NU football showcases new talent, appears relaxed at spring game

By Josh Kelly on April 14th, 2014

It all started with a football coach holding a cat in the air.

The Twitter-sphere blew up after Nebraska coach Bo Pelini led the tunnel walk in the spring game with a cat in his arms. He gave into the profile picture “Fake Bo Pelini” has on Twitter, and the players embraced it, meowing behind the coach before taking the field.

“I just hope my dogs will talk to me when I get home,” Pelini said.

A lot of the Husker players and staff embraced the stunt, and they wanted him to take it to the next level in order to fully duplicate the profile picture.

“They tried to get me to put a sweater on, but that wasn’t happening,” Pelini said. “They had a couple options for me, but that wasn’t happening.”

From then on, the game was set with a relaxed atmosphere for the new offense versus defense format. Red represented the offense and white represented the defense.

The offense won the spring game 55-46 against the defense. It wasn’t just the score that defined the game, though.

During the second quarter of the game, in front of 61,772 Husker fans, senior wide receiver Kenny Bell and Pelini had a throwing contest from the 30 yard line. Both were given three throws set with the task of hitting the field goal cross bar.

While Kenny Bell hit 2 out of 3 throws, Pelini thought that he had a better technique than the wide receiver.

“I threw a lot better throw than Kenny Bell threw,” Pelini said. “Mine at least were a tight spiral and looked good. His were wobbling around. I don’t care if they hit, those were some bad looking throws that he had.

“I’m the best left-handed thrower on this side of Mississippi.”

Not only did fans enjoy the moment, but players, including sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., loved watching the coach have some playful competition with the players in front of the faithful crowd.

“I think it was funny,” Armstrong Jr. said. “Coach Bo always comes up to quarterbacks, and he’s like ‘let me throw a couple routes.’”

Even though there was a fair share of entertainment in the spring game, there was still plenty of live football the fans were able to witness.

The first quarterback to score a touchdown for the red team was sophomore Ryker Fyfe, who is in the running for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart with redshirt freshman Johnny Stanton. Fyfe hit junior wide receiver Taariq Allen for a 4-yard score to tie the game at 7.

Fyfe went 9 for 12 with 89 yards and a touchdown; he also ran for 44 yards in 5 carries, the most yards by a quarterback in the game.

Stanton also made his case, throwing for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns. After watching the quarterbacks compete in the spring, Pelini was satisfied with how much all of them grew.

“We got a lot accomplished with our quarterbacks,” Pelini said. “I thought they all made big strides in these last few weeks. As long as we continue down that road, and with our wide range of quarterbacks, we should be in a good place.”

Truly making the most of the spring game was junior running back Imani Cross, who went for 100 yards on the ground in 6 carries that included 2 touchdowns.

For Cross, it was huge that senior running back Ameer Abdullah saw limited time in the spring game in order to prevent injury.

“It was a big opportunity, and I was thankful for the opportunity,” Cross said. “I just try to take it one day at a time, one play at a time. I just try to make sure I focus on the little things and not so much looking at the big picture. I just make the picture smaller and try to get better every day.”

In the second half, there were 2 touchdowns scored, both in the third quarter. The fans that stuck around were able to see more than that, though.

During the punt, pass and kick competition, former offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles proposed to his girlfriend Emma Stevens, who is a former goalie in the soccer program.

Sirles chose to propose to her instead of punting the ball downfield.

The entire team was relaxed from beginning to end. Pelini said that was mostly because of how impressed he was with what his team’s progress during spring ball.

“I thought we tried to have a little bit of fun today,” Pelini said. “I liked our spring. I thought we got a lot accomplished. I think we as coaches identified a lot as far as where we are and where we have to go.”

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