How Might Sets Change in 2013
A year ago, Nebraska entered the season with three letter winners at running back and three more at tight end to go along with at least half a dozen at wide receiver. That allowed the Huskers to do just about anything with personnel. They could line up with four or five wideouts or use two tight ends and a fullback. They could put multiple I-backs in the backfield. This season there's not as much experience at all of these positions. So what might we expect this season based on who's coming back?
NU again will have a half dozen receivers that have caught passes coming back. They also have three fullbacks with experience. The tight end position isn't nearly as deep as before and only two running backs return with experience. That would suggest more three and four wideout sets.
The Huskers could still run plenty of the classic I formation. You can run split back sets with a fullback. You can go with a lot of shotgun, pistol, and empty backfield sets. You could tweak the two-fullback power-I by swapping out a tight end for a receiver.
Nebraska made plenty of plays a year ago in the running game without two tight ends on the field. The key is so often receivers that can block. Quincy Enunwa can usually physically overpower any defensive back that lines up across from him. Despite his lean frame, who can forget the lick that Kenny Bell laid on a Wisconsin defender in the Big Ten championship game? Blocking may be the ticket to playing time for the rest of the wide receiving corps.
Clearly, tight end will be a position to watch this spring and into the fall. So many formations require at least one tight end and you can't ask or expect the returning Jake Long to play every snap this year. If the Huskers don't find a lot of depth at the position early, then expect to see more sets without a tight end in 2013.