Nebraska Football: Bo Pelini's 4 Biggest Concerns Post-Spring Practice
"Overall, I thought it was a very productive spring for us," head coach Bo Pelini said during his spring game press conference. "I thought we got a lot accomplished."
While there were plenty of distractions on the field (specifically, a cat), it did seem Pelini was right. The Huskers did appear to have accomplished a lot during spring practice.
The secondary looked sharp, as well as the I-backs. Those were definitely two areas that left little for fans to be concerned about for 2014.
However, there were still a few positions that likely left Pelini a little concerned. The good news is that the coach has a few months to get those things corrected.
Read on to find out what the positions are.
The spring game was an interesting one for Nebraska kickers. A program typically known for its high caliber of kickers, Husker fans were shocked by what they saw.
For example, Mauro Bondi hooked an 18-yard field-goal attempt toward the end of the game. That only added insult to injury after having missed an extra point earlier.
It wasn't just Bondi who struggled either. Spencer Lindsay also had a PAT blocked.
Pelini was clearly not pleased with his kickers in the press conference. "[Bondi] had a chance to separate himself as the place-kicker and didn't do it," Pelini said, as reported by USA Today.
But that doesn't mean all hope is lost for special teams. Pelini is very confident in his incoming kicker.
"The bottom line with the guys we have right now, they are capable but none of them are consistent. So enter Drew Brown, so we’ll find out," Pelini said.
And the hope is that Brown will be ready to take over for the Huskers. While some may feel special teams is nothing major to be worried about, a missed field goal can win or lose a game. So this position clearly has to be of concern for Pelini.
Will Nebraska retain its 'Kicker U' identity? Only time will tell.
The most noticeable aspect of the Nebraska offensive line is the inexperience. After all, the Huskers graduated five seniors at the end of the 2013 season. That's a lot of experience to lose.
However, last season did have a fair amount of injuries, which provided a little experience to some of the younger players.
Long story short, this group has potential. And offensive coordinator Tim Beck likes what he sees.
“I love our toughness and physicality,” Beck told Darnell Dickson of the Lincoln Journal Star. “With our guys, I really see it in them. They’re playing fast. I really like what I see from this group.”
That doesn't mean there isn't work left to be done. There are still plenty of questions the offensive line will need to answer before fall. Pelini is likely looking at the tackle rotations and trying to figure out who will be the next Spencer Long.
In the meantime, the potential is there. Now it's just a matter of how quickly this group can grow before fall.
The tight end position seemed to go missing from Nebraska in 2013. A lot of that was blamed on former quarterback Taylor Martinez being out. He was the one most comfortable with the various receivers, so when he went out, things changes.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong wasn't fully comfortable with the tight ends. He tended to target receivers Quincy Enunwa and Kenny Bell.
It wasn't all Armstrong's fault, though. The 2013 season was missing both Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton, who were fairly big play makers for the Nebraska offense. Plus, both Jake Long and Sam Cotton missed three games each with injuries in 2013. That makes things more challenging.
The good news is that the tight end position now has more experience. Cethan Carter is now a sophomore and he's ready to step up. Additionally, Cotton is healthy and should be more productive in 2014.
It was still a quiet spring game for the tight ends though, which is something Pelini will want to get sorted out before fall.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. headed into the spring game as the clear starter. However, the quarterback now has fans questioning if he'll be the guy come fall.
Both Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe looked improved in the scrimmage. As Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com reported, Stanton threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Fyfe threw for 89.
Despite what fans may have thought, Pelini was confident Armstrong is still his top guy by the end of the scrimmage. "I just think based on experience, Tommy is ahead of the other two. But the other two are very capable," he said during the postgame press conference.
As for his backup, that's a different story. He called Stanton and Fyfe "pretty much co-No. 2s." That doesn't mean one of them can't unseat Armstrong from the top spot.
The quarterback position isn't as much of a concern for Pelini as other positions, but it's still an area that requires work.
All quotes were obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.
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