Husker fans will be rewarded Saturday with a game that will be much more competitive than we’ve seen over the last four years, but despite assurances that the teams were split down the middle, it seems clear that the Red team has the advantage.
The Red team has the top quarterback in Joe Ganz, top I-back in Marlon Lucky, and top fullback in Thomas Lawson to make a complete starting backfield. Nate Swift is the top receiver and Menelik Holt is probably the third receiver (behind the White team’s Todd Peterson). Mike McNeil seems to be the top tight end. Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha are likely offensive line starters and Keith Williams may well be a third. So you have probably seven or eight offensive starters on the Red team.
Defensively, middle linebacker Phillip Dillard (a major key to the cover-2 defense as the BRN’s own Darren Carlson pointed out), is teamed with the best corner in Armando Murillo and likely starting free safety Rickey Thenarse. Throw in starter Zach Potter at defensive end and you have standout players at each level of the defense. The top punter and most accurate place kicker (Titchener and Henery) will both be on the Red team as well.
The White team will definitely have a puncher’s chance. They seem to have the better defensive line with Barry Turner, Ty Steinkuhler, and Shukree Barfield up front. They also might be better one through five on the offensive line with Jacob Hickman, Mike Huff, Mike Smith, D.J. Jones, and Jaivorio Burkes all on the squad. Hunter Teafatiller is a veteran tight end and Roy Helu has been the talk of the spring at running back. Perhaps the game plan for the White team is simple: “run the ball, stop the run, win the game”. Strong safety Larry Asante will likely help in that regard. Zac Lee and Patrick Witt seem likely to share time at quarterback so it will be interesting to see what the two can get done with essentially the same team around them. But if both defenses do shut down the run or at least fair similarly in stopping it, then you have to give the Red team the edge in the passing game.
I love an underdog. Go Big White.