In the 2018 season, Nebraska’s wideout group was a two-man job. Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman dominated the team’s receptions, with Morgan Jr. hauling in 70 passes and Spielman 66.
Offensive coordinator Troy Walters continued to search for a consistent third wideout throughout the entire season. And he’s still searching.
“This past week we had a couple scrimmages and a couple game day simulations just to see how guys react,” Walters said. “Definitely guys are kind of separating themselves, but I feel good about the depth that we have and I feel good about the guys understanding the offense.”
With Morgan Jr. graduated, Nebraska has a huge hole to fill in its offense, the type of hole that a 1,000-yard receiver leaves. For Walters, he doesn’t want one or two consistent wideouts he can trust alongside Spielman, he wants five or six.
“One of the focuses this season is playing fast and selling out, so I don’t want guys to hold things in and be on cruise control because they’re tired,” he said. “We want guys to go full speed and when you get tired, we’ll sub and get some other guys in.”
As for who has caught Walters’ eye thus far, he named senior Mike Williams, sophomore Javeon McQuitty and redshirt freshman Andre Hunt as three standouts from fall camp. All three joined the team last season, but only Williams managed to get on the field, with 12 catches to his name.
Walters is expecting big things from Williams, a 5-foot-10 wideout who “played small” last year, according to Walters. Run blocking was an area where Williams struggled in 2018, along with making contested catches. But as Walters puts it, “this year’s been a whole new Mike Williams.”
“He’s making the contested catches, he’s blocking his butt off on the perimeter and we’ve just got to keep him fresh… He brings an explosive element to that offense that we need,” Walters said.
Along with Williams, McQuitty has shown renewed desire to get on the field, as Walters noted the sophomore dedicated himself to the weight room over the summer and has grown in his understanding of the offense and his role within it.
Making sure the whole offense is confident in their individual understandings of the system has been a point of emphasis this week for Walters. While the team will continue to pit offense against defense in practice as a way to gain experience, the team will begin game preparation this week ahead of the Aug. 31 season opener against South Alabama.