Nebraska Football: Complete Spring Game Preview
Nebraska football fans know it’s close—so close they can almost taste it. This Saturday, Memorial Stadium will fill up with the faithful once again to watch the spring game, the annual last gasp of football before a long summer.
So if you want to get the most out of this last look at Nebraska football until August, make sure that you’re prepared. Here’s all the information you’ll need.
Nickname: Red-White Game
Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
Audio: Husker Sports Network and Huskers.com
Video: Live on BTN2Go, tape delay on BTN at 7:00 p.m. Saturday and NET1 at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Format: No. 1 offense against No. 1 defense in a point-based system rather than a “regular” split-squad game.
Position Battles to Watch
Randy Gregory will likely not see much playing time on Saturday because, let’s face it, we have a good idea of what he brings to the table. So we should see quite a bit of rotation on the defensive end, with players like defensive tackle Maliek Collins and linebacker Marcus Newby seeing time on the end. Not only will this position be a battle to watch, but it could be an opportunity to provide some flexibility and options on defense.
Josh Mitchell seems to have locked up one of the starting cornerback spots, with the other being a straight-up fight between Jonathan Rose and Byerson Cockrell. Given that we will see a No. 1 vs. No. 1 battle on offense and defense, watching Rose and Cockrell battle it out should be a fascinating subplot.
Life After Taylor Martinez
The last time that Nebraska was coming into a spring game with a quarterback not named Taylor Martinez, it was Zac Lee. Yes, it’s been that long. Regardless of whether there is a quarterback race or not (spoiler alert, there isn’t), the fact that T-Magic won’t be walking through those doors any more means it’s a brave new world for Nebraska football.
After the Iowa game last year, we saw Bo Pelini at his ugliest and most immature, in what many thought was the last we would see of him in Lincoln. Instead, he got a vote of confidence from athletic director Shawn Eichorst, and we’ve seen a new Pelini ever since.
He’s embraced (to an extent) social media, tweeting a joke during Nebraska’s NCAA basketball tournament game, and even going along with the “Bo with cats” Internet meme propagated by Twitter’s legendary @FauxPelini.
More substantively, he has opened up spring practice to the media, allowing reporters (and therefore fans) access to the team that was unknown in previous years. What this new, laid-back Bo will be like as the season approaches should be interesting to watch.
What the Experts Are Saying
Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star has (unsurprisingly) good things to say about a number of the players he has seen in practice:
I hope RB Terrell Newby is hungry to prove himself this season. He appears to be in that mode. The kid flashes big-time speed in open field.— Steven M. Sipple (@HuskerExtraSip) April 3, 2014
My read is DE Randy Gregory is hitting on all cylinders this spring. Fast and tenacious. I'm guessing Alex Lewis would concur. #Huskers— Steven M. Sipple (@HuskerExtraSip) April 3, 2014
Whereas the Omaha World-Herald’s Jon Nyatawa has a different observation:
That Valentine-Maliek Collins duo has been fun to watch all spring. That's 630-ish combined pounds, but they don't maneuver like it— Jon Nyatawa (@JonNyatawa) April 10, 2014
A.J. Natter (Defensive end): Knee surgery
Aaron Curry (Defensive tackle): Neck injury
Kevin Williams (Defensive tackle): ACL surgery
Ryne Reeves (Offensive line): Neck injury
This list, particularly on the defensive line, explains why Nebraska is breaking from tradition and going to an offense vs. defense spring game as opposed to a traditional split-squad scrimmage. The depth will look a lot better when the 2014 recruiting class arrives, but as of Saturday, Nebraska is looking at some very thin areas on the roster.
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