defense to get a stop, especially after having such great field position to start with. Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, and company used a combination of quick strikes and methodical drives to wear down defenses and score points.
Secondly, the return game itself put big pressure on the opposing special teams. At any given time Abdullah, Bell, or Marlowe could take one back to the house. The crowd was on edge every time they touched the ball.
However, Nebraska has been struggling recently in the return game. This is party due to the fact that the returners are trying too hard to get the big return. Instead of the game slowing down and seeing the holes, these guys are going at an extremely fast pace and missing the openings. As great as it has been this year, it can also be a curse.
Nebraska’s kick off coverage has been excellent this season. Earlier this year they were allowing teams to get some returns. Now Eric Martin and company have been shutting down opposing teams returns. The goal for this unit is the 22 yard line, which is a very realistic and achievable goal.
The punting unit has also been very well. Maher has been bombing punts, and coverage down field has been superb. Guys are hustling to opponents goal lines’ and downing the ball before it goes for a touch back.
John Papuchis has done an excellent job for the Huskers this season, and he should be rewarded for his work.