Nebraska’s offense was good last season and it should be even better in 2013.
Sure, the Cornhuskers lose running back Rex Burkhead, but they’ll return nearly every other vital skill position player.
None of those returnees is more vital than quarterback Taylor Martinez, who figures to be one of the best signal callers in all of college football.
Since Martinez took his passing skills to another level last summer, he figures to be as good a dual-threat player at his position as there is.
If Martinez has the kind of senior season he had as a junior, Nebraska could run the table.
All Martinez did in 2012 was lead the Big Ten in total offense, averaging just shy of 278 yards per game. He was the Huskers’ second-leading rusher, finishing with 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns. And he completed 62 percent of his passes for better than 2,800 yards with 23 TDs and 12 picks.
Martinez will have plenty of weapons to use in the passing game, too.
His top three receivers return, including the dangerous Kenny Bell. He was Nebraska’s big-play man, averaging 17.3 yards per catch and hauled in eight TD receptions.
The biggest void Coach Bo Pelini will have to fill as far as offensive skill players go is tight end Kyler Reed (24 catches for 357 yards and two TDs).
Even without Reed, Martinez and his receiving corps are bound to give defensive coordinators headaches and so, too, is running back Ameer Abdullah. All he did as a sophomore was lead Nebraska in rushing, gaining 1,137 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, with eight TDs.
Paving the way for Abdullah will be a veteran offensive line that might be second to none in the Big Ten when you consider both tackles and second-team All-American guard Spencer Long return.
And for those of you that say Abdullah and Co. will miss Burkhead more than they think, remember Nebraska got used to life without him last fall as the bulldozing back dealt with a knee injury which made him less than 100 percent for a good part of the year. With that said, it won’t be easy to replace his leadership and passion for the game.
Could a Burkhead-less Nebraska offense be even better in 2013? You bet. Boy is that ever a mouthful when you consider this is a team that scored with regularity last fall (34.8 points per outing) and paced the Big Ten in total offense amassing 460.8 yards per game.
With just about every imaginable key piece back for Pelini’s offensive bunch, you can count on Nebraska being an absolute juggernaut on that side of the ball and you know what that means … a lot of wins in Lincoln.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.