Who’s in, who’s out and what to expect from Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game
Nebraska coach Scott Frost had a simple answer when asked Wednesday morning what fans can expect at Saturday’s sold-out Red-White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium.
“We’re going to play football,” Frost said.
That conveyed more information than you might think. This won’t be just a glorified practice. It’s going to be scrimmage-heavy.
In many ways, it appears NU is structuring the afternoon similarly to last year’s event.
“We want a chance to have an opportunity to compete,” Frost said. “We’re going to put a bunch of guys that are only going to play part of the game on one side with their backups and the rest of the team will be on the other side. Then we’ll let it go. Looking forward to seeing guys compete in a game situation.”
Some natural candidates for part-time players include surefire starters such as sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, tackles Brenden Jaimes and Matt Farniok, inside linebacker Mohamed Barry and others.
Indeed, all of those players and most of the presumed regulars for the Huskers are on the Red team. The school released rosters Wednesday evening, and that side is clearly loaded with most of the players who have pushed for playing time. Others, such as freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey, freshman outside linebacker Garrett Nelson and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Casey Rogers, are listed on both teams. That’s a signal they could be in for busy days.
Sophomore quarterback Noah Vedral joins Martinez on the Red team, while junior walk-on Andrew Bunch and redshirt freshman walk-on Matt Masker are on the White team.
Among those who will not play in the 1 p.m. scrimmage, which will be televised on the Big Ten Network, are sophomore running back Maurice Washington, freshman back Wan’Dale Robinson, junior wide receiver JD Spielman, junior tight end Jack Stoll, sophomore outside linebacker Caleb Tannor, junior inside linebacker Will Honas and others, a list of 15 players in total.
“There are some guys that are probably going to be held out for a variety of reasons, mostly just little injuries,” Frost said.
Like last year, the play-calling duties will fall to the assistant coaches. In 2018, running backs coach Ryan Held called offensive plays for one side and offensive line coach Greg Austin handled the other side.
“I enjoy the spring game because I don’t do any coaching,” Frost said with a smile. “I’m going to stay neutral and cheer for both teams and let the rest of the coaching staff handle that.”
There is a balance, though. On the one hand, Frost said one of the things he’s most interested in is if some of the young players can replicate the progress they’ve made in practice this spring when there are 85,000-plus people in the stands. There are position groups that are thin and could certainly use the work, but coaches also have to be wary of any further attrition.
“As a head coach, I want to see a great spring game and see guys perform, but we also have to get out of it healthy,” Frost said. “That’s probably the biggest goal as a coach once you get to the spring game. There will be some that won’t play at all and some that play about half the game.”
All in all, Frost is essentially hoping for no bad news on the finale of what’s been a productive spring.
“I thought we had a great practice out there today,” he said. “Guys didn’t just see this as the last practice, they saw it as another opportunity to get better. I think we’ve improved in a lot of areas, a lot of fundamentals, and guys understanding what we’re trying to accomplish in the scheme has got a lot better.
“We’re a mile ahead of where we were last year, still have a long way to go, but I think we had a really good spring overall.”