A New Scoring Explosion, Thirty Years Later?

Those of us who starting watching Nebraska football in the mid 1970's or early 1980's can't forget the 1983 team.  It was the team that didn't win the national championship despite the general consensus that they were the best team in college football.  If  you think people talk a lot about the 1995 squad today, that's how often you heard about the '83 team in the decade that followed their magical season.  Thirty years later, are we about to see history repeat itself?


The parallels are many.  The Huskers bring back a quarterback with loads of experience and accomplishments.  Turner Gill was the best dual-threat quarterback Nebraska ever had.  That is, until a generation of quarterbacks coached by Gill came along (Tommie Frazier, Scott Frost, and Eric Crouch).  Taylor Martinez is Nebraska's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns and appears likely to displace Eric Crouch in rushing yards by an NU quarterback.

At running back, Ameer Abdullah is a standout running back (though admittedly not yet on the level as then All-American Mike Rozier).  He seems likely to be on a number of preseason all-conference teams.  It's also worth noting that Abdullah was a more productive sophomore than Rozier.  Wideout Kenny Bell has already surpassed the career receiving production of standout Irving Fryar.  Fryar gets the edge over NU's current crop of punt returners.  Abdullah and Bell get the edge returning kickoffs.  Put the quarterback-running back-receiver trio together and you've got an awfully potent group in 2013, just as NU did thirty years earlier.    

Despite the great season that guard Dean Steinkuhler would have in 1983, he was not even an honorable mention all-conference player prior to his senior season.  In fact, none of the returning lineman for the '83 season had been honored in 1982.  Nebraska brings back an all-conference guard in Spencer Long and a second-team all conference tackle in Jeremiah Sirles.  Even if you still give an edge to the '83 o-line, it may not be a big one.  

The '83 team struggled defensively.  If we were to forecast the 2013 season, that may prove true again.  The 1983 team had a favorable schedule.  Only Penn State and Miami were ranked at game time, though UCLA was by season's end.  There's an interesting number of common opponents for the 2013 team with the 1983 team despite the recent conference change.  Both schedules featured games with Penn State, Wyoming, Minnesota, and UCLA.   This year's team gets the advantage of eight home games, though a conference championship game with an 11 or 12-win Ohio State team would certainly make this year's slate tougher by contrast.

A couple of advantages for the 1983 team might be confidence and detail-orientation.  That team didn't turn the ball over like recent Husker squads.  They also were coming off of a season (1982) where they were also just one play (or perhaps one official's call) from a national championship.  This Husker team will need to improve ball security and swagger before it's ready to be one play from a national title.  Still, you should expect to see a lot of touchdowns this year.

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Comments 54 comments so far

Love the thoughts on this Steve. Nebraska certainly has all the pieces on offense. Not sure I love the idea of the D being “1983 bad”. But, still, the lack of returners there makes it plausible.

I’m hoping somebody at the University embraces the idea and they re-create a version of the Scoring Explosion POSTER. It was excellent.

As one who has watched the Huskers since the 60s, I agree that the 83 team was special. As you pointed out, there is a lot of similarity between the offense of 1983 and the 2013 team. This team today will have many offensive weapons. I would love to see them go to a two back offense. This puts one more weapon on the field. It also helps to hide the play in the nature of a three card Monty game. This still gives the offense plenty of people to pass to so it becomes an even more balance offense. We have the backs, it is a shame not to use them. I do not mean that the other back becomes only a blocker. Hiding who has the ball is the benefit. The defense has a chance to become what fans want…a Blackshirt nightmare for the other team.

One last thing. I hope this team spends a lot of time practicing the 2 point conversion.

I love the strength of our receiver corps and would hate to take any of them off the field, but our shortage of tight ends may make some creativity with a guy the size of Cross an interesting addition to the backfield.  BUT rather than back near the quarterback, leave one tight end in and have Cross in the near-backfield - maybe lining up 4-5 yards behind the TE or Tackle as a partial split out - to block, chip block, screen, or delayed draw.  Just another area of the offensive backfield for the D to try and defend - and still more options for spreading the ball around!

As long as we’re being creative, remember the Burkhead pitch back to Ameer?  How about on 4th and 2, snap to Cross, pitch back to Ameer, who charges toward the line then pitches back to Martinez.  By this time the receivers, especially Wullenwaber, have had time to get waaaay down field, and the D has pulled in.  TD!.

Ridiculous to compare this team to Gill Rozier led squad…these guys will again lose 4 games and O line is pathetic….

I agree Mark..and in big games this offense was pitiful…and the Martinez decision making ..he does not deserve to be mentioned in same sentence as Gill…...the team only performed well against lesser not even top 25 foes..Plus this team is led by Pelini who cannot be compared to a then veteran Ozzie

This team isn’t even close to the 83’ team. Name one good team we beat last year? Wisconsin (8-6), then they kicked our butts in the B1G Championship. We’ll again be 9-3 or a 10-4 team. The problem is there is no fear of a lost postion at the QB spot. If you remember back when T. G. was a Freshman, he didn’t start until NU was 1-2, and OZ had enough, NU won the next 10 that year. The message was simple: “get the job done or sit on the pine.”

ATL Sker,  I respectfully disagree - I think the 2013 is much closer to the 1983 team than anyone cares to admit.

ati sker - The 1983 team did have a great season with the offense averaging 57.8 points per game. The offense did have a close call when it played OSU. Nebraska fumbled 5 times losing 4. They scored on two drives 1st) 80 yds on 2 plays and 2nd) 92 yds on 6 plays. They also had four drives stopped inside the red zone.  At the end of the game with the score 14 to 10 Huskers, OSU had driven deep into the Husker red zone and attempted two passes into the end zone. One was incomplete ad the and the second pass with time expiring was intercepted in the end zone. So while the 1983 team did perform well on offense, it was not unstoppable. Today’s huskers have a great offense. They have scored 30 points in every game except for Iowa. Given the schedule for next year I think the Husker could go far.

The Huskers offense did not score 30 points against Georgia, but they were on track to do so until…you know.

You’re kidding, right?

Ballfield78 - Please check the Georgia score. The Huskers scored 31 points.

one amusing note on the subject. When Nebraska played Minn. Lou Hotz was the coach at the time. After the game he said that if anyone had told him that they could hold the Huskers to 12 he would have been happy. Except it was 12 scores. NU scored over 80 points

Darren you missed the point. Gill was a freshman in 81’ The game and rules of football, a well as athletes today have much more training before they even get to college.  If those guys(83’) were brought up through high school today, who knows they would average 65+ points a game.

Watch the game and read my post.  The offense scored 24.  25 if you count the PAT which would not have happened if not for Compton’s INT for a TD.

Ballfield 78 - In the final score was 31. Yes, some times the offense scores and sometimes the defense scores. In the end the outcome is decided by who has the most points how ever they were scored. Nebraska as a team scored 31 points. That is indisputable. Trying to argue that the offensive scoring only counts when the quarterback touches the ball is really beside the point. The main point is that 31 points should be enough to win any game is the defense is doing their job, which they did not. More off season training by Taylor will help him improve his passing skills to an ever better degree. The line will be improved as will the host of available running backs and receivers. It should be a very good year for the offense. The defense is TBD but I have great hope.

We have completely lost it as a fanbase.  Every good team we played embarassed us on national TV.  Who are we kidding. The only difference I see in 2013 is losing three games instead of four. Steve Hanway is drunk with stats or something.  We simply don’t have the offensive or defensive lines to compete against ranked opponents.  I love my huskers, but stop drinking coolaid.  All this hype makes my soul hurt come november and december.

A large part of Osborne’s philosophy was simply to out score the other team.  Nebraska 2013 should be able to do this even with a young defense, which may be better than ths years.

I was in college in 1983 and I have seen nothing that parallels the success the 1983 team had.  The consistency, the domination.  They were awesome!  I have seen 3 great periods of husker football…the early 70’s, the early 80’s and the mid 90’s.  Tmart is no TGill, Ameer is no Rozier, and Kenny Bell is no Irving Fryer.  Sorry, not even close.

Sorry, to many bone headed penalties and turnovers for this team to be close to 83.  Until this team starts playing with discipline, they will implode before the championships.

Did any of you hear during the Tx A&M bowl game when the announcers said their coach laid down the law on ball security and threatened after spring ball that Manziel would not see the field if he didn’t take care of it?

With how blunt our coaches are on so many things…why isn’t this one of them?  ...not just for Tmart, but for ALL of the players?  The players will live and play up to (or down to) whatever expectations are put out there and standards they are actually held to!

I’m sorry but I have to create an account to state this is just a brain dead statement in ridiculous hype. First, Turner Gill made very good decisions. He could throw well. Sure, Martinez has made major improvements, but you still wince when you see that ball go up in the air. Fryar was the #1 draft pick in the NFL. Gill almost won the Heisman, and lost only because of Rozier. And what made them great was the real secret, or not so secret. It is because NU had TWO All-CENTURY offensive linemen mauling everything and anything that got in their way. Abdullah has more yards in his soph year? Oh ya, maybe that is because there was that guy name Roger Craig around? Really? The games that year were over by half time. Not even close, not even close, not even close.

That wasn’t just NU’s best offense ever, but maybe the greatest college offense ever.

Shane - The point was that in each of those games Nebraska scored at least 31 points. That should be enough to win. The problem is not the offense, it is the defense. I agree the errors on the offensive side need to go away. Turn overs and penalties. All true points. But the talent is there. That is the point of this article.

Stephen Johnson-When we played the “good” teams they scored 36, 63, 70, and 45 on us.  Unless we can score 37, 64, 71, and 46 on “good” teams then we simply do not “have” the talent on defense to prevent the high score, or the talent on offense to get those points we need to win. 5 games we didnt score 31 points. Helping our average score with blow outs against Southern Miss, Ark State and Idaho State make us look better than we are. The true point of this article is talent, unfortunately not enough of it to compete against ranked teams. I will no longer believe or listen to any hype about my huskers before September.  Wishing it to be so just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Micari…outstanding points!  I was there too and remember seeing football the way it is supposed to be played.  Mark was also right on with respect to our o-line play…let’s not kid ourselves gentlemen, next year will simply be the same old crap…bully a couple of slugs, narrowly escape with wins against opponents we should destroy, lead the conference in fumbles, penalties, yards allowed, etc,etc,etc.However, my hat is off to Mr. Hanway for trying to put a positive spin on things…ya gotta love the guy for that…Honestly, I am trying to be positive about next season…but every time I turn around, there is another sign of things to come…four-star recruits either not coming here or simply not honoring their original promise to do so, or, guys like Heard (with tons of potential) leaving the program because Beck and company mishandled him badly…lordy, where’s my bud?

On recruits and stars, I think you just have to wait. Texas and USC had all the recruits the same way Alabama and LSU have been getting them, and they were supposed to be indestructible. Advance 4 to 5 years, and they barely make the top 20. This year’s freshman Heisman QB? 3 star. This year’s Superbowl QB (Kaepernik)? 3 star. Go back through the years of Rivals 5 stars and see how many you have never heard of from their college playing days.

Micarl makes some great points.  I went to several games to see the 83 team.  The thing that strikes me most is not the weapons we had, but the discipline!  Few stupid penalties, few turnovers, attitude, etc.  Just well coached.  And I am not a Pelini hater.  I just think he has a lot of learning to do.  Think about Oz.  He grew up under Bob Devaney.  Even then, it took him time to get things to where they needed to be.  Remember “he can’t win the big one?”  So much for that adage.  Bo had Oz as AD not as his head coach/mentor.  I hope people are patient and give Bo a chance to grow into being a head coach.  I like the fire in his belly.  I has coaches like that and I loved playing for them.  Anyway, GBR!!!!!

OK folks. It’s time to come back down to reality. I have been a fan since way before the ‘83 season, (try the ‘53 season). I loved the ‘83 team…the scoring explosion…I saw the ‘83 team. Sorry, but the 2013 team won’t even come close. Don’t get me wrong, the ‘13 offense will explode, at times. But it will also implode, at all the wrong times. Another thing…the ‘83 offensive line opened gaping holes for Mike Rozier, Jeff Smith, or anybody else Gill handed the ball off to. And say what you will about the ‘83 defense, but they did hold at the time #4 ranked Penn State to 6 points, and #20 Oklahoma State to 10 points, and beat Oklahoma 28-21 in Norman prior to losing in the bowl game to Miami. Also, TMagic is not in Turner Gill’s league. Gill was never one to get happy feet and panic when his first read wasn’t open, although this again might be attributed to a far superior offensive line, which played with discipline.

Shane -  Ye Gads, people really just do not get it, you just want to hate Taylor and the offense. Go back to the very best teams, the 1971 game VS OU. Nebraska scored 35 but held OU to 31. One of the best if not the best offenses in history to just 31 points. The 1995 team playing Florida. At the time the best passing offense in the history of the NCAA, but were held to around 30 points.
The point is that the defense has to do its part. That means stopping the other team from scoring more than 30 points. Hopefully hold them under 20.

Go back to the OSU game 2 years ago.  Its was Taylor’s day and passed like crazy and outscoring the OSU Cowboys. Great effort but the defense did not do their job that day. Glad the offense outscored them but the point is that the defense should have held down even a great passing team like OSU that year. They did not, but you cannot expect the offense to come out and score 50 points on a good team. If they do great but it is the defense that must do their job. Cannot be more simple than that.

Where is the D &O line talent?  That is what made the 70’s. early 80’s and mid 90’s teams so great. We all know that. Did we get better lineman recruits during these periods or was it developed?
Think about them thru the years:  Dutton, White, Bonnus,Glover,Stienkhuler,Rimmington,Taylor,Wistrom,Rucker Winstrom, Peter Brothers….... I know I missed a lot but my point is, where are these guys now.  Were theses guys all 4 & 5 star guys. No, lots of talent, but they were developed over 2-3 years. Different time now but I personally don’t see O & D lines improving over the recent years. Thoughts. K

I believe in 1983 their was also the remake of the Momma $ Pappa’s
song - Califirnia dreaming. - this is what the writer is doing.

The 2013 team wil be lucky to Win 8 games.

Kmac -  I agree with your points strongly. Many of the linemen came from Nebraska. Many times from 8 man squads. They would be on the team for 3 or 4 years before they would get to start although they had significant playing time prior to there year. This is the reason that we had numbers of players who would start their senior year never having started before an were listed as all American players. Everyone remembers the 95 team. When they came in as freshman they were ranked 28th. The four offensive linemen were all around 300 lbs but had a high percentage of body fat (21 to 24%). By their senior year they still weighed 300 lbs but had reduced their body fat to 12 to 14%. They were quick and did an awful lot of pulling and ran to the other side to overload the defense. But you are right, they were developed.

I see the parallels as far as scoring, but the conversation ends there. The 2013 team isn’t even close to the talent level that the 1983 team had. Period. That team was far ahead of the college football curve.

Stephen Johnson-Ye Gads, you don’t seem to get what people are saying with regards to this article and our 2013 team.  There is NO comparison.  83 was legit, 13 is not.  I don’t hate Taylor, you injected that into my statement.  Reality is reality, put down your coolaid and accept it.  We are an above average team with above average talent.  We won’t win a conf champ in 2013 either.  GBR.

Talent isn’t the issue.  the 2013 team is loaded with talent.  IF the discipline is improved, the potential is there.  Defense will be scary again.  Hopefully Pelini will refine his coaching skills and learn how to instill the kind of discipline we need.  I am guessing that if Pelini stays with Nebraska, we won’t have to wait 22 years to win a National Championship.  GBR!!

Shane - Lets see, Nebraska had the number one offense in the Big 10. That is not just a slightly above average offense. The defense for passing was number one in the nation. Fell apart against a superior passer with a lot of Luck at Georgia. If the huskers do not win the conference championship, which is possible, it will be because they lost to an excellent Ohio State team with a great coach. But that is yet to be determined.

I have read all these comments…  I still think it is very silly to compare ‘83 with the current team.  ‘83 was full of nationally recognized players that are some of the legends of NU football.  There have been a lot of teams that have scored a lot of points over the years….look at the ppg averages.  Many of TO’s teams did better than last year’s team.  ‘95 was on par with ‘83…  No other team can say that…none.  You all are young and don’t understand the discipline and execution needed to be great.  I like Tmart, but everytime I see him under center I get an uneasy feeling.  Oh, and the commets about a National Championship under Bo.  PLEASE.  Don’t see that happening any time soon.

Stephen Johnson-Our pass defense was great in a conference that did not fare very well in the bowl season. Lets explore these great pass defense ratings. Wisconsin passed 10 times and caught 8 of them.  Wisconsin rushed 50 times and gained 539 yards.  It was like watching Osbourne.  No need to pass when you don’t have to with an average rush of 10.8 yards!!!! But man it looks good on the pass defense stats don’t it.  Georgia rushed 52 times and passed 27 and completed a little over 50%.  Also, we have not played any elite throwers Stephen, so to be proud of that pass defense with 4 losses (all of them humiliating) is not that big of a deal. I will take a pass defense being ranked dead last if we can win some conf champs, which is what matters to me.  Wins not stats. The number one offense is very good.  We played great offense last season, not disciplined enough, but great.  I hope that continues.  The offense will have to play ELITE ball to put up more points than the defense can keep of the board.  That number will have to be more than 31 by the way. Nebraska had “a lot of luck” to come from behind at Northwestern and others.  We could have had 6+ losses instead of four.  I just want you to understand we are an above average team until we play superior ball.

Shane -  If only we played a different schedule instead of the fourth most difficult in the country our pass defense would have been exposed as the fraud it was… Is this your point????? As far as the bowl game, the Georgia QB threw some great passes and the receivers made unbelievable catches. Give them all the credit. But in most of the cases our defenders were in position to defend. The throw was on the receiver’s fingertips on multiple passes. Could not happen again in 10 games. You still do not get that it is the responsibility of the Husker defense is to keep the other team from scoring. Of course early turnovers of many types gave 14 point gifts to the other team, sometimes in the shadow of our goal posts. Makes it really hard on the defense. Given the pattern I expect Bo to make adjustments to eliminate the penalties, turnovers and other discipline issues. Those changes added to the other improvements on both sides of the ball will make the difference.  Lastly, we played the schedule we were given and a win is a win… period. Trying to tarnish them serves no one.

STEPHEN JOHNSON, .....“Bo to make adjustments”??????? Adjustments?  Are you kidding me?  Did you not watch the UCLA game?  Maybe Wisconsin?  Did you not notice these guys did the same thing to us in the second half that they did in the first?  Tell me ONE adjustment he made that helped one iota…As for penalties, turnovers and whatever the hell “other improvements” mean, have you not noticed this team has been vomiting up this crap for the last several years?  Huskermania mentioned discipline…something we did not see for four quarters of any game last year… ten sloppy, undisciplined, penalty-ridden sometimes lucky wins and four ridiculous embarrassments…..that’s tarnishment my friend…

Stephen Johnson- you’re right, we got screwed out of the NC. We should have been #1. 4th hardest schedule is right, and it kicked our ass. Bo is turning out to be more hype than anything. You’re full of “if only’s” and “a win is a win”. Very true. Guess what Stephen R. Johnson….a loss is a loss. Four of them. Every year with Bo. Pelini is spelled with four R’s. you can not convince me that this program is making gains every year. I watch every year and it seems we are ba k tracking, sans the offensive output this year.

So where did I say we got cheated out of the National Championship in 2012? I Simply said we had the fourth most difficult schedule… Which is true. As far as adjustments, I agree that this has been a weakness in a game. Bo does not seem to make changes on the fly. Given the press and the observations it is obvious that turnovers have to stop. Penalties have to be greatly reduced. Bo is a smart football guy, he will prioritize these changes for the 2013. If you think he won’t, then you are fooling yourself. Don’t come back Shane. (A comparison to Alan Ladd).

Stephen - you’re points demonstrate nothing. You bring up nothing that isn’t already known to a twelve year old. Bo is proving himself not to be a smart football guy. Prepare yourself for some more disappointment next season. Now STFU and GTFO Stephen.

Shane - Please note the direction of this site with reference to comments. (Be smart. Be funny. Be nice. Pick two.) You are 0 for 3.

Stephen- I nailed em in my last post. Smart-yup! Funny- yup!  Nice-close win. 3-0!!

Shane - Still 0 for 3.  Just a Husker hater.

ok bottom line we hold on to the ball and reduce turnovers. play smart football reducing penalties. we could have a great year!!!

Tony, I could not agree with you more. I also think there will be more points scored than last year, both running and passing.

Shane, the four games we lost had our blackshirts give up 36, 63, 70 & 45 points.

You can bitch, whine & moan until the Missouri river overflows about our offense but they’re wayyyyyyyyyy better than you you state. No one is saying they’re as good as 1983 but the potential is certainly there and it can’t be denied they’re why we won 10 games despite having a true-blue COZ defense.

Not long ago we used to win only 5 or 6 games a year when our defense was horrid. I’ll take ten over that any day.

I have a football signed by all of “The Triplets”: Turner Gill, Mike Rozier and Irving Fryar. It is displayed in a place of honor here in my home. I am a native Nebraskan now living in Knoxville, TN. I have been here in Tennessee for 25 years but I am still a strong and avid HUSKER for sure. I look forward to the 2013 season hoping for another scoring explosion.

bshirt - I could not have said it any better than you did. If fact I do not think I did. I remember Scott Frost his junior year. Good but not quite there yet. In his senior year it all came together for him. That is how I see Taylor.  This will be his year. I am guessing he will be working hard in the off season, just like last year.  More improvement in the various aspects of the position. I also believe the offensive line will provide better protection. I noted in a wiki article about the 1983 team that they did not give up a single sack all year. It is a good goal to strive for. The 2013 season cannot get here soon enough.

Good analogy.  There’s alot more offense these days across the CFB landscape and many more good teams.  It could be a scoring explosion this year, though, especially if they cut down on the turnovers.

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