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Red Report: Even split at quarterback on Saturday; Held remembers Berringer; summer conditioning key

April 20, 2018 GMT

Read into it what you will.However, Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco says there’s no particular reason why Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez will quarterback the Red team Saturday, while Noah Vedral and Andrew Bunch will helm the White in the spring game.Gebbia, Martinez and Bunch are competing for the starting job. Meanwhile, Vedral is sitting out the 2018 season after transferring from Central Florida.Somebody has to take the field first Saturday with the first-string offense. How much should fans read into that?“Nothing,” Verduzco said. “There’s a lot of water under the bridge, and Coach (Scott) Frost has talked about that. There’s going to be the same sort of process that’s going to go on through fall camp and through our scrimmages in that period of time. Obviously, there’s going to be a decision that’s going to be made, and then there’s going to be our first game.”Nebraska opens Sept. 1 against Akron in Lincoln.“And then there’s still going to be an evaluation that’s going to go on — not that you ever want a quarterback looking over his shoulder,” Verduzco said. “You certainly don’t want that.”Verduzco said it makes sense to have a designated starter so that quarterback isn’t playing with a fear of failure.“You don’t want your quarterback feeling like, ‘God, if I tie my shoes wrong I’m going to get yanked,’ and all that sort of business,” Verduzco said.He also said he doesn’t believe in alternating two quarterbacks in games.Conditioning key for running backs: Running backs coach Ryan Held said the focus for his position group over the summer is to continue improving on the conditioning front.Senior Mikale Wilbon is a prime example.“When he’s fresh and ready to go, he’s good,” Held said. “What I’m challenging him this summer is he’s got to continue to get in shape. This is not a huddle offense where these guys huddle up and get a chance to (breathe). We’ve got to be in unbelievable shape. So for him, just like the other ones, he’s just got to learn to go four, five plays in a row and go fast and get his breath back and be ready to go.“But I’ve seen some good stuff out of him. He can catch the ball, he can run it, obviously, and he can pass-pro. I just want him to get in better shape just like I want them all to.”Remembering Brook Berringer: Wednesday marked 22 years since Brook Berringer was killed in a plane crash. Held holds fond memories of the former Nebraska quarterback.“He was a guy that took me on my recruiting visit when I came up here,” the running backs coach and former walk-on receiver said. “He was just an awesome guy. I miss him dearly and we all miss him as Nebraskans. I think yesterday was the day, so, we appreciate you Brook, look down on us and we’ll always remember him. No doubt.”Play-calling duties to be split: Offensive coordinator Troy Walters is calling plays for the Red team — with a potential assist from tight ends coach Sean Beckton — while Held calls plays for the White. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said he might split up duties or call parts of the game for both sides and that defensive line coach Mike Dawson called plays last year, but that he might flip a coin. Six picks: Verduzco said his group has thrown only six interceptions this spring — which seems acceptable in the context of Tanner Lee’s 16 picks last season.“As a group, in terms of spring ball, they’ve been really, really, really good (in that area),” Verduzco said.He tallies interceptions in team drills and 7-on-7 work.“Now, they’ve just got to make certain we carry that into the game as well and take care of the football,” Verduzco said. “You guys know as well as anybody how critical turnovers are.“We want to prevent stupid interceptions and near-misses.”Spielman questionable for spring game: JD Spielman did not practice Thursday and has now missed most or all of the past two weeks. On Tuesday, Frost said several players had come down with a virus that was causing some depth concerns.Walters called Spielman questionable for Saturday, but reiterated that he’s a proven commodity and there’s no reason to rush him back to action.McBride addresses team: Chinander said former defensive coordinator Charlie McBride has been around this week and that he addressed the team ahead of the spring game.“He gave a great message to them and I’ll try to echo some of that,” Chinander said. “He gave us some great stuff. He’s taught me a lot the past couple of days and I want to continue to with the message he gave the kids.”Tight ends in for heavy workday: With just six tight ends available on Saturday, position coach Sean Beckton said everybody will play. A lot.“We got three and three split, so they’ll all get a chance to play,” Beckton said. “We still run a lot of two tight end sets, so that’s going to be a big part of the scrimmage on Saturday also. We’ll get a chance to see those guys compete out there.”Beckton plans to give the tight ends equal reps.“We’re going to split the reps up,” Beckton said. “We’re going to start out with Jack (Stoll) on the Red team and then roll Austin Allen in there, and then (Matt) Synder, and get all of those guys in there. I’m big on letting everybody get in there and show what they’re capable of doing, and then make a decision what we want to work toward the season. After Saturday’s game I’ll kind of set a depth chart where we’ll work them in the summer when they’re doing their individual stuff and outside team stuff with the quarterbacks and the captains running it. It’s huge for a lot of those guys.”Transfer topic: Verduzco was asked how much discussion he’s had with Frost about the possibility of accepting a graduate transfer quarterback — someone along the lines of Joe Burrow, the Ohio State quarterback who has talked openly about the possibility of leaving OSU.Have the Husker coaches talked about it much?“Not of substance,” Verduzco said. “I’ve been so focused on our guys here and what their needs are and trying to get things translated over from our language before.”Asked if he’s open-minded to the idea of a grad transfer, Verduzco said, “That’ll be a decision for Coach Frost. I really don’t have a thought about it, seriously, one way or another. I really don’t. If that’s the direction Coach Frost wants to move, then that’s the direction we’re going to move.“Right now, I’m focused on just making certain those guys we have in our room right now — and I mean this seriously — are the best in the country as a group.”Huskers made the local rounds Wednesday: Many of the NU assistants fanned out around the state on Wednesday and visited high schools.Held said the goal is for every school and every coach in the state to feel part of the Husker family.“I love going to these small towns and seeing the downtowns and the architecture and everything. Some schools hadn’t seen us in a while, so they were appreciative.“There was one school that didn’t have anybody for four years but had an eighth-grader that’s 6-foot-5,” Held added. “That’s four years or five years from now, but we don’t want to miss on that kid and if we don’t go in there, we don’t know about him. We want these Nebraska coaches to know that we want them to be a part of this deal and our journey to get this place back to where it needs to be.”Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud made the rounds in Omaha, while Beckton said he hit eight schools.“There is a lot of excitement with the program right now and being able to get in there and mingle with some of those coaches,” the tight ends coach said. “There are always guys that are going to fall through the cracks sometimes, and we want to make sure as a staff we’re going in and seeing each individual kid and coach and making sure we know who everybody is in the state of Nebraska.”