[Jon - I can only imagine how many times we're going to re-hash the offense this offseason. At least once a week? Hahahhaa. Well, we're starting somewhere!]
You knew the other shoe had to drop sometime. Now that we've all been encouraged by a look at the Huskers' possible defensive two-deep next year, it's time to examine the offense. Grab a stiff drink.
Again, the years are next year's classes, but the stats are this year's, and the awards are cumulative.
Taylor Martinez, So., 13 Games, 12 Games Started, 1631 yds., 59.2% comp., 10 TD, 7 INT, 965 yds. rushing, 12 TD, Big 12 Offensive Freshman Of The Year
Cody Green, Jr., 9 G, 2 GS, 340 yds., 55% comp., 3 TD, 1 INT, 96 yds. rushing, 1 TD
Also in the mix: Brion Carnes, RFr., Jamal Turner, Fr., Bubba Starling, Fr./baseball
Gone: Zac Lee, LaTravis Washington
Comments: We all know what's going on here - which is to say, none of us have any idea what's going on here. I'm pretty sure Martinez will enter spring ball and fall practice as the presumptive returning starter, but didn't we all think that about Lee last year? My wild guesses: Martinez will begin the season as the starter, Green won't seriously challenge for the starting job but will hang around in a similar bailout backup role as this year, Starling will go pro, and the only one of the freshmen who make a real play for the job will be Carnes. Who knows, though.
Rex Burkhead, Jr., 14 G, 2 GS, 951 yds., 5.5 YPC, 7 TD, 15 recs, 148 yds, 35 passing yds., 3 TD, Honorable Mention All-Big 12
Aaron Green, Fr.
Gone: Roy Helu
Comments: Burkhead is more than ready to step into the featured back role, but the Husker offense also really needs that proverbial "home-run threat" back there alongside him, and Burkhead isn't it. Dontrayevous Robinson sure wasn't it, either, which is why he's transferring. The Husker coaching staff has got to be hoping Green (or maybe Heard, as a longshot) is good enough to play some of that role as a freshman, and given that RB is probably the easiest offensive position to pick up quickly, he might have a decent shot.
I like Jones as someone to give Burkhead a breather - he's a hard runner. I'm a bit concerned about who's going to be in on third downs, though, since Helu did most of the pass-blocking this year.
Tight End: Ben Cotton, Jr., 14 G, 13 GS, 3 rec., 34 yds
Jake Long, So., 3 G, 0 GS, 1 rec., 17 yds.
Comments: Yikes. Seems like we're back to 2009 here - we've got a whole bunch of guys who have been around the program for a while, but have very little on the field to show for it. Kinnie is a solid, reliable receiver and Reed has been a surprisingly good big-play threat, but beyond that, we have a whole lot of meh.
I penciled in Reed as making the same position switch McNeill did last year - that's just my guess at the coaching staff's attempt to get both him and Cotton on the field as much as possible. The coaching staff loves Kenny Bell, so I'm sure he'll play some sort of role. The same may also go for Jean-Baptiste, to a lesser extent.
Jeremiah Sirles, So., 14 G, 14 GS
Jermarcus Hardrick, Sr., 14 G, 0 GS
Andrew Rodriguez, So., 6 G, 0 GS
Nick Ash, So.
Mike Caputo, Sr., 14 G, 14 GS, Honorable Mention All-Big 12
Cole Pensick, So., 1 G, 0 GS
Brent Qvale, So.
Jesse Coffey, So.
Marcel Jones, Sr., 4 G, 0 GS
Mike Moudy, RFr.
Also in the mix: Brandon Thompson, Jr., Ryan Klachko, Fr., Tyler Moore, Fr., Ryne Reeves, Fr., Zach Sterup, Fr.
Gone: Ricky Henry, D.J. Jones, Mike Smith, Keith Williams
Comments: Other than Caputo, Sirles, and Hardrick, there's hardly any experience in this group, but based on what we've been hearing, a decent amount of talent. Now's the time for that 2009 recruiting class - Ash, Coffey, Qvale, Sirles - to produce. If they don't, it's going to be a very, very long season.
The incoming recruiting class has several highly touted guys, too, (especially Moore and Reeves) and I'm guessing one or two will push for starting jobs and see some time on the field as true freshmen.
Well, that doesn't make me any more optimistic for this year - we're losing a considerable amount of talent from a meh offense, and replacing it with loads of question marks. If this were the situation on defense, I'd just assume we're going to have a couple Lavonte David types explode out of nowhere. This being the offense, though, I don't have my hopes up. I don't think it'll be 2009 bad, but it the view sure isn't good from here.