2010 Record: (10-4, 6-2 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Bo Pellini (30-12 at Nebraska)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Holiday Bowl (lost to Washington 19-7)
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #20
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #20
9/10: Fresno State
9/17: Washington (2010 result: won 56-21 and lost 19-7)
9/24: at Wyoming
10/1: at Wisconsin
10/8: Ohio State
10/22: at Minnesota
10/29: Michigan State
11/12: at Penn State
11/18: at Michigan
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.9 ppg (7th in Big 12, 38th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 247.57 yds/game (1st in Big 12, 9th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 150.6 yds/game (last in Big 12, 113th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 398.1 yds/game (7th in Big 12, 44th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 17.4 ppg (2nd in Big 12, 9th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 153.14 yds/game (7th in Big 12, 63rd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 153.6 yds/game (1st in Big 12, 5th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 306.8 yds/game (2nd in Big 12, 11th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.07 per game (8th in Big 12, 61st in Nation)
Penalties: 70.9 yds/game (11th in Big 12, 115th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Taylor Martinez, Soph (116 of 196 for 1631 yds, 10 TD, 7 INT)
Rushing: QB Taylor Martinez, Soph (162 for 965 yds, 5.9 ypc, 12 TD)
Rushing: RB Rex Burkhead, Jr (172 for 951 yds, 5.3 ypc, 7 TD)
Receiving: WR Brandon Kinnie, Sr (44 rec for 494 yds, 5 TD)
Tackles: LB Lavonte David, Sr (152)
Sacks: DT Jared Crick, Sr (9.5)
Interceptions: CB Alfonzo Dennard, Sr (4)
Athlon: Gator Bowl (vs Iowa)
In 2010 Nebraska lost a total of three football games by a grand total of 13 games during the regular season. The defense (which finished in the Top 20 Nationally in points allowed, total yardage allowed and passing yards allowed) was the strength of this team throughout the year. The offense was at times explosive (scoring 56 against Washington in Sept, putting up 48 on K-State and drilling Okie State for 51 points) but it was also what led to it's downfall in it's four losses. Nebraska was led by a dynamic dual-threat Freshman QB last year in Taylor Martinez. The problem was that he was also inconsistent and at times immature. In the four games that the Huskers lost they only managed to score a total of 46 points, or 11.5 points per game.
On defense, Nebraska losses stud corner Prince Amukamara but returns a ton of talent. The front seven will boast Jared Crick, Cameron Meredith and Lavonte David. The defensive backfield returns three starters including Alfonzo Dennard. The defense will once again be the strength of this Huskers team under Bo Pellini. On offense, Tim Beck has taken over for Shawn Watson as the OC. Beck's plan is to reduce the verbiage in the offense and simplify it for Taylor Martinez. In doing this he hopes that it will open the game up more for the Huskers offense and allow them to react to what is going on in front of them instead of trying to remember specifically what they are supposed to be doing on each play. He wants Nebraska to be a more attack based offense. I'm sure that's music to the ears of many Huskers fans, but the question remains if he can deliver on his goals.
This will be Nebraska's inaugural year in the Big Ten and they have been slotted in the Legends division with Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern and Minnesota. The opportunity is there for the taking for the Huskers this year. If they can maintain their solid defense and improve on offense they could really make some noise in the Big Ten this year. In order to get a closer look at the 2011 version of the Nebraska Cornhuskers we caught up with our Nebraska blogger Brandon Collard. Check out his latest piece on what Nebraska in the Big Ten means to him and then come back and read the rest of our preview:
Taylor Martinez had an up and down year last year. What are your expectations for him this year?
I expect a gigantic improvement from Taylor Martinez, plain and simple. I think that starts with the coaching and calling the right plays to keep him in a system which he knows his limitations. I think a big issue last year was that Shawn Watson gave him too much freedom to do things, and then when the coaches began to lose faith in him they reined him so far in that they screwed with his confidence. I feel that if the coaches stick with a solid game plan from game one and aren’t snowed by results against lesser teams then he can be successful. If they revert to the ways of last year then this season will be lost because the position IS Taylor Martinez’ he’s not going to lose it unless he gets injured.
As far as what I expect from him on a game by game basis? I want to see more maturity from him. I know that Bo Pellini was a mad man during the Texas A&M game, but his immediate response to potentially transfer was very childish. As is the idea that he would need advice from his father during the game on what he should be doing, at this stage of the game you need to show some maturity and get the things done which need to be done.
What do you see as the biggest weaknesses of this team?
The weakest area on this team, to me, is the receiving corps. I like Kyler Reed, but he is a tight end and you can’t go to him on every play. He isn’t Antonio Gates and he isn’t Tony Gonzalez, you need to evenly distribute the ball to the people around him so that he can make the plays he is capable of making. This brings me to the man whom needs to step up in the worst kind of way and that man is Brandon Kinnie, the heir apparent to whatever it was that Niles Paul was during his time at Nebraska. Not since the days of Nate Swift has there been a consistently good Nebraska Wide Receiver. Yes, I am aware, that was only two years ago, but it feels like decades. Niles Paul couldn’t catch anything and Brandon Kinnie must have picked this up via osmosis. He HAS to step up and take some relief off of Kyler Reed and off of the running game.
Who are some under-the-radar guys to keep an eye on for this Nebraska team?
One under the radar guy I think everyone should keep their eye on simply because of the reasons I listed above with Brandon Kinnie is Curenski Gilleylan. I feel that if Brandon Kinnie can’t step his game up in terms of being able to actually catch a football then Gilleylan will be someone who can do just that. It will be interesting to see if he can go from a slot receiver up to a main one, but he played really well last year and I don’t doubt you will hear his name a lot by the end of the season.
I wouldn’t say this next man is “under the radar” so to speak, but I have to nominate Cameron Meredith for another one of those people who not a lot of people know about but probably should. Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard will get the bulk of the attention this season, and rightfully so, but I think that Cameron Meredith should get mentioned as well. He is the main defensive end on the team and has caused a lot of disruption in the past and with way more attention going to Jared Crick this year; he should have a huge year.
I would also keep my eye on Will Compton simply because he is a definite nominee for the Reggie Cleveland all-stars. You all watch a game and tell me I am wrong.
Who are the three players on Nebraska's schedule that you are least looking forward to playing?
The three players I am least looking forward to playing (not that I really look forward to playing against good players…I’d rather have things easy!) are Denard Robinson of Michigan, Nathan Williams of Ohio State and Dan Persa of Northwestern. I know that is an eclectic mix of names, but I use them all for very specific reasons.
Denard Robinson being the most electric player in the Big 10 could easily kill any talk of Taylor Martinez being his equal right away; I know players shouldn’t look at the press, but they do and knowing Taylor Martinez’ personality; it could be the thing that really sends him into a funk. If Denard Robinson absolutely SMOKES Taylor Martinez in that game, then that could be all she wrote for Taylor Martinez in terms of confidence.
I chose Nate Williams because of the issues he presents in terms of stopping the run and being a menace on the offensive tackle he is lined up against. Let’s face it; if Nebraska’s running game isn’t going well then it will be the Taylor Martinez show via his arm and he hasn’t proven to be that good with it yet. The other worrisome part of that is that with the lack of creativity from the coaches then that game could get really long, really, really quick, much to the chagrin of my mental stability. *Twitches*
Finally, I chose Dan Persa because I am afraid that is where the Nebraska season could come to a screeching halt; I know that it would be later in the season, but we could have a repeat of the Texas A&M game all over again. Dan Persa has shown to be more than capable of winning a football game, and there is no doubt in my mind that this could be the team and the game that sends Nebraska down a hole.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
The most important games to me are…
(9/17)Washington – Nebraska HAS to avenge that loss in the Holiday Bowl they just have to, there is no choice. I wouldn’t be shocked if you saw Nebraska run up the score on them just to prove a point after what happened last December. It’s early enough where a statement like that needs to be made in order to show your future opponents that you mean business.
(10/1)Wisconsin – A, likely, preview of the Big 10 Championship game and the first in-conference game for Nebraska. A statement must be made in that game to set the tone for the rest of the season. I talk about Dan Persa potentially ruining a dream run towards the National Championship, but everything can be dashed in this one game at the very start.
(10/8) Ohio State – LUNATIC FRINGE
(11/25) Iowa – FARMAGEDDON. BATTLE OF THE GOLDEN TUMBLEWEED. The NEW rivalry game for Nebraska and the perfect way to end a season with a win over your new biggest rival; I hope by the end of the season I can work myself into a frenzy for this game because I still can’t do it yet. I actually, somewhat, like Iowa still and can’t find myself to just loathe them like I could with Oklahoma and Colorado.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
After all I have said in this post I am still unsure as to what the record this season will actually end up being. I know that sounds like a cop out answer, but I am looking at it from two perspectives. I, honestly, think that Nebraska could make a run for the National Title; I truly believe that without any sort of obvious bias towards the team. On the other hand I feel that it could all crumble before our very eyes and they won’t end up winning more than four games. I don’t think there can be an in between with this, I know that I am a big sports pessimist, but I have a lot of optimism for this season. So I am calling for 12-1 and a birth in the National Championship game.
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#12 Nebraska Cornhuskers
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