Mail time: Ask the N-Siders (4-7-14)

"Ask the N-Siders" is back. Make sure to look for your opportunity to ask anything you want regarding Nebraska athletics.

How has Taariq Allen looked in practice ?? I know he played in 10 games last year, but that was a hell of an injury in 2012 and he just didn't look the same as prior to injury. Is he getting there ??? He could be a real weapon if 100 percent. – HuskerMo and ForeverHusker

Allen definitely looks like he's not only closer to 100 percent, but also more comfortable out there. Just on Saturday, he was able to make a nice move at the line of scrimmage, get past Josh Mitchell, and catch an over the shoulder ball near the sideline for about 20 yards.

As far as being a weapon, we have to remember the wide receiver group is loaded this year. It's deeper this year than last. I just don't see him cracking the first-team right now, but we saw last year how much depth factors in. The wide receiver group got extremely banged up and if it happens again, Allen looks to be a possible solid-backup. I wouldn't say he's 100 percent yet, but getting really close.

I have been predicting Jamaal Turner to be the breakout player on offense the last two years, which hasn't really happened. So how is he looking this spring? Will we see more of him on returns? What does he need to change or focus on to improve his game? –Rutt0

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? The experiment, or whatever you want to call it, at quarterback also appears to be over. He's not been getting reps there recently. I do expect him to see him on special teams, but Terrell Newby is likely the bigger threat at the spot.

Will they be running no huddle like they have been the last 3 years or will they huddle up more? More gun or under center? 2 backs? 1 back? – hardhuskerfan

There has been a lot of talk about Nebraska's offense changing this year. I really don't think the casual observer is going to see that big of a difference. More than anything, it's the terminology - making it easier for the younger guys. I do expect to see them have a few more two-back sets this fall, but things like the no huddle remain and the offense still can get pretty fast.

If you had to guess, who would be your starters in base and nickel defense. –HuskerMikeGBR

I will be listing my projected depth chart (so this could change) after the spring game, but a few highlights. In the NICKEL, I expect:

DE.) Greg McMullen & Randy Gregory

DT.) Vincent Valentine & Maliek Collins

LB.) Josh Bandera, Mike Rose, Zaire Anderson

CB.) Josh Mitchell & Jonathan Rose

S.) Corey Cooper & LeRoy Alexander

In the nickel…

NICKEL.) Charles Jackson

MIKE.) Josh Banderas

WILL) Zaire Anderson

Josh, do you see [LeRoy] Alexander starting at safety opposite [Corey] Cooper or could Gerry be in that spot? I also thought of Cooper as more of strong safety type near the line of scrimmage and Gerry more of a free safety ball hawk type. Does the defense play a true strong and free or are they interchangeable? – vanny

I would say the safeties in Pelini's system are somewhat interchangeable; there isn't a true strong or free in my opinion. Although, Cooper is probably closer to a strong safety than Alexander. That said, I fully expect Cooper to be the starter opposite of Alexander and Gerry to be the top backup this fall. Gerry has really benefited from the extra practice reps this fall, but the staff loves what Cooper brings to the field and so do I. Alexander finished 2013 pretty strong. This spring he's hasn't really backed off any.

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