football Edit

Five burning questions heading into the second half of spring ball

How much will the next three spring scrimmages determine some key position battles going into the fall?
How much will the next three spring scrimmages determine some key position battles going into the fall? (Associated Press)

1. What will the two Saturday scrimmages reveal?

While the annual Red-White Spring Game obviously gets the bulk of the attention each year, the final two Saturday scrimmages leading up to it are arguably the two biggest practices of the entire spring.

In many ways the two major scrimmages tell far more about what to expect of the team going into the fall than the actual Spring Game, as the first-team offense and defense go head to head with a game day-like intensity.

The Red-White Game certainly has its value in that allows the players to compete on the big stage in front of a major crowd, but the next two Saturdays should paint a much better picture of this team.

2. Will there be any separation at quarterback?

Between the two Saturday scrimmages and the Spring Game, there will be some ample opportunity for one of Nebraska's quarterbacks to take the lead for the starting job going into the summer.

So far it's been a dead-even split between Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien as far as first-team reps, and both have impressed in the chances they've gotten.

But when things kick up a few notches over the next three Saturdays, one of them could very well take a big step towards locking up the top spot.

Will Tanner Lee or Patrick O'Brien get a leg up in the quarterback race coming out of the Spring Game?
Will Tanner Lee or Patrick O'Brien get a leg up in the quarterback race coming out of the Spring Game? (Associated Press)

3. How will the battle at running back shake out?

Outside of quarterback, there might not be a tighter position battle on the offense than the one at running back.

With three backs who could all make a case for the starting job in Devine Ozigbo, Mikale Wilbon and Tre Bryant, the first half of the spring didn't see much clear separation for any of them locking up the No. 1 spot.

However, before spring break head coach Mike Riley hinted that one of the backs had emerged a bit ahead of the others, but he wouldn't say who it was. The idea was to keep that a secret in order to maintain the competition at a high level through the rest of the offseason.

How things play out over the next two weeks, especially in the two upcoming Saturday scrimmages, should give a pretty good idea of where the running back rotation sits going into the fall.

4. Has Kalu found a new home at safety?

Easily the most surprising development so far this spring was the experiment of moving two-year starting cornerback Joshua Kalu to safety just before spring break.

Not only was it a shock that Nebraska would move Kalu to a position he has never played in college, it also took away one of the most veteran members from an already thin cornerback group.

That said, this staff has made it clear that it's only concerned about putting the best 11 players on the field.

If that means that Kalu will help the Huskers more at safety than he would at corner, then so be it.

5. Who will take the lead at tackle, center?

Nebraska may return five players with starting experience on its offensive line, but the unit is still far from a finished product.

The two biggest questions are at the tackle and center positions, as David Knevel and Cole Conrad are battling it out for the starting right tackle spot while Michael Decker and John Raridon compete to replace Dylan Utter at center.

Another storyline worth watching is at left tackle with Nick Gates. After a disappointing end to last season, Gates needs to rebuild his confidence and be the cornerstone on NU's o-line.