Nebraska football mailbag: Which players may step up in place of those injured this spring?

Nebraska football-Scott Frost-Greg Bell-spring practice

Have Nebraska football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Nebraska mailbag to talk all things Huskers. This week, we discuss players that could step up during spring football due to injuries on the roster, the quarterback position, adjustments to the offensive line depth chart, and more.

First and foremost, let’s review whom coach Scott Frost has said would be out this spring: Safety JoJo Domann (knee) and linebacker Luke Gifford (hip) are both out this spring, as is offensive lineman Michael Decker (knee). Running back Tre Bryant (knee) and offensive lineman Cole Conrad (shoulder) will be limited, while linebacker Sedrick King may or may not return for spring practice.

I’m personally interested in seeing the running backs, and Bryant’s health is going to be a big factor going forward.

“We want to be smart with Tre,” Frost said ahead of spring practice. “I think his health will hopefully improve, but I think we can help that by limiting him a little bit. We are going to be as smart with him as we possibly can so he can be a part of what we’re doing.”

Junior college transfer Greg Bell was already expected to shake up the running back room, but he really could become the go-to guy in Bryant’s absence. He’ll be fun to watch this spring.

Other than that, I don’t see anyone jumping Gifford and expect him to retain his spot once healed. Nebraska could try a couple of different scenarios at center in Decker and Conrad’s absence, such as giving sophomore John Raridon or senior Tanner Farmer some time in the middle. However, moving a guard or tackle to the center spot isn’t as simple in offensive line coach Greg Austin’s mind.

“Certainly the center position is a little harder or a little more challenging because you do have more responsibility in terms of making calls,” Austin said, per the Lincoln Journal Star. “If you cross-train at guard and tackle, you should be able to play both. The unique thing about center in this offense is he has the calls. He has to make calls, just like damn near every other offense. His call is the first call that he makes. I can’t always say that a guard can become a center just for that reason.”

For those reasons, I think I’ll stick with the running back position. I think the final depth chart come fall could look very different than what may be expected now.

Let’s start with your quarterback question. I’ve long been a believer that redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia is the man to beat for the starting job. This isn’t a knock on sophomore Patrick O’Brien, who could very easily surprise me this spring. I just see more potential from Gebbia when it comes to Frost’s offense, which requires a dual-threat quarterback. Gebbia’s not the quickest, but his high school film shows a more mobile quarterback than some give him credit for.

With that said, O’Brien also showed last season that he’s not afraid to run when needed. He’s also been putting in extra work during spring break, so he could easily prove me wrong. If he does? I’m completely OK with that.

As for freshman Adrian Martinez, I’m a little more hesitant to call him the front-runner only because I sincerely believe he could benefit from a redshirt year. I tackled the Martinez situation a few months ago, and my biggest hesitation with him is the fact that he missed his senior season in high school. Martinez tore his right (throwing shoulder) labrum the February of his junior year, which held him out last season. He’s a talented athlete, though, so maybe he can make that jump. I just don’t think it’s necessary if Gebbia or O’Brien is capable of running Frost’s offense, though.

As for the offensive line, I’m going to be very interested in watching this group this spring. I think there’s a lot of potential for a shakeup, and those holding on to certain spots need to be ready to compete. As we know, former left tackle Nick Gates expects Brenden Jaimes to move from right tackle to his old spot. To your point though, the tackles are pretty set. The center and guards are a little more up in the air.

With that said, I’ve appreciated senior Jerald Foster’s willingness to speak up this spring. I think he knows his spot could be taken if he doesn’t perform, and it sounds like he’s taking it seriously. I also liked what Frost had to say about the offensive line at his spring news conference because I think it highlights just how fluid this group could be.

“We’re going to play the best five linemen no matter who they are,” Frost said. “So if we have to move a guard to tackle or a tackle to center or vice-versa, we’re going to look at that. Again, we’re getting to know the guys right now and I think a few practices into it we’ll have a better idea of who we think can play those positions.”

Needless to say, it will be an interesting spring.

I have a hard time believing baseball coach Darin Erstad is on too short of a leash after winning the Big Ten regular-season championship last season. On top of it, Erstad was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. The Huskers are 11-9 on the year so far, and I know plenty were hoping for a better record at this point. However, conference and postseason play will be the biggest tests. Improvement especially needs to be made in post-season play.

As for basketball coach Tim Miles, I think his leash might be a little shorter. But even at that, he is coming off a 22-win season. While it fizzled in postseason play, the overall Nebraska season was a positive one. Miles met with athletic director Bill Moos on Tuesday, but we don’t know too many specifics just yet. It sounds like there will be more meetings in the future, though.

Back to your original question, I’d give Erstad a longer leash than Miles. With that said, both have plenty to prove, especially in postseason play. That will be something Moos will be looking to get figured out sooner rather than later, regardless of how much leash they both have today.

From everything I’ve heard, wide receiver Jaron Woodyard is still supposed to arrive on campus in June. Nothing has changed as far as his plans are concerned at this point.

Spring break is always difficult, because we get a taste of football and then it’s gone. It’s humbling though, because it will soon be summer and we’ll be in a much longer hiatus than we’re in now. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.

I feel like most of the new information has been shared, so I don’t have anything right now. That could always change though, so stay tuned. In the meantime, media access for practice is expected to resume March 27. It’ll be here before we know it. At least I hope.

Have a question about Nebraska football? Tweet us @Landof10Huskers, and we’ll try to answer your question in a future mailbag. Check to see if your question already was answered by reading previous Nebraska football mailbags here.

The post Nebraska football mailbag: Which players may step up in place of those injured this spring? appeared first on Land of 10.

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