March 31, 2012

Saturday notebook: NU holds second scrimmage

As Nebraska wrapped up its second full week of spring football on Saturday, the intensity of the practices have started to kick up a few notches the past few days.

The Huskers held their second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, and head coach Bo Pelini said he continued to like what he's seen from his team.

After holding their first full scrimmage of Wednesday, Pelini said NU scrimmaged for half of Saturday's practice and got in about 100 plays and 50 practice plays.

"It was a good, long, very productive day for us," Pelini said. "I thought some guys showed up, and I thought the tempo was really good. They played hard. You know, there were some mistakes made, a couple mental mistakes that were disappointing, but overall it was a pretty good practice."

The scrimmage was especially important for Nebraska's quarterbacks, and Pelini said Taylor Martinez and Brion Carnes both had very good performances on Saturday.

Pelini said Martinez ran two full drives in the scrimmage while Carnes got reps with both the first- and second-team offenses.

"I thought Taylor, you know, we didn't scrimmage Taylor for a really long time, and he was very, very sharp out there today," Pelini said. "I thought Brion did some good things... I thought across the board it was a good go."

Pelini said Carnes has shown great improvement in just his overall comfort running Nebraska's offense this spring.

"I think he's recognizing coverages a lot better," Pelini said. "I think he's a lot more comfortable obviously in the system. I think he knows a lot of times now when to make checks at times. Maybe he doesn't necessarily get the exact check that we want him to, but that's to be expected this early because we're really not game planning against each other.

"I'm kind of liking some of the things I've seen from Brion."

A few notable players sat out of Saturday's scrimmage. Wide receiver Jamal Turner was limited after suffering a minor hamstring injury on Wednesday. Pelini said the injury was "no big deal."

Running back Rex Burkhead did not play in the scrimmage for precautionary reasons, as Pelini said the senior has already shown more than enough over the course of his career to give him a break from any unnecessary wear and tear.

"I just look at it this way, I know what Rex brings to the table," Pelini said. "We've got some young backs that need development, and to be honest with you, Rex took a lot of his last year, and there's no sense in wearing him out."

- Robin Washut

Green, Abdullah continue to impress

With Burkhead being held back a bit this spring, it's created a perfect opportunity for Nebraska to get a good, long look at sophomore running backs Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green.

While both played roles for the Huskers as true freshmen last season, neither had the kind of impact many were expecting coming into the year, as instead Burkhead shouldered the bulk of the workload more often than not.

This spring, however, anyone you ask can't say enough good things about the improvements both Abdullah and Green have made, including Pelini.

Pelini said Green looked particularly good in Saturday's scrimmage.

"Those are two guys that were thrown into the fire pretty quick," Pelini said. "They're young backs who have a lot of talent. Aaron Green ran tough today. He ran hard. And you know Ameer, I mean those guys are good backs.

"We did not scrimmage Rex, so those guys got a lot more snaps and a lot more reps. They're coming and I'm liking their progress."

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***From the sound of things, Andrew Rodriguez's move from guard to tackle may not be just a spring ball experiment. Pelini said Rodriguez has looked like a perfect fit at tackle the past week, and projects big things from the junior at his new position.

"He's doing well," Pelini said. "I think he's a pretty natural player there. Andrew's going to be a heck of a football player out there at the tackle position. This way, we felt like he was going to be a guard, but he's been pretty natural. There's some learning curve going on there as far as his understanding of some of the things that are happening out there, but he looks pretty natural. I really like him there."

***2012 receiver commit Jordan Westerkamp was in attendance for Saturday's practice. Westerkamp had Tweeted earlier this week that his family's schedule had opened up this weekend to allow them to make a trip to Lincoln, and he's watched both Friday and Saturday's practices.

***Pelini also said Ryne Reeves has looked good at guard since moving from center.

***Defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Thaddeus Randle were limited once again on Saturday as they continue to rehab from knee injuries.

***Another player who stood out to Pelini was cornerback Braylon Heard, who continues to get praise since moving from running back this spring. Heard has been working both at corner and nickel.

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