With only five days until the Nebraska Cornhuskers kick off their 2013 season, we felt it was time to look at fall camp and what we learned about the team. With so many storylines heading into the season it was tough to narrow things down, but here is what made the cut.
1) The Defense is Young, Fast, and Needs to Learn on the Fly:
Four true freshman will play this year for Nebraska. Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis said as much last Thursday to the media. He talks about rotating several players on the defensive line early in the season. We know that Thad Randle, Jason Ankrah, and Randy Gregory are going to get plenty of snaps, but you can expect to see almost everyone in the first few games of the year.
While it is great to see young players getting a chance to play early, it also means they will have to learn fast and on the fly. The last thing Nebraska needs is last years Big Ten Championship Game to be replayed early in the year. The Blackshirts have to come up big for the Huskers this year.
2) This Team is United:
Yes, I am aware that the season has not started yet, but this group of players seem different than years past. They seem like a very tight group. They are all spreading the message of hard work, grinding every day. They also seem to be embracing the permanent team captain concept. Talent on a team is important, don’t get me wrong, Continuity and a team first mentality can be just as important.
3) The Husker Offense is Ready to Show Off Their skills:
Almost every bit of fall camp news has been about the defense and who is going to step up. It’s hard to overlook Nebraska’s high powered offense and what it could be capable of in 2013. Taylor Martinez has improved each year as the starting quarterback, so we should expect to see his best season yet. He is throwing to the best receiving core in The B1G Ten, and Ameer Abdullah is capable of being the best running back in the conference as well.
4) The Coaching Staff Has Matured:
While most would not consider playing pranks and a Harlem Shake video as things that qualify as mature, it does show that Bo Pelini has lightened up a bit. We always see the guy on the sidelines who is yelling at the officiating crew, fellow coaches, or players.
The staff has also realized, even if by necessity, that playing true freshman might not be such a bad thing. Sure, we have seen that at running back, but now we are seeing it on the defensive side of the football. This staff seems to be close to ending their time on a learning curve. That should be something all Husker fans should be excited about.
5) Special Teams Might Be Special This Season:
Only in Nebraska can a punter or kicker be brought up during post practice press sessions. The potential return men are promising as well. It looks like Jamal Turner will be returning punts for the Huskers, and there are a few more possibilities when it comes to kick returners, including some newcomers. If Nebraska can improve their special teams, it could help overcome some of the shortcomings from a young defense.