Big Ten Legends Division 2011 Spring Football Review: Nebraska
I don't know about you, but it's still hard to conceive that Nebraska is a member of the Big Ten. I personally have dealt with them as a member of the Big 8(now Big 12) in my time at Iowa State, so that may be part of it. Well that and there hasn't been a single Big Ten event played with Nebraska in the picture. Perhaps come July 27th and 28th when the football Media Days happen it'll settle in a bit more. In the meantime here is what occurred in Lincoln for their first ever Spring Football game as a member of the Big Ten. Good Luck Huskers, you're going to find things a bit tougher in your new division.
2010 Record: 10-4(6-2) Tie for 1st in Big 12 North
Postseason: Holiday Bowl: 7-19L to Washington
Head Coach: Bo Pelini (30-12, 3 years)
Spring Game: April 16th
Returning Starters: 14(7 offense, 7 defense, 0 special teams)
Spring Outlook: The 2011 Spring Football game was played in front of a crowd around 66,000 people, just to give the rest of the Big Ten perspective on the level of fandom the Cornhuskers bring to the table. Entering the game people thought that returning starter and sometimes explosive QB Taylor Martinez would be a lock to be the starter again, however a shaky performance from Matinez and backup Cody Green opened the door for a very intriguing prospect. His name, Brion Carnes(just so happens to be a cousin to Husker legend Tommie Frazier) and he was one of the top 3 players on the field in terms of buzz in the Spring Game. Many fans and media in that area are thinking he's got a legitimate shot at pushing for a starting spot this fall if Martinez can't get is inconsistent passing game under control.
The second player offensively to create some major buzz this spring was RB Rex Burkhead. Rex ran for 91 yards and looked very impressive behind a mediocre line and has fans hoping for a nice 1 - 2 punch this fall with the spread game that Nebraska is developing. Along the lines of developing a greater use of the spread offense the Huskers welcome back their leading receiver from 2010, Brandon Kinnie(44rec, 494yds, 5TD's), and will have the services of the one person who created the biggest buzz all spring, Jamal Turner(true Freshman). He put up huge numbers in the Spring game going for 93yds and 1TD. So look for these two to be huge weapons if the QB's can get them the ball!
On the other side of the ball the Huskers had to say goodbye to all-everything CB Prince Amukamara who went in the 1st round of the NFL draft. Luckily there is an equally talented CB to take the slack in Alfonzo Dennard(know around Nebraska as "The Fonz"). Helping to lead the way on a growing defense is DT Jared Crick(possible 1st round NLF pick in 2012) and 2010's best defender, LB Lavonte David(152Tkls, 6 sacks in 2010). This spring was all about transition as Dennard needs to step up as a leader and former LB Eric Martin looks to move to DE. That transition seems to be going well as he was stout on the edge and made a ton of good reads on running and option plays. The other big standout on D in the Spring Game was Redshirt Freshman Jay Guy who recorded 4Tkls, 2TFL, 1 sack, and a blocked kick in the game.
The transition to the Big Ten could be a very successful one should the QB situation get under control with either Martinez or Carnes taking the reigns. That and the Legends Division is full of teams reloading or rebuilding and it sets up perfectly for them to make a run at the 1st ever Big Ten Championship Game. Enjoy the highlights for yourself below and hopefully that Championship Game is against the Badgers. As always... ON WISCONSIN!!