Saturday notebook: Huskers hold first live scrimmage of camp
Nebraska took another big step towards the start of the 2016 season by holding its first live scrimmage session of fall camp inside of Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers’ first- and second-team units all got in around 25 or so plays during the scrimmage, while the younger players finished off the day.
Head coach Mike Riley said he saw a lot of encouraging signs from his team on both sides of the ball, but noted there was still much work left to be done before Nebraska opens its season against Fresno State on Sept. 3.
“I liked the efficiency of the day,” Riley said. “I think there was one offsides and one false start in I don’t know how many plays, so that part of it was pretty good… I think it was good for them to play football and tackle. The defense got to finish plays.”
The first-team offense started off the day with a couple of seven-play drives that Riley was certainly glad to see, but their third series was stalled by a negative running play that threw the entire possession off course.
Some of the defensive highlights for Riley were the play of Nebraska’s linebackers, a unit he said he was “so encouraged by” this fall compared to where it was this time a year ago. He also pointed to the play of cornerbacks Chris Jones and Eric Lee.
On offense, Riley said the plan was to get all three of their active quarterbacks an equal amount of reps in the scrimmage, and they even got Tulane transfer Tanner Lee - who is sitting out this season - some work towards the end of the session.
As important as anything, none of the offensive groups committed a single turnover on the day.
Overall Riley said he was happy about the performance of senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong.
“I thought Tommy had some good plays, and some plays that were real good Tommy plays,” Riley said. “He had a bootleg throw to Brandon (Reilly), I mean, that’s clockwork stuff. Beautiful.”
- Robin Washut
Simmons injured, carted off field during scrimmage
A scary scene unfolded towards the end of Nebraska’s Saturday scrimmage, as freshman linebacker Greg Simmons was carted off the field after a big collision with a defensive teammate while defending a pass over the middle.
Simmons was immediately tended to by NU’s trainers and team doctors and stayed on the field motionless for roughly 15-20 minutes.
He was placed onto a stretcher and carted off the field, but he did give a thumbs up to signal the injury wasn’t as severe as initially thought.
Riley confirmed that after practice, saying Simmons was awake and responsive while talking with medical personnel and that he had full feeling in his arms and legs.
“He’s got good feeling, good movement in all his extremities,” Riley said. “He was coherent, he was answering questions. He had neck pain, so they did what our doctors always do.
“It was precautionary, and they’ll go get him all tested and X-rayed - whatever they do with it. We’re hoping that’s all confirmed that he’s all OK.”
- Robin Washut
Injury list continues to grow as fall camp rolls on
As the grind of fall camp rolls on, Nebraska’s list of injured players continues to grow.
Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, tight end Cethan Carter, linebacker Chris Weber, defensive tackle Khalil Davis, cornerback Charles Jackson, and wide receiver Keyan Williams all sat out of Saturday’s practice with various injuries.
The good news is Riley said most of those players were held out more for precautionary reasons, and all of them are expected to return to action sooner than later.
Rose-Ivey has been sidelined since “tweaking” his right knee on Tuesday, and Riley said the senior would be considered day-to-day going forward depending on how much he can tolerate the pain.
“He hurt his knee a little bit, but it’s all stable and good,” Riley said. “It’s when he gets past the pain, how he feels - it’s a day-to-day deal with him playing. He’ll be back soon, I think.”
Riley said both Carter and Weber were dealing with concussion-like symptoms and going through standard concussion protocol, while Davis suffered a knee injury very similar to Rose-Ivey’s.
Jackson and Williams injured their hamstring earlier in the week, while Westerkamp suffered a minor groin injury.
Given Nebraska’s issues with soft-tissue injuries last year, Riley said the staff is playing it as safe as they can this time of year.
- Robin Washut
Three seniors earn their degrees on Saturday
Nebraska was without three key seniors for Saturday’s first scrimmage of camp, but in this instance, it was anything but bad news.
Wide receiver Alonzo Moore, Rose-Ivey and offensive lineman Corey Whitaker all got the day off from practice to attend their University of Nebraska graduation ceremony at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Rose-Ivey and Moore both earned degrees in sociology, while Whitaker received his degree in business administration.
Along with their success on the field, the trio has put together an impressive collection of academic achievements over the course of their college careers.
Rose-Ivey was an academic All-Big Ten selection as a freshman in 2013. He also received the Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Award that year and was named to the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team.
Moore made the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll as a true freshman in 2012 and recently named to the 2016 Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship teams.
Whitaker earned a spot on the student-athlete honor roll this past spring to go along with his community work with Uplifting Athletes, Husker Hotline and community rec center outreach events.
- Robin Washut
***The big news of the day came when head coach Mike Riley confirmed that the NCAA has granted Tulane transfer quarterback Tanner Lee a waiver sixth year of eligibility. The junior, who redshirted his first season at Tulane, will now have two seasons to play as a Husker beginning in 2017.
***One of the standouts of the scrimmage was freshman running back Tre Bryant, who had a big day on NU's second- and third-team offenses and even got some reps with the varsity group.
***Riley said he still didn't know what they were going to do with Bryant as far as redshirting or not, adding that his situation was "a tough one" because Bryant is ready to play this season, but they want to make the best decision for his future.
***Nebraska had a very important recruit in attendance for Saturday’s practice, as five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis - the No. 3 wide out in the 2017 class - was in town for an unofficial visit.
***The Huskers’ coaching staff got a little creative, too, with several staff members wearing red t-shirts with the number four - Lewis’s high school number - on the front and back.