On a beautiful afternoon in Lincoln, Neb., the Cornhuskers hosted the annual spring game. In front of an official 61,772 fans, the red team and white team showed off what they've been working on for the past few weeks.
A major difference during this year's scrimmage would be the breakdown of teams, which also affects the scoring system. The starting offense would be the red team, while the starting defense would be the white team. The scoring system would be as follows:
Touchdown: 6 points
Field Goal: 3 points
Extra Point: 1 point
2-Point Conversion: 2 points
Plays of 20 Yards or More: 1 point
3 Consecutive First Downs within a Drive: 1 point
Interception/Fumble Recovery: 6 points
Defensive Touchdown: 12 points (6 for TD, 6 for takeaway)
Sack: 2 points
Three and Out: 1 point
Missed PAT by Offense: 1 point
Unsuccessful 2-Point Conversion Attempt: 2 points
Missed Field Goal: 3 points
Red Squad 55, White Squad 46, Final
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grade||Second-Half Grade|
Nebraska, 2014 spring game
First-half analysis for the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Pass Offense: It was a rough start for Tommy Armstrong who threw an interception on the first play of the game. The offense seemed to recover a bit from there, until Zack Darlington was picked off a bit later. Ryker Fyfe has appeared cool and collected at the quarterback position, passing the ball nicely. He was 7-of-8 for 53 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Rush Offense: Keep an eye out for Imani Cross in 2014. Both have had a big start to the spring game. Cross has 100 yards on six attempts for two touchdowns. He is averaging 16.7 yards per carry.
With Ameer Abdullah sitting out, Cross has shown what this group is capable of in 2014. If it's anything like the first half of the spring game, the rush offense looks tough.
Pass Defense: Two interceptions should really say it all. At this point, the Blackshirts look confident at stopping the pass. Nathan Gerry and Anthony Ridder recorded the interception.
The only note would be the major bust for the defense where Johnny Stanton connected with Kevin Gladney for a touchdown. That will be something that the defense needs to learn from.
Rush Defense: The Blackshirts did a decent job of stopping the run at the beginning of the scrimmage, but the offense seemed to find its rhythm as time went on. Zaire Anderson did record a sack on Armstrong, but beyond that, not much else has happened. Cross is proving to be a difficult force to stop for the Blackshirts.
Special Teams: It's hard to get a good read for this position with the new spring-game format. With no opportunity to see punt returns (minus one drill), it's tough to call. However, Mauro Bondi and Grant Schumacher have done their part with field goals. Both have been as consistent as Husker fans have grown to expect. The only hiccup was the missed field goal by Spencer Lindsay.
Coaching: It all started with Bo Pelini carrying a cat out during the tunnel walk.
From there, it was clear the coaches intended to have fun with the spring game. From a goal-post throwing contest to announcing players' Twitter handles before drills, the coaches have kept the game interesting. From a scrimmage, the staff deserves a lot of praise for showing off but for also not giving too much away.
Second-half analysis for the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Pass Offense: Armstrong redeemed the first-play interception with a 51-yard pass play to Brandon Reilly. That definitely helped boost the passing game's confidence. In the end, he was able to keep from adding any additional interceptions to his day.
However, Tyson Broekemeier did throw a pick, making the Huskers' total three on the day. It's something that will need to be addressed before fall.
Rush Offense: Terrell Newby got a chance to shine in the second half, proving it’s not just Abdullah and Cross leading the way. He ended with 51 yards on 16 attempts and one touchdown. He may have only averaged 3.2 yards per carry, but he proved that between him, Cross and Abdullah, the Huskers are going to be tough at rush offense.
Pass Defense: Three interceptions on the day isn't bad. While the group is far from perfect, it was a shining spot for the Blackshirts. Even Pelini acknowledged their improvement.
"I think our secondary came a long way in the spring," Pelini said. "Not the finished product but we’re going to have some really talented guys."
Rush Defense: The starters definitely looked the most improved after this spring, but those behind were a bit off. Cross showed the Blackshirts where they need to improve. It's not perfect, but the group is young. The positive side is that they're also learning.
Also worth noting, the linebacker group is as deep as it's been in awhile.
Special Teams: Nebraska has had great kickers over the last few years, but today seemed to be a bit of a mess on that front. Bondi ended up missing a field goal wide left, which was disappointing. Pelini acknowledged the issue in his presser, saying it may be time to look forward:
"The bottom line with the [kickers] we have right now, they are capable but none of them are consistent. So enter Drew Brown, so we’ll find out."
What started out OK, ended up being a bit disappointing. This will be something the group will have to focus on before fall.
Coaching: In his post-practice presser, Pelini admitted the coaches wanted to have a little fun. That's exactly what they did. The coaching staff didn't show off too much, but if the attitude showed anything, it's that this team is less tense than last season.
All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.