Baseball’s All-Star Game has come and gone, so Nebraska football fans know that fall practice is near—and with it, the knowledge that the college football season is not far away. Once fall practice begins, Nebraska fans will devour any news they can find about what happened at fall camp in order to get a better idea of what NU will look like on the field in 2013.
So to help you out, here is a position-by-position breakdown of Nebraska—to give you a few things to look for as those reports start coming in.
My confidence level in the depth chart predictions range from no-brainer to wild guess, so take them with a grain of salt. But at least it should give you a frame of reference with which to observe fall practice reports.
The Likely Starter: Taylor Martinez
The Backups: Tommy Armstrong, Ron Kellogg III
What to Watch For: Martinez is the nailed-on starter and the leader of the offensive unit. The most interesting question may be how much time Armstrong gets this fall, which might suggest whether he will see the field for any meaningful snaps once the season starts.
The Likely Starters: Ameer Abdullah (IB); Andy Janovich (FB)
The Backups: Imani Cross, Terrell Newby or Adam Taylor, King Frazier (IB); C.J. Zimmerer, Mike Marrow (FB)
What to Watch For: Like with Martinez, Abdullah has a comfortable hold on the starter’s position at I-back. But Cross looks ready to demand playing time, and incoming freshmen Newby and Taylor will present Bo Pelini with the same challenge that Aaron Green and Braylon Heard did two years ago.
We know what the result was then, and we should be looking this fall to see if the scenario will repeat itself.
The Likely Starters: Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Quincy Enunwa (WR); Jake Long, Sam Cotton (TE)
The Backups: Jordan Westerkamp, Taariq Allen, Alonzo Moore (WR); Greg Hart, Trey Foster (TE)
What to Watch For: Nebraska’s top three receivers will have another year together, and that experience combined with their athleticism could make the corps one of the best in the Big Ten. But with a crop of talented wide receivers behind them, don’t be surprised if there is a significant rotation.
At tight end, Long is the clear favorite in terms of experience, but there should be quite a battle between the rest to see who gets on the field.
The Likely Starters: Brent Qvale, Matt Finnin (OT); Spencer Long, Mike Moudy (OG); Cole Pensick (C)
The Backups: Andrew Rodriguez, Jeremiah Sirles (OT); Ryne Reeves, Jake Cotton (OG); Mark Pelini (C)
What to Watch For: Nebraska’s offensive line could very well be a work in progress throughout the season, with players switching positions and rotating in and out as the year goes on.
Look to see if incoming recruits like Chongo Kondolo, Dwayne Johnson and David Knevel can make a mark this fall and crack into that rotation.
The Likely Starters: Jason Ankrah, Randy Gregory (DE); Thad Randle, Kevin Williams (DT)
The Backups: Avery Moss, Greg McMullin (DE); Vincent Valentine, Tobi Okuyemi (DT)
What to Watch For: Nebraska fans are crossing their fingers that JUCO transfer Gregory will become academically cleared in time to participate in fall practice. With the departure of Eric Martin, Nebraska will be desperate for a pass-rushing specialist like Gregory to be on the field.
The tackle positions are thin but wide open for someone (particularly Valentine) to make a mark and claim a spot.
The Likely Starters: Zaire Anderson, David Santos, Jared Afalava
The Backups: Michael Rose, Max Pirman, Courtney Love or Marcus Newby or Josh Banderas
What to Watch For: What Nebraska loses in experience, it gains in athleticism. Coaches and fans alike will hope that increased speed will help make up for the mistakes that will inevitably be made by young and inexperienced players.
Watch fall practice reports to see how the incoming freshmen (Love, Newby and Banderas) are progressing.
The Likely Starters: Corey Cooper, Harvey Jackson (S); Andrew Green, Jonathan Rose (CB); Ciante Evans (Nickel)
The Backups: Mohammed Seisay, Nathan Gerry (S); Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Josh Mitchell (CB)
What to Watch For: More than any other position, the projected depth chart for Nebraska’s secondary is guesswork. Fall practice reports should help somewhat clear the air in terms of who will start to lock down spots on the depth chart.
But don’t be surprised if that depth chart is fluid throughout the season.
The Likely Starters: Mauro Bondi (PK, KOS); Sam Foltz (P); Gabe Miller (LS); Jamal Turner (PR/KR)
The Backups: Spencer Lindsay (PK); Jordan Bellar (P); Joseph Rotherham (LS); Terrell Newby (PR/KR)
What to Watch For: If you don’t recognize any names on this list, it is because Nebraska will be breaking in an entirely new special teams unit. With outstanding kickers like Alex Henery and Brett Maher, Nebraska has been spoiled—and deficiencies in other areas of special teams have been a bit masked.
Fall camp should provide some insight into how Nebraska’s special teams will fare with the new crew in place.
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