A receiver does more than catch the ball.
At a school like Nebraska, rich with a history of getting things done on the ground, fans appreciate the other roles a wideout has. But when a receiver does get a glance at the ball downfield, snagging it is obviously critical.
That's why NU receivers coach Rich Fisher saw Kenny Bell's performance Friday as both exciting and expected.
"It's a pressure cooker out there," Fisher said. "Especially when sometimes we get rolling and we're running the ball a lot and we're not passing the ball a lot. So when your number's called, you've got to be able to produce."
And produce Bell did. He snagged five passes for 93 yards, gashing the Hawkeye defense en route to a 20-7 win. Bell grabbed 70 of those yards in the second half, helping the Huskers create distance between their newest rival on Senior Day.
"I was given an opportunity to make some plays and, luckily, I reeled `em in," Bell said. "Everything I did today was for those 21 seniors we have. I'm going to miss those guys a lot."
Bell led a group of receivers that hauled in 12 of quarterback Taylor Martinez's 22 pass attempts.
"He's a monster, he's just a freak of nature," NU receiver Quincy Enunwa said of Bell. "He's out there, faster than anybody I've ever seen in my life, really, and he's a great receiver."
While the freshman from Boulder, Colo., didn't record a score on the day, it may have been some of the more frustrating plays that signified his importance.
Three different times, Hawkeye defenders committed penalties on Bell. The first play of a second quarter drive saw Bell get held by linebacker Tyler Nielsen. Later in the second, safety Jordan Bernstine wrapped Bell in a bear hug on a downfield pass attempt. Both fouls led to a Husker score and a 10-0 NU lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Bell grabbed another pass before being brought to the ground via a horse-collar tackle by Hawkeye Tanner Miller.
"Yeah, that kid gets cooked if he doesn't horse collar me," Bell said, grinning.
Bell said that if anything, the fouls were a compliment.
"It lets me know that they studied film," Bell said. "They know we've got guys that can run, but, yeah, it's absolutely frustrating when a guy doesn't even look at the ball to make a play on it, but you live to fight another day and you move on."
Fisher has seen the young receiver grow this season.
"I think you guys all can see that he's one of those players that once he gets the ball in his hands, he can take it to the house anytime," Fisher said. "So it was exciting, it's nice to see him mature and to see him grow and I'm excited for his future."
Bell's performance came in the wake of NU's receivers catching a lot of heat after notable drops in the past few weeks.
"We played how we should play. We've got a tremendous group in there," Bell said. "From the top of the board, ‘BK' (senior Brandon Kinnie), all the way down to the bottom, I think. We need to step up and start making plays and today I think we did that."
For Fisher, it's about taking a look in the mirror. He said the Huskers took a long look before their final game at home this season. He's proud of their resolve.
For Bell, Saturday was about putting the finishing touches on a regular season, not only for the receivers, but for the seniors as well.
"I feel like we've been up and down this season. We needed to finish strong and today I think we did that," Bell said.