"There are some guys who have come further than others and some who have a long way to go," said head coach Bo Pelini, when asked about the spring so far. "At times it looks clean and at times you have busted assignments…I have told them going in, it's about seeing whether you can execute your football [assignments]."
"Some of those guys are showing good progress and some aren't," said Pelini. "We really have two practices and the spring game will be dialed back a lot…Time is running short for some guys."
With practices open to the media, here are a few names we will be watching closely this week.
OL.) Mark Pelini – After starting two games in 2013, the senior center is getting first-team reps this spring and is seeing an increase in work with Ryne Reeves ankle injury. Reeves is likely doubtful this week, meaning Pelini has a chance to impress the coaching staff. Earlier this spring Reeves looked like the front-runner for the starting job this fall. While he remains the projected leader, Pelini appears to be making up ground.
K.) Mauro Bondi – This is the last chance for the junior place-kicker to impress the coaching staff before incoming Texas product Drew Brown hits campus. It's really easy for Big Red Report to see Brown being a four-year starter and not after a redshirt year.
QB.) Johnny Stanton – The redshirt freshman finds himself in a battle for the backup quarterback job with walk-on Ryker Fyfe. Both have had their moments this spring, but as the Red-White game gets closers, the reps seem to be getting a little more even. Some had questioned whether Stanton would be able to do enough to dethrone Tommy Armstrong as the starter this fall. At this point, Armstrong seems to be miles ahead of both of Stanton and Fyfe.
WR.) Jamal Turner – The senior has had a solid career at Nebraska, making 34 appearances and 60 catches in his first three years, but has never seemed to breakout the way fans were hoping for. Turner is sharing first-team slot reps with Jordan Westerkamp this spring and although Bo Pelini says both will help the offense this fall, it's becoming less likely Turner is ever the first-team all-conference wide receiver people thought he could be. If both are even, do you go with the sophomore over the senior to get more experience going forward?
DE.) Joe Keels - It was somewhat slow for the junior college transfer early this spring, but according to Pelini had a very solid couple of practices last week. It's unlikely Keels will be able to do enough to sideline McMullen anytime soon, but he could be a valuable piece next fall if the Huskers continue the trend of playing three DEs. With A.J. Natter limited this spring, Keels could separate himself as the top backup.
S.) Nathan Gerry – It's probably weird for some to read his name on the list after the great spring he's had. Gerry has benefited greatly from the absence of Corey Cooper and has proven he deserves game reps this fall. He needs to continue the uptrend this week and on Saturday.