Quarterbacks Split and Other Notes Ahead of Nebraska's Spring Game
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Quarterbacks Split and Other Notes Ahead of Nebraska’s Spring Game

April 19, 2018

Everyone talked Thursday. Like, everyone. With just two days left before Memorial Stadium fills up to the brim, each Husker assistant coach met with the media to talk about what to expect during Saturday’s spring game, who’s where and more. Let’s just get to some notes.

>> Redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and true freshman Adrian Martinez will quarterback the red team. Sophomore Andrew Bunch and transfer Noah Vedral will quarterback the white team. The reps will be split up “50/50” and the coaches say there was no rhyme or reason for the pairing.

“We just split them up, no rhyme or reason,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “They’re all going to get reps, they’re all going to be evaluated and so we had to have two on each and that’s what we did.”

But somebody has to be the first guy on the field. What should we read into who that actually is?

“Nothing,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said emphatically. “There’s a lot of water under the bridge … and there’s going to be the same sort of process that goes on during fall camp and through our scrimmages.

“I wouldn’t read anything into what’s going to happen Saturday at all.”

They also won’t be live.

>> Walters said they “don’t know yet” about wideout JD Spielman’s status for Saturday. Spielman has been out with an illness, missing the last few practices, but the staff is in no rush.

“JD has proven himself last year and we know what he can do, we’re not going to rush him back and allow other receivers to get some more reps if he doesn’t play,” Walters said.

>> Running backs coach Ryan Held will be calling the plays for the white team while Walters handles the play-calling duties for the red team. On defense, Chinander will handle the red team and defensive line coach Mike Dawson will handle the white team.

“We’ll kind of maybe flip a coin or something on that side,” Chinander said of the defense. “I might call some on that side and then coach the other time and we might change duties over there. We’ll give everybody a little ownership.”

>> The red team will have Greg Bell, Mikale Wilbon, Wyatt Mazour, Ben Miles and Bo Kitrell in the backfield. The white team will have Devine Ozigbo, Jaylin Bradley, Austin Rose and Austin Hemphil.

“I really did kind of a coin flip on kind of the top guys, the top four, five guys,” Held said. “I just kind of divvied it right down the middle and go play.”

>> Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said Kurt Rafdal has been one of the biggest benefactors of the “desire to excel and no fear of failure” mantra.

“He was a kid that when he made a mistake, you knew it right away by his body language,” Beckton said. “Now when he makes a mistake, he just turns his head and goes to the next play … It’s really, really helped him.”

>> Jovan Dewitt has Stanley Morgan Jr. doing a little bit of everything. Dewitt, who handles special teams as well as outside linebackers, said the senior wideout has embraced doing a little bit of it all on special teams and has been returning kicks as well as blocking people.

>> Held shared his most notable spring game memory from when he was a player (probably can’t say it’s his “favorite” but it’s certainly noteworthy).

“I can’t remember the year but I had a post route that I caught and we had two [number] 37s, I was 37 and Darren Schmadeke — you remember the Schmadeke brothers? — he was 37 and I caught the pass and they said on the loudspeaker, ‘And Darren Schmadeke on the catch,’” Held recalled. “I was like, ‘Golly my one play, call Ryan Held out,’ so I remember that. I had one big play, and actually, it got called back because we weren’t set.”

>> Walters again mentioned Mike Williams when talking about receivers that have stood out. The junior college transfer will be on the red team Saturday with Morgan, Jaevon McQuitty and Tyjon Lindsey.

“He provides a deep threat that we need in this offense,” Walters said of Williams. “Really wasn’t recruited out of high school, didn’t have a whole lot going even after his first year in junior college and so he had a chip on his shoulder and after talking to him he wanted to come in and prove that he belonged and I love those type of players.

“As soon as he got in and he started working out, [strength] coach [Zach] Duval and the whole strength staff commented on what a great athlete, what a great work ethic, how he is dominating the weight room and that’s carried over to the field as well.”

>> None of the Husker cornerbacks had an interception last season. This offseason, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher is working with a production chart, keeping track of everything guys do. Interceptions get you positive points, dropped picks get you negative points. 

Chinander hasn’t been shy about his affinity for forcing takeaways and he said that was one thing he’s hoping to see Saturday.

“I want to see them go get the football,” he said. “I want to see them be aggressive, I want to see them tackle, I want to see them make plays. Not enough of that going right now and I’m being honest. We’re covering some people and we’re running side by side with them but we’re not getting the football. We need the football. I’d like to see some guys make some plays in front of a big crowd.”

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