What will be the biggest causes for concern about Nebraska football next season? As the calendar flips to August and fall camps begin in earnest, it’s time for fans to take a hard look at their teams for the upcoming season. Let’s look at the five areas where Nebraska has the most questions to answer coming into 2012.
Replacing Mike Caputo was always going to be a challenge for Nebraska coming into 2012. Cole Pensick, a junior, seems to have the inside edge at inheriting the mantle, given that he is the only player on the roster with some game experience. Senior Justin Jackson and sophomore Mark Pelini are competing with Pensick for the starting center position, and there was some discussion about Jeremiah Sirles switching positions and moving to center (although that seems to have been more rumor than substance).
The importance of experience at center cannot be overestimated, so the replacement of someone like Caputo was always going to be a challenge for Nebraska. Pensick will likely get the first opportunity to fill those shoes.
Rush end was, at one point, one of the glamor positions in Nebraska’s defense. Over the last few years, however, the position has slipped in terms of production and attention (although some guy named Suh might have had something to do with that).
Going into 2012, Cameron Meredith is likely to be a starter, with Jason Ankrah, Joseph Carter and Eric Martin competing for the other starting spot. Meredith’s 2011 production dipped from his 2010 form, and the others competing have not yet proven themselves as starters.
Nebraska has a lot of offensive guards on its roster. A lot. But tackle is a position that begins to look a little thin, both now and going forward. Jeremiah Sirles is a likely starter, with Andrew Rodriguez, Tyler Moore and Brent Qvale competing for the other spot. After those four? The cupboard starts to look pretty bare. Injuries at the tackle position could make Nebraska’s offensive line rotation a tricky business in 2012.
The two starting cornerback positions will almost certainly be filled by Mohammed Seisay, a junior college transfer, and Andrew Green, a junior who lost and regained the starting corner position over the course of the 2011 season.
Behind Seisay and Green are Braylon Heard, a converted running back, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a converted wide receiver and Corey Cooper, a converted safety. Yeah, you get the picture. There is a lot of talent, but also a lot of questions for Nebraska at corner.
Once again, it comes back to T-Magic. There’s no question that Taylor Martinez is the starter. There are plenty of questions as to what kind of production Nebraska can expect from the mercurial junior. It’s what is behind Martinez on the depth chart that should give the Children of the Corn pause.
Brion Carnes should be next in line, but it was clear in 2011 that the coaching staff had little faith in Carnes’ ability to perform. Nebraska also has freshman phenom Tommy Armstrong, along with Bronson Marsh, Ron Kellogg III and Ryker Fyfe on the depth chart.
So Nebraska certainly has questions about Martinez at quarterback, questions that Infinite Monkeys (including a certain handsome and witty analyst) have written about this offseason. But if Martinez goes down, Nebraska will be facing a series of much harder questions.
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