Friday, March 11, 2011
Opening spring ball: Nebraska
Nebraska doesn't officially open spring practice until Saturday, but let's get a head start on the Big Ten's newest member with this spring snapshot.
The big story: Bo Pelini has reshaped his coaching staff, and the biggest change comes on the offensive side, as Tim Beck takes over at coordinator for Shawn Watson. Nebraska's offense backslid toward the end of the 2010 season, and Beck isn't afraid to start over with the system and his philosophy, so some changes can be expected. Nebraska likely will run some version of the spread, but who calls the signals and what elements are emphasized remains to be seen.
Position in the spotlight: Quarterback. The competition is on as Taylor Martinez tries to show Beck that he deserves the right to retain the top job. Beck spoke highly of incoming freshman Jamal Turner in a recent interview, and other signal callers like Cody Green also are in the mix. Martinez dazzled us in the first half of the 2010 season, but he'll need to adjust to Beck and the new system and turn in a strong spring.
Coaching changes: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired four new assistant coaches. Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) will work with a talent-stocked defense, while Rich Fisher (receivers) and John Garrison (assistant offensive line) will aid Beck in the offensive makeover. Fisher is the most interesting new arrival. He most recently coached high school football and also served as a golf teaching professional in the Boston area after leaving the college coaching ranks in 2003. Nebraska also had Ron Brown move from tight ends coach to running backs coach.
Keep an eye on: Kenny Bell. Nebraska needs some playmakers to emerge at receiver, and Bell could fit the bill. He boasts top-end speed and will have a chance to claim an enhanced role this spring after redshirting in 2010.
Spring game: April 16