Well, we know that Saturday's season-opening game aainst Tennessee-Chatanooga will say very little as to how good the 2011 Nebraska Cornhuskers are. However, that would stating the obvious. The No. 10 ranked Huskers hope saturday's game is the first step to wiping the slate clean from last season's disappointing finish that saw them finish 10-4 but lose three of their last four games.
There will, however, be a few tell-tale signs from this contest. If the Huskers dominate on both sides of the ball, it doesn't meann much but if they don't, it meas a lot. Granted, Nebraska will likely run run a vanilla playbook and will play a lot of backups if the score dictates, but if this team is going where we want it to, it won't matter and the Huskers will blow them out. If that doesnt happen, its a major concern for the upcoming year.
It also bears watching how the newcomers look, especially a running back. While Rex Burkhead is definitely ready to be the featured back, the fact remains that the days of running backs carrying 30-plus times a game are a thing of the past. Are true freshmen running backs Ahmeer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard as good as advertised? Same with wide receiver Jamal Turner? That question becomes significant because remember the hype surrounding Cody Green in 2009? Some fans were saying he was a potential Vince Young. Granted, Green did not always get a fair shake from coaches but Vince Young he was not. Even though the competition is down, we should be able to get a feel for how good these guys can be.
Another thing that bears watching is what is different about this year's offense other than the fact that the coordinator is different? We will not learn everything as they will likely try getting back with a vanilla approach but we should be able to get a feel for the tempo, some of the playcalling and how well it flows.
And how well will quarterback Taylor Martinez mesh with the wide receivers? Again, we may see vanilla plays and Martinez won't see a defense this easy, but if receivers are getting open and Martinez is hitting them in stride, it means this years air attack has a chance. If Martinez is missing wide open guys and playmakers aren't getting open, look out for trouble as its going to get harder. I don't see rust playing much of a role. These guys should be ready.
I'd like to say that penalties and fumbles are something we can tell, but the fact is that it's the first game and we've got a lot of young guys playing, if there are penalties and turnovers, I'm not going to get totally bent out of shape as long as they are not by the bundle.