Youth Gone Wild a theme for game one

There's no official depth chart on either side of the ball as of yet. But just two days before the home-opener, some positions are already shaping up. Defensive Line Coach Carl Pelini talked about that after practice today, and how you are going to see an extremely young group this weekend.

Redshirt freshman LB, Will Compton
Redshirt freshman LB, Sean Fisher
Redshirt freshman LB, Micah Kreikemeier
Redshirt freshman DB, P.J. Smith
Redshirt freshman DE, Josh Williams
Redshirt freshman DE, Cameron Meredith
Redshirt freshman DT, Baker Steinkuhler
Freshman LB, Eric Martin
Freshman DE, Jason Ankrah
Freshman DT, Thaddeus Randle
Freshman DB, Andrew Green

All those players listed above haven't played a game. Well, outside of the snaps both Meredith and Fisher took early in the season last year, which were basically wiped out as both got medical redshirts due to injuries which limited them the rest of the season.

Eleven players, and that's not even all those who could see time who have yet to play a snap for the big red.

That kind of youth would scare the heck out of some coaches when it comes to getting ready for the season. But for Defensive Line Coach Carl Pelini, this was not only expected, but they have been preparing for this since day one. "Any time you have young guys out there, there is a little bit of anxiety on their part and on the coaches part," Pelini said. "What we talk to our guys about going in, our leaders, our guys who have played before, they've got to be talking back and forth with those guys, and that's what we saw today. That was pleasing to us."

With the intention of throwing so many new faces out there, that obviously means some of those starts who are amongst the veterans, might have a little more time off the field than they had gotten used to last season. That's a big one for Pelini, as he says the demands on his players last season was more than what they would have liked to see. "There will be more of a rotation going on than went on a year ago, especially early in the season trying to keep guys fresh and ready to go and not maybe let the season wear on us," he said. "Last year our guys were playing 65-75 snaps per game, and I'd like to limit out to about 55 or so if I could."

The starting line-ups have been basically set in stone except for a position here and there, Pelini saying that starting the game this weekend at linebacker will be Sean Fisher at BUCK, Will Compton at the middle and there's still some thought as to who will see time first between sophomore Matt May and junior Blake Lawrence.

At one of the safety spots, it would appear that senior Matt O'Hanlon will get the nod over senior Rickey Thenarse. But Pelini said that with the "Nickel" and "Dime" packages they will be running throughout the course of this year, you will see plenty of both.

Along the defensive line, starting with left defensive end, you have senior Barry Turner starting with Meredith backing him up. Over to the other defensive end spot you will have Pierre Allen starting and Williams serving as the man on the two-deep.

At both the defensive tackle spots, Pelini said that when it comes to the first string players he likes to have a left or right, which will obviously be sophomore Jared Crick on the left side and senior Ndamukong Suh on the right. But backing up either one will be sophomore Terrence Moore and redshirt freshman Baker Steinkuhler. Pelini said that for this game Steinkuhler would be slated to play behind Suh while Moore will be coming in for Crick.

Continuing with the defensive tackle spot, while the situations may have to be ideal, Pelini did say that you could see Ankrah and Randle see the field come game day. "Ankrah, depending on how this week finishes up for him and Thaddeus Randle in pass situations," Pelini said as far as potential contributors on the line. "He (Randle) has great speed off the ball. He's as fast off the ball as I have seen in a long time. I am really excited about his potential."

All those players listed above are those indicated by Pelini after practice today as potentially seeing the field this weekend. That is, of course, not including the offensive side. While we didn't have a chance to talk to any offensive coaches after practice today outside of Tight End Coach Ron Brown, these are the players we feel could see their first time on the field against Florida Atlantic:

Redshirt freshman WR, Khiry Cooper
Redshirt freshman TE, Ben Cotton
Redshirt freshman TE, Kyler Reed
Redshirt freshman FB, Tyler Legate
Redshirt freshman P, Brett Maher (as a holder)
Redshirt freshman WR, Tim Marlowe (special teams)
Redshirt freshman RB, Lester Ward
Freshman RB, Rex Burkhead
Freshman WR, Antonio Bell
Freshman QB, Cody Green
Freshman LS, P.J. Mangieri
Sophomore WR, Brandon Kinnie

That's another 12 players, which doesn't make up the entire list of the newcomers who could see the field, especially if Nebraska is able to get a decent lead.

When you think back to last year, especially on defense, it seemed that there was a real effort to keep redshirts in place, especially with the linebacker position. Now it would seem the redshirts are coming off. You think that makes a coach anxious when they know so many newcomers will be seeing the field in the first game of the year? "I'm anxious to see the Huskers get out there for the first time, period. Not just the redshirt freshman, but the seniors, the true freshman and everybody else who is going to be on the field," he said. "I'm excited about this week."

And don't think coaches are immune to the feeling that players seem to get this far into Fall Camp. It's that feeling you get when you are tired of hitting players on the same team. Coaches aren't hitting, of course, but Carl Pelini did say that he's just tired of looking at the same coaches every single day. "I get tired of looking at the other coaches – there is no question. They are not a good looking group of guys," he said with a laugh. "So yes, I get tired of it."

Nebraska will resume practice tomorrow and then hit the walkthrough on Friday before they head into game one of the season when Florida Atlantic comes to town.

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