Nebraska opened spring football this week, which will culminate in the Red-White Spring Game on April 12.
For the first time in Bo Pelini’s tenure, the media was given access to spring practice, so we have a lot more information about what is going on at practice than we have in years past.
News from the Week
At the start of practice, we learned from Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald that Harvey Jackson, Jay Guy and Tobi Okuyemi were no longer on the team. Guy and Okuyemi were not surprise cuts, but Jackson had provided some contribution last season and it was at least a mild surprise to see him no longer on the roster.
According to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star, running backs Terrell Newby and Imani Cross have both reshaped their bodies for the I-back competition.
Cross now weighs 230 pounds, which is about 10 pounds heavier than he was last season when he tried to lose weight and be more of an all-purpose back. By getting back to his previous frame, Cross may be more effective at a weight which he is more familiar with.
Newby, on the other hand, has put on about 10 pounds, going from 185 to 195 pounds. So long as the extra weight doesn’t cost him speed—which it should not at that level—then the extra weight should help Newby be a more durable and physical runner.
Important Position Battles
As reported by Nyatawa, senior Trevor Roach is returning to Nebraska’s linebacker corps. This throws an interesting wrinkle into that position battle.
While the addition of depth is always a good thing, Nebraska’s linebacker corps already looked to be one of the deepest positions on the team. With the addition of Roach and his senior leadership, the competition for places gets even fiercer.
Pelini with praise for Trevor Roach. After missing 2013, Pelini says Roach was rusty to start, but had a good day. Thinks a lot of him— Chris Whitney (@CWhitneyKLIN) March 13, 2014
The biggest surprise of the week had to be 247Sports.com's report that senior wide receiver Jamal Turner was taking snaps with the first team at quarterback.
Once that news emerged, speculation started to fly as to whether Turner could legitimately challenge for the starting position or this was giving Nebraska additional options on offense. A quarterback in high school before switching positions at Nebraska, Turner certainly would provide a dynamic weapon at quarterback.
Given Turner’s admitted struggles in the first week at practice and the complexity of Nebraska’s offense, it is far likelier that this move was to provide head coach Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck with options for the 2014 offense.
If this signals a move by the Nebraska staff to work toward getting more of its offensive weapons on the field at the same time—either with Turner as a Wildcat quarterback or having numerous I-backs on the field at once—then that could make NU’s offense very exciting next season.
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