The Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ three-pronged running attack has become a two-man show and the two men that comprise the running attack, quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Ameer Abdullah, should be just fine with that.
For the majority of the 2012 season, Martinez and Abdullah were the Cornhuskers’ running attack thanks to an injury to Rex Burkhead. Now Burkhead is gone and it will only be Martinez and Abdullah running the ball for the Cornhuskers. Both men seemed to excel when Burkhead was out, but he was a critical component of the running attack last season and during his time on the team.
This is part of why Abdullah is going to have pressure on his shoulders to succeed in 2013: he is now the critical component of the Cornhuskers’ running attack. Martinez will still be running the ball, but as the quarterback, he will have his own pressure to succeed throwing the ball along with running it.
It’s unlikely that the Cornhuskers will have another running back on the field that will have the instant success to necessitate him getting even close to the amount of touches that Abdullah and Martinez will get. Martinez was getting more and more carries in each game after Burkhead went out and after he came back while Abdullah was all but made the number one running back on the team during the same time. It’s highly doubtful that anything other than an injury to one of them is going to change any of that.
Probably the biggest reason that Abdullah will have more pressure on him is that he will be needed more this coming season than at any point in his collegiate career. His two years in the Cornhuskers’ backfield have been the growing years for him. He has made the transition from high school football to college football and he has shown that he has the skills to make an impact when he is needed to. Now it’s all a matter of if he can make that major impact without another man in the backfield at his level.
The Cornhuskers have plenty of problems on the defensive side of the ball, but offense has not been nearly as stress-inducing to the Cornhuskers’ coaching staff and fans. Part of the reason for this, especially last year, was the play of Abdullah. This season will be the big test and the big opportunity for him to not only make his mark in college football, but help the Cornhuskers toward their first conference title since 1999.