LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini wants more starters on special teams, which appears to be one of the ways the NU coaching staff has chosen to address the team’s occasionally poor play in the kicking game last year.
Pelini said a lack of depth at certain positions on offense and defense last season limited the pool of potential special teams contributors.
That’s not a problem anymore.
“Guys are going to fight for jobs,” Pelini said. “You’re going to see starters out there on special teams this year. We’re going to have the best 11. Period.”
Pelini said the Huskers conducted live kickoff drills during their scrimmage Saturday. He expects the practice film to be pretty revealing.
“I don’t believe we played up to our capabilities in the special teams areas last year,” Pelini said. “Our guys know, the competition’s on.”
Afalava able to play pass-rushing role
The Huskers apparently have another hybrid-type linebacker who could see time as an edge rusher.
Pelini said redshirt freshman Jared Afalava has shown the capability to pass rush effectively. That was redshirt freshman linebacker Thomas Brown’s specialty on scout team last fall.
“We have some guys that can do some multiple things,” Pelini said.
After struggling a bit to start the spring, Brown’s made a “jump” this week, Pelini said. Afalava has flashed his potential, too, but the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder needs to take a more meticulous approach, Pelini said.
“With him, it’s about the details, about the focus, about doing it consistently,” Pelini said of Afalava.
Cornerbacks’ progress continues to impress
Josh Mitchell’s strong spring is helping the junior stand out among a veteran group of cornerbacks.
Mitchell, hampered a bit recently by an ankle injury, has improved as a player and a leader, Pelini said.
But senior Mo Seisay has made strides lately, too. Senior Ciante Evans, limited in Saturday’s scrimmage, continues to play well, Pelini said.
Pelini also mentioned sophomore Daniel Davie as a cornerback who’s been standing out. Davie has also been taking some reps at nickel.
“Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming for him and he maybe brain-locks a little bit, but I’m seeing him developing as a football player,” Pelini said.
Pelini praises safeties Jackson, Cooper
There was more praise for the continued improvement of Nebraska’s safeties Saturday.
Without being asked about the group, Pelini went out of his way to compliment juniors Harvey Jackson and Corey Cooper.
“I feel real good about where they are,” Pelini said.
He also mentioned sophomore Charles Jackson and freshman D.J. Singleton as guys who are “coming.”
Bits and pieces
>> With senior quarterback Taylor Martinez limited during the scrimmage, Pelini indicated that redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong ended up taking a good majority of QB reps. Armstrong’s improving, but he needs to become more fundamentally sound, Pelini said.
>> Pelini has no preference on where Nebraska ends up in the Big Ten’s new divisional structure in 2014, when the league adds Maryland and Rutgers. “That’s above my head,” he said.
>> Pelini said the NU coaches have not yet discussed any of the procedural details for Saturday’s spring game.
— Jon Nyatawa