Week two of fall camp is in the books and the Hail Varsity staff is here to offer some takeaways from the week that was.
The second week of camp has brought us some intriguing camp questions and some more injury news. The Jaevon McQuitty injury is tough on multiple levels. It hurts the depth of the team yes, but after battling back from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss camp, you hate to see a guy go through so much so soon.
We do have some camp battles going on that crystallized during the second week. The cornerback spot opposite Lamar Jackson is up for grabs with Eric Lee Jr. and Dicaprio Bootle battling it out. In the end I think both of those guys will see a lot of time no matter who gets the starting spot.
The running back battle still rages and the coaches seem to really want a guy to emerge. We saw our first shakeup on the offensive line this week with Boe Wilson getting first-team reps in place of Tanner Farmer. Long-term, the biggest development this week could be both Danny Langsdorf and Mike Riley acknowledging that true freshman Tristan Gebbia is making the redshirt decision difficult. Gebbia seems to be squarely in the mix to be the backup quarterback this year.
The loss of McQuitty is tough on multiple levels, as Greg detailed above, but even without him the class of 2017 is already producing dividends as a handful of true freshmen are making moves during fall camp.
Everyone knows about Tyjon Lindsey, and he is going to see the field this season as a wide receiver and perhaps as a return man as well. He was one of the four scholarship wideouts Nebraska was down to for Thursday’s practice along with Stanley Morgan Jr., De’Mornay Pierson-El and Zack Darlington.
As Greg said above, Gebbia is making a push at quarterback. Jaylin Bradley is getting plenty of reps at running back in practice and could be an option at kick return. Avery Roberts arrived early and has already earned a spot on the two-deep at inside linebacker.
Guy Thomas is an impressive specimen at outside linebacker and could quickly rise up the depth chart at the Cat position where Alex Davis and Sedrick King are battling it out for the starting spot.
On Thursday, Brenden Jaimes got second-team snaps at tackle along with Matt Farniok. Defensive lineman Deontre Thomas also was working with the group that included the first and second units during position drills and made a few impressive plays.
It’s only two weeks into fall camp, but Nebraska appears to have quite a bit of talent in this year’s freshman class.
I think the thing – or, in this case, the person – that stood out the most this week was quarterback Tanner Lee.
Lee has been getting praise dumped on him left and right this offseason, most recently from former Browns GM Phil Savage, and everyone wants to know the million-dollar question: can he live up to the hype? Obviously, the games haven’t started yet and the big hits haven’t come, but from what I’ve seen so far of Lee, he’s in for a pretty successful season.
I’ve seen him go through all his progressions, look for the open man and settle for dump-offs. I’ve seen him fire accurately out of three and five-step drops. I’ve seen him escape a collapsing pocket, and hit accurately on the run. I’ve seen him make a poor decision by throwing into coverage, and still complete the pass because he put it where only his man could get it.
There’s a lot I haven’t seen (see, I’m trying to temper this a bit), considering we only get to watch one practice a week. And Riley has publicly said things aren’t perfect yet, there’s still things Lee and the rest of the offense needs to improve on. Langsdorf has said the same. But Lee has me excited nonetheless.
Another even more interesting development is taking place alongside Lee in the backfield, at the tailback spot.
No one has separated himself from the pack yet, and that seems to be a growing issue within the coaching staff. Langsdorf has said he would prefer the Huskers have a workhorse over a by-committee approach, but it doesn’t look like that’s happened yet.
Tre Bryant was getting a number of first team touches before missing Thursday’s practice for precautionary reasons. He came back fully on Saturday, but junior Mikale Wilbon got some extra touches in his absence. If Bryant continues to be hampered moving forward, I would look for Wilbon to try and carve out some distance between himself and everyone else.