Many of us build up college teams every preseason, looking back at the previous season and guessing what the strengths and weaknesses of each team will be. This is nothing more than speculation, yet many a fan turns that speculation (if positive) into expectations. These expectations lead fans to believe that they know that their team is the best, simply because this reporter said this or that magazine said that.
The point I'm trying to make is this: All of the preseason magazines and speculation happens without a single snap. Sometimes that speculation is right, but more often than not, it's wrong. Wasn't Georgia preseason number one a couple years ago? How did that turn out? Without a single game occurring, I could say that Washington State is going to the Rose Bowl. Some fans might be excited and some might just plain think I have no clue what I'm talking about. (By the way, Washington State isn't going to the Rose Bowl).
When the season starts, things are uncovered about teams. The season exposes the winners (LSU), the losers (TCU), and the surprises (Clemson). But it also exposes things on an even smaller level. It can reveal exciting new talent, problems with teams and a myriad of other things. While I could go on all day, breaking down what we've learned about every team up to this point in the season, I'm going to focus on one.
That team is Nebraska. There was certainly a lot of speculation surrounding this team, mostly about the new offense. The following are five surprises that very few, if any, people could have speculated about in the preseason.
While one could have predicted a small letdown with the departure of Gomes, Hagg, Amukamara, and Thenarse, no one could have predicted this. Nebraska's secondary is one of the worst of the Bo Pelini-era. There are many excuses for this, the main one being youth. Sure, Alfonzo Dennard is back and locks down his side of the field, but the rest of it has holes big enough to land a helicopter in.
The defense was supposed to be a strength for Nebraska this year. That was speculation, but then again this whole article could be considered speculation, as there's the off chance that the secondary will get better.
Only time will tell, but right now the state the is in secondary comes as a major shock to many fans.
Many thought Nebraska's kicking game would suffer without the leg of Alex Henery. They couldn't have been more wrong. Maher, despite the unrealistic expectations placed on him by his pre-mentioned predecessor, has performed pretty well.
Maher has missed a couple long ones that Henery in all likelihood would have made, but it's his first year. Cut him some slack.
Maher is one of the better surprises on this Husker team.
When Ameer Abdullah's decision to come to Nebraska was announced, there wasn't much fanfare. Abdullah wasn't a highly-touted recruit, most likely the reason no one made a big deal about his commitment.
But what he has done on special teams is impressive. Nebraska now has a legitimate home run threat on both kickoffs and punts. Ameer, like Maher, is a pleasant discovery.
Fans of Nebraska saw what some of the new talent at receiver could do in the spring, but they had no idea how good it could be. Nebraska's receiving corps is comprised of very speedy guys.
Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell have been equally impressive, often burning defenders for the deep ball. Brandon Kinnie had a slow start to his season but has quietly been getting his numbers.
This year receiver is actually a strength of the Husker offense, if only there was a more consistent way of getting it in their hands.
One thing that has consistently plagued the Huskers for the last couple of years was penalties. Though it's still early in the season, Nebraska has done pretty well limiting the number of penalties they've received.
Only time will tell if they can keep limiting their mistakes. They did convert to their old selves against Wisconsin, racking a good deal of penalties.