Anticipation for Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game was at an all-time high as evidenced by the record attendance of 86,818. Fans flocked in droves to see the big-name additions, the new systems on both sides of the ball and even Coach Scott Frost himself.
Some of the highly-touted newcomers, namely Adrian Martinez and Greg Bell, did not disappoint while a few redshirt freshmen who didn’t play in last year’s scrimmage like Jaevon McQuitty and Austin Allen made their mark as well.
However, a big part of the spring game is the opportunity for players further down the depth chart to see the field and to show the fans what they’re capable of. Saturday is a day for the walk-ons too.
Wyatt Mazour, the junior out of Boone Central-Newman Grove, tore it up for the second straight year, finishing with four carries for 52 yards and a touchdown for the Red team. Mazour showed off his speed with the longest run of the day, a 43-yard sprint to the end zone in the third quarter.
Kade Warner, the son of long-time NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, broke his hand in preseason practice last year and sat out the season as a redshirt. Warner was an incredibly productive wide receiver in high school and showed off why on Saturday, taking a screen pass from Tristan Gebbia, avoiding a tackle near the line of scrimmage and sprinting up the left sideline for a 57-yard touchdown, the longest play from scrimmage of the day.
Andrew Bunch got plenty of attention throughout spring ball as the coaches talked him up as a legitimate candidate in the race for the starting gig and he backed that up with his play on Saturday. Bunch finished 8-of-14 for 89 yards and a touchdown
Austin Rose, the senior power back out of Lincoln North Star who has impressed in spring ball and fall camp throughout his career, only got two carries but did more with them than anybody else on the White team, rushing for 4 yards on one and 19 on the other. Senior Bryan Reimers (Lincoln East) caught one pass for 26 yards but also was involved in a lot of the big gains by his teammates on the Red team as he made a number of key blocks downfield.
The most productive receiver in terms of catches on Saturday was redshirt sophomore Todd Honas, a product of Aurora High School. Honas caught six passes on seven targets for 46 yards for the White team. However, he also eliminated himself from the quarterback competition with an interception on a broken trick play.
“Todd had a great game I think,” said Allen, his high school teammate. “He threw an interception — he got hit, and I guess that’s football. You make a mistake one play, you move on and make the next play. I think he did great things, especially for an Aurora native. The whole town’s looking over us and we both did pretty well.”
Allen caught three passes for 43 yards himself, and he credited Honas for helping him get through his first year of college while he redshirted.
“He definitely helped me out, especially when I first got here,” Allen said. “He’d already been around this university for a year and he definitely helped me out. The friendship we had in high school definitely carried over.”
Honas is consistently one of the last players to leave the practice field as he and Christian Banker, a walk-on receiver from Omaha Skutt who redshirted last season, take turns on the jugs machine while most of the other players and coaches make their way to the locker room or stop for interviews with the media.
Two years of hard work paid off for Honas on Saturday with 86,000 fans plus the town of Aurora watching. That is what the spring game at Nebraska is about as much as or more than anything else.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.