We’ve made it to the end of Spring Practice 2022 at “Dear Ol’ Nebraska U.” This has been a rollercoaster of a spring in Lincoln. Lots of new faces. Some in uniform, some wearing new hats, both literally and figuratively, on the sideline. Today, the pre-season culminates in the annual extravaganza known as the Husker Spring Game. It will be televised on the B1G Network, and it is probably a safe bet that, besides the 40 some odd thousand who will be in attendance at Memorial Stadium, literally many dozens of additional fans will watch the broadcast from home.
Corn Nation would like to take this opportunity, in the few scant hours before kickoff, or however they decide to commence this spectacle, to provide Husker fans with some tips on how to watch, and what to expect, and what NOT to expect, from this event.
First, keep in the very forefront of your mind this simple truth: THIS IS NOT A GAME!!!
It looks like one. Players will be on the field, offense and defense, running around doing football stuff, but it is a practice, a scrimmage, not a game. It is an 11 on 11 scrimmage.
There is no opponent, so the intensity in effort will most likely be slightly, hopefully, subdued compared to a real game. There will be fans in the stadium, so if you’re watching, you will hear cheers and groans like a game. I don’t believe there will be any punt returns, so in that way, it will look EXACTLY like last season, but don’t be fooled...it’s not a game.
Since it’s not a game, it may not clear what you should expect to see and how you should interpret what you do see. This “guide” is to help you process what goes on today in this exhibition.
The first question to get answered is “what can I take away from this ‘game’?”
The answer is simple: Practically Nothing. You may see quarterbacks throwing to wide open receivers. This is because this is NOT a game. The defense in these circumstances is so vanilla, it is closer to a snow cone with no flavoring than an ice cream cone.
The defense will not be attacking and pressuring the quarterbacks like they would in a real game. There will probably be very limited blitzes, if any at all. Receivers will be running routes against a lot of new DB’s. So, the quarterbacks should look pretty good. They generally do. Remember Joe Dailey?
The running game will probably look pretty good as well, but look back about three sentences up, and remember the defense is limited. The format that the coaches said they were using, with offense going against defense, rather than splitting the entire team into two separate squads put defenders on the field with other guys they may not have played with very much, so the offense should have an apparent advantage.
Personnel-wise, keep in mind, again, that this is not a game.
Players will not be going against opposing players. You will be able to judge speed for the running backs and passing accuracy for the QBs. Physical make-up, size and strength may be apparent. Beyond that be careful in assessing the talent on this team.
Bear in mind that a lot can change in the next three months. New recruits will arrive through the summer and fall. Some highly anticipated players, Chubba Purdy, Thomas Fidone and Teddy Prochazka have not participated much, or at all, in the spring, but should factor into the final product that the Huskers put on the field to start the season.
You probably shouldn’t draw too many conclusions about what the offensive and defensive schemes will look like in August either.
This team, especially in light of last year’s disappointing season and the myriad of staff changes really wants to keep as many cats in the football bag as possible. You may get a glimpse of what the combination of Scott Frost’s spread offense looks like when run by new OC Mark Whipple. Tackling and blocking should, must look at least minimally better, even at this point. Dumb, unforced errors, false starts and offside penalties should be, at the very least, uncommon.
It will be a satisfying outcome for the coaches if the offense doesn’t look anemic and the defense doesn’t look other-worldly. Average, or slightly better than average, will be enough today...unlike any real game this fall.
So, with all this in mind, grab your remote, pop some popcorn, find a beverage to put in your cup from the last real game you went to in Lincoln, and enjoy the show... the event...the whatever. Just remember, it’s not a game.