August 22, 2010

Breaking down Week 2 of fall camp

Nebraska wrapped up its second week of fall camp on Saturday. If you haven't visited on a daily basis in the past week, you've probably missed a lot.

Here is a quick summary and breakdown of NU's practices since opening camp last Saturday.

The Huskers will hit the field for Week 3 of fall camp again on Monday afternoon and will hold one practice a day for the rest of the week.


***Though nothing has been made official, senior Zac Lee appears to be the frontrunner to win the starting quarterback job this season. On Saturday, NU head coach Bo Pelini said the quarterback race has begun to take shape, though he wouldn't elaborate any further. From the looks of things though, Lee should be the guy come Sept. 4.

***Pelini would not address the status of Washington transfer tight end Kavario Middleton following Saturday's practice, saying only that Middleton was not yet a member of the team. NCAA rules forbid Pelini from commenting on transfers who are not yet enrolled in classes, but it is expected Middleton will join the team when UNL's fall semester begins on Monday.

***Senior Anthony West and sophomore P.J. Smith have been neck-and-neck in the competition for the starting safety spot along side senior DeJon Gomes. West had taken the majority reps with the No. 1 defense earlier in the week, but word is Smith moved back into the top spot to close out Week 2.

***If West were to win the job as the starter in the base defense, Smith would still work as a starter in NU's dime package when Gomes moves down to play the dime back.

***After losing sophomore Sean Fisher for the season with a broken leg on Tuesday, junior college transfer Lavonte David is emerging as a candidate to come in and start right away. With the Mike and Will linebacker spots basically interchangeable, David will be competing with Will Compton and Eric Martin for playing time.

***True freshman wide receiver Quincy Enunwa has apparently impressed so much through the first two weeks of fall camp that he's seeing time with Nebraska's top offensive units in practice. After Niles Paul, Brandon Kinnie and Mike McNeill, Enunwa could see some playing time at the No. 4 receiver spot if he continues his progress.

***Paul will resume his role as NU's primary kickoff and punt returner this season, but sophomore Tim Marlowe has also made his way into the mix. Marlowe is currently working as the No. 2 kickoff return man along side Paul, while Kinnie and running back Rex Burkhead are also getting reps.

***Junior cornerback Marcus Mendoza was seen walking off the field following Saturday's practice, and it looks as if he's been added to the 105-man roster in the wake of NU's string of season-ending injuries. Mendoza hadn't practiced with the team through Tuesday's practice, but it is unclear when he officially rejoined the roster.

***Sophomore Brett Maher has been taking reps at both punter and kicker during the first two weeks of camp, and it looks as if Nebraska is trying to increase its depth at both positions behind Alex Henery and Adi Kunalic. Maher is the only other kicker behind those two on the 105-man roster.

***Nebraska is obviously set at running back with senior Roy Helu, Burkhead and sophomore Dontrayevous Robinson. As a result, running backs coach Tim Beck said the staff isn't quite as concerned with establishing a fourth back as it was at this time last season. Beck said Lester Ward, Austin Jones and Collins Okafor are competing for the fourth spot.


***As noted earlier, Fisher was lost for the season on Tuesday after breaking his leg and suffering ligament damage. Fisher saw playing time in all 14 games for Nebraska last year, including four starts. He was projected to be a frontrunner for a starting job in the Huskers' new peso defense.

***On Saturday, Pelini announced that senior tight end Dreu Young would undergo surgery on a back injury that has plagued him since last season. The surgery will likely keep Young out for at least half of the season, if not the entire year. It will be Young's second back surgery in the past year, as he underwent the procedure prior to last year's season opener.

***Junior cornerback Anthony Blue suffered yet another ACL injury on Tuesday, which will end his season for the second time in the past three years. Blue first tore his ACL during winter conditioning heading into the 2008 season.

Five players on the rise

Lavonte David, LB (6-0, 210), Jr.
With Fisher out of the competition at linebacker, David seems destined to win a starting job. With the way he's been able to pick up the defense so fast and learn all the various schemes, the coaching staff would have no problem throwing David into the mix right away.

Zac Lee, QB (6-2, 215), Sr.
There might not have been a player on the roster with more to lose this fall than Lee. Needing to have the best camp of his career in order to save his starting job, Lee has more than answered the call, and it's looking more and more that he'll return as the starter come Sept. 4.

Terrence Moore, DT (6-3, 285), Jr.
Moore has been the underdog to sophomore Baker Steinkuhler all camp in the competition for the starting defensive tackle spot next to senior Jared Crick, but the race couldn't be much tighter than it is right now. Playing with an admitted chip on his shoulder, Moore has worked his way to become a major factor and has been getting just as many reps as Steinkuhler with the No. 1 defense.

Quincy Enunwa, WR (6-2, 205), Fr.
Few true freshmen have come in and made an immediate impression on NU's coaches this fall as Enunwa. He's been able to meet the expectations as far as blocking and overall physical play go, which has allowed him to work with the Huskers' top offensive units this fall. He could definitely be a factor as the fourth or even third wide out this season.

Adi Kunalic, PK (6-0, 190), Sr.
While Henery has been getting all the acclaim, Kunalic has apparently had just as good of a fall so far. Pelini said Kunalic has been "crushing the ball" on his kickoffs, saying that would be an invaluable weapon for the Huskers this season. Pelini even said if it came down to it, he wouldn't hesitate to use Kunalic on field goals either.


"I wasn't real happy with the way a couple situations were handled, one situation in particular. I understand you guys have got a job to do. I have a job to do, too, you know? So I just thought it was the right time because of really not one single thing, but a culmination of things that I thought it was time eliminate some distractions for this football team and get back to focusing on what we need to focus on, and I thought it was the right time to do that."
- Head coach Bo Pelini on his thinking behind issuing a three-day media ban and limited practice guests on Wednesday.


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