Yes, Kenny Bell had an awesome hit in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game. However, the Husker football team didn’t even get a chance to play in it last year and if it wants to in 2014, Bell’s going to have to do more than block.
He’s one of only a few constants of the wide receiver corps. Yes, Brandon Reilly, Sam Burtch and Taariq Allen all have the potential to bump each other around the depth chart.
However, Bell, Jamal Turner and Jordan Westerkamp are the Huskers’ go-to guys.
Regardless of who’s throwing to him, No. 80’s got the benefit of a guy who’s been a quarterback at this level for likely at least one year.
For the sake of argument (and that we have no other stats to go on), let’s say Tommy Armstrong, Jr. is his quarterback for the entire season.
In the eight games that Armstrong was named the starter, Bell scored a grand total of two touchdowns. Compare that to the now-departed Quincy Enunwa who scored seven.
On the surface, that might cause some teeth to grit, but Enunwa only had a pair of scores during his junior campaign, too.
Hauling in 577 yards on 52 catches, he should’ve had far more yardage as there were passes that hit him right in the hands. This is where the separation between he and Enunwa came.
Enunwa put in the effort where Bell didn’t, so what happens in 2014?
His best games in 2013 came against UCLA (68 yards/1 TD), Michigan State (81 yards,1 TD) and Iowa (67 yards). The common thread? All losses.
First lesson: Take a page out of Notre Dame’s book and play like a champion today, regardless of which side of the scoreboard your team’s on.
Bell was an effective target when necessary last year. On third down with seven to nine yards to go, he caught five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. That’s good for almost 18 percent of his total yardage and all scoring when Armstrong started.
Second lesson: Continue being a reliable deep threat. No. 80 had some easy catches downfield that would’ve been walk-in scores, but they ended up touching FieldTurf.
If he hangs onto them, he blows by Enunwa in yardage, especially considering that 99 yards of the current New York Jet’s was on one play.
Bell’s the fan favorite and likely has an inside track for captainship. If he wears the “C”, he’s got to step up and force defenses to respect that he can zip past their best on any play, allowing other wideouts get their catches along with his own.
He only needs 579 yards to become the No. 1 receiver in Husker football history. During a year when the Big Red probably leans on its running game, I see him getting that distinction and making the most of his opportunities.
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