Sophomore cornerback Anthony Blue will be out this spring with a torn ACL Junior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be out with a knee injury Senior left guard Andy Christensen is not on the roster currently, and head coach Bo Pelini said that his status still remains one of him being suspended indefinitely.
At this time, according to the head coach, the only player who will be limited for this spring session will be senior running back Kenny Wilson, Wilson, helping friends move a TV last year, broke his leg trying to move the TV down some stair. He is still rehabbing, but coach Pelini said that he's done all the work through winter-conditioning and his status as limited, is simply not to undo all the rehab which has been done up to this point.
WHAT WE KNOW
Based on what we have heard from both senior quarterback Joe Ganz and senior wide receiver Nathan Swift, there is indeed a bit of a tweak in the offense which has already taken place. It's what Ganz referred to as a minor change in some of the verbiage. It is apparently an attempt to simplify some of the language so that every single thing that is said in the huddle has a distinct purpose. Ganz said that there was only so much you could change, because with this type offense, with the motions, shifts and vast combinations of things they did, any change to it, while still trying to keep it the way it was, was bound to be fairly basic.
While the competition at quarterback should be fierce and still be officially open even after spring concludes, it's been said by enough people, coach Pelini included, that it's OK to assume that Joe is indeed the man until someone else proves they can take his place.
During Monday's press conference, coach Pelini indicated that while some very basic conversation has been shared about the possibility of some players moving to another position, nobody has been asked to move, and it's more than likely that how this spring starts to evolve for some players will greatly dictate who is going to end up where.
But for the sake of needing things to talk about, here are some players we think could make a position-change and do very well:
WHAT WE THINK
Senior safety Larry Asante: Played linebacker his last year in junior college and his a thick, athletic player, not completely dissimilar to former linebacker Steve Octavien. Octavien was thicker than Asante, but when looking at his build and his athleticism and just how he seems to play the game, the weakside linebacker spot could be ideal.
Also at the linebacker spot you could see junior Major Culbert, who has been dancing between safety and linebacker since he arrived. Culbert always voiced that he'd rather play safety, but with the size he's put on over the last year, they may not be an option anymore. He could be best suited to play the weakside linebacker position as well.
Sophomore Eric Hagg was recruited to play safety, but came out of the prep ranks a definite two-way star. With his height and his build, what Hagg showed with his hands at wide receiver as a prep, could make him a very nice shot in the arm for a group of receivers which does have some established experience, but little as far as established depth.
There's been a buzz about sophomore Prince Amukamara since he arrived. The only problem is, nobody can figure out just what side of the ball he'll play. After his much-talked about highlight film, many fans are convinced he belongs on offense or at the very least, on special teams in the turn game. With the injury to Blue, however, and with cornerback a position trying to establish the starting spots as well as depth, if that's where he is going into the spring, you can almost bet that's where he'll stay. But it will be one of the more interesting scenarios to see play out this session.
If Ganz is indeed the man, the question then becomes; who's number two? Sophomore Zac Lee has the arm and mobility comparable to Nebraska's incumbent QB. But redshirt freshman Patrick Witt has perhaps an even stronger arm, and his 6-4, almost 230-pound frame make him an ideal drop back passer in this kind of system. There's Beau Davis, of course, who certainly knows the system and then you can't forget brand new QB Kody Spano. It looks like this should be Ganz vs. the world and it might be that number two spot which is going to be the hottest topic when it comes to under center. As always, though, the drama around the most polarizing position will be there, even if some have to create it from nothing.
IT'S YOUR TIME TO SHINE
Maybe not waiting in the wings, but a certain number of players, for whatever reason, didn't quite have the year last year that some had hoped or expected, but could be on the verge of breaking out over this spring. And for some, perhaps it's RE-breaking out.
Senior running back Cody Glenn has had an injury-marred career, where the all-purpose back has been just trying to make it back to the field. You could argue that between all the backs on the team right now, when it comes to the ability to run both inside and out and be a threat in the passing-game, Glenn has as much potential as any of them. He needs to stay healthy over this spring, though, or we will continue to wonder if we will ever seen him on the field again.
Also at running back is sophomore Roy Helu, who like Glenn, could be argued as that all-purpose back Nebraska needs. He's a tenacious runner, who while he's not real big at this point, runs big and he's got great speed to the corners. When Helu hasn't been in, it's been a pretty one-dimensional attack from Nebraska, senior running back Marlon Lucky often used as a receiver coming out of the backfield or someone used on the outside of the tackles in the running game.
Junior wideout Menelik Holt has been physically building to the point more than mentally. He's always had the brains to work very well in this offense, but it's been a slow-steady progression to where he could physically be an every-down type of player. We saw some little glimpses toward the end of last season of his potential and just how smooth he is out there on the field. He could definitely be one of the gap-fillers for a lot of last talent, specifically that of Maurice Purify.
Junior linebacker Phillip Dillard has been waiting for this moment even though not even a few months ago, he probably never thought about this moment at all. It's not that he's just the lone returning starter at middle, but he's now working under defensive coaches and a head coach, who are a lot like him. Fiery, energetic and the only thing worse than losing is losing again. Dillard's mind-set toward the game and Pelini's mesh almost perfectly. With what Pelini was able to do back in 2003 that turned a marginal inebacking corps into a machine, expect Dillard to be one of the main cogs that gets this whole thing rolling.
Senior offensive lineman Matt Slauson has turned over a new leaf, of sorts. He's dropped almost 25 pounds and looks to drop up to 15 more before the beginning of next season. He's got a new energy about him, and much like you have heard from every player thus far, he's got a new passion for the coaches he's playing under as well. Slauson has always had the size, strength and enough quickness, that he's been a potential force on the offensive line. The weight has been an issue, as well as the fact that when it came to a position, he never really stayed at any particular one. With the weight loss, staying at guard and this new sense of urgency he has to keep his spot as starter, expect this juggernaut with potential, try and realize a lot of it over the spring.
DON'T EXPECT PRETTY, EXPECT PRETTY GOOD
Unlike the last few years, the build up to the spring game has been basically waiting around to see what kind of window dressing campaign was going to hit the field. What offensive records would go down and how many guys would be in triple-digits.
Don't expect that this time around.
While the offense has a huge advantage just in terms of experience, the defense will no doubt be cut loose, so Pelini and company can see what they do. And as Pelini has always maintained, he's going to be about how hard you are going to a place and not worrying so much about where that place is right now. That means you could see just flat out effort, but not a whole lot of finesse. That's ok, though, because if there is even one chance we might see the first unit "O" vs. the first unit "D", I think people will take that over pretty any day.
WHAT'S IN STORE
For our own part, it's about covering the spring, top-to-bottom, inside and out and all that. From audio interviews to video interviews and tracking some specific players throughout spring. Keep your eyes peeled and earns pinned back as Big Red Report gets you up-to-date on everything going on with the football team.
It's Spring football, and yes, that means come the day after the spring game, it's a long ole' wait until the real football season actually starts. But it's football, and in Nebraska, nobody will complain about that.