Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Bo Pelini's squad racked up 10 wins, but the only thing
most Cornhusker fans will remember from 2012 is how the season came to a
Nebraska carried a six-game winning streak into the Big Ten Championship
against Wisconsin, a team the Huskers had already beaten earlier in the
season. However, the rematch was about as lopsided as title games get, as the
Badgers muscled their way to a 70-31 victory for the right to play in the Rose
It was a sobering conclusion to the first-ever Big Ten title game appearance
for the Cornhuskers, who had won two straight division titles in the Big 12
before switching conferences in 2011. Still, their 10-win season was good
enough to earn a trip to the Capital One Bowl to face Georgia on New Year's
Day, although the fifth-ranked Bulldogs claimed a 45-31 victory in that
contest to send Nebraska home with back-to-back losses.
OFFENSE: Nebraska has a four-year starter at quarterback in Taylor Martinez,
along with some dynamic weapons around him. Martinez made a mechanical
adjustment to his throwing motion last year, and that adjustment paid
dividends to the tune of a league-best 141.6 efficiency rating to go along
with 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
According to head coach Bo Pelini, the best is yet to come.
"There's still a lot of room for improvement there," Pelini said at Big Ten
Media Day. "He's not even close to what his potential is. And I look forward
to what he's going to bring to the table this year."
Nebraska returns its top two wideouts in Kenny Bell (50 receptions, 863 yards,
8 TDs) and Quincy Enunwa (42 rec, 470 yds, TD). The head coach also talked up
his offensive line, which will once again pave the way for I-back Ameer
Abdullah (1,137 yards, 5.0 ypc).
"I think we have the opportunity to have probably the best offensive line on
paper, potentially, that we've had since I've been here," he said. "Not only
the starters but some of the backups and the depth that we have really across
DEFENSE: Nebraska was strong defensively throughout much of the season,
although the team gave up a staggering average of 53.5 points in its four
losses. Now, the Cornhuskers must replace eight of their top 10 tacklers from
that unit, but Pelini is confident the unit can correct the mistakes that led
to some of last year's scoring barrages.
"It's nothing magical. It's about getting better. It's about tackling better,
executing better," Pelini said. "It's not a scheme thing. At the end of the
day you have to execute.
"We've studied it. We've addressed it. Going to continue to work and we need
to be better, more consistent than we were last year."
Consistency will be a challenge with such an inexperienced front-seven. Gone
are top pass rusher Eric Martin (16.5 TFL) and top cover guy Daimion Stafford
(4 INT). In their place step defensive end Jason Ankrah (nine starts) and
defensive back Ciante Evans (12 starts).
SPECIAL TEAMS: Nebraska must overhaul its special teams with the loss of
kicker/punter Brett Maher. Junior Mauro Bondi will get first crack at both
jobs, while some combination of Bell, Abdullah, and Jamal Turner will handle
OUTLOOK: Nebraska's reputation over the years as a staunch defensive team is
one that is certainly well earned. However, Big Ten opponents such as Ohio
State and Wisconsin exposed some warts against last year's squad, and the
Huskers are even thinner this year in terms of experience.
That's not always a bad thing, but Nebraska will no doubt enter the 2013
season with several question marks on defense.
One positive from a scheduling standpoint is that opponents OSU and Wisconsin
are replaced by Illinois and Purdue. Ultimately, the Huskers will go as far as
Martinez and the offense can take them. It's not a lock by any means, but
another title game appearance is certainly a possibility.
The Sports Network