The 3-2-1: Game week is looming
We are nearly one week away from Nebraska's season opener against Fresno State.
As the Huskers approach game week, we get you geared up with "The 3-2-1." Here are three things we know, two questions that need answered and one bold prediction heading into game week.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED
1 - Sam Hahn has the edge at left guard
Most people expected freshman Boe Wilson to win the starting left guard job after the injury to Jerald Foster, but head coach Mike Riley recently said on Thursday that senior Sam Hahn has the edge for the starting job.
Hahn was once a scholarship tackle recruit at North Dakota State for Craig Bohl, and has been a reserve tackle the last few years. His move to guard is relatively new, but I almost compare it to to Zach Sterup's move inside a a year ago. It's all about getting your five best guys on the field. Hahn brings a veteran presence vs. throwing a true freshman to the wolves on Week 1. I'm guessing we still will see Wilson, but probably not in a starting role.
2 - Don't try to figure out an 18-year old
If the recent situation about wide receiver Derrion Grim has taught us anything, don't try and figure out an 18-year old. Grim was in a position as a true freshman to see time and possibly be a key receiver for the Huskers by 2017, but he quit after the first day of classes.
Maybe the most disappointing part of Grim's decision is by attending class on Day 1, it prevents a walk-on from receiving his scholarship in 2016. I'm fine with a guy not wanting to be here, but just do it before classes start. His selfish act now prevents a deserving walk-on like Hahn, Jordan Nelson or Luke McNitt from receiving his scholarship. If I'm Riley, that's probably what I'd be most upset about.
3 - Using practice referees should help with penalty issues
Last season I had a chance to catch up with former Husker and current NFL white cap referee Clete Blakeman. One of the questions I asked him is "why do you think Nebraska is not using referees on a daily basis in practice." Blakeman, who reffed the 2016 Super Bowl, was very surprised to hear this.
For years, Big 12 and Big Ten refs worked Nebraska practices. It gave refs like Blakeman (former Big 12 official) time to brush up for Saturday's, and also kept NU's players honest by having every play officiated. With the coaching change a year ago, followed by a complete overhaul of the operations department, this was something that fell from the wayside. 2015 was the first time ever in my 17 seasons covering Nebraska football where referees didn't work practice at least two to three days a week.
When the Huskers took the field for practice Tuesday, the first guy I saw was former NU lineman and now Big Ten official Kelly Saafeld. He said they are back at practices again going forward. This could really make a difference with all the of procedural and motion penalties we saw a year ago. It's still very surprising NU wasn't using the refs in practice a year ago, as it's a resource that's always been there a very minimal cost.
TWO QUESTIONS HEADING INTO GAME WEEK
1 - How will Nebraska handle Nate Gerry's absence at safety?
It was a very disappointing development to learn that senior safety Nate Gerry will miss the season opener due to suspension. The question now is how will NU get by without him? Look for Keiron Williams, Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed to be the players that have to step up and pick up the slack for Gerry. Keiron Williams and Aaron Williams have both had really good camps.
2 - Who will be Nebraska's captains?
The burning question going into game week now is who will be Nebraska's captains, and how will Riley handle the selection process? Will it be strictly on team vote alone?
I expect there to be four captains named, and most likely a fifth honorary captain spot for Sam Foltz. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp and Gerry are all returning captains from a year ago. Will they be reelected?
ONE PREDICTION: Tanner Lee will be a future NFL Draft pick
Everything I've seen and heard at this point about transfer quarterback Tanner Lee leads me to believe he will be a future NFL Draft pick. One source I spoke with said the coaching staff feels like he has high-round potential in the future from what they've seen from him already.
It's amazing how Lee fell into the lap of Nebraska, and it's even more amazing NU will get him for two years. If the SEC knew he was getting two years of eligibility, there's no way he leaves the South in my opinion.
Sean Callahan can be reached at email@example.com and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Up Tuesday's at 7 pm.