Nebraska football fans have already gotten a good look at some of the specifics from the Red-White spring game on Saturday. We’ve taken a look at the winners and losers from the game, where the defense is at and how backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong looked.
But we haven’t had an opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. So let’s pull the camera back a bit and look at some of the big-picture positives that can be gleaned from the Red-White game.
Between the two squads, Nebraska rolled a lot of offensive players out on Saturday. But uniformly, Nebraska’s offense worked at a very high tempo, getting the play from the sideline and snapping the ball with more than 20 seconds on the play clock if the play didn’t get changed at the line of scrimmage.
And while the play was quick, it did not seem rushed. There were a few fumbles (of course), but neither offense turned the ball over. And both offenses looked in sync, moving smoothly from play to play and keeping the defense on its heels.
With offensive coordinator Tim Beck starting his third year in charge of the offense, the fact that Nebraska’s offense looked that smooth and that efficient should give the Children of the Corn great hope moving forward.
Nebraska was in a peculiar place for the Red-White game with regards to its I-backs. Starting running back Ameer Abdullah was held out for a minor injury, and freshmen Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor had yet to appear on campus.
That meant three I-backs who will likely see the field in 2013 were not available for the Red-White game. So who would carry the ball?
Sophomore Imani Cross stepped up and demonstrated an ability to be more than the “short-yardage back” he had been pigeonholed as last season. Cross was called on to run between the tackles and to take the ball wide, ultimately gaining 55 yards on seven carries with a touchdown.
Nebraska also may have found another rushing option in redshirt freshman walk-on King Frazier, who seemed perfectly at home in Nebraska’s high-tempo offense. He displayed both power and speed, gaining 67 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.
So when Abdullah returns and Newby and Taylor arrive, Nebraska may be spoiled for choice at I-back.
Bo Pelini loosens up a bit
So, what's the biggest positive coming out of spring practice for Nebraska?
I know this seems a little peculiar, but hear me out. We all know Bo Pelini’s reputation as a hothead who blows up at both officials and his own players. And we’ve seen Nebraska come apart in big moments, such as conference championship games and (more recently) bowl games.
But we’re starting to see a slightly different Bo Pelini. He signed off on the Team Jack play that is giving Nebraska good press around the country and around the world. But he also signed off on a number of fun, competitive events in the middle of the Red-White game. He was even part of a Harlem Shake video with the team.
Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a decision left to your own tastes. But it does at least suggest that Pelini is becoming more comfortable in his role as head Husker. And if he is more comfortable and looser about being head coach, perhaps that can translate into his teams being a little more comfortable and looser in the big moments to come this season. Too big a reach? Perhaps. But it’s spring practice, kind of a silly time for reading too much into too little information. So why not?
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