Thursday notebook: No suspensions for Morgan, Reed
One of the major questions that faced Nebraska over the offseason was what, if any, potential discipline standout wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. and Blackshirt safety Antonio Reed could face for an off-the-field incident they were involved with earlier this summer.
Morgan was pulled over while in Florida and initially arrested on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana.
Reed was in the car with him at the time but was not charged.
Morgan’s charge was quickly dropped to a misdemeanor, but it was unknown whether the junior would still face some sort of suspension this season by Nebraska as further punishment for his actions.
Head coach Mike Riley gave a final decision on that matter after Thursday’s practice, saying neither player would be suspended for the opener against Arkansas State.
“Stanley Morgan and Antonio Reed went through an extensive period of time doing what they were supposed to do,” Riley said.
“It wasn’t just the extensive time period, they did what they had to do and spent time with it. So they will not miss any time playing in the games.”
- Robin Washut
Huskers planning to honor ASU coach's wife, her battle with cancer
As Arkansas State gears up for a huge test at Nebraska to open its 2017 season on Saturday, head coach Blake Anderson has had other, far more important things on his mind this week.
Anderson did not attend the Red Wolves’ first weekly press conference on Monday in order to be with his wife, Wendy, who needed to visit a doctor near Memphis regarding he recent diagnosis with breast cancer.
Wendy, who was first diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in July, was scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday afternoon.
Blake Anderson tweeted Monday evening that his wife was “out of surgery & resting well. Doc was pleased (with) everything.” But even with the apparent good news, the situation has definitely been a dark cloud hovering over ASU’s program.
The Huskers just went through their own recent battle with cancer, first-year safeties coach-turned-defensive analyst Bob Elliott passed away from bone cancer in July.
Luke Matheson of RedWolfReport.com reported on Wednesday that he was hearing Nebraska’s student section planned to honor Wendy with a banner at some point during the game on Saturday night.
Riley confirmed the Huskers were planning to do something special during the game, but would not give any details.
On Friday afternoon, Blake Anderson tweeted a very positive update that Wendy had been ruled cancer free following her surgery.
- Robin Washut
McNitt aiming for "Janovich" role for NU offense
In an era of football where the fullback seemingly vanishes more and more from college offenses, Nebraska’s Luke McNitt still thinks he can be a difference maker for the Huskers this season.
He’s not the only one, either.
Starting quarterback Tanner Lee went as far as to say McNitt and could be a “huge” weapon in NU’s offense because of his ability as a blocker, runner, and also as a receiver out of the backfield.
“I think because of Luke’s consistency and his hard work day-in and day-out, I think guys feed off of that and they think, ‘That’s the kind of guy I want to be, is a guy like Luke, who’s put in the work, is an unbelievable teammate to everyone,’” Lee said.
“With how much he is trying to tutor the younger guys, especially guys like (freshman fullback) Ben Miles, he’s doing everything with Ben. He wants Ben to be the next great fullback here. I think that’s a testament to Luke and how much he cares about this program and how much he cares about continuing Nebraska’s great tradition. I think that’s part of what makes him a great leader.”
McNitt said his ideal role for his senior season would be similar to what Andy Janovich did for Nebraska back in 2015. Janovich played in all 13 games with six starts and rushed for 265 yards and three touchdowns and caught two passes for 58 yards.
He later became a sixth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft.
“You kind of see that with Andy in his senior year,” McNitt said. “You have got to prove to the coaches what you can do and prove what you can do with the ball to get more opportunities. And I think that I am slowly starting to do that.
“You know, last year I was more of a lead blocker, but whatever the coach is going to ask me, I’m going to do it. But if you can prove to them that you deserve to have the ball in your hands I think they will get it to you.”
- Robin Washut
Farniok emerges as NU's new swing offensive lineman
Given that Nebraska returned five offensive linemen with starting experience from last season, there wasn’t all that much room for any potential major depth chart shakeups over the course of the spring and fall.
But maybe one of the more interesting developments came with redshirt freshman Matt Farniok, who looked to emerge as the Huskers’ new “swing” lineman and one of the top backups at two different positions up front.
While he already entered the offseason competing for time at right tackle, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound native of Sioux Falls, S.D., ended fall camp also in the mix at left guard.
“I’m excited for Matt,” NU offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “Matt’s gotten better and better. He had a good spring, he developed in the spring and has had some good practices throughout fall camp. He has played tackle, guard and has done a great job.”
Asked if Farniok was a better fit on the inside or outside, Cavanaugh would only say: “We need him. He’s got to be ready to play.”
The coach later went into a little more detail about what has allowed the former four-star prospect to become such a versatile piece for the Huskers.
“He’s just a tough guy,” Cavanaugh said. “He loves it every day, he hustles his rear-end off, you can’t just say enough about that. That’s the love that he has and he wants to be a great player. He loves football and he’s a grinder.”
- Robin Washut
Ketter ready for first big opportunity at tight end
For a player who missed all of spring practice and much of summer conditioning due to a back injury, Connor Ketter sure accomplished quite a bit when he finally returned to action for fall camp.
Not only did the senior from Norfolk (Neb.) Catholic become one of six walk-ons to be put on scholarship for the 2017 season, he also vaulted his way up to a No. 1 spot at one of Nebraska’s two listed tight end positions on the depth chart.
The 6-5, 245, Ketter has seen primarily special teams action over the first four years of his NU career, but now he’s in line to be a main factor at tight end along with fellow No. 1 Tyler Hoppes.
“It feels good to know that everything is paying off,” Ketter said. “Coming in as a freshman, the dream is to play. If that’s waiting four years to play or play right away to me it doesn’t matter. To me it’s worth the wait. I’ll be ready to play on Saturday.”
Though he has hardly seen the field on Nebraska’s offense in his career, Ketter enters the season actually as one of the most veteran members of the tight end group.
Hoppes as never played a snap at the position, and the rest of the depth chart is made up of underclassmen Matt Snyder and Jack Stoll, who haven’t contributed yet at all.
“I’m very confident in myself, Matt, Stoll and Hoppes, of course,” Ketter said. “Hoppes is really good and is going to catch a lot of balls. He can block well. We don’t have much experience, but I’m confident in Saturday and how we are going to play.”
- Robin Washut
***Riley confirmed that receiver Keyan Williams (hamstring) would be out on Saturday night, but said otherwise there were no new injuries to report.
***Riley said freshman nose tackle Damion Daniels has been and will continue to prepare as if he’s going to play this season, but it’s still unknown whether or not he will redshirt.
***Riley said there are obviously a lot of new rule changes and points of emphasis in college football this season, including coaches no longer being allowed to go onto the field to argue calls, communicate with players, etc.
Riley said NU will have members of the strength and conditioning staff serve as get-back men on the sideline who will make sure to keep the coaches on the sideline.
***Riley said Nebraska will go through a walk-thru practice on Friday and then move to the team hotel on Friday night for meetings and dinner.
Riley added that NU will change things up a bit with its game day routine, especially for night games like Saturday. Instead of keeping the players at the hotel all day, they’re going to do some different things to keep guys mentally and physically fresh during the day.
***Riley gave no update on who the starting running back would be vs. ASU.
“We will have a starting running back,” Riley said, adding that he didn’t want to say any more because he hadn’t told the players yet.