Spring Game Takeaways
With apologies for our delay in weighing in, here are our thoughts on the spring game for Nebraska.
Tommy Armstrong still has a long way to go as a passer. On 10 passing plays he took 2 sacks, was intercepted, and only completed 4 passes. The passes did go for 97 yards, but it's not the kind of efficiency that's going to allow the Huskers to scare opponents into respecting the pass. Zack Darlington clearly needs to redshirt after 4 sacks in 15 passing plays, an interception and only 3 completed passes. Ryker Fyfe and Johnny Stanton had good numbers, but a few carries and dozen passing plays isn't enough to tell us that these guys are really ready for prime time.
It's good to see Imani Cross showing improvement for a couple of reasons. One is that he's first in line to fill Ameer Abdullah's shoes after this season. Two is that history tells us that injuries to running backs are to be expected, so Cross could be thrust into the starting role very early on. If he needs to shoulder the load this season, he appears capable.
The receivers have appeared well coached for a while now and the spring game only reinforces that. Not only did established vets like Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner make some big plays, but so did guys like Taariq Allen, Brandon Reilly, and Kevin Gladney. The position continues to look like an area of strength.
Six sacks is a bit too many to give up in what is the equivalent of a game and a half. Four yards per carry rushing isn't going to get it done either. If not for some of the bigger plays made beyond the line of scrimmage, this might have been a brutal day for the offense overall.
Considering that Randy Gregory sat out, the group did well overall both getting pressure on quarterbacks and standing up to the run.
There may be some depth there even if there's not a lot of star power at the top. Michael Rose quietly had 8 tackles and a pass breakup while Trevor Roach and Zaire Anderson each managed four solo stops. Anderson had a sack while Banderas had an interception.
The group had to make its share of tackles in addition to the pair of interceptions and pass breakups that they had along with a blocked kick. There's much to sort out but you come to expect good pass efficiency defense from Bo Pelini's teams. You'd like to see them do more to take away the long runs by Imani Cross and Jordan Nelson, but there doesn't appear to be a huge dropoff from this unit from a year ago. Getting Corey Cooper back will also help in that department.
The coach said it all when he admitted that Mauro Bondi struggled with field goals in the spring. Missing a chip shot field goal and an extra point makes it seem like he may be done with place kicking at Nebraska. He may hold onto the job of handling kickoffs.