Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Nebraska alters Red-White game format
By Mitch Sherman
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini shared some insight on Wednesday into the adjusted format of the Huskers’ Red-White game, set for Saturday at Memorial Stadium, but fans and media apparently won’t get a rundown of the scoring system until shortly before kickoff.
The Cornhuskers will scrimmage, but instead of breaking into two teams, they’ll pit the No. 1 offense against the top defense, the No. 2 offense and the No. 2 defense, and so forth. The offensive and defensive units will be awarded points for good plays.
“I’ve never done this format before,” the seventh-year Nebraska coach said, “but I think it makes a lot of sense, obviously, for where we are as a football team right now.
“It’s the only way we’re going to be able to function and really be able to protect certain guys that we want to protect. Trying to field two teams wouldn’t happen right now. We don’t want to put kids in position to get hurt.”
A breakdown of the scoring system will be posted on scoreboards in the stadium and perhaps distributed to fans on a flyer, Pelini said.
Nearly 50,000 tickets have been sold. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.
Pelini said the Huskers would run approximately 100 plays in the scrimmage, which will be telecast by the Big Ten Network on tape delay. Don’t expect to see anything too innovative.
“We’re not going to put that on display for everybody to see,” he said, “so it’ll be a little more basic than what we’ve done (in practice), really, on both sides of the football.”
I-back Ameer Abdullah, the nation's top returning rusher, and defensive end Randy Gregory, another first-team All-Big Ten pick in 2013, likely won’t see much action.
The Huskers won’t hit quarterbacks in the pocket. If they run free, they can be tackled. Cut blocking by offensive linemen is also out.
Pelini said he was pleased with the Huskers’ work on Wednesday in their final practice of the spring before the celebrated finale on Saturday.
“I thought the last two days were really good practices for us,” he said. “I thought it went back and forth a lot. I thought the competition was good.
“We went into this spring planning to lay a foundation for the fall. I think we’ve done that. I think we’ve identified a lot of guys. I think we’ve identified areas that we need to grow. I think we’ve identified areas where I feel like we’re pretty strong. We learned a lot. We, as the coaches, learned a lot about our football team.”
Also from Wednesday:
- Defensive tackle Aaron Curry, who suffered a neck sprain on Monday in practice, will not participate on Saturday. Linebacker Marcus Newby hurt his back on Wednesday, though Pelini said he expected Newby to return for the final workout of the spring.
- Nebraska gained notice nationally a year ago in the Red-White game by involving 7-year-old brain-cancer patient Jack Hoffman in the festivities. Dressed in full uniform, Jack scored on a 69-yard run in the second half. In July, he won an ESPY award for best moment. Asked if the Huskers had any unorthodox plans for Saturday, Pelini offered a tease. “We have a couple things that we’re going to throw out there and have a little fun,” he said. “But we don’t want to lose sight of why we’re there -- to get better as a football team and execute. At the same time, we want to make sure it’s fun for the fans.”
- Two years ago, the spring game at Nebraska was canceled because of severe weather. The Saturday forecast calls for a high temperature near 80 degrees and a chance of thunderstorms. If problems surface, Pelini joked that he would just place a call to Tom Osborne, the legendary former Nebraska coach and athletic director. “He can part the skies,” Pelini said, “and we should be good to go.”