For Nebraska football fans, summer officially ends with the beginning of fall practice. Those long days of barbecues and box scores are starting to give way to the return of college football, and Nebraska fans are eager to consume any information they can find about the progress of the 2013 Cornhusker squad.
So let’s take a look at what we know so far from Nebraska’s 2013 fall camp.
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of Nebraska’s fall camp is the performance of junior college transfer defensive end Randy Gregory. A lack of a consistent pass rush is the most pernicious of problems plaguing Nebraska’s defense recently, and Gregory has been heralded as one of the premier pass-rushing junior college transfers of the season.
But would he actually be able to perform as advertised? Early signs point to yes. As quoted by Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald, head coach Bo Pelini offered these words when asked about Gregory:
Randy's looked good the first two days. Obviously we are practicing in shorts — and obviously he's swimming in it a little bit mentally — but he can play. He showed up in shape. He hasn't struggled at all as far as his conditioning. He reported at 255 pounds and he's been ready to go. His attitude's been great. That's all you can ask.
Sure, it’s early. But if you are worried about Nebraska’s front four and pass rush in 2013, that’s music to your ears.
Nebraska is, in many ways, spoiled for choice in the secondary. While there is precious little in terms of returning experience, there are a lot of talented athletes competing for positions.
Which is one reason the announcement of Andrew Green’s move to safety, as reported by Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald, can’t bode well for Green’s playing time. If each secondary spot is being hotly contested, then it can’t be helpful for Green to be learning a new position and fighting for playing time.
Defensive line has been a huge source of concern for Nebraska fans (and one smart and particularly handsome analyst). So when Pelini was bullish about the performance of the defensive redshirt freshmen, particularly “those guys up front," many nerves were somewhat settled.
Pelini was referring to Greg McMullen at defensive end and Aaron Curry and Vincent Valentine at defensive tackle. While none have seen playing time, Nebraska will be well served if it can get solid performances from some or all of them throughout the 2013 season.
Position changes in fall camp rarely bode well for a player. They are usually indicative of a player who is buried on the depth chart and the coaches looking for different ways to get that player on the field.
Max Pirman, a linebacker, has been moved to tight end, according to McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald. Given the influx of talent at linebacker, it made sense that space on the roster had to give, and it appears it is Pirman’s spot that moved. But it is a big ask for Pirman to switch sides of the ball and learn a position like tight end in such a hurry.
For the last few years, Nebraska has had the luxury of a solid kicking game. Alex Henery was one of the best punters in the nation, and Brett Maher was a solid contributor during his tenure in Lincoln.
So it’s an eye-catching quote when Pelini says of receiver-turned-punter Sam Foltz that “I think Foltz has a chance to be a big-time punter. His leg strength, the hang-time he gets on punts … Foltz gives us something maybe we quite haven’t had in the past.” (as quoted by Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald, emphasis mine)
"Something maybe we quite haven’t had in the past?" When your recent past is Henery and Maher? That’s saying something.
Things haven’t been rosy for all the members of Nebraska’s 2013 class. Incoming freshman defensive end Dimarya Mixon and linebacker Marcus Newby did not practice Tuesday due to eligibility issues, according to Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald, and there is no timetable on when either will be back in camp.
Given the depth at those positions (particularly at linebacker), much more of a delay has to increase the chance for a redshirt season for both players.
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