LINCOLN — The team of BTN commentators and analysts that observed Nebraska’s practice Monday for a soon-to-air preview special used social media to praise the improving Huskers.
Expert Gerry DiNardo, a former college football player and coach, had the biggest compliment of all. He wrote on Twitter that Nebraska “is the most improved team talent and depth wise from spring that we’ve seen in 11 stops.”
The BTN bus tour — representatives have been visiting all of the conference’s campuses for one preseason practice — finishes at Iowa Tuesday. The network will broadcast its Nebraska-focused show on Saturday (Iowa is Sunday).
Monday’s barrage of Twitter updates basically served as the tease. DiNardo, Dave Revsine and Tom Dienhart shared some opinions and insight after watching the Huskers’ morning session.
And all seemed to be impressed by the physicality and athleticism of the players on the field. Especially up front.
Revsine wrote on Twitter that it’s “tough not to be impressed” with the offensive line. The group is “as physically imposing a group as we’ve seen on our tour.” Dienhart would write in an online post later Monday that Nebraska’s O-line is the “best offensive line of the Bo Pelini era.”
The defense’s front four, meanwhile, looked “impressive” as well, according to DiNardo. Revsine said the D-line is “certainly big enough physically — athletic as well.” Although, he added that “youth is obvious concern.”
Perhaps the Huskers’ inexperience explains this tweet from Revsine: “John Papuchis said they worked a lot on fundamentals to get D back up to snuff — tackling a particular point of emphasis.”
All of the BTN guys qualified their observations by reminding their audience that Nebraska didn’t include a game-like scrimmage portion in its Monday morning practice.
But despite the limitations, they could still tell that several true freshmen have a chance to play.
Tight end Cethan Carter, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebacker Nate Gerry, linebacker Josh Banderas, running back Adam Taylor and running back Terrell Newby were all mentioned as first-year players who are capable of contributing right away.
In fact, Newby spent time Monday working as a punt returner, along with Ameer Abdullah, Jordan Westerkamp and Jamal Turner, according to Dienhart.
And don’t forget sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory, whom Dienhart characterized as a “specimen.”
Overall, the Huskers are once again one of the Legends Division favorites among the BTN pundits.
Revsine said the race will be between Nebraska, Northwestern, Michigan State and Michigan. Dienhart wrote that it will be up to the Huskers’ defense for the program to win a title.
But that’s where the schedule plays in, according to DiNardo. The UCLA game in Week 3 is “one of the most important games in recent years,” but the other matchups early on should help the younger players develop, DiNardo said.
Nebraska has the ability to avoid a repeat of that up-and-down season from a year ago. Said DiNardo: “They have the experience to reduce turnovers and talent on defense to reduce big plays and improve overall.”