Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Position Outlook: Wide Receivers

One story in a Wine Country Husker series, looking at position breakdowns for the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the 2012 season. Today, we look at wide receiver:

Looking back: Brandon Kinnie was expected to be an integral part of the offense but he proved to be a disappointment as he caught just 22 passes for 257 yard and just one touchdown. Those were not the numbers Nebraska had in mind before the season started.

The Huskers also converted Jamal Turner from quarterback to wide receiver and while he caught 15 passes for 243 yards, he was a nonentity in the second half of the season.

Instead, it was Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa that made the biggest impact. The former became quarterback Taylor Martinez’s go-to guy as he caught 32 passes for 461 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were team highs. Bell especially came on strong in the second half of the season. Enunwa also showed flashes of brilliance as he caught 21 passes for 293 yards and a pair of scores. Tim Marlowe caught 12 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

However, dropped passes that did not allow drives to be kept afloat haunted Nebraska throughout the season.

Looking ahead: While Martinez has issues to straighten out as a passer, it is equally true that Nebraska receivers have not done him any favors by dropping catchable passes. The biggest culprit was Kinnie, who will be lost to graduation.

Bell, who will be a sophomore, figures to be the Huskers biggest offensive weapon not named Rex Burkhead. Bell certainly has the speed to get behind defenders. Enunwa, who will be a junior, not only gained confidence as a receiver but is perhaps the Huskers best downfield blocker among the wide receivers. That quality is very significant with any offense that runs a variation of the option. Marlowe might not fill up a bunch of highlight shows but his knowledge of the offense is a huge plus.

The wild card among next year’s group is Turner and Khiry Cooper, especially the former. Turner has the game-breaking speed and how he is used this fall bears watching. Cooper, who will be a senior, did not see a ton of snaps and freshman Taariq Allen shined as a scout team player last year but how that parlays into playing time is another matter.

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