1.) Options not named Rex BurkheadWith Braylon Heard moving to cornerback this spring, it will be key for sophomores Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah to make big strides before next fall. We know what Abdullah can do in the return game, but even in a worst case scenario, Nebraska needs one of the two second year plyaers to emerge as a third down threat. Best case scenario: one or both become a feasible weapon and take some pressure off Burkhead by getting 10 to 15 carries a game in the fall. They should both have ample opportunity to prove themselves before then.
2.) The maturation of the cornerback positionAssuming that Mohammed Seisay steps in as a starter from day one, a second starter still needs to emerge from the pack. Will Heard be able to make the conversion quickly? Or will Ciante Evans, Andrew Green, Josh Mitchell, or another youngster grab the spot? Add the dynamic of a brand new secondary coach in Terry Joseph, and you have an extremely interesting scenario.
3.) Wide receiver consistencyThis is something Nebraska has been looking to improve for a long time. Last season, Brandon Kinnie performed below expectations. Kenny Bell was explosive at times, but was held back by numerous drops. Sophomore Jamal Turner had a promising start to the season, but didn't even sniff the field later on because coaches said he lacked practice intensity. While strong springs don't necessarily translate to what will take place in the fall (that goes for all five of these story-lines) I think it will be important for Nebraska's wide receivers to gain confidence going into summer workouts.
4.) Tight EndsBen Cotton and Kyler Reed enter the 2012 season as seniors and in my mind will be important to the development of the offense under Tim Beck. Can Reed return to his sophomore form (22 catches, eight TDs) or will he have another disappointing season? (15 receptions, one TD in 2011) Ben Cotton should be solid again, but who will be next in line at the position when he and Reed graduate?
5.) Kickoff strategyI know this sounds like a rather miniscule detail, but every team will have to deal with the new rules (kickoffs are moved to the 35 yard line, and touchbacks come out to the 25) and they'll have to start preparing their approach in the spring. Will Brett Maher or Mauro Bondi handle the duties? And will they attempt to kick it through the end zone every time, or kick it as close to the end zone as possible and let the coverage try to pin them inside the 25?
- Josh Harvey -