The Nebraska Cornhuskers came away with plenty to analyze after last Saturday’s Red-White spring scrimmage.
Several players will now find themselves with new goals heading into the summer and eventually into fall camp.
With Nebraska’s record-setting number of Academic All-Americans and the fact that “student” comes first in “student-athlete,” it seems appropriate to have a look at where the Cornhuskers grade out following spring ball.
There was little doubt that more than likely two of Nebraska’s quarterbacks would take the field last Saturday and do well.
Two more would probably play a little shakily, if not downright poorly.
Who knew the latter would be last year’s No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart?
Taylor Martinez and Cody Green completed four of 14 passes, accumulating just 52 yards, and shared an INT.
Brion Carnes showed that he may very well have the tools to unseat Martinez, throwing for 173 yards and two TDs while rushing for 49 yards.
Ron Kellogg III wasn’t perfect but did play soundly, throwing for 124 yards.
No one thought that Rex Burkhead’s No. 1 status would be threatened at all on Saturday, and it most certainly wasn't.
Besides Burkhead’s 91 yards on the ground, his sheer athletic ability will entrench him firmly in the top spot.
Ty Kildow may have very well earned himself some scheme-specific playing time with seven rushes for 49 yards, including an impressive 22-yard scamper.
Fullback Tyler Legate barreled his way for 28 yards and a TD, showing that the importance of the Nebraska fullback will likely return this fall.
Jamal Turner seemed bound and determined to have fun last Saturday if no one else was.
The true freshman hauled in four catches for 93 yards and one TD, including a beautiful 49-yard reception delivered by Brion Carnes that would be taken into the end zone with a DeSean Jackson-like flip.
The ensuing penalty was worth it—this time.
While no one could match Turner’s productivity, several receivers showed their stuff, as the teams combined for 412 passing yards.
A handful of holding penalties didn’t help either side, but it’s hard to put up 713 yards of total offense (424 for the White squad) if your offensive lines are having absolutely horrid days.
There were good and bad moments all day long, but not only is it spring and some allowances should be made, but at least it wasn’t a revisit of Nebraska’s trip to College Station last season.
Eric Martin’s move from linebacker to defensive end looks to be completely justified, as he sniffed out option plays and stuffed ball carriers into the dirt.
Redshirt freshman Jay Guy turned in an impressive performance with four TKL, two TFL, one SCK and one BLK.
Could we be seeing the next big Cornhusker defensive lineman beginning to emerge?
It was mostly up to the line or secondary to make plays, but the linebackers had their moments.
Lavonte David showed up early, of course.
Sean Fisher showed quick footwork and tallied a trio of tackles.
Graham Stoddard led the White squad in tackles with six (one solo).
Trevor Roach stepped up his game, being credited with six TKL and one TFL.
The secondary’s grade gets dented here only for the number of yards given up, but the playmaking ability is still there.
Safety Courtney Osborne led the Red squad with six TKL and one PBU.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Josh Mitchell totaled five TKL, two PBU and one INT.
Sophomore Ciante Evans picked up where he left off, staying on top of his man every time he was on the field.
This unit remains deep heading into the 2011 season.
Brett Maher’s talents were on full display as he tried to distance himself from the current Cornhusker kicking crop.
He hit two out of three field goal attempts, including a 39-yard kick as time expired, and averaged over 60 yards per kickoff.
Punter Jon Damkroger averaged about 36 yards per boot with a long of 42.
Kicker Ethan Davis converted his only field goal attempt, but one PAT attempt would be blocked.
Overall, there still is plenty of work to be done as Nebraska awaits the arrival of kicker recruit Mauro Bondi.
In an area where Nebraska has struggled for years, the Cornhuskers may wind up having one of the most electrifying return units in the Big Ten conference.
The first quarter of the Red-White Spring Game was rather pedestrian, so Jamal Turner took it upon himself to yank fans off their rear ends.
Turner caused the crowd of 66,784 to rise to its feet during a 59-yard punt return.
He would also add a 54-yard kick return to his spring résumé.
Not to be outdone, wide receiver Brandon Kinnie raised a few eyebrows with a stunning 68-yard kickoff return.
After the display last Saturday, it’s safe to assume that the Cornhusker coaches are prepared to put their best and brightest on the special teams units.
When installing a new offense, acclimating players to new coaches and taking into account the usual spring hiccups, Nebraska fared all right.
Nineteen penalties for a combined 158 yards can’t be ignored, though, especially when one of those is on defensive coordinator Carl Pelini for unsportsmanlike conduct after already being warned.
Taylor Martinez’s confidence looks shot, while Cody Green officially looks like a tight end playing quarterback.
Discipline is going to be key for Nebraska this season if it wishes to excel, and the quarterback situation needs to be figured out quickly.
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