Offense Versus Defense Format May Cost Walk-Ons
On some level, it's understandable why Nebraska would change the format of the spring game to account for a lack of depth available on the defensive line. After all, if you split that group in half, you very nearly run out of bodies. But from the perspective of the walk-on at other positions who may see little to no time on the field during the upcoming season, it's a bit of a blow.
Presumably, the format will allow the Huskers to use a defensive line rotation akin to what they might do in a game. They'll need to use every drop of depth along the defensive front since they'll still have d-lineman on the field for every play from scrimmage. The difference will be that players won't have to frantically change jerseys between possessions so that they can play for both teams. It will allow the spring contest to maintain an element of true competition. There will be separate teams competing (versus a lot of "double agents"). If there's a steak dinner or the like on the line, that can mean something to the players.
But who it might hurt are the players low on the depth chart at the deeper positions. The traditional format used in the spring all but guarantees that your sixth tight end or your fourth fullback saw the field. Now, that might be a bit in question.
For a lot of these "practice-only" players, the spring game can be their moment to play in front of a crowd at Memorial stadium, which could fulfill a lifelong dream. Now, that might be taken away or at least reduced.
Without the true freshman that won't arrive until the fall, there's still some extra opportunity for playing time. And the coaches are hopefully sensitive to the impact the move might have on the walk-ons and will make an effort to get each player at least one snap on the field. But will your fifth or sixth I-back get 7 to 11 carries like Murat Kuzu and Graham Nabity did a year ago? You'd think not. And that's a little sad for the guys who wouldn't get even a third as many carries over the course of the whole season.