SPRINGTIME IN NEBRASKA
On Saturday, I got to attend the Huskers' last scrimmage before this Saturday's Husker Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. Here are my takes from watching the practice:
1.) Taylor Martinez is still not 100%. I didn't see him participate in the scrimmage, but saw him during the warm-up drills. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't take a snap in the Red-White game.
2.) Jared Crick who is out of spring practice with an injury, was not in pads but was seen doing some light running drills.
3.) Brion Carnes is the clear choice as Martinez's back-up. Cody Green looks to be in the number three spot.
4.) Carnes is not a finished product, but he plays with more poise than his age and experience than you would expect. One play called for a roll-out pass to his right. His first read wasn't open, but he bought enough time to spot an open receiver and hit him right in the hands. No happy feet for him. And his first step is a blur. Look for him to see a lot of playing time this fall. At first glance, Carnes makes you think of a young Turner Gill. Now I get why freshman QB, Jamal Turner is getting reps at wide receiver.
5.) Wide receivers who stood out were 6'3" Stanley Jean-Baptise and 6'2" Quincy Enunwa. Both have soft hands and great acceleration.
6.) Lavonte David has picked up where he left off last year.
7.) Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck is trying to get WR/QB Jamal Turner involved in the offense this spring as a receiver. Turner isn't there yet, but his speed and quickness are very obvious.
8.) Got to visit with Guy Rozier, former Husker safety ('83-'85) and current Husker Assistant Director of Development. Guy is also the brother of former Husker Heisman winner Mike Rozier. Class guy. Very classy.
9.) LT Jamarcus "Yoshi" Hardrick at 6'7" and 320 pounds is the biggest person I've ever seen in my life. He's actually bigger than Marcel Jones. And that is saying something.
10.) Attempts to throw passes to Alfonzo Dennard's side were just that -- attempts.
11.) Brett Maher, Alex Henery's holder for the past two years, is getting a lot of work as a placekicker and punter.
12.) The object of the punt coverage drills Saturday morning was for Maher to land his punts inside the opponent's 15 yard line, where they would either bounce out of bounds or be downed by a member of the Husker special teams unit. On one occasion, the Husker coverage player didn't hustle to down the ball. You could hear Pelini screaming from about 50 yards away letting the offender know that that kind of play was unacceptable.
13.) The last part of the scrimmage saw the #1 offense (with Brion Carnes at QB) get the ball six consecutive times on the #1 defense's 2½ yard line. The plays were right in front of me and you could feel the leather popping. The offense never did get in and the defense celebrated by yelling and chest-bumping each other.
14.) During the scrimmage, I got a chance to visit with a former Husker great, quarterback Dennis Claridge (1961-'63). He was the starter for Bob Devaney's first two teams. It was the '62 team that set the foundation for what has become one of the greatest football programs in the history of college football. Dennis is a retired dentist who still lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
15.) Got to visit with current Husker safety Andrew Green. His brother, Aaron, will be coming to Lincoln this summer to compete for a starting running back position. I asked him what differences he's noticed between his former position coach, Marv Sanders and his new coach, Corey Raymond. "They're both good coaches, but Coach Raymond is more detail oriented."
16.) After the practice, I got to meet Taylor Martinez (me and Taylor are just like this). There was a line of fans waiting to get his autograph and get their pictures taken with him. T-Magic seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.
ALEX HENERY AUTOGRAPH CHANCE
The fish fry at the Greek Orthodox Church at 90th and Q Streets in Omaha is the place to be this Friday night if you are a Husker football fan. Signing autographs that night will be former Husker All-American placekicker Alex Henery. Doors open at 4:30.
HUSKER DANNO AWARD CORRECTION
In my last column, I inadvertently said the '95 Husker football team had three wins over teams that at the time the games were played were ranked in the AP Top Ten. It was the 1971 team that had three such wins. Sorry for the error.
I meant to include the following category in my list of Danno Awards for the DPO (Decade Plus One 2000-2010):
WORST SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY (DPO)
The fake field goal attempt, Colorado at Nebraska 2008)
This was the same game that Alex Henery kicked his school and career record 57-yard field goal. Late in the first half and leading 24-17, the Huskers lined up for an apparent field goal attempt. But it was a fake. Colorado defender Jimmy Smith smelled it out and picked up the fumble and raced 58 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 24 with 1:11 to go. That play shifted the momentum back to the Buffs. Luckily for Nebraska, the Huskers held on for a 40-31 win.
If you'd like to give Husker Dan a piece of your mind, you may email him at HuskerDan@cox.net