Published Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:28 am
football
Notes: Freshman I-back Taylor requests a redshirt; Newby on kickoff returns?

LINCOLN — Freshman Adam Taylor thinks he could benefit from a redshirt year, and the Nebraska coaching staff agrees. For now.

Taylor talked it over with his family and met with the coaches. Running backs coach Ron Brown described the promising I-back as a hard worker who's committed to getting better on and off the field.

And he's talented enough to play right now, Brown said. “He's got speed. He's powerful.”

But Taylor, a 210-pound back from Katy, Texas, wants to wait to start his eligibility clock.

He will still take practice reps with the main offense, and he'll still prepare as if he were going to play each week.

You never know, Brown said. Sophomore Imani Cross and freshman Terrell Newby are the backups for starter Ameer Abdullah, but there's a chance the Huskers could use Taylor.

“He really requested to redshirt. He felt like he wanted a little more development,” Brown said. “But I told him that if anything happens, we may need him during the course of the year.”

Brown did say that walk-on running back King Frazier could work into the mix as well.

Newby on kickoff returns?

Junior Jamal Turner appears to be first in line to return punts in Saturday's opener, while Newby and junior Kenny Bell are apparently the top kickoff returners at this point.

But Brown, who helps oversee the returners during special teams practice segments, indicated that roles could change between now and game day.

Turner's been fielding punts with Newby, Abdullah and redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp. Turner's also working with Abdullah as the No. 2 kickoff returners behind Bell and Newby.

One more guy to watch in the kickoff return game: 225-pound senior Quincy Enunwa.

“He's a good runner,” Brown said. “He's a beast. He's a load. And he's more athletic than people think.”

Publicizing the prank

Coach Bo Pelini said Wednesday that he needed to be persuaded to publicly share the video of his cellphone prank.

Initially, he was against it.

“I'm still a little bit old school,” he said during an interview on “Sports Nightly” on the Husker Radio Network. “The things that happen within the team should stay within the team.”

He soon changed his mind, though.

The video of the prank has been viewed more than 680,000 times on YouTube since the athletic department posted it online Friday.

Here's what went down: Pelini, with the help of senior Thad Randle, faked a confrontation during a team meeting a few weeks back. Pelini smashed a cellphone with a hammer. Randle stormed out. The two pretended to fight outside the room. Nebraska's players went nuts when a message on the projector screen revealed it was all a hoax.

In the past, those kinds of moments weren't shared with the public, according to Pelini. But times are changing.

“I'm trying to embrace the fact that it's a little bit different now,” he said. “The social media thing — you have to use it and embrace it.”

Other notes from Pelini during his hourlong call-in show:

» Senior Andrew Green and junior Harvey Jackson will split reps at one safety spot against Wyoming Saturday, Pelini said.

» Enunwa is “playing the best football of his career right now,” Pelini said. And it just might be because Enunwa was named one of the four captains, the coach said.

» Pelini's confident in his young defense. “What I'm looking at is what I believe this group will be over time,” he said. “I like this group. I like (its) potential.”

Heavy subbing

Nebraska already planned to play a number of receivers and defensive backs against Wyoming, but the expected heat Saturday night could speed up the substitutions and rotations.

NU assistant coach Rich Fisher said he has “multiple guys that have earned opportunities” beyond Bell, Enunwa and Turner.

“They're going to be hyped up,” Fisher said. “We don't want them too high before the game, especially those young guys, with just the anticipation and anxiety of playing their first college football game. But I'll keep an eye on them.”

Secondary coach Terry Joseph said he would watch how the heat and flow of the game affect his defensive backs, who will be chasing Wyoming receivers in the Cowboys' spread attack. With NU expected to play a high percentage of nickel and dime packages, Joseph could be busy with his charges.

“We've got a lot of different guys, but also different combinations, ready to go,” he said.

Defining I-back roles

Which I-back comes into the game and gets the carry when Nebraska faces fourth-and-goal? Who do the Huskers call on as the right I-back to come out of the backfield on third-and-8?

Brown said the offensive staff has some ideas on roles and how best to use Abdullah and the rest of NU's backs, but he also values versatility.

“The thing I try to do is develop guys to be all-around players,” Brown said. “Ameer has developed into an all-around player. You can play Ameer on about any down. The key with Ameer is you've just got to be careful that you don't overuse him.”

After Abdullah, Brown will work Cross, Newby and Frazier into the action.

“We've got some guys that have certain roles, so to speak,” Brown said. “But there's enough (practice) repetitions in our offense for everybody that they kind of know it all. We just have to use guys accordingly.”

Tips to beat the heat

Even a 7 p.m. kickoff can't entirely shield Husker football fans from summer's heat.

With a temperature of 92 expected at gametime, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials are urging fans to take precautions to prevent heat illness at Saturday's season opener against Wyoming:

» Drink more water and less alcohol. Avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

» Minimize direct contact with the sun. Try to rest often in shady areas.

» Snack regularly, rather than eating heavy meals.

» Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

For this game only, Memorial Stadium officials will allow fans to bring 20-ounce water bottles into the stadium. The stadium has added portable water stations under the north and south stadiums so water bottles can be refilled.

* * *

Video: "Big Red Today Show"

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust

rich.kaipust@owh.com    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

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