Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Spring Game checklist

The Nebraska football team takes the field against itself on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Translation, the Red-White spring game will take place. The game can also be seen on the Big Ten Network.

By definition, the spring game is nothing more than a glorified exhibition that says very little how a team will perform from August to January. The spring game means different things to different people. So what really determines a successful spring game? Is it where the starting offense plays against the starting defense? Is it more about wanting to see what the new kids can bring to the table? Since we’re being televised this year, what do you want to show the Big 10?

The Spring Game has to be taken as nothing more than a fun time in the sun with something resembling football as the entertainment. It’s not ever going to be a real game – it’s just an excuse to get out and enjoy spring after a (usually) crappy winter, get a tailgate in, and alleviate some of the boredom in the off-season.

As far as the “game” goes, the first units going against each other with both units making some good plays is always intriguing. Most of all, I want to see signs of progress in the areas that were problems a year ago.

The defense was not as good as what Husker fans grew accustomed to in the Bo Pelini era for large chunks of last year. We need to see development there. Maybe I am just too optimistic but I think we may not have the star power we had last year but I think we could be a better team overall this coming year on the defensive side of the ball. Having a healthy defensive line and development of depth to get people to fill in and elevate their game in the back seven but could be pretty good.

I personally think the Huskers have the potential of being a pretty special offense this year. They have about as good of offensive skill position players as they have had in a while, if the offensive line can come together Nebraska could be pretty tough to stop.

That said here is a checklist on what would be considered a successful spring game:

1-No injuries. While there is never a good time to lose players to crippling injuries, this game would be the worst to suffer that fate.  

2-Progression of the offense/Taylor Martinez’s mechanics. The fact that Tim Beck is in his second season as offensive coordinator means the Huskers can fine-tune what they do instead of learning the basics.

3-No stupid plays/penalties/mental mistakes. All three plagued the Huskers at one point or another last season.

4-Creative, but we won't see it because it's the spring game. Fans may love creative plays but doing this in a spring game makes as much sense as teaching a little league pitcher how to throw a curveball when he can’t throw a fastball for a strike.

5-Aggressive and improved defensive line play. Husker D-Line looked pretty good at times, quite vulnerable at others.

6-Offensive line blowing guys off the line. This is one position that should benefit from not having to learn a new offense.

7-Minimal drops. Two things are equally true: a) Martinez needs to be more accurate. b) Husker receivers dropped far too any catchable passes.

8-Special teams perfection. Besides Brett Maher’s consistency, special teams was a hit/miss proposition.

9-How the kickoff rules will affect the philosophy on special teams.
Next fall, teams will kick off at the 35-yard line instead of the 30. Also, players on the kicking team can’t line up for the play behind the 30-yard line, which is intended to limit the running start kicking teams used to have during the play.

Also, touchbacks on free kicks will be moved to the 25-yard line instead of the 20 to encourage more touchbacks. Touchbacks on other plays (for example, punts that go into the end zone, or fumbles that go out of the end zone) will remain at the 20-yard line.

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