Spring practice began this week, but frankly, I'm not sure I'm anxiously following any story lines. In past spring practices, I've always seemed to have something to focus on, but this year, I'm coming up short on picking a story line to follow. This spring, I've chosen to wait, watch, and react and see what develops.
Last season, it was to evaluate Zac Lee in his first real action. In 2008, it was to see how the team (and fans) had weathered the clusterfool that was Bill Callahan's final season. 2007, it was the quarterback battle between Sam Keller and Joe Ganz.
This year...I'm coming up empty early on. The injury to Zac Lee really quiets the quarterback derby. Without the incumbent starter on the field, I can't make much of a determination as to how well the quarterbacks are playing. I am intrigued to see Taylor Martinez and Kody Spano on the field, but I also know not to read too much into spring game practices.We have known quantities at I-back with Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead. I am curious to see how Dontrayevous Robinson looks at 236 pounds. I remember this staff looking to slim down Quentin Castille to improve his speed, so it's interesting to see Robinson bulk up. Is this to improve the short yardage game? Is this to get Robinson on the field as a fullback, perhaps in the Wildcat formation?
Last season, we did see a little bit of Mike McNeill split out wide, so I'm not looking for much there. Will Antonio Bell make another spring game splash? Will Curenski Gilleylen start showing some consistency? And who's this Joe Broekemeier dude that Bo Pelini mentioned?
On the offensive line, juco transfer Jermarcus Hardrick is someone to keep an eye on, but truth be told, line play is pretty basic in the spring. I've struggled to evaluate line play in the spring. So likewise, trying to figure out whether Baker Steinkuhler is going to be able to fill in for Ndamukong Suh isn't going to be answered in my eyes.
The most intriguing battle I can think of is at linebacker. We'll see three linebackers on the field this spring, but we know we'll only see one or two most of the season. I think Will Compton is one, but who'll be the other? Sean Fisher or Eric Martin are the two top candidates in my mind.
In the secondary, who'll be the top safeties? P.J. Smith, Courtney Osborne, or Rickey Thenarse are the top candidates. Thenarse brings big play ability, but has lacked the consistency to become an every-down player. What about Lance Thorell or Austin Cassidy? Will they leave Eric Hagg and Dejon Gomes as nickel/dime backs, or try to get them on the field more at safety. That's an answer we won't know until this fall, since we'll see base defense this spring.
Lots of little battles, but nothing jumps out at me... yet. There's plenty of time for a storyline to develop and grab my attention. Do you have a storyline you are following?