It was an interesting Nebraska Spring game based off the fact that it was probably the least interesting football scrimmage I have ever watched.
It was interesting that it was so uninteresting.
If you could have a football example of going through the motions then it was the 2022 Nebraska spring football game.
So while I was trying to think of some takeaways from the spring, I actually came up with a few bright spots. Some of this may be trying to read between the lines or trying to take one thing and make it to mean something bigger.
We will find out in the fall. So here are five bright spots I found coming out of spring football.
The Punting Looks Greatly Improved
It is not often that a punt will receive a great applause from a football crowd. Well it happened on a 4th and 9 from red team’s 37 yard line. While I’m sure Nebraska fans would have loved to have a punt stop at the one-yard line, they seemed to be pretty happy with Brian Buschini’s first punt at Nebraska.
It was a 63 yard bomb from the Montana transfer. This likely wasn’t a bit of luck from Buschini either.
While at Montana, Buschini averaged 45.8 yards per punt on 75 punts. In 2021, he started all 13 games for Montana and ended up winning the Ray Guy Award which goes to the top punter in the FCS.
As we have seen over the past several years, sometimes having a great punter can turn a game.
Competition at Quarterback for the First Time in Three Seasons
We all knew that Adrian Martinez was going to be the quarterback for the past three seasons.
As I’ve said before, it appears Casey Thompson is in line to start against Northwestern. Maybe I am wrong.
The question then becomes, who is going to be the back-up?
Chubba Purdy? Logan Smothers? Heinrich Haarberg?
I could make a case for any of the three (though I will be pulling for Smothers).
Maybe the gap between Casey Thompson and the other three is not as wide as assumed. One thing he definitely will have a leg up on over Purdy, Smothers and Haarberg is experience. Playing almost a full season at Texas will do that for Thompson.
Is he more talented than the other three? I don’t think that is the case.
I think it is fair the say that the talent level in the quarterback room is deeper than any other season since Frost got here.
That talent should make for great competition.
AJ Rollins Could Be A Great Option at Tight End
To be honest, this group makes me nervous. When your top four tight ends are out for the spring with injuries, it does not look ideal.
AJ Rollins could end up being the bright spot that comes out of the dark abyss that is the tight end room.
He looks like a potential breakout player at that position for two reasons. There is a great need for somebody to step up and he looks like he has the skills to get it done.
Some have said that he was underutilized at Creighton Prep. I haven’t watched a single snap of Creighton Prep football so I’m claiming ignorance on that one.
However, if his skillset surpassed that what was needed from him at Creighton Prep then maybe he is a big contributor in waiting. Just to think that the other two tight ends in his recruiting class (Thomas Fidone and James Carnie) were probably both more heralded than Rollins.
This could be a game changer.
Outside Pass Rush Looks Like It Could be a Force
I’m looking specifically at Garrett Nelson, Caleb Tannor....and Jimari Butler. Maybe we could add Blaise Gunnerson to the mix. Gunnerson looks like he physically is the part. The same could definitely be said for Jimari Butler.
I’ve been on the Gunnerson wait-train for a while now, but from what I saw from Jimari Butler at the spring game I’m definitely excited to see what he can do in the fall.
Garrett Nelson is a known commodity, but it appears he has physically gotten more explosive. His motor has always been there but he appears more athletic as well.
The outside pass rush could be a force this coming fall.
If Nebraska can find some depth at the interior of the defensive line then this defense has a chance to make some game changing plays.
Casey Rogers leaving certainly does not help.
Down Hill Run Blocking from the Offensive Line
Is it correct or fair to characterize the following?
Greg Austin - Crease Run Blocking
Donovan Raiola - Road Grader Run Blocking
Likely to be a little overly simplistic.
There were comments, not only from Frost, but also from the defensive players that there is a more downhill running game compared to the year before.
Maybe that’s what is needed in the Big Ten. A more downhill running game. According to Frost, this is what he has been wanting since getting to Nebraska. Why he wasn’t getting it is an interesting thought to ponder.
Regardless, with a new offensive line coach who played at Wisconsin and coached for the Chicago Bears there hopefully is a new identity being formed on the offensive line.
So there you have it. Five bright spots coming out of spring football. Did I miss any? How off am I?