Husker Depth Chart Features Freshmen and “OR’s”
The release of the first official fall depth chart is arguably the largest milestone of meaningful information regarding the upcoming season since the last season ended. It shows who the starters and top reserves are going to be at every position and provides clues about who's likely to redshirt and who isn't.
Given the number of receivers on the two-deep (if we include the "OR's" which we'll return to in a moment), there doesn't seem to be a great need to burn the redshirt for wideout De'Mornay Pierson-El. That is, until you scan down toward the return units and see his name appear among the final four as both a kick returner and punt returner.
Defensively, we see the departure of Aaron Curry has pushed true freshman tackle Jerald Foster onto the three deep. Since the two-deep gets used in every game, a three deep player will play. We see three true freshmen pop up in the secondary including Chris Jones as a third cornerback, Kieron Williams as a second safety, and Josh Kalu as the second nickelback. You also expect the Huskers to use their two-deep on a weekly basis in the secondary. Particularly, when they go to a dime look with six defensive backs on the field. Over the course of the season, you'd expect all of these players to get time. Drew Brown appears to be the top place kicker, though it appears Mauro Bondi will continue to handle kickoffs.
In polling, when two candidates get very similar amounts of support from the public, the polling organization might declare a race "too close to call". These dead heats litter the depth chart. Mark Pelini might be the top center OR Ryne Reeves. Mike Moudy might be the top right guard OR Chongo Kondolo. Givens Price could be the starting right tackle OR Zach Sterup OR Matt Finnin. With Gabe Miller out, the long snapper might be Josh Faulkenberry OR Nate Gerry. One starter at corner could be Daniel Davie OR Jonathan Rose. Jamal Turner might be a top receiver OR Alonzo Moore.
The ties filter into the second-place spots as well. Taariq Allen could be second behind Kenny Bell at receiver OR Brandon Reilly OR Sam Burtch. De-Mornay Pierson El could be second behind Jordan Westerkamp at another wideout spot OR Brandon Reilly might be. Imani Cross could be second behind Ameer Abdullah OR Terrell Newby might be. A.J. Natter could be a second defensive end behind Greg McMullen OR Joe Keels might be. Boaz Joseph might be a second corner behind Josh Mitchell OR Chris Jones might be. That's a lot of neck and neck battles.
Certain players may solidify their position or leapfrog other players in the next few weeks, causing some of those "OR's" to disappear. It's fair to say you don't want to be rotating three right tackles in every game. You also wonder if all six redshirts will get burned and how many more might be used this season (e.g. would running back Mikale Wilbon be called into action if a another rusher is lost for the season).
With all of this indecision, it's interesting to see Tommy Armstrong as the clear #1 quarterback, Ryker Fyfe as the clear #2, and Johnny Stanton a clear third. We now see a lot of answers to lingering questions about what the team will look like, but clearly there are a number of questions that remain.