Five things to like, five concerns coming out of the spring game

Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker gives receiver Jamal Turner a pat on the head in the first half of the Nebraska spring game.

World-Herald staff writers Rich Kaipust and Jon Nyatawa offer their takeaways — good and bad — from the Husker spring football game, a 24-15 win by the Red team.

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1. The Nebraska offense could surely benefit from a healthy Jamal Turner, who showed signs Saturday of being back from Achilles and knee injuries. Turner had three receptions for 42 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown, and was open down the field on two other plays where Zack Darlington just missed him.

2. The Huskers already know they have a quality leg with punter Sam Foltz, but it’s intriguing to think where he might go as a junior with two seasons behind him and special teams coach Bruce Read now working with him regularly. It didn’t seem to matter much Saturday whether Foltz was going into the wind or with it as he averaged 51 yards on eight punts (kicking for both teams).

3. When opposing defenses start formulating their game plans each week, there’s a good chance they’ll begin with the fly-sweep handoff to De’Mornay Pierson-El. And then the fake and play action off that. The sophomore gained 39 yards on two carries Saturday. NU presumably has a myriad of counterattacks based off that look, too.

4. Nebraska’s running backs have plenty to prove, but the talent certainly is there. They showed glimpses Saturday. There was the bullish power of Imani Cross and Adam Taylor. And there was the out-in-space agility of Terrell Newby and Mikale Wilbon. Now, will one of these guys emerge and take the No. 1 job?

5. The Huskers’ top cornerback, Daniel Davie, didn’t play Saturday. Neither did their No. 1 safety, Nate Gerry. And the defensive backs still had plenty of opportunities to get their hands on the football. That’s an indication of Nebraska’s depth in the secondary. There are a bunch of playmakers who’ll spend the offseason battling for snaps.

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1. Whom does the Nebraska offense find as a consistent or reliable vertical threat in its passing game, maybe the biggest thing that it lost with Kenny Bell? Tommy Armstrong tried finding Brandon Reilly once Saturday but just overthrew him. Reilly could be that guy, but Bell had 4.37 speed and a knack for going and getting the football.

2. Nebraska will have depth on its offensive line, and fresh evaluations have come this spring with first-year assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh. But do the Huskers have a “best five” who can find a way to separate and do the majority of the heavy lifting? As of now, left tackle Alex Lewis might be the only one who fits that description.

3. NU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf talked plenty this spring about passing accuracy and how it went hand in hand with quarterbacks going through their progressions and using their check-down options. In the Red-White scrimmage, the six who played completed a combined 34 of 68 passes (50 percent), coming off a season when Husker quarterbacks hit just 52.9 percent.

4. Randy Gregory’s gone. So how do the Huskers generate that consistent threat of an edge rusher within their defense? It doesn’t appear to be a strength just yet for NU’s top defensive ends, Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish. Redshirt freshman Freedom Akinmoladun has tremendous upside, but he was a tight end just a few months ago.

5. The depth at linebacker. It was a question mark going into spring and remains one 15 practices later. It could be a storyline in October, too. Josh Banderas is settling in at middle linebacker. Michael Rose-Ivey is back to his old form, and David Santos presumably will be by the fall. But that’s not enough.

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