The 2013 version of the Nebraska Cornhuskers was predicted to be high-flying and often scoring. The Huskers were expected to have one of college football’s most seasoned quarterbacks returning in Taylor Martinez who was undeniably able to carve up defenses with his feet. Martinez has what football greats refer to as flat out straight line speed. Martinez had also improved as a passer over his career but a level of inconsistency from the quarterback was to be expected. The Husker coaching staff was prepared to offset this downfall with what arguably was one of their best receiving corps of all time and most likely the best receiving corps in all of the Big Ten. Martinez would have Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell to choose from when he did drop back to pass the ball. He would also have an offensive line that featured preseason All-American Spencer Long. All of the above suffered injuries throughout the course of the 2013 football season. The only feature of the Husker offense that was expected to be consistent who finished the football season was Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah will undoubtedly be called on for his consistency next season. Let’s all hope that he doesn’t suffer an injury similar to the aforementioned players.
Abdullah will be needed for consistency in 2014, and hopefully his leadership will rub off on some teammates as there are other areas the Husker offense must become more consistent in and improve upon if they intend on competing for a chance to play for the Big Ten championship.
One area the Huskers must improve on is turnovers. If the players at Nebraska, both offensive and returners on special teams, cannot hold on to the football there will not be a Big Ten championship in the future and head coach Bo Pelini will perpetually be placed on the hot seat. Turnovers have killed the Huskers in recent history and they are not even running the option game with the frequency that they used to. The Huskers must place importance on taking care of the ball this offseason. A fumble or interception not only gives the opposition possession of the football and an opportunity to score, but it also often changes the game from a field position standpoint as well as momentum. The Huskers should have the goal of obtaining more takeaways than they commit turnovers in 2014.
The Huskers must also improve upon their performance on third-downs. The defense started off the season doing well shutting down their opposition on third-downs and forcing them off the field. But the offense,on the other hand, struggled to convert on their opportunity to convert a first-down throughout the 2013 football season.
The most effective way to improve the third-down woes for the Huskers is to become a more consistent offense both from a player standpoint when it comes to performance and execution of the play and from a coaching standpoint in regards to play-calling. The Huskers’ coaching staff needs to bear some of the burden for their inconsistency on third downs, but the play-calling leading up to third-down, good or bad, is what puts the team in a situation to succeed or fail. The Huskers had one of the top running backs in 2013, and fortunately they will have him returning in 2014. Whenever in doubt from a play-calling standpoint the Huskers should put the ball in the hands of Ameer Abdullah.