Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez warms up before an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Charlie Neibergall

This is the seventh installment of a daily series updating the status of Big Ten football teams. See all of the reports at

2012 rewind

Record: 10-4, 7-1 Big Ten (first in the Legends Division, lost in the Big Ten title game)

Stat leaders: Rushing, Ameer Abdullah, 1,137 yards; Passing, Taylor Martinez, 2,871 yards; Receiving, Kenny Bell, 863 yards; Tackles, Will Compton, 110; Sacks, Eric Martin, 8.5; Interceptions, Daimion Stafford, 4

Spring forward

Starters returning: Offense 7, Defense 5, Specialists 0

Top returners: QB Taylor Martinez, RB Ameer Abdullah, WR Kenny Bell, WR Jamal Turner, OL Spencer Long, OL Jeremiah Sirles, DB Ciante Evans, DE Jason Ankrah

Key losses: RB Rex Burkhead, TE Kyler Reed, LB Will Compton, DE Cameron Meredith, DE Eric Martin, DT Baker Steinkuhler, P/K Brett Maher

Sign up for the Hawkmania Newsletter

Get our comprehensive Hawkeyes coverage delivered to your inbox

Four-down territory

  • Defense is where the majority of the questions remain for Nebraska as it begins summer work in preparation for the start of fall camp in August. The Cornhuskers lost three starters on the defensive line, where end Jason Ankrah was the only returning starter on the field this spring. Tackle Thad Randle is expected back from injury in the fall and Nebraska is hopeful that junior-college transfer Randy Gregory will provide part of the solution.
  • A solid spring by David Santos has answered some of the questions Nebraska has at linebacker. He’ll begin the fall at the top of the depth chart at middle linebacker, but has the quickness to move outside if other players emerge during fall camp.
  • Taylor Martinez leads a veteran offense and that features veteran experience in recievers Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner. Returning running back Ameer Abdullah complements the running ability of Martinez and Imani Cross benefitted from additional work at running back this spring as Abdullah missed time because of a knee injury.
  • One of the Cornhuskers’ biggest challenges beyond defense will be replacing the leg of Brett Maher, who handled kicking and punting duties. Mauro Bondi appears to be the frontrunner to replace the kicking duties Maher filled, but the punting role remains undetermined as summer work begins.

First thoughts

Opener: Aug. 31, vs. Wyoming