Could this be the season that Nebraska takes the next step and returns to a conference championship game?
Many Nebraska fans are losing faith in their team, but there are reasons to believe this could be a breakthrough season for the Cornhuskers.
Here are five reasons why 2012 could be a breakthrough year for the Nebraska football team…
Nebraska is entering their second season in the Big Ten Conference and what a difference a year could make.
The players from Nebraska showed up at the Big Ten media day with a look of a confident team.
That is not how it was last season.
In 2011, Nebraska looked unsure of what they were getting into. This year, a confident Nebraska team could be a dangerous team for their opponents.
In 2011, Nebraska had a lot of pressure to succeed in their first season in their new conference. This season Nebraska flew under the radar at the Big Ten media day.
Nebraska usually performs well when they are not in the spotlight.
Now that Nebraska is familiar with the teams on their schedule, look for the Cornhuskers to make improvements in 2012, including even a trip to the Big Ten Championship game.
Last year, Nebraska looked like a team without an identity. At times they wanted to run the option, but sometimes looked confused about how to get it done.
Nebraska’s inconsistency on offense was their cause for a mediocre—by Nebraska’s standards—season.
Now that the Tim Beck era as offensive coordinator for the Cornhuskers enters its second season, the players should have a better identity on offense.
The player who should improve the most is quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Last season, Martinez was inconsistent. Sometimes he looked like a quarterback who could lead the Cornhuskers to the next level, other times he just looked lost.
Martinez spent the offseason in quarterback camps, trying to gain a better understanding of the offense he is expected to run.
This could be a breakout season for Martinez.
The one word that kept coming up at Big Ten Media Days was leadership.
Bo Pelini and the players talked about the leadership on the 2012 team.
Last year, Nebraska’s team lacked the leadership needed to help them overcome difficult situations. That will not be the case this year.
Running back Rex Burkhead and Martinez are the leaders of the offense. Some fans have questioned Martinez’ ability to lead the team.
They might be surprised at what they see from Martinez in 2012.
Martinez spent part of his offseason at the Archie/Payton/Eli Manning Passing Academy.
One of the lessons taught at the academy is the importance of leadership in the quarterback position. Martinez said he learned a lot from the academy. Hopefully leadership is one of them.
It is time to take the handcuffs off of Taylor Martinez.
In his freshman season at Nebraska, Martinez dazzled Cornhuskers fans with his ability to make plays with his feet.
The past two seasons, Martinez tried to make plays with his arm instead. That did not work out too well.
It looked as if the Nebraska coaching staff was afraid to put Martinez in a position where he may be injured, worried that they didn't have a reliable backup quarterback.
Nebraska finally has some depth at the quarterback position.
Brion Carnes, the 2011 backup, and freshman Tommy Armstrong will provide options at the quarterback position if something where to happen to Martinez.
Carnes has been progressing as a quarterback and time will tell what Nebraska has planned for Armstrong.
By having talented players to go at the quarterback position, the Nebraska coaching staff can once again allow Martinez to make plays with his feet.
The last reason why Nebraska could be in for a breakthrough season is Rex Burkhead.
As long as Burkhead is healthy and able to carry the load for the Cornhuskers, the team will have a chance.
Last season in the game against Ohio State, Burkhead led Nebraska to victory.
If Burkhead improves at all this season, the Cornhuskers will have a chance in every game.
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