When you think about Nebraska football, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the power running game. There are the bruising fullbacks that head straight north-south like a bowling ball, smashing into the opponents linemen or linebackers. There are the quarterbacks that run the option with no fear of taking hits. We can't forget the running backs that can take on linebackers with their speed or linemen with their power and the offensive linemen that eat pancakes on and off the field.
There's also the legacy of the blackshirts with their rich history of terrorizing opposing offenses. Intimidating linemen, quick strike linebackers and defensive backs that could could cover Chuck Norris. We also can't forget our special teams that seem to never run out of good kickers, kick returners and coverage men. But the one position that rarely gets the love it deserves could be the most important player on the field for the Cornhuskers. That's the tight end.
This year, that position belongs to Kyler Reed.
Reed was a three-star LB out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Kansas City. He switched to tight end early in his career to provide some backup for Mike McNeil. Kyler made a splash onto the scene in early 2010 when he was a TD catching machine. He caught a 33-yard TD catch against South Dakota State, a 79-yard TD catch against Kansas State, a 41-yard TD catch against Oklahoma State, and a 40-yard TD catch against Missouri,
By the Iowa State game, Reed's importance to the offense (and to Taylor Martinez) became well known. At this point of the season, the offense was really struggling without their big running plays. Reed tied a team high in receptions with three against the Cyclones along with three more catches during the Texas A&M game. In the Colorado game, Reed caught two TD catches against the Buffaloes, he had one score against Oklahoma during the Big XII title game, and scored the only TD in the Holiday Bowl against Washington.
He started to get a reputation as Nebraska's go-to tight end while Ben Cotton was known as the blocking TE. This past summer, both players have worked hard to develop their skills and you will see both players line up in both situations.
Blocking from the tight end has been very important to Nebraska's offense this year. In 2010, the run game was defined by big plays. It seemed like Martinez, Roy Helu, and Rex Burkhead would scamper for an 80-yard TD or be stuffed for a 1 yard gain. When those big plays weren't there, there wasn't much offense to speak of. This year, the offensive line has been able to get the blocks to grind out chunks of yards and sustain drives on the ground without the big play. Because of our improved blocking Reed has developed into a very powerful weapon for Nebraska. He helps the line provide a way for Rex and company, while also able to run routes to make a big play when necessary.
Tyler Reed's maturation benefits the offense in many ways. Sustaining drives on the ground is a successful formula for winning championships and also being a receiving threat means you have to account for him both on the run and pass. Reed's numbers have been down this year (7 catches for 165) but his yards-per-catch sits at 23.57. When he does get the ball, it's usually in a situation that helps move the chains and builds momentium for the offense. You get the feeling that it's just a matter of time before Reed has his day and wouldn't it be nice if it came this weekend in the biggest game of the year. Kyler has been banged up and sat out the Minnesota game with a hamstring injury, but he should be good to go for the game against the Spartans.
Nebraska will need their secret weapon to shine if they want to be legendary this year. Another great site to talk about number 25, scout.com., and the Cornhuskers is over at