Expect More From the Tight Ends in 2014
Last season will not go down in history as a great receiving year for tight ends at Nebraska. In total, the whole group combined for just 23 catches for 279 yards and a touchdown. Contrast that with 2012 where NU's tight ends tallied 48 catches for 651 yards and 5 scores and it becomes clearer how much drop-off occurred.
Whether the Huskers remain a balanced offense throwing the ball 30 times a game or dial it back to more like 15, you can expect greater production at the position. In the option days, the tight ends were one of the primary receiving threats. The run-heavy playcalling created many wide open opportunities for the tight ends to sneak behind defenses. Players like Junior Miller, Johnny Mitchell, Sheldon Jackson, Tracey Wistrom, and Matt Herian made big plays in the passing game as part of a triple option offense. Even with a more balanced offense, guys like Kyler Reed, Mike McNeil or Ben Cotton could do their share of damage.
The 2013 group was afflicted by injury and inexperience. Walk-on tight end Jake Long was the only veteran and he battled injuries. The other three tight ends to catch passes were all freshmen. Cethan Carter was a true freshman and still led the group in receptions.
Minus Long, the group will return with more experience which should be particularly helpful to Carter. It would not be surprising if he surpassed the output for the entire group from a year ago on his own. The loss of Quincy Enunwa as a red zone threat will also make the team need to look to other targets.
This year may not go down as a banner year for tight ends but it seems almost certain to be better than last year.