Nebraska spring practice preview

Spring practice kicks off in Lincoln on Saturday as Nebraska begins preparations for its second season in the Big Ten.

Let's take a look at some of the storylines that will play out over 15 practices as the Cornhuskers work towards their spring game in April.

2011 Record: 9-4, 5-3 Big Ten

Third-year magic

Taylor MartinezICONTaylor Martinez has been working to improve his footwork throughout the offseason.

Taylor Martinez improved as a passer and as a game manager in 2011, but the dual-threat still has a long ways to go to make this offense more balanced. He acknowledged that improper footwork led to his unconventional throwing motion, and he has been working on that issue throughout the offseason. His teammates will get an up-close look at Martinez during spring drills as he continues to refine his technique with live reps. This is a big offseason for the junior, who will enter his second season in coordinator Tim Beck's offense. His career completion percentage is 59.5, and that has to be higher if the Huskers want to develop a sound passing attack to complement an always dangerous ground game led by running back Rex Burkhead. Specifically, Martinez needs work on his deep ball throws. In terms of his running ability, he always poses as a threat. However, he did look a little tentative running the Huskers' zone read game last fall. Can he put it all together in his third year as a starter?

A Blackshirts revival?

With Alfonzo Dennard, Lavonte David and Jared Crick gone, Nebraska needs some playmakers to emerge on the defensive side of the ball. Their secondary should be a strength, but can they generate a better pass rush? For a closer look at the Cornhuskers' defense, check out my post from earlier in the week.

Coaching changes

The Cornhuskers should be solid in the defensive backfield, but the players will have to adjust to a new secondary coach, as Terry Joseph takes over for the recently departed Corey Raymond. Meanwhile, new defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski will have a chance to work with his front four and try to generate more pressure, something the team lacked on a consistent basis in 2011.

Other notes

Head coach Bo Pelini said that the competition for the starting job at center will include Cole Pensick, Justin Jackson, Mark Pelini and Ryne Reeves. Alonzo Whaley and David Santos will try to win the starting linebacker job vacated by Lavonte David. Meanwhile, linemen Chase Rome, Todd Peat and Jake Cotton will miss spring drills due to injuries.

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