Who’s the Target?

Wide receiver Kenny Bell has led Nebraska in receptions in each of his three seasons in Lincoln.  For the past two seasons, the second target has been Quincy Enunwa.  Last year, the third-leading receiver was Ameer Abdullah.  As we pointed out yesterday, featuring Abdullah more prominently might not be a mistake.  Still, once you've looked for the tandem of Bell and Abdullah, who's next?

 

After 2012, the answer would have been Jamal Turner.  He finished third on the team in receptions and second in receiving touchdowns.  Injuries limited Turner a year ago to where he missed five games entirely and didn't start a single time.  He's flashed talent but needs to also show durability and consistency if he wants to produce like Enunwa. 

Turner's absence opened the door last season for Jordan Westerkamp who finished fourth on the team in receptions behind Bell, Enunwa, and Abdullah and third in receiving yards.  This is despite starting only a single game.  

Sam Burtch actually managed more starts that Westerkamp and also finished third on the team in touchdown catches.  Beyond Burtch, you can expect to see more of wideouts Alonzo Moore and Taariq Allen who have all flashed big play ability.  After the Spring game, you might even put Brandon Reilly in that mix.  

And that's not even to mention the tight end position which was quiet a year ago but historically has been one of the more dangerous weapons in the passing game.  Cethan Carter was pressed into service as a true freshman a year ago.  Likewise, freshmen Sam Cotton and walk-on Trey Foster were only lightly used at a position that lacked experience and depth.  It's not hard to forecast some improvement for this group.

The Huskers have spread the ball around enough under Tim Beck that perhaps the third option will only catch 2-3 passes a game and not be too far apart from the second or fourth receiver on the team.  Still, there have to be more than two options for defenses to respect.  Otherwise, it becomes too easy for defenses to commit one safety to Bell and one to Abdullah and to have eight men in the box to stop the run.  Threatening options beyond that pair will be essential to soften defenses and capitalize on any tunnel vision toward the top two threats.  Thankfully, there are enough candidates to fill that kind of role to expect that to happen.

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Comments 5 comments so far

I hope to see more out of the tight ends in the passing game, I think that is key for opening up the offense.  Keeps the linebackers honest, the DB’s have to try and keep an eye on that possiblity as well, and than the run game has more options.  I think we have a really good recieving core, would like to see Jordan used like a Wes Welker type of reciever.  Kenny and Jamal are both great in open space after the catch, so we just need to find ways of getting them the ball.  Tight ends seem to have good size and speed, key is just getting the QB the confidence to let them around him make the plays.

I’d like to see more of a 2 TE offense, kinda like the NE Patriots run. I think they want to, just don’t have the guys. Carter will be good though. It was very successful when Cotton and Kyler Reed were here. They sneak up on you and receive passes that were unexpected, so it sometimes goes for good yardage. Or, who doesn’t need more blocking on the line?

larr is correct!  We are missing a TE component to the offensive scheme.  With a greater reliance on the running game this fall due to a talented backfield and QB inexperience, use of the TE for short and medium passing game will be crucial.  I am not convinced the WRs will be that important as the effective use of TEs must be.

I think Bell stepping up to be The Guy is a ‘Frogone conclusion.

We have plenty of weapons @ WR, a statement I thought I would never live long enough to say.  Just get ‘em the ball.  JT’s got all kinda game, Westerkamp as well.  C Cart, yeah, we good.  Wanna see what this Gladney guy is all about and maybe T Allen can go thru a season uninjured.

If all that doesn’t work, just pitch it to Dullah in the flat, he’s good for at least 20 and change.

God I hope Jamal Turner can step it up this year. He does have game, but he just can’t quite turn the corner. Triumph~ Dogg is right and I agree with him, we’ve got the talent at WR, just need to get them the damn ball. The passing game has been a huge boon to Nebraska over the last 5 years or so, and I’d like to see it continue. I’m still a run first praponent, but we’ve been killing it in the pass game…as compared to what we used to be. Lots of touchdowns.

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