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2009 Spring Game: The Return of Competition

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.

Red White
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.