Handicapping the Spring Game
The Nebraska Athletic Department has released the rosters for the Spring game. Based on what we see, which team has the edge?
Of course, some of what we see may be an illusion. Is it an advantage for the White team to have Rex Burkhead if he plays less than half a quarter? Likewise, will Taylor Martinez play more than a third of the game for the red team? Will the defensive tackles really play only for the team they've been assigned, or will they end up playing for both squads? Let's take a look position by position.
The Red team seemingly has the edge with Martinez. When he sits, then it's Ron Kellogg up against the Brion Carnes. Both teams will feature Bronson Marsh. Since Kellogg's been a gamer (at least in the Spring), give a slight edge to the Red team assuming Martinez plays a decent amount.
There was talk that the backs would play a lot, but apparently Ameer Abdullah will take every snap at I-back for the Red team. Meanwhile, the White team will mix Burkhead, Aaron Green and fullback Mike Marrow. Give the edge to the Whites, even if Burkhead only sees one series.
There's a lot to like about the red team with four potential starters in Pensick, Sirles, Qvale, and Long. But, there's no clear fifth starter which is likely to leave a hole at guard. Maybe Mike Moudy or the young Givens Price will take the spot. The white team has a number of options in the interior with Mark Pelini, Justin Jackson, Andrew Rodriguez, Seung Hoon Choi, and Nick Ash. At tackle they have Tyler Moore who they can bookend with Ryan Klachko or Zach Sterup. So the edge would seem to go to the White team.
Kenny Bell, Tim Marlowe, Jake Long and Ben Cotton are the veterans for the red team. It also features young up and comers in Taariq Allen and the Tyler Wullenwaber. The White team has a nice trio in Kyler Reed, Quincy Enunwa, and Jamal Turner. They also have some nice reserve options in Steven Osborne, and KC Hyland. Still, the edge goes to the red team.
If taken at face value, you'd give a huge edge to the red team for having Baker Steinkuhler and Jay Guy to go with Jason Ankrah and Eric Martin. But if the only real difference is the defensive ends, then things are a lot closer with Cameron Meredith and Joe Carter at end for the white team. Still, the edge goes to the red team.
Will Compton leads an otherwise inexperienced group of red linebackers that includes David Santos, Micah Kreikemeier, and Max Pirman. Meanwhile Sean Fisher, Trevor Roach, and Alonzo Whaley are all in White. Edge to the white team.
Damion Stafford and Courtney Osborne bring starting experience to the safety spot for the red team, which also features Corey Cooper. The white team will feature PJ Smith, Harvey Jackson, and Dijon Washington. The white team has a nice trio of corners in Antonio Bell, Mohammed Seisay, and Ciante Evans. The red has a deeper group with Andrew Green, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Josh Mitchell, Braylon Heard, Daniel Davie, and Jase Dean. Advantage red team.
Taken at face value, the red team gets Brett Maher and their long snapper while the white team must make due with Mauri Bondi and a punter to be named later? Potential huge edge to the red team.
Put it all together and it looks like the red team might be a touchdown better. The running game for the white team (coupled with some inexperienced linebacking on the outside for the red team) could keep them in the game. But the passing game for the red team, coupled with the push up front on defense, secondary depth and special teams advantage should allow them to prevail.