Nebraska Football: Winners and Losers of Cornhuskers Spring Game
Spring football is a time for blind optimism, fresh slates and second chances.
Much like every football contest, not everyone can walk away victorious.
Five Nebraska Cornhuskers helped to solidify their roles and stated their cases for future playing time in grand fashion.
Five others made cases as to why their time should be cut down, if not cut entirely, and may look elsewhere as a result.
Loser No. 5: Anyone Trying To Catch Jamal Turner
If anything was apparent last Saturday, it was that Jamal Turner can make just about anyone who is trying to take him down look the fool.
Turner’s shifty moves and blazing speed made him a terror on punt and kick returns.
His touchdown reception was a thing of beauty, as he slipped away from a defender’s grasp.
Winner No. 5: Brandon Kinnie
Kinnie’s production as a receiver wasn’t great by any stretch (two receptions for 15 yards).
What did stand out was the receiver’s ability to return punts.
One thing that was not expected during the Red-White spring game was for a 6’3”, 225-pound wide receiver to have a 68-yard kickoff return with 81 yards total.
He gained valuable experience going up against what will arguably be the saltiest secondary in the Big Ten, but the surprise of Kinnie’s return ability was a welcomed one for the Cornhuskers faithful.
Loser No. 4: Yusef Wade
In theory, Wade Yusef’s day could’ve been worse.
In theory, if NFL coaches can get a team to the Super Bowl, they should be able to take a team to the BCS national championship game.
Yusef’s likely final chapter as a Nebraska Cornhusker reads as follows: A run for a loss of two yards, a run for three yards, a reception for a loss of two yards and a fumble.
This is how to not endear yourself to Bo Pelini or offensive coordinator Tim Beck, especially with a fall depth chart deeper than the Grand Canyon ahead of you.
Winner No. 4: Josh Mitchell
Several people in Memorial Stadium were rifling through their programs to find out who No. 18 in white was.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Josh Mitchell.
Mitchell was not shy when it came to getting up to the line of scrimmage to make a tackle this past Saturday.
He would finish the day with five TKL, one TFL, one PBU and one SCK.
Loser No. 3: Collins Okafor
One of the Cornhuskers who had the most to lose this spring went out with a whimper.
By barely participating at all in the Red-White spring game, things looked bad enough, as Okafor was to be remolded as a potential “big back” for Nebraska.
With the official announcement that former Alabama/Eastern Washington fullback Mike Marrow will be joining the team for the 2011 season, Okafor’s value nears zero.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Collins transfer out at some point soon.
Winner No. 3: Eric Martin
It’s early, but it’s also safe to say that Eric Martin’s move from linebacker to defensive end is a success.
The hard-hitting Moreno Valley, California native wreaked havoc in the White’s offensive backfield battering Taylor Martinez and laying the lumber to ball carriers.
He finished the day with four TKL, two TFL and one FF.
At a position where the Cornhuskers badly need experienced enforcers, Martin took to it like a fish to water.
Loser No. 2: Cody Green
To say that Cody Green hasn’t been a team player would be incorrect.
In fact, it would be an out-and-out lie.
However, it’s official: Green is not a quarterback fit for this offense and perhaps not any.
Cody went 4-for-10 passing as part of the White squad and 0-for-1 for the Reds.
At this point, he needs to strongly consider a position switch.
He may also opt out of that plan and seek greener pastures due to other quarterbacks stepping up during last Saturday’s scrimmage.
Winner No. 2: Jamal Turner
The only reason that Turner isn’t No. 1 is that so much was already expected of him that he simply proved the pundits right.
Turner racked up 228 all-purpose yards and a touchdown including a dazzling 59-yard punt return and a 54-yard kick return.
Nebraska hasn’t had a talent this electric in perhaps a decade.
The Biggest Loser: Taylor Martinez
‘Cause you had a bad day…
Well, classifying what Taylor Martinez showed at the Red-White game as “bad” would be putting his performance mildly.
He showed no pocket presence, zero confidence and terrible passing as he went 4-of-13 with one interception.
While the effects of a lingering high ankle sprain may still be haunting Martinez, he isn’t fit to run Tim Beck’s offense in any form, especially if it implements the option as shown during the scrimmage.
Unless he makes a major comeback through fall, along with beating out other quarterbacks for the starting spot, a position switch to slot receiver to complement Turner might be for the best.
The Biggest Winner: Brion Carnes
Perhaps you haven’t heard, but this Brion Carnes fellow is kind of a big deal.
The cousin of Cornhusker legend Tommie Frazier, Carnes was a four-year starter at Frazier’s former high school and showed shades of his relation's abilities during the Red-White game.
The offense seemed crisper with Carnes under center, he made his reads well and flowed with the pocket.
Not only that, Carnes went 11-of-15 passing amassing 173 yards through the air while throwing two touchdown passes.
He would add 49 yards rushing on nine attempts (seven YPC).
Carnes may not have effectively unseated Martinez as the No. 1 quarterback, but he definitely made the seat under last year’s starter much hotter.
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