As the calendar turns to August, the one thing on most people's minds in Nebraska is the start of the 2012 Nebraska football season.
The Cornhuskers will entertain fans on Friday, Aug. 3 with a free fan day. Fans will be able to meet their favorite Cornhuskers players and obtain autographs.
The next day the players put the pads on and officially began their 2012 season with the start of summer practice on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Going into its second season in the Big Ten Conference, Nebraska has many questions it needs answered before the first game in less than a month.
Here are five questions the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team must answer before its first game against Southern Mississippi…
There has been much talk over the offseason about Taylor Martinez’s progression as a quarterback. The Cornhuskers brought in Steve Calhoun to work with Martinez on his footwork and his throwing mechanics. Calhoun is a quarterbacks coach from Los Angeles who owns the company Armed and Dangerous.
In his second season in offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s system, Martinez can focus on the details of the offense. Sometimes last year Martinez looked confused. He should be more confident in the system this season.
If Martinez lives up to the offseason hype, the Cornhuskers could be a much improved team in 2012.
The most popular player on most football teams is the backup quarterback. So, who will be the most popular player on Nebraska’s team in 2012?
The obvious choice is the same player who backed up Martinez last season, Brion Carnes.
Carnes made a name for himself in the 2011 spring game. He did not do much in the regular season though.
Like Martinez, Carnes should be more confident in his second season in Beck’s system. Unlike last season, Carnes will have competition for the backup quarterback position.
Freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong arrived on Nebraska’s campus with a lot of support from Nebraska fans behind him.
Armstrong was one of the top recruits for the Cornhuskers in 2012. Armstrong helped Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas win 28 straight games and averaged 402 yards per game.
It will be interesting to see if Nebraska decides to go with Carnes as the backup quarterback and redshirt Armstrong or let Armstrong get some playing time in his freshman season.
One of the biggest question marks with the Cornhuskers’ team is the offensive line.
Nebraska must replace three starters on the offensive line from last season. Nebraska does have the talent to produce a good unit offensive line. The question is, will the Huskers do it?
Spencer Long, Andrew Rodriguez and Seung Hoon Choi all return as starters for the Cornhuskers. They also have many talented young players who could win starting spots in summer practice.
Tyler Moore and Ryan Reeves could become part of Nebraska’s offensive line.
Replacing center Mike Caputo will also be a story in summer practice. The favorite to win the job is Cole Pensick.
The projected offensive line for the Cornhuskers coming out of summer practice is:
LT Andrew Rodriguez (Jr.)
LG Seung Hoon Choi (Sr.)
C Cole Pensick (Jr.)
RG Spencer Long (Jr.)
RT Tyler Moore (So.)
Most of the talented players who left the Nebraska program after the 2011 season came on defense.
Nebraska lost defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard to the NFL. That leaves some big shoes to fill, but it also provides an opportunity for some young Nebraska players.
The Cornhuskers are counting on two junior college transfers to play immediately.
Linebacker Zaire Anderson and cornerback Mohammed Seisay were brought in to help take the place of David and Dennerd. While it is not expected for either player to contribute at the calliber that the player they are replacing played at, it is important that Anderson and Sessay be able to win the starting jobs in summer practice.
Some other young players who could win playing time if they impress the coaches in summer camp include: linebackers David Santos (Fr.) and Jared Afalava (Fr.), and defensive end Greg McMullen (Fr.).
Nebraska enters the 2012 season with some new coaches in some key positions.
No longer will the Nebraska defense be run by the Pelini brothers. Carl Pelini left Nebraska to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic. This provided Nebraska the opportunity to promote John Papuchis from the defensive line coach to defensive coordinator.
Nebraska went outside the program to hire Rick Kaczenski from Iowa and defensive backs coach Terry Joseph from Tennessee.
Last season Nebraska’s offense went through an overhaul. This season it is the defense's turn.
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