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August 26, 2013

Husker Buzz: More than a one-man show

There have been a lot of great offenses at Nebraska. Recent ones that come to mind are 2006, 2001, 1999 and 1997.

Obviously 1995 and 1983 top the list though when you talk about some of the great offenses in school history.

As you start to look at this 2013 Husker offense, the thing that makes it different than some of the great offenses in the past is it's not just featured around one or two players.

The 2013 offense is unique in that on top of All-Big Ten quarterback Taylor Martinez, you have to deal with preseason All-Big Ten running back Ameer Abdullah and All-Big Ten caliber wide receivers Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner and Quincy Enunwa.

Both Martinez and Abdullah rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, which makes it the first time in school history where Nebraska has ever returned two 1,000 yard rushers in a single season. Bell is also on pace to become the Huskers all-time leading receiver, while Enunwa is one of the most physical receivers NU has ever had in recent memory.

On top of that, NU has the deepest offensive line they've had in recent memory.

"I think this is going to be one of Nebraska's best ever lines we've ever had," Martinez said. "I think they are going to be the strong point of our offense. There are so many good players up there and strong guys and a lot of people have played in games. I'm very excited to see how they do."

There aren't a lot of flaws when you breakdown this Husker offense, that's why when you start to look ahead they have a chance to be remembered as one of the school's all-time best.

However, racking up stats and taking home postseason honors are the least of Martinez's concerns heading into Saturday's opener with Wyoming.

"The most important thing is just going out and winning," Martinez said. "I think that's the biggest thing and that's just going out there to win. It doesn't really matter about your stats or who you get the ball to. As long as you are making plays and putting points on the board."

Abdullah said the beauty of this offense is an opposing defensive coordinator can't say "If we stop this player, we can shutdown Nebraska."

"I don't think you can do it. Honestly at wide-out we are as deep as Nebraska has ever had," Abdullah said. "We have guys that can fill in that if someone goes down, we won't miss a beat. I feel like you can't really mark one person on this offense.

"Obviously we've seen what Taylor (Martinez) has been doing the past four years he's been here. Also, the backs we have in our running back room, any one of us can make a play. Just to put your attention to one guy is not going to be in your best interest if you are playing us."


Abdullah the fighter

You learn something new every day, and on Monday I found out that Abdullah at one time in his life was a boxer.

During Monday's press conference Abdullah came in sporting a Muhammad Ali t-shirt, which drew a few comments and remarks from reporters.

It makes a lot more sense now where Abdullah gets his edge and toughness from. He carries himself like a boxer and is never satisfied no matter what he's accomplished.

For the stat geeks

***Wyoming gave up 232.3 yards per game last year on the ground, which was 117th in the nation. If the Cowboys don't get that shored up, they could be in for a long day on Saturday. Especially with Nebraska's depth at running back and on the offensive line.

***Cowboy quarterback Brett Smith will certainly test the young Husker defense. In 2012 Smith threw for 2,837 yards and 27 touchdowns.

***Martinez enters the season with 2,858 yard rushing, which is the most of any returning player in college football. USC and former Penn State running back Silas Redd is second with 2,583 yards.

***Pelini's five-year win total of 48 is good for second all-time in school history, only one behind Frank Solich's win total of 49. Bob Devaney won 47 games, while Tom Osborne won just 46. However, keep in mind 12 game schedules didn't exist in those days and there weren't conference title games until 1996.

Around the state

***There's no doubt the highlight match-up for me in the first week of high school football is Lincoln Southeast at Millard West. The game will feature Husker recruits D.J. Foster and Luke Gifford of Lincoln Southeast, along with Stanford recruit Harrison Phillips of Millard West.

***Our Rivals.com colleague Bob Jensen wrote a great piece featuring Norfolk Catholic head coach Jeff Bellar, Hastings St. Cecelia head coach Carl Tesmer and Elkhorn head coach Mark Wortman. The trio has all won 300+ games over their illustrious careers, forming what Jensen dubbed the "900 Club." Hard to imagine we'll see very many more 300-win coaches anytime soon. Millard North's Fred Petito has to be getting close though.

***I would've loved to have seen high school football kickoff this past Friday. There's something special about having games kickoff the week before the Huskers. I'm sure we'll still see huge crowds on Friday, but I always liked giving high school football its own weekend before college football kicked off. It really fed the football appetite around these parts.

Three and out

***I was able to check out the Stadium expansion last week and I was really blown away how good the view is from the new balcony. I honestly would much rather have a new East balcony seat over a high end zone seat in the North and South. I personally think it's better to sit higher at a football game as it is. Why do you think the offensive coordinator calls the game from the highest point in the stadium?

***Pelini was very loose on Monday during his press conference. I sensed some relief that it was finally game week and his team escaped camp with really only one major injury. You can tell Pelini remains cautiously optimistic about this season.

***I got a kick out of seeing Martinez's custom Husker license plates that read "TMagic3." I would love to see a poster with Martinez, Abdullah, Bell, Turner and Enunwa posing around "the T- Magic Mobile." It would remind me of that famous 1982 poster with Dave Rimington and the guys posing around a white Cadillac.

Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.



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