Nebraska Football: Why Huskers Offense Is on Track for Big Year in 2014

Erin SorensenContributor INovember 18, 2013

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 16: Wide receiver Sam Burtch #9 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers congratulates teammate running back Imani Cross #32 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers after scoring during their game against the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

It's hard to look forward after a big loss.

In fact, Nebraska's loss to Michigan State ensured the Huskers will not travel to the Big Ten Championship.

Some may feel the future looks grim. That's likely just a side effect of the loss.

Nebraska actually has a lot to look forward to, especially on offense.

The Blackshirts have made a big statement recently. With it, the offense has been bumped from the spotlight.

However, the Husker offense is on track to be stronger in 2014.

A lot of that will have to do with the wide receiver corps.

Nebraska has always been a team focused on running the ball. Up until former head coach Bill Callahan pushed the West Coast offense on the Huskers, attacking on the ground was Nebraska's bread and butter.

That did provide challenges over recent years. As college football evolved, more teams were needing to put the ball in the air to succeed.

Nebraska realized it might be one of those teams.

That's where wide receivers coach Rich Fisher stepped up big.

Since 2010, the Huskers wide receiver corps has grown more and more talented with each year.

Junior Kenny Bell has been a big factor in that growth. In 2011, Bell became a fan sensation of sorts. His 'fro captured attention. His ability to make big plays kept it.

Since then, Fisher has grown his group into a talented one.

It was never more prevalent until Nebraska faced Northwestern Nov. 2.

When Bell went down with a groin injury, it became clear younger receivers would have to step up.

One of those players was sophomore Sam Burtch.

The 6'3", 195-pound walk-on made a statement. With time winding down, Burtch made a four-yard catch. A Northwestern defender tried to keep him in bounds, but Burtch set the football on the out-of-bounds line.

He stopped the clock with 11 seconds to play. Those 11 seconds proved to be imperative in the Huskers' 27-24 win over the Wildcats.

Since then, Burtch has continued to make a case for himself.

Despite the loss to Michigan State, Burtch caught five passes for a career-high 86 receiving yards.

Beyond Burtch, redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp also has made a big impact in 2013. His most memorable moment will obviously be his Hail Mary catch to defeat Northwestern.

Westerkamp is just another example of the younger wide receivers being ready when their number is called.

Fisher shed light on the readiness of young players for Nebraska, as reported by Brian Cristopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.

It’s kind of one of those deals where, ‘OK, here it is. Here’s what we talk about all the time. It’s actually taking place. Those guys have heard me say it before: You might not get the reps in practice, but you better be prepared and taking mental reps, and understand and be able to play multiple positions.

The wide receivers, at all levels, have been ready. The group has also opened up many more options for the Nebraska offense.

Players like I-back Ameer Abdullah will always bring a big presence on the ground. That won't change for the Huskers.

However, the opportunity to put the ball in the air makes Nebraska's offense even more impressive going forward.

The 2013 season has been one of learning. With senior quarterback Taylor Martinez out with an injury, redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong has had to step in.

Armstrong has had his fair share of struggles. It hasn't always been easy for the young quarterback.

Time can fix that, though.

In 2014, Nebraska's offense has the potential to be extremely well-rounded. Husker opponents will be challenged in their preparation because of it.

While fans may be focused on the present, there is a lot to look forward to with Nebraska's offense going forward.

If the wide receivers continue to step up like they have, 2014 will be a big year for Nebraska.