Will Nebraska Cornhuskers Continue Special Teams Success?
The Nebraska Cornhuskers had one of the best special team units in the country last fall after many were wondering how the team would do after the departure of the best kicker in college football history, Alex Henery. Those fears were alleviated early and often when Brett Maher took over the job and had a fantastic season. Ameer Abdullah showed his stuff in a game versus Fresno State when he took one back to the house.
As 2012 rolls around, the Cornhuskers are looking to improve on their performance from last season.
Brett Maher had a fantastic season last year, hitting 19 of his 23 field goal attempts (though it was really 20). He hit 3 of 6 from fifty yards or over, with his longest being 51. He was perfect from inside of 50 until the last game of the season versus South Carolina where he missed a 35 yard attempt. Maher also only missed one extra point attempt, again versus the Gamecocks, when it was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Maher was also a great punter for the Cornhuskers. He booted 59 punts for a 44.5 yard average, which also included a career best 69 yard bomb.
Ameer Abdullah was also one of the best at his special teams job last season, becoming one of the best kick returners. He returned 26 kicks for a 29.3 yard average, which was one of the top numbers in the country.
As the 2012 season is just mere weeks away, what can be expected for the Cornhuskers?
Well, there is not a whole lot that could be changed. I expect Maher to continue right where he left off last season, but hopefully with a few less attempts on field goals and a few more PATs.
Abdullah, on the other hand, should have a much better season this last year. It was not hard to spot when Abdullah was pressing at times. As any freshmen wants to, he tried too hard to make something out of nothing, but wound up in a worse position than where he started.
This season, expect both Kenny Bell and Abdullah back returning kick-offs. On punt returns last season, Abdullah struggled with taking his eye off ball, which resulted in more than his fair share of fumbles or missed opportunities. Abdullah has worked hard this off-season to shore up his missed opportunities, and has said that nerves got to him at times.
If Abdullah was dangerous last season playing nervous, how much better will he be this year when he is prepared?