Offensive line play, rushing attack popped off the screen in Nebraska's spring game
Nebraska may have found what it has been missing for the past three seasons and beyond. Scott Frost might finally have a B1G offensive line.
The first half of Saturday’s spring game stopped on thuds before Frost opened up a live scrimmage in the final two quarters. Typically, a non-tackling scrimmage eliminates a good portion of the run game and makes it incredibly difficult to forecast how productive a team can be on the ground. That wasn’t necessarily the case in Lincoln this weekend.
Offensive line play and the rushing attack popped off the screen on Saturday, even during the thud portion of the game. Nebraska’s starting front created holes wide enough for the backs to consistently pick up 4 yards before even being touched. At times, it felt like Adrian Martinez could’ve sat through the Lord of the Rings trilogy without worry of being sacked.
Nebraska’s combination of Turner Corcoran, Ethan Piper, Cameron Jurgens, Matt Sichterman and Bryce Benhart looked like one that can compete consistently against B1G defensive lines. That’s been a hindrance in Frost’s first three seasons in Lincoln, and while it’s still too early to tell just how good this unit can be, it’s undoubtedly better — and deeper — than it has been.
Let’s be honest, putting tackling dummies on the offensive line might’ve been more useful at times over the last three seasons. The play up front has gradually improved, though, culminating in what we saw Saturday.
Better play in the trenches also paved the way for several running backs to flash some of their potential over the weekend. Walk-on Jaquez Yant was the talk of the town on Saturday, busting out 63 yards on 9 carries, including an impressive 21-yard touchdown jaunt.
Marvin Scott III had some big runs through the day, as well. The highlight play from the freshman ball carrier came on a 39-yard run in which he broke multiple tackles. Scott ended the day as the game’s leading rusher with 75 yards on 11 touches.
The Huskers also got solid play from Gabe Ervin Jr., who took 12 carries for 47 yards. Isaiah Harris had an impressive 30-yard touchdown run on a 4th down play in the third quarter.
Nebraska has a really good situation with its running back room based on what we saw Saturday afternoon. USC transfer Markese Stepp didn’t even suit up for the spring game, but the Huskers still showed that the rushing attack can be a strength for the offense. It’s going to be a deep position group for Frost’s squad in 2021, an asset for any team in the B1G.
As an added benefit, Martinez looked pretty quick while he was on the field in the first half. Like some of the backs, he was able to pick up chunks of yardage before he was touched by a defender. Credit goes to the offensive line, but it’s also an ode to the quarterback’s speed, shiftiness and ability to read the defense.
Martinez still struggled throwing the ball at times and made a few bad decisions in his abbreviated time on the field, things that must continue to be addressed throughout the offseason. But, overall, he still looked like a quarterback capable of leading the Huskers.
It’s hard to know exactly what Nebraska has offensively and it’ll continue to be a mystery until that Aug. 28 game against Illinois to open the 2021 season. But there were a lot of positives from Saturday’s spring game.
Nebraska appears to finally have a B1G offensive line and rushing attack. Those might be the two biggest steps the program needed to take in order to get to bowl eligibility at the end of the season.