The Nebraska Cornhuskers could be in for a big season in 2012. The Cornhuskers begin the season ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Nebraska enters its second season in the Big Ten Conference flying under the radar. In 2011, the Cornhuskers were the topic of discussion in the Big Ten Conference. A quiet offseason may bode well for Nebraska because the Cornhuskers usually perform well when they are not in the spotlight.
Sometimes, the difference between a good season and a great season is the team’s ability to avoid injuries. The Cornhuskers have more depth this year than they had in the past, but staying injury-free is important for any team.
Here is a list of five players the Cornhuskers cannot lose to injury in 2012…
Rex Burkhead has to be at the top of the list of players who cannot be lost to injury in 2012.
Nebraska has depth at the running back position, but the backups would have a hard time replacing Burkhead.
Last year, Burkhead carried the ball 284 times for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns. It would be wise for the Cornhuskers to lighten Burkhead’s load in 2012. This will keep him fresh in November and possibly keep him from the team’s injury list.
If something were to happen to Burkhead, the young players would have to step-up.
Sophomores Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Head would likely carry the load for the Cornhuskers. Freshman Imani Cross would also have a chance for more playing time if Burkhead were to be injured.
Burkhead is an important part of the Cornhuskers' offense. If he runs like he did last season, the Cornhuskers will be in every game. If he were to be injured, the Cornhuskers may be in trouble.
The lost of All-American linebacker Lavonte David to graduation at the end of the 2011season will be hard enough for the Cornhuskers to replace. If their best linebacker in 2012, Will Compton, were to be injured, the Blackshirts defense would have two holes to fill.
The linebacker position for the Cornhuskers is the position that the team lacks depth at this season. The Cornhuskers will be looking for junior college transfer Zaire Anderson to start at one linebacker position and senior Sean Fisher to start at the other linebacker position.
Nebraska does not have much experience behind Compton, Anderson and Ficher on the depth chart. Nebraska is waiting for the NCAA to grant freshman Jared Afalava eligibility for the 2012 season. The Cornhuskers need all the help they can get at the linebacker position.
The offensive line position is another position the Cornhuskers have questions marks at.
Nebraska is trying to find a starting center, and the rumored departure of Tyler Moore does not help its situation at the tackle position.
The best offensive lineman for the Cornhuskers is right guard Spencer Long.
Long is the leader of the Cornhuskers offensive line. It is important for the line to have someone to look to for leadership. Last year, it was senior center Mike Caputo. This season, it is Long.
If Long were to be injured, the Cornhuskers may have too many questions to answer on the offensive line.
Damion Stafford came to Nebraska and made an immediate impact for the Cornhuskers. Last season, Stafford was named All-Big Ten honorable mention for his solid play in Nebraska’s secondary.
This season, Stafford will be looked upon as the leader in Nebraska’s secondary. His leadership would be missed if he were to be injured.
The Cornhuskers have senior safety Courtney Osborne behind Stafford on the unofficial depth chart. The Blackshirts would have a hole in their defense if Osborne had to start for Stafford for a long period of time.
My last pick for the player Nebraska cannot lose to injury may stir some conversation.
It is no secret that some fans would prefer if Nebraska were to start one of its backup quarterbacks instead of Taylor Martinez. Be careful of what you wish for, Corn Nation.
Martinez is the only experienced quarterback on the depth chart. While backup quarterbacks Brion Carnes and Tommy Armstrong have the hype, they do not have the experience trying to lead a team to victory in front of 100,000 hostile fans.
Martinez has shown flashes of greatness, but has also struggled at times. In his third year as the Cornhuskers' starting quarterback, he should be ready to take the next step and lead Nebraska to a championship game. Martinez said his goal was to take Nebraska to the national championship in 2012.
While Martinez’s goal may be unrealistic, it is good to have a quarterback who wants to be the best.
If Martinez were to be injured, Carnes or Armstrong may come in and play well. I bet it would take time for the young backups to become comfortable under the pressure of Corn Nation.
Let’s just hope that 2012 will be an injury-free season for the Cornhuskers.
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