As Harvey sees it: The rest of spring

BRR breaks down things to watch over the last two weeks of spring football.

The Nebraska football team will return to the field on Monday, fresh off more than a week without practices due to spring break.

The Huskers' Red-White game is scheduled for Saturday, April 12th, meaning the coaching staff has six practices before the glorified scrimmage.

So what are some of the things Big Red Report will be closely watching over the next two weeks?

Defensive line consistency…


Tommy Armstrong completed pass over the middle. Imani Cross solid run. Armstrong with another pass down the sidelines.

Quickly the first-team defensive line jogs off the field and gets an earful from defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski on the opposite side of the field from the media.

I don't know what was said, but whatever it was, it worked.

A few minutes later the first-team defense was back on the field.

Sack…broken play…tackle for loss… sack…another sack.

It wasn't because Nebraska's offensive line was failing. No, it was just because the defensive line asserted themselves.

"They are old enough and have enough experience, I know they are young guys, but they shouldn't need somebody to push your buttons," said head coach Bo Pelini. "It should be the way you go, the way you approach every single down. You can't turn it on or off.

"It shows what they are capable of doing…we are working on getting every down from them. "

Pelini says those moments are becoming less and less - guys are starting to mature and know what it takes.

"Coach Pelini talks about the guys in the NFL and the type of motor they came out with," said sophomore Maliek Collins. "Everybody has dreams to get there and it fires us up to get to that level.

"There are no excuse. There are no freshmen out there."

OTHER STUFF:

There is a potential log jam at running back. We know what Ameer Abdullah can be – a possible Heisman candidate. But this spring is crucial for guys behind him like Imani Cross, Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor, as they all fight to prove they deserve carries this fall.

Most assumed Cross would take a back seat to the youngsters, but the junior has been running hard in practices. He's back up to around 230 pounds and really provides a different look than Abdullah. Taylor is the blend of Abdullah and Cross, and while he has an extreme set of expectations from fans, he hasn't disappointed. The odd-man out could be Newby, who is a home run threat whenever he touches the ball, but might find it tough to get his hands on the football besides for special teams.

Senior safety Corey Cooper likely returns to the field this week, after sitting out the first half of spring practices with turf toe. His return means the secondary will get a boost of experience on the backside. Nathan Gerry probably benefited the most from Cooper's absence and it will be interesting to see how the reps are handled until Saturday. Cooper isn't in any trouble of losing his spot, the coaching staff loves him and he was more than solid last season, but guys behind him are making a push to at least contribute.

Charles Jackson looks like a new player, but can he build off his first half of spring success at NICKEL? He admits the biggest difference between this year and last two has been his dedication in the film room and playbook. Pelini says it's "night and day" with the junior. We have always known he's one of the most athletic players on the team - now he's starting to play fast in Pelini's scheme.

Ryne Reeves and Mark Pelini have an interesting battle for the starting center spot. A big question will be if Reeves can practice after hurting his neck a few weeks ago. He's expected back, but the media is still waiting for a new update from Pelini, which we should get Monday post-practice. Working behind them is sophomore Paul Thurston.

Speaking of the offensive line… They are probably ahead of where I thought they would be at this moment coming into the spring. Jake Cotton appears to have taken his game and leadership to a new level, while Alex Lewis is as good as advertised. But there are still some questions that will likely extend into the fall. Who is the opposite tackle of Lewis – David Knevel or Zach Sterup? What about guard opposite of Cotton? There is quite a bit of depth there – more than most people probably realize. The biggest difference from last year is the chemistry and experience up front. The group has the depth and talent to be one of the better groups in the Big Ten.


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