Spring Game Takeaways

With apologies for our delay in weighing in, here are our thoughts on the spring game for Nebraska.

 


Quarterback
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.

Running Back
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.  

Receiver
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.

Offensive Line
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.

Defensive Line
Considering that Randy Gregory sat out, the group did well overall both getting pressure on quarterbacks and standing up to the run.  

Linebackers
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.   

Defensive Backs
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.

Kicking
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.

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Comments 32 comments so far

Hate to say it, but Armstrong appears to have a long way to go towards taking NU to any sort of a successful season.  I know that sometimes bad things happen to good plays and players, but Armstrong just looks to be too easy to read and is too hesitant and easily rattled into mistakes.  He looked about the same as last year to me, maybe he’ll improve as the season wears on, but I’d like to see a lot more play by Ryker and Stanton during the early games, who appear to have the tools and confidence necessary to take this team forward.  I was a lot more enthused with this team before the Spring game, now we’re looking a whole lot like last year and the season looks shaky.  Easy to prove me wrong though and I hope I am.

DennisR ~ you are right on point.  Remember, there seems to be more hype than reality by the local Husker press coverage.  We all want BOP to improve on his 4 season losses per year result, however, one has to be realistic.  That means, run, run, run the ball.  Avoid asking too much of the newbie QBs, and hope that by doing so, NU will be able to keep the defense off the field even if NU doesn’t put points on the board.  The one advantage over most opponents should be our stable of running backs.  Draw to your strengths, avoid one of the highest turnover margin rates in the country like last year, and pray some teams we play self-destruct, like Wisconsin, MS, Iowa, NW and Miami.  Otherwise, it will be a long season and BOP’s last.

well Realist, we often fell behind when we played mostly the run dominated, smash mouth ball control strategy behind the Hogs, and it wasn’t until we developed a lot more speed in the offense and defense with a decent passing game that we became truly a team to be both feared and respected, especially in the post season when we played lighter, faster teams who never had to play in the snowy Midwest.  It appears that BOP is striving to acheive that very elusive goal with his current strategy, recruiting, and player development. All we seem to need is a couple of outstanding players on both sides of the ball and I’ve seen some very likely prospects.  A few games under our belts will tell the rest of the story, good, bad, or ugly.  I hope it’s the former.

Score?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Well they have a few months to figure it out. This years schedule is no patty cake schedule like they had last year, and still struggled.

But BOP sed(post Spring Fling), and I quote, “I thought all the QBs mad BIG STRIDES in the last 2 weeks”.  So, there’s yer proof that they is good.

TDogg, he says that every year.

Considering one QB managed to toss a pick on the second play and the other two QBs never played a down before Saturday with which to compare their Big Strides with. I’m beginning to wonder.  I guess it is a Big Stride to take your 1st snap after being red shirted for a year.  Bo sounds pretty positive though, maybe the cat has a calming effect on him.  Now THAT would be a BIG STRIDE.

All,

It was a scrimmage.  This is a game that focuses on technique and decision-making.  Yes, Armstrong struggled a bit, but he is coming along.  Ryker and Stanton look astounding as far as having the ability to step in if Armstrong goes down. 

Offensive line, well folks again, its a scrimmage.  Defensive penetration, again, it’s a scrimmage.  Gregory didn’t play.  Bell only played a few series.  Anunwa didn’t play.  This is a game of looking at technique and finding the teams depths.

There are certain positions that you want to fill, some that you already know you have filled so why risk injury, others, you are looking for the raw talent of the athlete to help you make your decision.  This is why some players are actually training for two or even three different positions.

That should read Abdulla, not Anunwa.  Dang, I miss him!

Those are valid points Johnny, good job.

I suspect it would be difficult to be very impressive with your best players on the sidelines leading the cheers.  Maybe Tommy is just trying to hard and will settle in when he’s using his full complement of options.

It is a practice that enables the coaches to get a look at kids in a large crowd environment.  I could be wrong but I would imagine you don’t want to show your strengths, so the other teams know what to work on.  I mean with Armstrong I would imagine it will be more option and play action pass off of that.  Let let the young men enjoy a day, last practice of spring.  If the offense fired on all cylinders people would complain about our defense, maybe our offense struggled because our defense is that quick.  Is there room for improvement sure that is why they have fall practice, I really don’t see the need to call these young men out over a practice, I thought it was good, fun and I think we will be fine this year

Agreed larr, why give our opponents more game film to review on our schemes…. Looked decent overall, really impressed with the d line and Imani. Looking for that stud linebacker and db to step up. O line needs the summer to coalesce into one breathing, consuming pipeline. Feeling good, especially after watching everyone else’s spring games. GBR

This ain’t gonna be another one of those “injuries” years is it?  That shit gets old and, what, we’s only into spring praktiz and we has key players missing the Spring Fling PT cuz ‘injured’.  I don’t wanna hear the word ‘injured’.  Injury to Tater and multiple linemen almost ruined last year entirely and got BOP fired.  S’up with this shit?

Maybe we’re just getting our ‘scuses lined up. just in case the Cat ploy doesn’t work out and to keep our expectations low.  I suspect we’re just not taking any chances and we really didn’t need to see Abdullah and others just to see if they can still play football.  I really hope Tommy A gets his confidence ducks lined up and is able to go with his natural instincts and talents, time will tell all.  Stanton and Fyfe looked good and appear to be real playmakers and good decision makers, I’d like to see more of both of them.

Let’s face it - hype in the past hasn’t met expectations.  Perhaps consistently so in that regard.  Outside of a strong stable of running backs and hopefully an overall improved D, NU is still behind the proverbial 8 ball.  The Spring game is nothing to judge an upcoming season by for sure.  Expectation game isn’t what it used to be at NU.  We are now wishing for just a 2 loss season versus 4 losses, rather than running the table.  Compared to Callie, the program is improved, it seems.  Since BOP’s arrival, are we much improved over his first season as HC?  Starting his 7th season as HC, has NU made the strides forward we had all expected?  The answer to both questions appears to be “no”.  I guess that explains why BOP deserved a contract extension and more money.

Let’s hope BOP is not morphing into “Dr. Evil” with his pussy cat routine.  Where’s Mini-Me???

Any vid of El Juego Primavera, Companeros?

My favorite part was BoP coming out with the cat.  The rehabilitation continues - and it seems to be working.

I thought the D line looked very solid.  I like the look of several of those guys.

Gotta have production and ball protection from the QB position or you lose games.  We will have to see how that goes in the fall.

There are fans, pro and con, who suggest the current QB situation is not strong enough at NU to carry the day as otherwise needed.  NU keeps recruiting QBs on the rebound, having had broken bones, brain concussions, etc., in high school.  Or foreign recruits here on visas.  Nu will never get there at the QB position at the current rate.

There are so many HS kids that can sling it now.  Back in the day (early 80’s) HS football was more typically a running the ball sport.  Now it seems almost everyone is spreading out and throwing.  That means there a literally tons of kids out there who can do it.  But yeah, when you are recruiting QBs, you can’t miss very often.

You never know, after a summer of working out and fall practice, it might click for Armstrong or one of the others.

My high school baseball always said (teams that can do the simple things like bunt the ball, win games.) The same goes with football. Teams that can hold on to the football and kick field goals win games. The kicking game right now looks terrible.

There are fans, pro and con, who suggest the current QB situation is not strong enough at NU to carry the day as otherwise needed.  NU keeps recruiting QBs on the rebound, having had broken bones, brain concussions, etc., in high school.  Or foreign recruits here on visas.  Nu will never get there at the QB position at the current rate.

Way to troll, UNRealist!  I can’t think of a single QB that had broken bones (other injuries, sure).  AND KD is NOT here on visa, he is now a US citizen.  Read much?

Ball field we know NU knows how to copy and paste because no matter what the article is about the response is the same.  No need to even read, same thing every time.

So Admiral,

I s’pose yo’ momma could split the uprights from fiddy out, into a swirling wind on the coldest day in November and the fuhball feels like a rock agin’ yo’ big toe—eh?

Kickin’, yeah, it’s ‘simple’, anybody can do it…

What about that tall, lanky kid from Joja, Greene, that his name?  Put him in.

TDawwg, It wasn’t fiddy yards out, it was more like 15,and its not going to matter how good the QB is, or if you have a stacked backfield if you don’t have the guys up front to block. I don’t care if it was just the spring game. Hopefully the oline was only going about 50%. If not they got a lot of work to. Call me a troll or a fair weather fan, I don’t care. This year is going to be a TRAIN WRECK.

If you notice, Tommy as he releases the ball will stare down the receiver, that being said he already has the play in his head and knows who he is going to through too. Defenses will catch on like they did last year and he will through picks. However Ryker and Jonny both hit multiple receivers with means they survey the field and find the open man. and both checked down when nothing was open. Tommy will start but will be sidelined due to interceptions.

Sort of like watching a game of, “Whack a Mole”.  Fix a problem and up pops a different one.

larr ~ your resonse is typical of those who attack the messenger when you don’t like the truth.  You and others are ‘truth deniers’ when it comes to NU football and your endless tolerance for BOP, his inability to produce less than 4 losses per year for 6 straight years in a row and buying into the annual hype that only proves to be untrue come the regular season.

NU Realista,

In his first two years he took us to conference championships.
They switched conferences on him and in his second year of
facing a new slate of teams, he took us to a conference championship.  This year he will face a new team in Rutgers, let’s see if he can get us to a conference championship.

Honestly, is there ANY other coach in college football that has had the rug pulled out from him more times than Pelini has?

Johnny,
I truly hope that Bo will turn this program in the right direction, but that’s the problem. Its good that he ended last season with a bowl win, but right now he is still known for the 70 points his team gave up in the BIG Champ game against the Badgers. His team clearly did not deserve to be in that game, and now the Iowa game from last year. There seems to be no pride in a home game anymore. I do not see a lot of difference his production when compared to Calli. The D still gives up to many points and the offence still makes way to many mistakes.

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