The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ wide receiving corps will boast a rarity for the Husker program this fall: depth. For a team that traditionally bases its offense on the run game and typically aspires for mere sufficiency in the pass game, this group of Nebraska wideouts is surprisingly diverse.
From the speed of Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell to the strength and size of Quincy Enunwa and Taariq Allen, the Big Red depth chart is dotted with receivers that can make plays on any given Saturday.
Unfortunately, though, the 2012 season showed only one pass catcher capable of making plays every Saturday.
A season ago, Kenny Bell elevated himself to the class of elite receivers in the Big Ten, and he did so through consistency. After recording only one reception against Southern Mississippi in the season opener (one that just so happened to go for a touchdown), Bell played seven straight games with at least 50 yards receiving, including two 100-yard performances.
By the end of the conference schedule, Bell had tallied at least two receptions in every Big Ten game except the wind-blown defensive struggle in Iowa City to conclude the season.
Although not the headlining numbers at pass-happy Texas Tech or USC, this level of consistent production is rather novel at Nebraska.
But Bell was the only one.
Other receivers certainly showed sparks of brilliance.
Enunwa was a monster against Northwestern, tallying six receptions for 110 yards. However, he disappeared against Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, totaling four receptions and 15 yards in those three contests.
Turner also had a few quality outings, accumulating 56 yards at Northwestern and 83 against Minnesota. Yet he had but a single reception against Wisconsin in Lincoln and Michigan.
Obviously these numbers have more causes than the personal efforts of Bell, Enunwa and Turner. Play calling, matchups and the reads of Taylor Martinez all dictated the numbers.
But no matter the reason, the Husker offense is most potent when using its depth at the skill positions to spread defenses thin. The athleticism provided by Enunwa, Turner and Allen on the perimeter can and must do that.
After his breakout year in 2012, opposing secondaries will no doubt be keying on Bell. The other talented Husker receivers must seize this opportunity week in and week out if the Nebraska passing attack is going to be at its best.