LINCOLN — An offensive line position battle that was expected to last throughout the preseason is now without a contender who may not return to the Nebraska program.
Sophomore left tackle Tyler Moore is off the team at least temporarily, and the choice appears to be his own as he ponders his future.
Bo Pelini said after Saturday's practice that Moore didn't attend team meetings Friday and was “working through some things personally” on Saturday. Moore is welcome to rejoin the Huskers, Pelini said, but the fifth-year head coach is not certain what's next.
“We'll see where that goes,” Pelini said. “I'm not exactly sure if that's going to be permanent, or not permanent.”
Pelini said he has spoken with Moore. And he's also talked with Moore's father, Brian, who told Pelini that there are false rumors circulating on the Internet regarding his son. Pelini did not elaborate Saturday.
The Moore family is not commenting.
“I'm not getting into what his situation is, but he's got some things he's got to figure out personally,” Pelini said.
Moore played in nine games and started four as a true freshman last year. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle from Clearwater, Fla., was presumably the top candidate to start at left tackle.
If he didn't get the starting job, Moore was expected to be part of the regular O-line rotation, which assistant coach John Garrison said last week could include seven or eight members.
Junior Brent Qvale has had a “helluva” camp so far at left tackle, Pelini said. Qvale has reportedly taken some first-team reps in practice.
Junior Jeremiah Sirles is capable of playing both right and left tackle, but he had been working mostly alongside junior Andrew Rodriguez on the right side.
What lineup shuffles are in store as Moore considers his options?
That's unclear, but Pelini spoke confidently about the offensive tackles, several of whom offer versatility. Garrison indicated that the staff was willing to experiment up front.
Pelini said tackle Givens Price is still a “ways off,” but the redshirt freshman from Houston has performed better of late. Redshirt freshman Zach Sterup of Hastings, Neb., has made enough improvement physically for Pelini to characterize his progress as “night and day.”
“We have good options at tackle,” Pelini said.
Moore's four starts last year were the most in school history by a true freshman offensive lineman. But most of his playing time came during the first half of 2011. He wasn't on the field much in October.
And that was frustrating, Moore admitted in an interview after practice Wednesday, two days before he missed a team meeting.
“The first couple weeks, I probably didn't handle it the greatest. Kind of went a little down after that,” Moore said last week. “But once we started getting more into Michigan State, I started working really hard. I also started to take more reps since we had more injuries and everything, so I got to learn a lot more, practice a lot more and get a lot more reps. So it really helped.”
And the 19-year-old sophomore said he's settled in since.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now,” Moore said Wednesday.
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