With one week left until the spring game, Nebraska scrimmaged Saturday in Memorial Stadium in front of a slightly larger crowd.
“I thought it was a good day,” Bo Pelini said. “I thought it was a good week. I feel real good about this football team in some areas, and in some areas we’ve got to keep coming.”
Things started rough for Nebraska as Aaron Curry went down early with an apparent neck injury that Bo Pelini said was similar to Ryne Reeves’ situation two weeks ago. Curry left the field on a stretcher.
Offensive tackle David Knevel also went down when his ankle was rolled up on in what Pelini said appeared to be a high ankle injury, and will be day-to-day leading up to the Red-White game.
“What I’m really looking to do is build the depth right now, and with the the twos and some of the backups, I’m evaluating to see who’s going to be able and come help our football team who hasn’t played a lot of football right now,” Pelini said.
Saturday’s game will be “dialed back” from the usual spring game format, due mostly to some injuries that left depth in question with spring coming to a close. The format will probably look like a traditional offense-defense format rather than the draft that the Huskers used the last few years, according to Pelini.
“We got a lot of reps in (today), we mixed and matched guys a lot,” Pelini said. “We got a lot of guys reps and it was obvious to me that there are some guys that have come further than others.”
–Chongo Kondolo spent the majority of Saturday playing as a starter at right guard over Givens Price. Zach Sterup (right tackle), Mark Pelini (center) and Jake Cotton (left guard) seem to be pretty entrenched with the ones this spring.
-The top defensive line also seems set with Greg McMullen and Randy Gregory at end and Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine at tackle. Pelini said a new addition could be seen off the edge after an impressive week from freshman linebacker Marcus Newby.
“We’ve given him the chance to rush kind of in the DeMorrio Williams-type mode a couple days, and I think we found a niche for him to be able to help us as a rusher on third down,” Pelini said. “He can play low, he has good hips. Obiously he’s explosive and fast, and I think that’s an area where he’ll be able to help us and give us tons more juice opposite Randy (Gregory).”
Newby definitely passes the eye test when you see him run free in the open field after a quarterback.
–I like Zaire Anderson playing downhill and aggressively. He impresses most when the linebackers are on the attack and blitzing. During the scrimmage, Anderson came off the edge on a blitz and crushed Ryker Fyfe, who has generally shown good pocket awareness.
–Fyfe had an up and down day, including the blow from Anderson. Fyfe followed up the sack with a nice 16-yard fade to Imani Cross on a wheel route on third down. He took another sack a couple plays later, but completed a nice 12-yard ball to Sam Cotton in traffic. He hit Jordan Westernkamp on a short slant that went for 45 yards later in the day as well. Pelini said the backup battle between he and Johnny Stanton is very close at this point.
–Cornerback Jonathan Rose was back with the ones Saturday after Byerson Cockrell spent at least two days this week with the top unit. Pelini said incoming freshmen could have a big impact on the battle for the fourth cornerback spot behind Josh Mitchell, Cockrell and Rose, with Boaz Joseph in the mix.
–Josh Banderas started the scrimmage with the top unit, but Michael Rose played with the ones near the end of the day. Trevor Roach played more with the twos and threes, with Courtney Love and Marcus Newby getting looks with the ones and in rushing situations.
–Jamal Turner looked to be targeted in play calls early in the scrimmage; Fyfe hit him on a short slant that went for 25 yards, then he ran a sweep play. Turner has looked good, but spent much of the day with the twos.
–Terrell Newby had what I would say was the strongest day, getting seven carries on one drive with the twos late in the scrimmage. He busted runs of 25 and 30 yards in the drive and finished it with about 70 yards total. He also broke a long run in special teams drills that could have been a touchdown in a live drill.
–Brandon Reilly has come on as strongly as any of Nebraska’s wide receivers, and spent most of Saturday’s scrimmage with the top unit in two- and three-receiver sets. During a series in which he played outside receiver with the ones, Reilly pulled in four catches for about 50 yards, and caught a touchdown pass in the red zone from Armstrong earlier in the scrimmage. He’s a big body and will contribute a lot this fall, especially if he can get stronger as a blocker.
–Taariq Allen will also contribute this fall at receiver, now that he’s “got his feet back under him” as Pelini said. Allen burned Josh Mitchell down the sideline for a nice 32-yard gain towards the middle of the scrimmage working with the ones.