I don’t do sprints. But I have five quick thoughts as Nebraska opens football camp:
1. It will be very hard for anyone not named Tommy Armstrong to open Aug. 30 under center. There just aren’t enough opportunities for the other quarterbacks to make a move. The majority of the repetitions with the first-team offense need to go with the guy who’s going to be “the guy.” Armstrong would have to struggle, become a turnover machine in practices, to not win it. I anticipate him doing the opposite. If Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe push Armstrong, that’s a good thing. There are plenty of home games this season when they should get some work. NU hasn’t had great depth at QB in a long time. It will make the team better.
2. Leadership isn’t something you talk about, it’s something you do. Ideally, you shouldn’t even have to name captains. The players just know who they are. That said, I like this group’s potential for leadership. Ask me again after Fresno State.
3. If you don’t have a strong secondary, you want a strong pass rush and vice versa. But if this year’s secondary comes together as fast as some around the team say it will, Nebraska might have both. That’s a very good thing.
4. Most of fall camp practices will be open to the media (and, I assume, selected boosters), but then it will close once the season starts. We appreciate the gesture and opportunity. College football has always been a paranoid place, but in today’s world it seems most coaches are going the opposite way of Bo Pelini. Allowing us to make observations in fall camp helps us give you what you want.
This time of year, I’m always reminded of a line from former Nebraska Sports Information Director “Fox” Bryant. When a writer told him that he was going to watch practice, Fox cracked, “Did they invent a new way to do it?”
5. Holding camp in western Nebraska for one or two weeks would be totally cool. Probably expensive, too. How about a scrimmage in North Platte or Kearney?
>> I have a lot to learn about the Big Ten. In talking to columnists Tom Oates and Mike Hlas last week, both sang the praises of the Big Ten West because it brings Wisconsin and Iowa back together. Apparently, that is a big and important rivalry for both. Minnesota, too. Will Minnesota ever be a rival of Nebraska?
>> Everyone loves Michigan State this year, and rightfully so. The Spartans made a giant credibility leap at the end of last season. And they have Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State at home. That said, I don’t see Spartan Stadium (75,000) as an intimidating place to play. Two years ago I stood on the sidelines as NU started its comeback. The stadium wasn’t full and not very loud. Maybe last year’s finish will change that.
>> Derrin Hansen continues to play the big boys and I love it. This year UNO plays at Marquette, Nebraska and Kansas State. Somehow, Nevada still agreed to come to Omaha after losing to the Mavs at home last year. What a year for Hansen. What’s the bigger deal: Hansen’s hole-in-one at Shadow Ridge or getting Tim Miles to play UNO in the regular season? OK. Miles playing Hansen in hoops is, but I bet the days of Miles playing Hansen in golf are over.
>> Everyone wanted to write the headline, “Tiger’s Back.” Careful what you wish for.
>> A record Wednesday night crowd of 8,785 showed up at Werner Park last week. And maybe some of them were there to watch the Storm Chasers. Omaha President and General Manager Martie Cordaro promised to shave his head if the club could draw a crowd of at least 8,000 for a Wednesday night. Cordaro delivered immediately, having his hair chopped off on the field after the game. Could this be an annual promotion? Better ask Martie’s wife, first.
>> One more and I’m outta here: Last Saturday I was proud to attend one of the greatest sporting events in my 23 years in this burg: the Dundee Classic.
The Dundee Classic is a backyard wiffle ball tournament hosted by Henry Kelly, family and friends. Located right across the street from the Memorial Park ball diamond, the Kellys turned their yard into the wiffle ball version of Wrigley or Fenway. Complete with old-time scoreboard (though I didn’t see any ivy on the chain-link fences).
A record 16 four-man teams played in this year’s Classic, which started at 11 a.m. and ended about 6 p.m. The games are five innings long. There are all sorts of intricate rules. Example: The batter’s out if a ball that hits the house is caught by the fielder.
They brought out a microphone and speaker, and three Omaha Creighton Prep students sang the national anthem. Then, it was my turn to throw out the first pitch. I did my best Clayton Kershaw wind-up. Then threw it high and outside. I was given a wiffle ball with my name on it. I will treasure it forever.
The winning team was “Old Town, Young Money” — Pat Krebs (Prep), Zach Lubeck (Prep), Mark Waring (Prep) and Joe Elliot (Omaha Skutt) — and it took a walk-off single in the sixth in the championship game.
Great stuff. Next year, I want to bring a team.
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Video: Huskers open fall camp
Video: Pelini speaks to the media
Video: Mike Moudy speaks to the media
Video: Nate Gerry speaks to the media