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.