Most people expected Nebraska to release the first depth chart of the 2012 season. It was not released today. Most members of the media are expecting to see it come out on Thursday, or as late as Friday.
Pelini said one of the biggest issue he, and his staff will face on Saturday, is making adjustments on the fly. Southern Miss. will take the field with a first year head coach in Ellis Johnson. Pelini said it is always tough to gauge a team with a first year head coach. He did say he is excited to see how his team comes out in the first game.
One of the biggest questions going in to the 2012 season is how the coaching staff will monitor, senior running back Rex Burkhead’s load. Pelini said Burkhead will be tough to keep off the field, but his staff realize it’s in his best interest and the team to cut back Burkhead’s workload. Pelini said they still have to get the ball in Burkhead’s hands, but they realize the importance of getting other guys involved.
Pelini admitted he may have overworked Rex at times last season.
One of the players Pelini and crew plan on helping take the load of Rex, is true freshman Imani Cross. Pelini said Cross has shown a lot this fall. He called him a man who’s very mature for his age. Cross adds another dimension to the offense, that Nebraska has not had in recent years according to Pelini.
Pelini said there’s a chance Cross could play Saturday, depending on the situation.
At the begining of camp, Cole Pensick was the clear cut No.1 center. Over the last few weeks, Justin Jackson has secured the spot in most peoples eyes. Pelini said the Huskers would play as many centers as needed depending on how things play out.He said he’d like to get a couple guys as many reps as possible. Jackson is still the projected starter.
Aside from the center position, the offensive line has had its struggles this fall. Two players transferred, and Andrew Rodriguez was forced to move from guard to tackle.
Pelini said he likes the offensive line, and overall the group had a good fall. Pelini said, they threw a lot at the line defensively, and the they responded well as a group. Pelini said despite depth issues last year, the offensive line did pretty well.
One of the biggest story lines coming out of fall camp has been the No. 2 quarterback spot. Pelini would not say who the No.2 is, but he did say the competition will continue through this week.
The battle will be between redshirt sophomore Brion Carnes, and true freshman Tommy Armstrong. Pelini said if NU needs Armstrong to win, then he will play.
Through the first six games of the 2011 sophomore wide receiver Jamal Turner was the leading receiver for the Huskers. Then all all of a sudden he did not see the field for a couple game. Pelini said Turner, and redshirt freshman Taariq Allen have had very good fall camps. Pelini feels that Turner is much more ready to play this season, compared to a year ago.
Turner showed up in Lincoln as a quarterback prospect. Pelini feels Turner is finally settling into the wide receiver role.
One of the people successful for Turners development, is second year receiver coach, Rich Fisher. Pelini said Fisher settled in to the job very nicely last season. He said there was a little bit of a learning curve for the entire offensive coaching staff, just to get a good enough understanding of the system. He said the coaches had to learn how to work with each other.
One thing Pelini said his staff is putting a big emphasis on is reducing penalties. He said the team made strides in that area last year, but there was still plenty of room for improvement.
Pelini was asked about his quarterback. He said redshirt junior Taylor Martinez was very confident heading into the season. He said Martinez was carrying a bit of an attitude coming into the year. Pelini seemed to have a little bit of perk in his voice when he said he was excited about the offense. He said it was going to be “a formidable group” this season.
By Jimmie Allen
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