August 26, 2008

Tuesday notebook: West reclaims starting job

The tide has turned yet again at the Huskers' right cornerback position, as sophomore Anthony West reclaimed his starting job from sophomore Prince Amukamara.

Following the second week of fall camp, Amukamara replaced West as the No. 1 and held it all the way up to last Thursday's scrimmage. There, Amukamara said the combination of his mistakes and West's rejuvenated play led the coaches to making the switch.

Amukamara said the coaching staff never gave him a specific reason for his demotion, but he is intent on earning the starting job back.

"If anything, they did it just for the good of the team," Amukamara said. "In practice I was screwing up on coverages and stuff like that… I'm definitely going to compete, but I can't control that, so I'm going to focus on things I can control.

Amukamara had previously been working as the No. 1 nickel back earlier in fall camp, but sophomore Eric Hagg took over the spot when Amukamara was promoted to starting corner. Now, Hagg has established himself as the starter at nickel, leaving Amukamara as the No. 2 at both positions.

Amukamara could see some time at kick returner as the season progresses, as he's currently listed as the No. 2 return man behind sophomore Niles Paul.

However he manages to do it, Amukamara assured that he would make his way onto the field one way or another for the Huskers' season opener on Saturday.

"I'm definitely going to find a way," he said.

Inside the beat
Escaping the injury bug: Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson knows Nebraska has been fairly lucky on the injury front this offseason as far as major injuries go. While the Huskers have had their share of minor bumps and bruises of fall camp and a few somewhat longer ailments, Watson didn't hesitate to call this the healthiest fall camp he's ever been a part of as a coach. Obviously there are still three more practices NU needs to get through before it can say it made it through unscathed, but should they escape an major injury before the start of the season, the Huskers should consider themselves very lucky.
The value of the two-deep:It's becoming more and more apparent to me that Nebraska's depth chart is merely a formality. With amount of both inexperience and depth at certain positions, it's fairly clear that the Huskers plan on playing a lot of different players at nearly every position. I expect to see regular rotation along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the linebackers, secondary, running backs and receivers. Even some guys who aren't listed on NU's two-deep roster could see the field, as the Huskers are an injury away at several positions from needing all the depth they can get.
Injury report:Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Terrence Moore returned to practice after missing the past few practices with a knee injury. Junior tight end Tyson Hetzer was in attendance for Tuesday's practice, but he remained on the sidelines in street clothes as he continues to rehab the knee injury he suffered on the first day of spring practice.
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team practiced in full pads from 3:45 to 6:00 p.m. on the grass practice fields north of Memorial Stadium on Tuesday. The Huskers will come back for another full-padded practice at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Young linebackers should get plenty of experience

With two true freshmen linebackers making Nebraska's two-deep roster in Will Compton and Sean Fisher, it's clear that the Huskers will be relying heavily on their newcomers at the position.

According to sophomore linebacker Blake Lawrence, who played in eight games as a freshman last season, this year's group of freshmen should get plenty on opportunities to get quality playing time.

Lawrence said even though he was able to play as a freshman in '07, he felt his opportunities were few and far between.

"I think they're (the freshmen linebackers) blessed with a situation where this coaching staff is going to use them in the best way for them," Lawrence said. "Last year, I felt like there were good opportunities where I could get in the game and get some good experience that didn't happen. This year, this coaching staff is really going to be honest with them and let them play when they need to and get them good experience when they're ready.

"We're thin in the linebacking corps. Everyone knows that. We've got to start getting those guys ready. Sean and Will are going to be the guys of future here at linebacker, and if they don't get experience this year then we're going to be another step behind next year."

Quick hits

***Junior defensive end Barry Turner knows senior tackle Lydon Murtha probably better than anyone. So when Turner expressed little concern over Murtha's move from left tackle to right on Tuesday, those worried about the impact of the switch can take some solace.

"I've been going against Murtha my whole career," Turner said. "He's a really good player, physical, smart, knows the game a lot. He's been at left tackle for a really long time, but he hasn't shown any drop off from moving from left to right."

***Lawrence said there was an obvious difference between being coached by assistant coaches and head coach Bo Pelini. Apparently the urgency to perform well increases just a bit when Pelini gets involved.

"When he asks for something, it's like you never want to let him down," Lawrence said. "He invests so much in us as players on the field and off the field, that when he asks for something you want to get it done and you want to do it 100 percent."

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