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What We’ve Learned About Nebraska Football This Spring: Week Two

Mike Riley

Mike Riley

It’s been around 70 and sunny more often than not recently in the San Diego of the Big Ten a.k.a. Nebraska. Now that helmets and pads are part of the practice festivities, separation and storylines are already occurring. Here’s the report for week number two of the festivities in Lincoln.

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Quarterback Competition Continues

The spot for who’ll be the eventual signal-caller is on and thus far Tommy Armstrong, Ryker Fyfe and Patrick O’Brien appear to be the three at the top of the food chain. A.J. Bush looks to be the odd man out as low man on the totem pole as Zack Darlington has moved to wide receiver. All three of the aforementioned have taken reps with the No. 1 offense.

Running Back Roulette

Devine Ozigbo is up to 232 pounds, but you wouldn’t know it. He runs with the same quickness, fluidity and confidence that he did late last season. Terrell Newby looks to continue his role in a We-Back rotation as of right now while Mikale Wilbon is starting to step up and show the athleticism many have been waiting for. Riley did note that he now has to “put the rest of the game together.”

Filling Some Big Fullback Shoes

Mike Riley clearly loved the performance he got out of Andy Janovich as Harrison Jordan, Luke McNitt and Graham Nabity are all working to fill the hole left by his departure. Riley has gone on record many times as saying he loves what fullbacks can bring to his offense.

Wealth of Wide Receivers

Nebraska isn’t lacking in talented wide receivers. The usual suspects are around (Jordan Westerkamp, Brandon Reilly, etc.), but true freshman Derrion “Cherry” Grim is making some noise and redshirt freshman Lavan Alston is looking very good early on.

Westerkamp and Stanley Morgan both suffered groin injuries. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the former be kept out a good chunk of the remainder of spring camp. He’s a known quantity while other receivers could stand to use the snaps while Westerkamp recovers.

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Sorting Out the Offensive Line

The offensive line has been hit or miss, however David Knevel looks like he’s made large improvements from last season to now. He’s currently lined up at starting right tackle and if he can continue to play at the level he is, he likely retains that position.

Nick Gates has held down the opposite tackle spot and still struggles with the better edge rushers, but that’s something to be taken with a grain of salt this early. Perhaps the most memorable moment for the offensive line this week will be Dylan Utter getting planted by defensive tackle Greg McMullen during a drill where Utter lined up at center.

Guard Gerald Foster has been showing new initiative and looks the part inside. Tanner Farmer weighs in at 295 pounds, down from the 335 he carried around at times last season. Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh was quoted as saying, "He's got a chance to start, but that ain't up to me. It's like that Missouri license plate. Show me."

Rebuilding the Defensive Line

Speaking of McMullen, he appears to have shed some bad weight and looks like a true defensive tackle. Redshirt freshmen brothers Khalil and Carlos Davis both are showing bad intentions early along with plenty of swagger. It should be fun to see how they progress. 

The defensive end position remains wide open, though Freedom Akinmoladun likely retains his Blackshirt when it’s all said and done. More separation in that area likely shows up by next week.

Linebackers Have a Leg Up Early

Not much to report on the linebackers early on aside from a hyperextended knee suffered by Michael Rose-Ivey. Otherwise, Josh Banderas and Dedrick Young are clearly a step ahead right now. Everyone seems to be just waiting for Tyrin Ferguson and Mohamed Barry to have breakout days.

Educating the Secondary

In a two-birds-with-one-stone effort, Nebraska is practicing plays out of offensive sets that are a part of the actual playbook, but ones the secondary also happened to struggle against last season.

The wideouts have had the upper hand in most one-on-one battles, but that’s not to be unexpected considering the safeties are just now getting familiar working with defensive coordinator Mark Banker and, well, you don’t jump 90 spots in pass defense in a day or even four for that matter.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his Facebook page follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and on Periscope (eightlaces).