Monday, April 20, 2009

NU Re-View: Red 31, White 17

THE GOOD ...
- TIGHT END DEPTH: Looks pretty clear that the '09 version of the 'Huskers will be a physical, run-first team with tight ends sopping up a lot of the catches. That works well, given that NU's tight end depth looks about as good as its' ever been. Between Ben Cotton, Mike McNeil and Dreu Young, Nebraska has three guys that can start right away and be an offensive threat. Now, if they can block, NU will be in good shape.
- POSSIBLE PLAYMAKERS: One thing than made Nebraska's offense work harder than they would have otherwise was a lack of a home run threat. NU was content to plod their way down the field and eat up clock, but that was primarily because they didn't have a lot of options. With a speed guy like Marcus Mendoza moving to wide receiver (and forget LaTravis Washington, Mendoza's move might be the biggest position shift Pelini made) and Antonio Bell coming into his own, NU might have to make opposing safeties play a little more honestly next year.
- THE BIG BRIGHT ORB: Yeah, it's cheesy, but I swear it's true. The forecast was for rain the whole game, to the point where I wore rain clothes (the only way I would wear red pants in public) and had my camera all rain-geared-out. The moment, however, NU took the field to start the game, the sun came out and it was a beautiful spring day. Just coincidence, or is the Bobfather smiling down on the '09 crew?

THE BAD ...
- DISCOMBOBULATION: Sure, it's a practice, but it's always disturbing to see penalties. Particularly odd were some of the pass interference calls. Menelik Holt (more on him later) got all but mugged in the end zone, and got an offensive pass interference call. Strange all the way around.
- THE INCREDIBLE INVISIBLE EIGHTEEN: That's probably a little harsh, but we've been waiting for Holt to be the next coming of Maurice Purify. It didn't happen last year, and Holt looks like he's been passed by a whole bunch of receivers on the depth chart. And that's WITHOUT Niles Paul on the field!
- LESS THAN SPECIAL TEAMS: Kickoff returns and kick coverage were huge weaknesses for the 'Huskers last year, and it doesn't look like things have improved much. There was a significant stretch where it seemed like every return had yellow laundry on the field. Given the huge struggles Nebraska had last year, it's hard to imagine how this hasn't improved.
- GREEN THE SUBMARINE: Cody Green did not have a good spring game, that's to be sure. He's coming off injury, and he's a freshman, so there's lots of room to give him. But he's got one of the oddest sidearm deliveries I've seen in a long time. I honestly can't figure out how he can throw the ball straight, and it resulted in one tipped pass, even as tall as Green is. I am hopeful that Green is the future of Nebraska football, but based on what I saw on Saturday, former linebacker LaTravis Washington should be the #2 quarterback and Green should redshirt the '09 season.

... AND THE LONG SUMMER WAIT.
Go ahead, start your countdown clocks for September 05 against Florida Atlantic. Even as much as I love baseball, the spring game is always a devastating tease of Nebraska football, enough to whet your appetite and be sad to realize how far away the real stuff is. Still, with the gorgeous weather, the band, the stadium, and 77,000 other Nebraska fans in place, you got enough of a taste to hold you through the summer.

THE BIG PICTURE.
Spring games are just about impossible to take anything away from, as you have no real idea of what you're looking at. I think most Nebraska fans learned that lesson after the first Callahan-era spring game. To borrow a theme from my friend Sean Brennan, who previewed the spring game for the Omaha CityWeekly, there's a lot we know and a lot we don't know. In general, though, I think we can say that defensively NU will have lots more athletes in the secondary, a dominant set of defensive tackles, and questions to answer at defensive end and linebacker. Offensively, Zac Lee will without question be the man to lead NU, and will be leading a power running team with the ability to throw out of the option. Expectations still need to be tempered, especially with the schedule Nebraska has drawn this year and the return of Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy to Oklahoma and Texas, respectively. Still, there's plenty of reason for optimism, as the Bobfather's sunshine settles on the plain white helmets of the players as they finish spring football.

GBR, baby.

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