Nebraska didn’t have much experience on its defensive line when it started fall camp this month. The Huskers have even less today after head coach Bo Pelini confirmed that sophomore defensive tackle Kevin Williams is out for the season with a knee injury.
“Obviously, I feel bad for Kevin but that’s a position we have pretty good depth in right now,” Pelini said following the Huskers’ practice. “I just wish him the best because this is the second time he’s had a knee injury. I just feel for the kid. He’s obviously heartbroken and he was playing good football.”
Williams, who sat out all of 2011 while rehabbing from a knee injury, played in five games for Nebraska last season, recording four total tackles. In a sign of just how young Nebraska’s defensive line is in 2013, that total ranked Williams third among returning players on the defensive line in tackles behind seniors Jason Ankrah and Thad Randle. He is one of six defensive linemen with game experience currently on the roster.
But it wasn’t all bad news on the injury front on Saturday. Pelini said that junior college transfer defensive end Randy Gregory returned to practice on Saturday and redshirt freshman defensive end Greg McMullen would return Monday. Both had sat out the last few practices this week with undisclosed injuries.
Nebraska’s top returning tight end, Jake Long, is also making progress after missing most of the past two weeks.
“(He) is way ahead of schedule right now,” Pelini said. “He’ll be back any day now…He’ll be ready for game week for sure.”
A few other notes from Pelini:
–Nebraska’s offense is viewed as a relative certainty headed into 2013, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
“I think we’re a deeper group, which really excites me,” Pelini said. “We have more depth up front than we’ve had. Some of our young guys are really competing for some playing time. We have a lot of guys that can play and play well.”
Pelini mentioned junior Mike Moudy, junior college transfer Chongo Kondolo, and sophomore Zach Sterup as players who are making a bid for snaps.
“We haven’t had this kind of depth on the offensive line since I’ve been here,” Pelini added.
–True freshman Josh Banderas might also be in the mix for some playing time when Nebraska kicks off against Wyoming in two weeks.
“We’re putting a lot on him, throwing a lot at him. The thing I’m most excited about with Josh, I know he can run, but he’s very physical and he’s shown tremendous instincts for the position. It hasn’t been too big for him,” Pelini said.
Banderas is practicing at middle linebacker.
–Another freshman drawing rave reviews is Nate Gerry. Recruited as an athlete/safety, it appears as if Gerry’s transition to linebacker is closer to becoming official.
“(He looks) like a guy that’s only played linebacker for a week, but he’s a talented kid,” Pelini said. “He’s tough, he has the physical tools and we’ll see how it plays out. He’s the type of kid you want on your football team.”
–The Boulder Daily Camera reported this week that Colorado transfer Alex Lewis, who is facing a felony assault charge in Boulder, was enrolling in classes at UNL. Asked if there was a chance Lewis, an offensive lineman, would join the team this fall Pelini said “that all depends on the legal situation.”