Coming into 2020, there are a lot of what-if questions surrounding the Husker football team going into year three of the Scott Frost era. One of the biggest question marks on the team is the Nebraska wide receiver core.
This is in part due to the departure of key contributor JD Spielman from the program. In each of the last three seasons, the going to be senior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota has logged over 800 receiving yards. Though not official, it seems like his home state Minnesota Golden Gophers might be a likely landing spot after their impressive 2019 season.
Now what this leaves the Huskers is an inexperienced core of receivers. A group that is full of athletes with extraordinary size. Something that Nebraska hasn’t always had.
This includes names like highly toted freshman Omar Manning (6-4 and 225 pounds) and Zavier Betts (6-2 and 200 pounds) from Omaha, Ne. Other freshmen on the roster topping the six-foot mark are Elliot Brown (6-1, 175 pounds) from Elkhorn, Broc Douglas (6-0, 160 pounds) from Grand Island, and TY Hahn (6-2 180 pounds) from Johnson, NE. Add these receivers to a core with the likes of senior Ty Chaffin who stands at 6-5 and is 215 pounds and redshirt freshman Chirs Hickman from Omaha who is a towering 6-6 and 215 pounds.
Yes, they have an inexperienced group of receivers, but one that has the size and potential.
One of the biggest struggles junior quarterback Adrian Marinez had in 2019 was throwing the football near the sidelines. It was one of the main reasons his stats regressed as they did from 2018 to 2019.
Last year he didn’t throw for over 2,000 yards and only had one more touchdown pass than interception. In 2018 he did throw for over 2,000 yards and had 17 touchdown passes compared to eight interceptions.
If Martinez is going to get over his sophomore slump from a season ago, he is going to need the help of this tall Nebraska receiving core. We all saw how many of his passes near the sideline were not even close to being receivable. In fact, now former receiver Spielman was on the receiving end of getting hit in less than ideal positions on most of those bad passes. Which also makes a man wonder if this is why he is transferring?
No matter the case, the Huskers coaching staff has put in a lot of work in recruiting to put good size receivers around Martinez. With height and leverage on the outside, there should be no reason for the number of balls simply thrown away or overthrown.
This bigger group of receivers should help in the pass blocking game as well. Something less than to be desired for Nebraska in 2019.
There is no doubt that the Huskers are going to miss the talent and proven production that Spielman brought to the team over his career at Nebraska, but I also feel the receivers on the roster are more than capable of stepping up and filling his shows.
I know it sounds cliché, but the Huskers will only go as far as our quarterback can take us in 2020. Whoever becomes the quarterback, Martinez, or Luke McCaffrey, they will need to prove they can make those tough passes on the side and utilize the size factor.
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