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Looking Ahead to 2012 Husker Football: Special Teams

Kickers: Brett Maher, Sr.; Mauro Bondi, So.
Punters: Brett Maher, Sr.;
Holders: None
Long Snapper: P.J. Mangieri, Sr.;
Return: Ameer Abdullah, So.; Tim Marlowe, Sr.; Kenny Bell, So.; Jamal Turner, So.

Well, how about that! Just about everybody is back on special teams, except holder Austin Cassidy. Frequently the punter ends up being the holder, and while Brett Maher seemed to do it all last season, holding for his own kicks might be expecting just a little too much.

Jon: Last year's biggest story line heading into the season was "Who's going to replace Alex Henery?". It didn't take long to get the answer to that question as Brett Maher made it seem like Henery had never left, doing an excellent job in both punting and kicking.

The surprise of the season had to be the early play of Ameer Abdullah, who was fun to watch and didn't have us holding our breath whenever he caught the ball.

Mike: Actually, Maher probably outplayed Henery much of last season. So I'm not concerned about kicking this season.

The return game could be interesting. The NCAA is going to experiment with moving kickoffs up to the 35 yard line, and spotting the ball at the 25 after a touchback. You won't necessarily want an Adi Kunalic kicking off, but rather a guy who can kick it high and let the coverage team do their part. That means that kickoff returners will need to create their own holes.

I'm wondering if we'll see Jamal Turner get a shot to return kicks this season. Last year, everybody inked Turner into this role, only to have Abdullah seize the job. What I found curious was Kenny Bell and Tim Marlowe getting opportunities before Turner did. The only explanation I can offer is that Turner was struggling with the mental aspects last season. Maybe that was a calculated decision to try and get him ready to play on offense, but it may have limited one of Nebraska's biggest weapons.

Jon: I get the idea that Turner was struggling with the idea that he had to practice hard to get on the field - same problem he had as a receiver. You don't get to just show up and play at this level even if you're capable.

In fact, as we wrap up the 2012 preview - let's take that and apply it across the board.

Mike: I think you're onto something there, Jon.