Husker Red Squad Ends Spring with 17-7 Victory
Redshirt freshman Marques Simmons led the White team in rushing with 88 yards and scored the lone touchdown for the White team on a 10-yard run with 9:02 remaining in the third quarter. Senior split end Wilson Thomas ended the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown for the Red team on a reception from true freshman Curt Dukes. Dukes came to Nebraska in January, after graduating early from Newton-Conover High School in Stony Point, N.C.
Jammal Lord, the heir apparent for departed Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, rushed for 28 yards on three carries, but did not complete either of his two pass attempts. Lord, a junior from Bayonne, N.J., saw action with the Red Team only and played in the first two series.
The defense was led by junior college transfer Demorrio Williams, who also transferred to Nebraska at mid-semester from Kilgore Junior College in Texas. Williams had a game-high 13 tackles, including 10 solo stops. He also had two tackles for loss. Senior rush end Justin Smith had a 10-yard sack of Dukes, who had 20 yards rushing and completed 5-of-7 passes for 51 yards, seeing action with both the Red and White Team. Mike Stuntz was sacked twice, one for a two-yard loss by redshirt freshman defensive tackle Seppo Evwaraye and for nine yards lost by sophomore linebacker Chad Sievers. Stuntz also saw action with both the Red and White Teams, rushing for four net yards and completing 3-of-7 passes for 35 yards.
A crowd of 31,420 saw today's annual postspring contest, in which the Red Team has come out on top 29 times in 43 games. At halftime, approximately 5,000 youth took the drug free pledge, led by senior Husker rush ends Chris Kelsay and Demoine Adams, who sat out today's game with injury. Governor Mike Johanns led the adults in the their drug-free pledge.
One major injury occurred in today?s contest, when newly-converted cornerback Fred Thorne broke his right tibia. Thorne, who was a wingback up until last week, is a junior from Lincoln Southeast High School.
The coaching staff will take time to go over today's scrimmage and discuss the progress of each player through spring camp, before issuing an updated postspring depth chart.
HEAD COACH FRANK SOLICH QUOTES
"It went fairly well. We saw some young guys step up and make some plays, which we were interested in, and that was on both sides of the ball. DeMorrio continues to look as he did when he first arrived. He's a guy that makes plays and was involved in a lot of tackles. I'll mention a few names, but understand that a lot of names of guys that played well will be left out of course. Some of these guys, up above in the coach's box, there were some things that I noticed. Certainly Jammal (Lord) with the limited opportunities that he had, has done well in not just this game, but all spring. I thought Curt Dukes showed well. He was able to come up and make some plays when called upon. Dahrran Diedrick had one big run, long run, where as Marques Simmons and Cory Ross, I thought made an awful lot out of some of their plays. That was pleasing to see in the young backs. Beyond that, you are talking about playing well into the hundreds, in terms of the number of players that we played. Everybody got in the game. You are talking about a lot of combinations on the field that you would not normally have if you were playing a ball game. You fill that into how the offense, defense and special teams look."
On Marques Simmons and Cory Ross
"Marques is very much a speed back that is able to give you some acceleration off the snap and excellent change of direction turning back. He can be going one direction and all of a sudden, see it jammed up, then when he comes off of that cut to the open area, he can do it with excellent acceleration. That kind of back, without question, gives you a lot of big play ability. He has shown that throughout his career here. He showed that last year on the scout team some and of course showed that this year throughout the course of the spring. Cory has got great quickness, great balance. You saw the one run, that he was going north and contact was made just beyond the line of scrimmage and showed great balance to run off of that and showed good speed. He is probably not quite where he was speed wise, he had shoulder surgery as you know and missed some time, but is getting back in shape and showing his old form. There are so many ways that both of those guys can help this next year. We really like both of those young backs, no question about it."
On Demorrio Williams
"He is a tough guy to block, for one. Then he has got a very good instinctiveness about him in terms of making plays, finding the ball carrier. He is very good at pursuing from the back side and finding the crease in there to find the great angle to make the play. You don't seem to outrun him. He takes such great angles on you, that he is able to slip blocks so easily and effectively, that he is a guy that can give you the kind of tackles you look for in terms of numbers, play after play. He had a great spring, there is no question about it. He is all that he was hyped up to be coming out of junior college and there is a reason that he made so many tackles and did so many great things from a defensive standpoint at Kilgore."
On the offense
"We used about three or so quarterbacks with the first offensive unit. With Jammal, Mike and also Curt taking some snaps there. When you go through spring ball, you are utilizing a lot of people at the positions. Even alternating some first-team guys that just gives guys a chance to look their best and to see who really fits as far as being deserving of being on the No. 1 team. You go through spring ball trying to make sure that you're making the right decisions. When fall comes, you don't have a lot of time to be wasting. You want the people placed right and be moving forward. I was pleased with the fact that early on with the initial drive that went pretty good, but stalled out. We saw that we did get opportunities from dropping back. We didn't actually throw that many passes, but we initiated quite a few passes. Our quarterbacks are finding creases and running with the ball a great deal from the passing game. When you have mobile quarterbacks, that is one way of effectively using them. We have a long ways to go to be a great offensive football team, but they have improved throughout spring, and I like way that they are ending up with their practices. After looking at the game film, I think they'll be pleased with the fact that we had guys up front that could move pretty good and come off the ball, but we just have to get that coordinated."
On Curt Dukes and Mike Stuntz
"They have got to be close to ready, because it is just around the corner. The summer will go by very, very quickly. They have come a long ways, but there is a long ways to go. There is no question that they will understand the offense better as times goes on. They are going to have to learn very quickly and learn some things on the run. We are going to have to force them into some situations. Whoever is the second-best quarterback is the quarterback that will play. We will probably need to get him some snaps in the early part of the year, just to make sure that if Jammal continues to play well and gets banged up and can't go in and play a few series, that we have someone that can go in and get it done for us. I think that those guys have the ability to do it, but they are still a ways away."
NU PLAYER QUOTES
I-Back Dahrran Diedrick
Whether there was any pressure or not today
"I didn't feel that I had to go out and do great or else. But when I put my pads on I don't want to ever not do good, even in practice. So whenever I go out I try to get the job done as best I can."
Coming into the game did you think you had to reassert yourself as the No. 1 guy?
"Obviously I'm glad I had a big play in the game, because the other guys are doing real good, breaking long runs, making people miss, and catching balls. You have to think every single running back on our team is going to be good because they were recruited by Nebraska. They came here because they were good. You know everybody's good, you just have to be a little better than somebody else. You don't have to be a lot better, just a little better whether it's mentally, a little faster or stronger, something to give you an edge."
I-Back Marques Simmons
On scoring a touchdown for the White team?
"It was wide open. I just tried to barrel my way into the endzone."
How different are all the running backs?
"We are all different. Cory is quick, he is a more shifty guy. Josh and I both have speed, Dahrran has the big body and can run over people. So, distinguishing ourselves, I think we're all different talents."
Linebacker Barrett Ruud
On defense?s performance overall today
"I don't think we played very good today. We played really good throughout spring and this is the only day I can remember not playing well. It really wasn't one person, it was just a couple break downs here and there and I think we will get that figured out by next fall. I think we will be a pretty good defense next fall."
On the play of junior transfer Demorrio Williams
"He's a real instinctive player. He makes a lot of plays. He's really going to be solid once he gets the defense figured out. Sometimes you need to tell him where to lineup but when he gets going he makes a lot of plays."
Defensive Tackle Seppo Evwaraye
On Nebraska's defense
"It feels great, feels really good right now, but I have a lot of work to do this summer conditioning-wise. Still technique-wise, I don't think I'm near where I want to be, so there is still some way to go. But I'm happy that I have made some steps."
On his passion for the game
"Once you get that first tackle for loss, or first tackle, you get hungrier and just want it a little more. You just want to show the crowd, be that dominating element in the game. You want to be the Lawrence Taylor-type player and just take over the game. You want to be the defense, the guy they key on to stop the defense. In the same breathe, I'm always happy when someone else makes the play, because I'm just feeling the defense."
Linebacker Demorrio Williams
On his progression at Nebraska
"I feel like I'm doing alright, but I'm not satisfied with what I've done. I feel like I can do a little better and I'll probably never be satisfied with my play."
What do you bring to the Husker defense?
"When they recruited me, they wanted a player who could come in and make plays, and that's what I wanted to do. I feel like I haven't brought a lot of strength and size to the team, but I have brought size in a big heart. And that's going to be alright."
Do you expect to earn a starting job in the fall?
"Type of guy who isn't going to settle for nothing, for nothing less. I'm going to come in and work and let these coaches know they recruited a guy who wants to step on the field and help this team."