Rutgers vs. Nebraska, 10.25.14

Nebraska tight end Sam Cotton (top) is lofted by his brother, Huskers lineman Jake Cotton after catching an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. in the third quarter against Rutgers on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

FRANCIS GARDLER/Lincoln Journal Star

One of the popular subjects around these parts, and probably all parts: Getting the football to the tight ends.

Back in August, it was written on this  blog about how Nebraska's young tight ends like Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton and Trey Foster were trying to build off last year's lessons and become more productive in the passing game.

A year ago, that trio, combined with senior Jake Long, had 22 receptions. Carter had 10 of them. That was way down from the 48 receptions NU had from its tight ends in 2012 when Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed were around.

As the numbers go this year, meeting last year's reception total isn't a given at this point. To date, the Huskers have six catches from the tight end position -- seven if you include a grab by Andy Janovich.

Now, it could also be said the Huskers have moved the ball well enough to rank 11th in scoring offense and 13th in total offense, and you want the ball in the hands of your best weapons. At this point, especially with Carter out the past three games, Nebraska's young tight ends aren't to be confused as being in the team's top tier of play-making weapons.

But as Sam Cotton's nifty 8-yard touchdown grab over Rutgers defender in the back of the end zone proved, they can still be weapons in the right moments. And Nebraska needs those guys, even without Carter, whose timetable for a return remains uncertain, to keep stepping up down the stretch run.

"You just have to understand they have to be part of the play-making crew," Armstrong said. "When their number is called they have to step up, and I think that they took that challenge the right way when it comes to this offense. ... We just have to make sure that we put them in the right situations to execute and I think we do a great job of it."

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Reach the writer at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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