Nebraska spring wrap


2010 overall record: 10-4

2010 conference record: 6-2 in Big 12 (T-1st in Big 12 North)

Returning starters

Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David, CB Alfonzo Dennard, DE Cameron Meredith, QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Brandon Kinnie, C Mike Caputo, TE Kyler Reed

Key losses

CB Prince Amukamara, DB Dejon Gomes, DB Eric Hagg, DE Pierre Allen, G Ricky Henry, RB Roy Helu Jr., WR Niles Paul, K/P Alex Henery

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Roy Helu Jr. (1,245 yards)

Passing: Taylor Martinez* (1,631 yards)

Receiving: Niles Paul (516 yards)

Tackles: Lavonte David* (152)

Sacks: Jared Crick* (9.5)

Interceptions: Eric Hagg (5)

Spring answers

1. Flippin' out: Nebraska entered the spring needing more options at receiver, and freshman Jamal Turner made it very clear he can contribute this season. Turner, who switched to receiver from quarterback, made the most memorable play of the spring game when he scored on an electrifying 49-yard catch and run, capping things with a flip into the end zone. He recorded 228 all-purpose yards in only seven touches in the game. Speedster Kenny Bell also drew praise this spring and should help the pass attack.

2. D-line depth: Injuries to starters Jared Crick (knee) and Cameron Meredith (shoulder) allowed other players to gain increased reps this spring. The result is what defensive coordinator Carl Pelini calls the deepest line he has had at Nebraska. Converted linebacker Eric Martin had a strong spring and looks like the replacement for Pierre Allen at end. Players like Thaddeus Randle, Jay Guy and Kevin Williams add to the depth at defensive tackle.

3. Rex 'n effect: The run game will drive Nebraska's offense this fall, and junior I-back Rex Burkhead looks ready to lead the way. Burkhead had a strong spring and capped the session with 91 rush yards on 11 carries in the spring game, gaining seven yards or more on eight carries. Burkhead seemed to grasp the new offense well, and while heralded incoming freshman Aaron Green and others will be in the mix for carries this fall, Rex is the Huskers' most reliable option.

Fall questions

1. Taylor Martinez: T-Magic drew some good reviews this spring and showed a greater willingness to be a public face for the team, but he struggled in the spring game (4-for-13 passing) and battled a toe injury for part of the session. We saw last season that Martinez isn't nearly the same player when he's limited, so he needs to get healthy and continue making strides this summer. Coach Bo Pelini says Martinez is his starter if the season started today, but others like Cody Green and spring game star Brion Carnes are in the mix.

2. Offensive line: The Big Ten's best teams typically boast elite offensive lines, and Nebraska's front has drawn mixed reviews the past few seasons. Nebraska must replace three starters, including first-team All-Big 12 guard Ricky Henry. Line coach Barney Cotton wants to play 8-10 men up front, which should keep players fresh in Tim Beck's fast-paced offense. Center Mike Caputo is a nice piece to build around, but Nebraska needs others to step up.

3. Oh, Henery: Nebraska fans could take the kicking game for granted in recent years as All-American Alex Henery did it all at an extremely high level. Replacing Henery will be a big storyline as the Huskers enter a league where weather can have a major effect on kicking and punting. Brett Maher looked good in the spring game, drilling three field goals, including the winner. The Huskers need continued improvement from Maher, who could handle all the kicking duties, although scholarship kicker Mauro Bondi arrives this summer.