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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Five Most Underutilized Huskers of 2011

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Brett Baker
transitive verb: to utilize less than fully or below the potential use
I don't have any proof that a coach coined the term "armchair quarterback", but I think it's a reasonable assumption that one probably did. Between football coaches and politicians, I'm not sure who is second guessed more often, but I know which one I'm more interested in.
Eight games into the 2011 Nebraska football season, we have a pretty good idea of who the team is, but could it be more than what we see? Here are five players that I'd like to see used more than they have to this point.
5. Defensive End Joseph Carter:
To say Carter passes the eye test is an understatement. Maybe it's because he wears a single digit jersey number or maybe it's just because he's a huge dude, but if the Huskers needed a comic book super hero cover model, Carter is the guy. Why is this JUCO transfer student underutilized?
Looks alone don't get it done in the Pelini defense. There's a steep learning curve and rare is the player that can step right in, excel and get the job done (I'm looking at you LaVonte David). That's one factor. Another is production.
Carter has played in six games and has yet to record a solo tackle. When you get the chance, you have to produce. Here's hoping that Carter gets those chances and makes the most of them going forward.
4. Quarterback Brion Carnes
There's a saying in NFL towns that the most popular guy on the roster is the backup quarterback. That's definitely not true in Lincoln (paging Mr. Burkhead, Mr. Rex Burkhead). Carnes is a bit of a victim of circumstance, though.
The Huskers have only had two games truly in control long enough to let Carnes have any real run: Tennessee-Chattanooga and Minnesota.
Even so I'd like to have seen a couple special packages and predetermined series for the freshman quarterback. It's better to get experience on your terms than on someone else's.
3. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste
When I looked at the stats it kind of surprised me that SJB has played in a mere four games. Such has been the impact of his arrival on the defensive side of the ball.
Inserted during a crucial stretch of the Ohio State game, the sophomore wide receiver-turned-cornerback came up with a huge interception. Given his position change it's easy to see why it took a while to get him on the field.
I can't really fault the coaches for bringing him along slowly, but given how well he's done in such a small sample of time, I can't help but wish that he had made the switch as fall camp opened.
2. Wide Receiver Jamal Turner
With his electric performance in the spring game, many had summer visions of the slippery fast freshman dancing across the Huskers’ opponents this fall, and he has, to an extent. With just 15 receptions, he's racked up 243 yards receiving. That's a little more than 16 yards a catch.
Even though he has yet to find the end zone, he has the kind of ability that makes fans simultaneously hold their breath and lose their minds, certain they are about to witness the launch of Johnny Rodgers 2.0.
That's a lot to put on any player, but Nebraska is not just any other school. That's not why he needs to have a bigger role in Tim Beck's offense, though. Turner is a game breaker that needs touches. I don't care if it's on a bubble screen, reverse or a fly pattern. Get the ball in his hands and turn him loose.
1. Tight End Kyler Reed
Would it surprise you to learn that the 2011 preseason All-Big Ten tight end has only started one game?
It surprised me, but not nearly as much as how absent he's been from the team's offensive attack. Even though he sat out the Minnesota game with a hamstring injury, his numbers are alarmingly off the pace he set last year.
With just eight receptions in seven games and no touchdowns, the junior will be hard pressed to match his stats from last season (22 catches and a team-high eight touchdowns).
I'm not going to pretend to know the inner workings of Beck Ball but I've got to think that Reed needs to be a bigger part of the passing game. He can stretch the field and has proven to be a reliable target.
Hopefully with the meat of the schedule staring the Huskers in the face, Reed can remerge as the weapon he's known to be and find his way off this list.
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