Nebraska Football: 5 Under-The-Radar Storylines Heading into the 2019 Red-White Spring Game

Scott Frost will be paying particular attention to certain players on Saturday in Memorial Stadium

For the second straight year, Memorial Stadium will be sold out on Saturday to watch Nebraska scrimmage — the last time Husker fans will see anything resembling real football until late August. There are obvious questions with need-to-know answers. How does Adrian Martinez look? Is Brody Belt legit? Is the defensive front as good as advertised or is the offensive line that discombobulated?

 

Good questions, all. However, Big Red backers would be remiss if they didn't take an additional handful of queries into the stands along with their runzas, popcorn, and Pepsi. Be sure to consider the following:

 

Where is Jaylin Bradley?

There have been some practice clips of Bradley from Nebraska football's official Twitter account, but they haven't been what anyone could call "highlights." Brody Belt has gotten the lion's share of praise when it comes to running backs who've made an impact, but Bradley's name has been largely absent in general. It seems like Wan'Dale Robinson and Miles Jones — two players that can make livings at several positions — are more reliable than the Bellevue, Nebraska native.

 

While Bradley is only a sophomore, there will be three more backs coming in this summer to contend with. Depending on how Maurice Washington's legal battle shakes out and if Belt is able to maintain his current trajectory, the transfer portal may be very tempting for Bradley in the near future.

 

Could Javeon McQuitty be running out of opportunities?

McQuitty was tabbed as a player to watch entering spring. Much like Bradley, he's only a sophomore, but the former four-star receiver has had a run of bad luck. He underwent shoulder surgery before he ever got to campus, which held him back during his first spring. After pads started to pop in August 2018, he suffered a knee injury 10 practices in. Said offensive coordinator Troy Walters of McQuitty following this year’s April 8 practice, "The consistency on his part, he’s got to come in and day in and day out and make plays." Not exactly a glowing review.

 

However, if McQuitty can ball out on Saturday, he could keep himself in the running to help a wide receiver corps that does need players to step up. He has to differentiate himself from the physical Mike Williams, speedster Andre Hunt, and the developing Jamie Nance, let alone JD Spielman and Robinson.

 

Is A.J. Forbes an actual two-deep threat?

Several walk-ons have made their names known during 2019's spring tussles including offensive linemen Trent Hixson and Forbes. The latter's name has recently come to the forefront as a potential contributor this fall. This would be huge as the Big Red needs depth up front in a big way, especially on the interior where the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has the frame to excel.

 

Forbes could very well make noise at center, a position which easily requires at least one hand to count the contenders for. Will Farniok appears to have the inside track, but as Husker fans saw last season with Cole Conrad and Tanner Farmer, having a reliable backup is far more a necessity than a luxury. Be on the lookout for No. 52 to see how nasty he can be against some of the biggest bullies on the team in Nebraska’s defensive line.

 

How Many reps does Breon Dixon get?

Dixon is a curious sort not unlike Mohamed Barry prior to his junior season. Appearing in only four of the Huskers' 2018 games as an immediately eligible transfer from Ole Miss, it's too soon to write the sophomore off. While it appears two players have stepped up as potential starters on the outsides of Erik Chinander's 3-4 linebacking corps (Tyrin Ferguson and Jojo Domann), freeing Domann up to play the hybrid "Cinco" role would pay massive dividends. This is where guys like Alex Davis and Dixon can make their cases for playing time. Look for No. 34 on defense to get plenty of opportunities to set himself up for a productive summer heading into fall camp.

 

How is the field goal/PAT unit's firing mechanism?

This part of football seems all-too-forgettable until something goes wrong. The names of long snappers and holders aren't regularly known until an attempt gets botched or an unintentional two-point conversion attempt is in the cards. Barret Pickering's starting role isn't in jeopardy, but him having proper snaps and holds are obvious musts. Fortunately, that's exactly why there's a scrimmage to enjoy.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces), on Facebook, and enjoy the Eight Laces podcast. To contact him with tips, story ideas or for interview purposes, click here.

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