April 20, 2006

Five things that still need improvement

1 - Finding a No. 2 quarterback

This has to be the biggest concern for the Nebraska coaching staff heading into the off-season. If starting quarterback Zac Taylor went down, would you feel comfortable with playing either sophomores Joe Ganz or Harrison Beck?

At this point, the answer to that question is no. Neither Beck nor Ganz took a huge step this spring and the gap between them and Taylor is still pretty substantial.

This season Nebraska will probably take two quarterbacks in recruiting and they may even consider going to the JUCO ranks to find a mid-term player to come in and compete for the starting job next spring.

This one is hard to call right now. For Beck, he need's to let his shoulder heal up and have a strong summer and fall camp to gain the confidence of his teammates for the future.

2 - A playmaker at tight end

Until Matt Herian can prove he's the player of old, Nebraska still doesn't have a playmaker that can beat a safety or linebacker at tight end.

Incoming recruit Mike McNeill could be that guy, but until he also proves himself, it's hard to size up the play-making ability at tight end after spring ball.

Junior Josh Mueller is serviceable and it appears that junior J.B. Phillips and sophomore Clayton Sievers will play mostly at the H-back. One player that is somewhat intriguing at tight end is sophomore Justin Tomerlin, who did show some flashes during spring ball.

3 - Depth in the secondary

The starting four of the Nebraska secondary is solid, but behind them the experience and depth is slim to none.

Junior Titus Brothers is the only back-up at corner that has a shot of seeing playing time and at safety, walk-ons Brandon Rigoni and Ben Eisenhart are the two lead candidates.

With that said, Andre Jones, Ricky Thenarse, Major Culbert, Anthony West and Corey Young will all get early looks in fall camp to see if they can make the grade.

4 - Establishing the interior o-line

With senior Kurt Mann out of spring ball, Nebraska's interior offensive line was very young and inexperienced.

Sophomores Andy Christensen and Mike Huff along with freshmen Jacob Hickman and Rodney Picou all took major reps this spring.

Christensen and Huff both saw a lot of action in spring ball and hopefully they'll continue to develop at the guard spots this fall.

5 - Finding a punter

Tyler Kester and Dan Titchener are the two names out of spring ball that look to have the early lead for the open punting vacancy.

Replacing Sam Koch is not going to be an easy thing to do, but a few years ago people were saying the same thing about replacing Kyle Larson.

One name not to rule out is incoming freshman Alex Henery out of Omaha (Neb.) Burke. Henery is one of the most decorated punter prospects to ever come out of Nebraska and once he enters a strength program, his numbers may get even better.

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