Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Offense Poised to Exploit Penn State Nittany Lions’ Defense
The Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ offense may not look similar to the offense that the coaches had expected to field at the beginning of the season. In fact they look very different at nearly every position. If the Huskers’ offense has proven one thing this season it is that their resilience is resounding. This team has bounced back from every injury and setback they have been faced with and responded in more ways than one may have previously imagined conceivable.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have only one offensive lineman still in place at his starting position at the beginning this season in senior center Cole Pensick. And Pensick has even relinquished his job snapping the ball to his backup Mark Pelini at times so that he could fill in as a guard. C.J. Zimmer is still taking snaps as the Huskers’ starting fullback, and Junior I back Ameer Abdullah has remained uninjured this season. Outside of Abdullah at I-back the Huskers have seen devastating injuries at their key skill positions this season.
All three of the wide receivers have been injured this season. Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa will be active this weekend, but the extremely athletic Jamal Turner will once again be out of the lineup for the Huskers. What does this mean for the Husker offense? Outside of the obvious there are other glaring challenges presented to the team. For example young undeveloped players are being forced into action when they are not ready. If young receivers are not capable of performing it means that backups are being bombarded with the task of playing all three receiving positions in a game — a task that can become very challenging in the heat of battle. Luckily for the Huskers their tight end senior Jake Long is back in action and should help take the burden off of the replacement receivers.
The highly discussed alteration to the Huskers’ depth chart is the fact that for the first time in three years Taylor Martinez is not the starting quarterback. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong is now the quarterback, and fortunately for Husker fans the staff and the team are behind Armstrong 100 percent. The Huskers can use Armstrong to exploit the Penn State defense in the running game and the passing game. How can Armstrong possibly be an improvement on Martinez? Athletically he is not superior at this point in his career. Looking back at old game film of Martinez it will be nearly impossible to replace his pure speed. What Armstrong can do is play within himself. Martinez has spent the last two years polishing his passing game. His efforts should be commended, but they could almost be considered a detriment to the team. In an attempt to become a pure passer, Martinez has strayed from his natural god given talent of running the ball. Armstrong does not seem to have the same type of self-serving personality that would drive him to put the good of himself or his own career over the good of the team.
The Huskers can exploit the Penn State defense the same way they were able to find success against the best defense in college football, Michigan State Spartans, last week: Run the ball. Ameer Abdullah is arguably one of the best backs in all of college football, and now that the Spartans are behind the Huskers Armstrong should be able to find his yards in the rushing game as well.