Luke McCaffrey

Luke McCaffrey came on for one play against Northwestern when Noah Vedral, playing for the injured Adrian Martinez, had his helmet come off and had to sit out.

LINCOLN — Noah Vedral's helmet had barely stopped rolling across the Memorial Stadium turf Saturday when his replacement was already sprinting onto the field.

True freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey lined up, took a high snap and ran a draw to the left for 3 yards in the fourth quarter for his lone play of Saturday's win over Northwestern. It marked his college debut and means he can appear in no more than three additional games if Nebraska wants to preserve his redshirt season.

Coach Scott Frost made it clear Monday he intends to do just that. He expressed some regret Monday that McCaffrey went in, adding that QB coach Mario Verduzco had just asked him on the headset who would go in behind Vedral if needed. Frost instinctively responded by naming the dynamic athlete from Colorado.

"Luke's a special athlete, he's going to be a special player," Frost said. "We definitely want to save his year, so we have to be smart in which other games we play him in."

Other offensive players joked that McCaffrey was out there almost too fast.

"He's on top of things," Vedral said. "He was out there pretty quick."

Right tackle Matt Farniok compared McCaffrey to the Energizer Bunny.

"I've never seen someone that can just keep sprinting and not get tired," Farniok said. "As soon as the helmet came off, he was in the huddle already. He was on the field. We were still getting Noah off the ground and I look around and I'm like, 'Luke's here.' He embodies the 'Hey we're ready, next man up.' He's a young guy but he knows what he's doing."