As I'm sure most of you would agree, Nebraska should win the National Title every year. Unfortunatley over the past few seasons that has not been the case. With the upcoming 2012 season the excitement and expectation of a title in 2013 seems to be lower than it has been in recent years. So although I expect a title this year, as I do every year, here are the reasons why Nebraska WILL win the National Title in 2014.
To illustrate my point I am going to compare Taylor's numbers from his sophomore year to a couple other people you might have heard of.
162-288 2,089 yds 56.2%; 8 ints 13 TDs; 126.52 Eff. Rate
188 att. 874 yds; 4.6 yd avg; 9 TDs
77-162 1,159 yds 47.5%; 4 ints 12 TDs; 127.1 Eff. Rate
126 att 704 yds; 5.6 yd avg; 9 TDs
83-160 1,269 yds 51.9%; 4 ints 7 TDs; 127.9 Eff Rate
180 att 889 yds; 4.9 yd avg; 16 TDs*
I would also compare Scott Frost, but seeing as he was at Stanford his sophomore year I figured I'd leave him out. Now I understand that these quarterbacks all played under different coaches and ran different offenses than Martinez. But I'm not using these stats to show how Taylor's numbers will be in two years, rather to show the progression of great quarterbacks.
Neither Tommie nor Crouch were unreal in terms of numbers their sophomore year (minus the 16 rushing touchdowns for Crouch). But they developed into quarterbacks that took their teams to National Titles. Neither Tommie nor Crouch started the first game of their freshman year. Taylor did. He was only a sophomore last year; so many people are ready to throw him under the bus and forget that he has won a lot of games as a 19 and 20 year old. Give him another year of development and he will be a force to be reckoned with. All we need is patience Corn Nation.
*Sophomore QB rushing for 16 TDs - simply remarkable
4. Wide Receivers
Look for Martinez improved throwing motion (hopefully) and our depth at wide receiver to truly make Nebraska a dual threat offense. Enunwa will be a senior, Bell and Turner will be juniors, and Westerkamp will likely be a sophomore*. Look for Nebraska to have the best receiving corps they have had in a very long time, if not ever. Not to mention our offensive line will return Long, Moore, Rodriguez, Sirles, and Thurston*. Giving Taylor plenty of time to operate, and our wide outs enough time to run complete routes.
*I hate to count on incoming freshman, but Westerkamp and Thurston really look to be solid producers
3. Running Back
We lose Rex. Possibly mine and the entire state of Nebraska's favorite running back of all time, impossible to replace. But let's look at what we will have. Ameer Abdulah will be a junior, Imani Cross a sophomore, and who knows where Braylon Heard will be at this point in time. The point is we have depth and good players in that depth. We will take a step back without Rex, that is unavoidable, but it won't be all that large of a step. Let's put it this way, Aaron Green didn't leave because the people in front of him weren't any good.
I'm putting this at number 2 because this seems to be where our biggest question mark lies. At DE Ankrah will have to step up, and Greg McMullen will have to be everything he has been made out to be. Bottom line young guys will have to step up. We lose Steinkuhler at DT, but everyone’s favorite ranga* Chase Rome will be back. We also return Thad Randle and Todd Peat. We should be fine at DT.
Now onto linebacker. Sean Fisher and Will Compton will be gone. Huge loss. But if Zaire Anderson is anything like Bo's last JCO linebacker the middle will be filled. This position again comes down to young guys stepping up. It is unfortunate that we have to count on that, but 2013 will really tell if Nebraska is back to the years where we would simply reload on defense.
Corner Back appears to be our strongest position in 2013, I am not going to go into detail on each of the guys we will have competing for a starting spot, but with Mohammed Seisay, Ciante Evans, Andrew Green, and Jean-Baptiste as seniors look for the corn to be deep here.
Finally Safety. On the actually roster there are only 3 guys who will be on the team at the safety position in 2013. All of which played in at least 10 games last year, but none of them did more than drag down a few ball carriers. I see safety as a spot where really anything can happen particularly with all of our depth at corner. I don't know who will be playing there but I think this position and our secondary as a whole will be solid.
Again the defense seems to be the only question mark. If they can do a competent job there I think our strong offense will be able to carry us. And at the end of the day we still have Bo Pelini coaching these guys, never underestimate either a Nebraska defense or a Pelini defense.
*Summer Heights High reference. Did you get it?
The number one thing that cannot be overlooked in any team’s title run is who they have to beat to get there. And for Nebraska in 2013 the question is who can't they beat on their schedule. The Huskers have an offseason slate looking similar to this year with UCLA and Wyoming at home as well as Southern Miss on the road that should get the corn off to a quick 3-0 start. Not to take anything away from a road game at Southern Miss, but that is a game almost any Husker team should win.
Then to conference play. Nebraska starts the season with Illinois at home followed by Purdue on the road. Granted those are two teams the corn are unfamiliar with, however, it still should without a doubt be two wins. 5-0.
Following a bye week comes Minnesota on the road and Northwestern at home. Although Kain Colter in his senior season can send chills down the spines of Husker faithful, I see no scenario where Bo and his boys let that embarrassment happen again. Two more wins 7-0.
After Northwestern the toughest stretch of the season begins at Michigan, then home for Michigan State, and then to the road at Penn State. The obvious concern is Michigan. The boys in blue, however, lose 5 starters on both offense and defense next year including playmakers Denard Robinson and Roy Roundtree; as well as two offensive linemen at RG and C who will likely be replaced by sophomores. With two young offensive linemen that will be the biggest factor in slowing down senior Fitzgerald Toussaint who will likely be their biggest threat and have a strong year. I say it’s close but with the 7-0 start momentum will carry the corn through to 8-0.
Then comes the Spartans who I think we can all agree Nebraska matches up better with than any other team in the country. Obviously only time will tell if Andrew Maxwell will be a threat, but I think it's safe to say he will never be Kirk Cousins. However, all they lose on offense is two O-Linemen and their kicker; never underestimate the importance of a young kicker in a big game on the opposing sideline. On defense Gholston will be a senior which scares me just about as much as his name does. They return a lot of talent, but I truly see the Michigan State - Nebraska games being similar to the Nebraska - Texas games, with us being Texas*. They are a team whose number I think Nebraska will always have. 9-0
Following that we have Penn State on the road. We will eat their lunch for the next decade 10-0.
Then comes the final game of the season, with Nebraska in the top 5 Iowa will be trying to play spoiler. It will not happen. Never mind the fact that they lose James Vandenberg, who is just not nearly as good as Iowa fans seem to think, this is a game Nebraska should win every year especially at home. I don't need another reason. 11-0.
Finally the B1G title game. Since it is hard to predict who will be in this game I cannot really accurately go into it. However, although beating an undefeated Nebraska team with double digit win totals has been done before don't expect Bo to let off the gas. 2013 will likely be the season that either turns all Nebraska fans into Bolievers or (I can't come up with a clever play on words using Bo's name and a synonym for haters) Bo haters. His team will be ready for whomever (is it whomever or whoever? I never know) they face. With a weak schedule this will be the game Nebraska needs to win to prove its worth. 11-0.
Then the National Title and a victory. 12-0. Nebraska is back.