1. The development of Taylor Martinez – Let's be honest and start here because behind Martinez on the team at the quarterback position for Nebraska is a big question mark. Yes, Brion Carnes is talented and supposedly has come along well with his development. Then there is incoming freshman Tommy Armstrong that a lot of people are excited about, but beyond Martinez there is not a lot of experience. Taylor spent time this summer with private quarterback coaches so at least you know that he is trying to improve. What might be the best thing for Martinez is a year under the belt of Tim Beck as the offensive coordinator to go back, analyze the old games, look at the games coming up and figure out more than anything more than the play that needs to be run the play that Taylor Martinez can run and run well. It's going to be extremely important for Martinez to build momentum as games go and build on that from week to week. It's a confidence thing as much as it is an ability thing.
2. Who will emerge behind Rex Burkhead – The immediate answer may be actually a question and it's "why does anyone need to emerge behind Rex?" The fact of the matter is that Burkhead is part Superman, but the other part is definitely human. Look back to the Michigan State game last year and remember the effort that Rex gave and remember that he just didn't run right the weeks that followed. Options are needed to spell Burkhead and the leading candidates are Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, Imani Cross and Mike Marrow. Beyond Abdullah there are 25 carries between Heard, Marrow and Cross and they all belong to Heard. The backfield is talented, but inexperienced just like the quarterback depth chart. With Heard moving back to offense after looking good on defense that has to tell you a little bit how much he's needed on offense. There was a dependency last season on Burkhead by the offense. This year there will be a need to break that dependency, use Burkhead intelligently and break in some of the players behind him.
3. Will the offensive line play be more consistent – While the development of Martinez is key to Nebraska's offensive production there will be no way that either Martinez, Burkhead or any other quarterback or running back will do anything without better play up front. The offensive line is the biggest question mark on offense for Nebraska. Who replaces Mike Caputo? Who will emerge at the offensive tackle position spots? Beyond Spencer Long and Seung Hoon Choi at guard, which are by the way both former walk-ons, there is nothing but question marks along the offensive line. Will Tyler Moore emerge? Can Andrew Rodriguez become the player he was thought to be? Where does Jeremiah Sirles fit? Will Jake Cotton be that player that people said he was going be before he hurt his knee? Is Cole Pensick or Justin Jackson the answer at center? Do guys like Ryne Reeves, Mike Moudy, Bryce Givens, Zach Sterup or Paul Thurston emerge? If there is one positive to pass along, I did hear that the light came on for Brent Qvale this spring and he's finally healthy. Look for a big year from him.
4. Who becomes the face and the voice of the defense –My money is on Will Compton, but Will is going to need help. Nebraska is trying to replace on the field leadership that guys like Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick brought to the table their senior years. What was great about those three was that one was at each level in the defense. Cameron Meredith isn't a rah-rah guy, but you don't have to be to be a leader. Crick wasn't rah-rah either. Meredith has played before in the past like his hair was on fire…and that would be a lot of fire by the way…and if he stays healthy he's the odds on favorite on the defensive line. In the secondary I have two candidates that could step up to become a leader. First, is Daimion Stafford who should be the real cornerstone of a re-vamped secondary that will be full of new faces, but should be a very talented group regardless of who is on the field. My other, is Mohammed Seisay. I like Seisay because he's been on the DI stage before and, based on what I saw from his Memphis film and what I have heard from his junior college coach, is that Seisay is just ready to contribute immediately.
5. Who busts out this season – This is always a fun topic to answer for me because there are always guys that you look at the roster, like I did with the offensive lineman, and wonder when.
Brent Qvale - Like I said before, I have heard that he had a strong spring and he's healthy.
Thad Randle - Returning from a knee injury last year on defensive line and it's really of matter of physically and mentally is he through it? I am surprised at how much weight Randle has added to his frame since coming to Nebraska and I think that he could have really broke out last season, but this could be the year for him.
David Santos - Could have gotten pulled out of a redshirt last year, but will get every opportunity to get on the field at either the WILL or the BUCK.
Harvey Jackson - This is a name that I would remember in the secondary. I think that Jackson is about as physically ready as they come and could play either the strong or the free spots.
Mohammed Seisay and Charles Jackson – Both Seisay and Jackson should figure into the cornerback picture immediately and I wouldn't be surprised at all that come conference time if both are starting.
Imani Cross – Cross has always been a guy that I pegged to play early out of the 2012 class. He's physically there now he just needs to show that he knows the offense.
Quincy Enunwa – There might not be a better looking physical specimen on the football team, period. He's a big time wide receiver that Nebraska has to get the football to this fall.