Sunday, April 18, 2010

NU Re-View: Red 21, White 16

- TAYLOR MARTINEZ: Yes, I know, he's the guy everyone is talking about. ESPN's coverage of NU's Spring Game was basically a Martinez PR piece. But there's good reason for the coverage. The kid looked the part, particularly in what appears to be what Shawn Watson's offense is going to look like going forward. His first play was basically a Wildcat run, which he looked comfortable running. But he ran decisively, was patient in the pocket when he dropped back to throw, and definitely did not look like a freshman directing the offense. Based on what we saw on Saturday, there's no question he's in the mix in the starting quarterback race.
- THE OTHER GUY: Martinez is the shiny new car, and Cody Green suffers from a bit of the "been there, done that" syndrome. And while it is true that he didn't sparkle in quite the way Martinez did, it's also true that he was asked to air it out a lot more than Martinez was. As we have seen before, Green struggled some in the short passing game. But he had two gorgeous deep throws - and the lack of a deep threat to stretch the field was sorely lacking last season. If I had to put money on one kid to get the starting QB position next season, my money would be on Green.
- RETURN OF THE PAJAMAS: I understand that I will be in a distinct minority on this one. But I loved the red-on-red look the team had. I loved the white-on-white they've experimented with in the past. I think a uniform re-design is not warranted (although a few more throwbacks would be nice), but adding in some mix-and-match would be more than a little cool. Oh, by the way, it's nice to see Gay Dancer Herbie (tight shirt and jeans) replaced by the familiar Bib Overall Herbie. Let's hope that's permanent.

- TAYLOR MARTINEZ'S HYPE: Yes, the kid was really exciting. Yes, I think he's got a place in the offense. But, please, 'Husker fans, do not engrave his name on the Heisman just yet. Assuming he's not the starting quarterback this fall, do not start calling for him at the first incompletion thrown by Green or Zac Lee. He's good, but I can almost guarantee you that he's not as good as you think he is after watching him on Saturday.
- PLAY TO THE WHISTLE: Look, I get that it's a scrimmage. But there were at least two incidents at the end of a play where a rugby scrum broke out. In just about any actual game, those plays would have been blown dead for halting forward progress. But they weren't, and the offense pushed the pile forward. Brandon Kinnie got a touchdown after being dogpiled at the five yard line, with the dogpile getting pushed into the end zone. Great motor for Kinnie and the offense, but I have to think a defense-first guy like Bo Pelini had to be popping a vein seeing his defensive crew giving those up.
- ROW 39 IN THE EAST STANDS: Unlike some years, it was a perfect spring day in Lincoln. The sky was blue, the temperature was warm but not hot, and the wind was just strong enough to put a charge into the air. What better way to spend that afternoon, then, but to be sitting under a 50-year-old concrete overhang navigating a two-foot-wide pole? The experience was eerily remniscent to watching a baseball game in the concrete monstrosity that was Cincinnati's old Riverfront Stadium.

There was a lot to like about NU's Spring Game 2010, not the least of which were the 77,000-plus people that showed up (although, really, could 'Husker Nation not find another three thousand bodies to sell Memorial Stadium out?) Everything we saw, though - from the offensive wizardry to the introduction of the Peso to the Bouncerooski - should be viewed through the "it's only practice" prism. For the first time in a while, Nebraska is going into a season with legitimate championship aspirations. The results of the Spring Game should not be over-analyzed to presume those championships are won already.

More than anything, what struck me is that this group of 'Huskers looked more like a complete roster of players Pelini is looking for. In the previous two Spring Games, it felt like Pelini was piecing together a hodgepodge roster of leftover Callahan players and trying to see where the square pegs and round holes were located. This year, the direction and philosophy seem more settled and there seems to be legitimate competition for the positions to execute that direction. For the most part, the NU roster looks and feels deeper than it has for some years. Sure, there's holes to fill (you don't move your best tight end to wide receiver on a whim), but the signs are there that Pelini was right about Nebraska being back and here to stay.

Western Kentucky @ Nebraska, September 04, 2010.

Is it September 04, 2010, yet?


GBR, baby.

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