A couple of years ago before the Spring Farce, Big Red Network's Darren Carlson talked about the "Return of Competition", referring to the development of depth. We all know how that turned out. The "starters vs. the scout team" farce gave the coaches, players, and fans a false sense of optimism that was crushed in the second and third quarters of the USC game.
This spring, we have a different meaning of "competition", where the players face off against similar competition. It's not quite like the old "1's vs. 1's" format of the past, but it's close. This year's spring game rosters are set, and for the most part, we're seeing the top offensive players being placed on the Red squad, and the top defensive players being placed on the White squad.
It's not a universal set up; there are a few exceptions to the "1's vs. 1's" on the roster. And between now and the first game of the season, we'll see some fluidity as some players will work their way up, and others will work their way down the depth chart.
But here are my anticipated starters for Saturday's Red-White scrimmage.
|Zac Lee||QB||LaTravis Washington|
|Quentin Castille||RB||Lester Ward|
|Menelik Holt||WR||Will Henry|
|Curenski Gilleylen||WR||Chris Brooks|
|Marcus Mendoza||WR||Steven Osborne|
|Mike McNeill||TE||Dreu Young|
|Mike Smith||LT||??? Cruz Barrett|
|Andy Christensen||LG||Keith Williams|
|Jacob Hickman||C||Mike Caputo|
|Ricky Henry||RG||D.J. Jones|
|??? Luke Lingenfelter||RT||Marcel Jones|
|Pierre Allen||DE||Josh Williams|
|Jared Crick||DT||Baker Steinkuhler|
|Terrence Moore||DT||Ndamukong Suh|
|Cameron Meredith||DE||Barry Turner|
|Sean Fisher||LB||Will Compton|
|Colton Koehler||LB||Micah Kreikemeier|
|Mathew May||LB||Matt Holt|
|Matt O'Hanlon||S||Rickey Thenarse|
|Prince Amukamara||CB||Anthony Blue|
|Lance Thorell||CB||Anthony West|
|P.J. Smith||S||Larry Asante|
A couple of the offensive linemen I'm simply guessing at where they are going to line up. I'm also assuming that Phillip Dillard is still in the doghouse, based on the lack of news about him moving up the depth chart. Except for Koehler, the linebackers all are rather green, and in many cases, haven't played at this level, so again, the lineup is merely guessing.
One battle I'm going to focus on is how the red offensive line holds up against Ndamukong Suh. I'm also curious how the linebackers look; there are a lot of new names that we haven't seen much from on the field.
Between the injury to Spano and the departure of Witt, I'm sad that the quarterbacks will be wearing the green jerseys again. With only two healthy quarterbacks, there really isn't any choice in the matter.
The spring game always comes down to watching individuals make plays, and this year, we're probably going to get the best read on individuals we've been able to get for many years, as the two squads seem to be set up to promote competition between offense and defense. That simply makes any outstanding performances a little more valid than the blowout farces Husker fans endured in the past.