Husker QB Adrian Martinez leads Red team to spring-game win in front of sold-out Memorial Stadium

Husker QB Adrian Martinez leads Red team to spring-game win in front of sold-out Memorial Stadium
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez scores a touchdown during the spring game. RYAN SODERLIN/WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — The Red team, filled with mostly first and second team players, beat the White team 24-13 in Nebraska spring game scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.

In front of 85,000 fans, it was mostly a defensive showcase. Erik Chinander’s side of the ball forced two fumbles, racked up seven sacks, 13 tackles for loss and three interceptions.

Sophomore Adrian Martinez played the first-half only, completing 5 of 9 for 110 yards. Martinez led the Red team on an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game. The Heisman hopeful completed 2 of 3 passes on the opening drive, and scored on a 6-yard run. Martinez later found Jaron Woodyard in the back of the end zone on an 18-yard touchdown pass.

After the first half, Martinez sat the rest of the game.

Following a spring of hype, walk-on Brody Belt led the Red team with 13 carries for 53 yards. Omaha product Jaylin Bradley averaged 4.8 yards per carry, with 57 rushing yards for the White team. Running backs coach Ryan Held said often in recent weeks it was a “make or break” spring for Bradley. Maurice Washington was not at the spring game, instead in California dealing with legal issues.

Presumed backup Noah Vedral had a strong showing, throwing for 144 yards and one interception. Vedral led the Red team on two scoring drives in the final five minutes of the first half, both of which ended in field goals from Barret Pickering.

The sophomore kicker connected from 27, 33 and 45 yards in the first. He’s yet to miss in a Nebraska uniform since Oct. 13 against Northwestern.

The Red team led 24-6 at halftime.

Early enrollee Luke McCaffrey struggled through the air, completing just 1 of 8 passes with one interception. But the freshman ran for 10 yards on six carries. Walk-on quarterback Andrew Bunch had a helping of reps, completing 9 of 21 passes for 80 yards and one interception.

Walk-on Matt Masker threw the only other touchdown of the day when he found walk-on Wyatt Liewer for a 55-yard touchdown pass down the sideline.

Quayshon Alexander led both teams with seven tackles. Freshman Casey Rodgers recorded 1.5 sacks and four tackles. Outside linebacker Alex Davis recorded two sacks, two tackles, and had an interception that was waved off.

In fitting fashion, the game ended on a sack.

Consensus four-star offensive tackle Turner Corcoran commits to the Huskers

Turner Corcoran did his research on Nebraska and then some. On Saturday, he announced his conclusion — he’s all N.

The Huskers landed a major commitment from the consensus four-star offensive tackle who informed coaches of his decision after traveling to Lincoln for the spring game with his parents and sister.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound standout from Lawrence (Kan.) Free State High chose the Huskers over Oklahoma, Ohio State, Kansas and Kansas State, among others.

“They’ve treated me with respect,” Corcoran told The World-Herald in January. “They obviously want me there and want me to be a Husker. They’re down-to-earth people and that’s great. I really like down-to-earth people. We’ve built a solid relationship and that’s all you can do is keep building that relationship.”

Corcoran is rated the No. 3 tackle nationally by 247Sports and the No. 32 overall recruit. Rivals (No. 8 OT, No. 50 overall) and ESPN (No. 19, No. 180) also consider him an elite-level prospect.

Corcoran’s friendship with coaches and staff continued to strengthen as he made multiple trips to games last fall and in the offseason. In an interview with The World-Herald this week, he named assistants as well as recruiting personnel and graduate managers as those he was looking forward to catching up with.

His latest trip to Lincoln was supposed to be a secret, he said, before a recruiting service leaked the news last week. Regardless, he said recently, it’s hard for him to believe he’s been around the program so much.

“I want to say this is (visit) No. 8,” Corcoran said. “Someone on Twitter was saying I’ve been there 10 times. I was like, ‘What the hell? There’s no way I’ve been there 10 times.’ But if it’s 10, then it’s 10.”

Nebraska offered him in May 2018. Corcoran also made the three-hour drive for a Friday Night Lights camp that summer. His basketball coach, Sam Stroh, is a Nebraska graduate and fan as well.

Corcoran becomes NU’s third commit for the 2020 class. Quarterback Logan Smothers out of Alabama committed last summer and Bellevue West receiver Zavier Betts pledged April 3.

The latest commitment is another recruiting feather in the cap of offensive line coach Greg Austin. The Huskers beat Wisconsin for Bryce Benhart and beat Clemson for Jimmy Fritzsche in the 2019 cycle.

Husker notes: Tony Tuioti’s defensive line has ‘a whole different style of play’

LINCOLN — Show off the brand. Hold the opponent to under 100 yards rushing.

The Nebraska first-string defensive line accomplished the former goal and just missed the latter (135) during Saturday’s spring game. But overall, several linemen wore smiles afterward knowing they put a public stamp on what was in many ways their spring.

“We just came out to show everybody what we’ve been doing and working on this whole spring,” senior Khalil Davis said. “Hopefully they loved it.”

Jaylin Bradley’s 18-yard run was the longest on the ground all day. D-linemen on both sides combined for eight tackles for loss (four sacks) and kept pressure on each of the five quarterbacks.

The unit, which was routinely gashed against the run last fall, welcomed new assistant Tony Tuioti just before the start of spring ball as well as graduate transfer Darrion Daniels. Redshirt freshman Casey Rogers had five tackles while playing both ways Saturday in what he called a “life-changing” experience in front of a sellout Memorial Stadium crowd. He sat out last season recovering from a torn labrum.

“I think the D-line as a whole position group really wanted to show not just the fans of Nebraska but the whole team we’re (in) a new mode,” Rogers said. “We have a whole different style of play and we’re all gonna come out really hard. I think we got a sneak peak of that today.”

Red starters were ends Ben Stille and Carlos Davis along with Darrion Daniels at nose. But the unit also showed depth as others like Khalil Davis, Damian Jackson, Vaha Vainuku and Brant Banks registered at least one tackle. Damion Daniels was a factor in the middle as well.

“We’re really good, like really good,” Darrion Daniels said. “The teams I’ve played on that were really good had a lot of leaders in older guys, but on this defense there’s leadership all around. We’ve got a lot of young guys holding a lot of older guys accountable and the same vice versa. I feel like there’s a really good balance of everybody keeping everybody right.”

Mazour now the leader

Running back Wyatt Mazour was the professor in his room this spring. Surrounded by young players like Jaylin Bradley, Moses Bryant and Brody Belt, Mazour was in a position to teach guys about how to approach the job the right way and figure out NU’s spread offense.

Talk about a change from 2018, when the running back room was packed with Devine Ozigbo, Mikale Wilbon, Greg Bell and Tre Bryant. Two seniors and two juniors.

“It was a lot different because all those guys had a ton of experience,” Mazour said. “That’s why I feel I needed to step up as a leader.”

Especially in the absence of Maurice Washington, who has been a limited participant in practice because of legal issues that he continues to work through in California.

“We all kept in touch and we were trying not to make too big of a deal of anything,” Mazour said. “When he’s there, he’s there. When he’s not, everybody just moves up, steps up. It’s tough to say. We just tried to keep our focus on getting better each day.”

Jurgens front and center

Cameron Jurgens held court with a crowd of reporters for more than 10 minutes after his first playing time at center in front of a crowd.

The redshirt freshman and converted tight end from Beatrice is feeling more at home at his new position all the time. He started for the Red team Saturday at a listed 6-3, 270 pounds, but he’s continued to get bigger.

“It’s something I enjoy doing,” Jurgens said. “I really like getting in there and blocking. I wasn’t like sad about it or anything like that. I really took it up and listened to what the coach was telling me so I just went with it.”

It was a “big learning curve” this spring, Jurgens said. Mentally, he had to shift from catching passes and blocking on the edges to snapping the ball and reading a different part of the defense. He said he added about 40 pounds from his tight end days and is up to 280 heading into summer conditioning.

“I kind of went with it, just trusted (Frost),” Jurgens said of the move. “And now I’m here.”

Taylor of all trades

There were noticeable absences during the spring game. Early enrollee Wan’Dale Robinson was not suited up, still dealing with a hamstring. JD Spielman didn’t play, dealing with lingering injuries.

So Cam Taylor, who already plays about five positions, fielded punts Saturday, too.

“I’m trying to do a little bit of everything,” Taylor said. “I’m comin’ for it all.”

Taylor said he told the coaches if they needed someone to fill in to just catch the punts, he’d be more than happy to for the spring game. And in the future, should Spielman or Robinson or any other receiver not be able to return kicks, Taylor said he wants to do it again.

“It’s nothing to catch the ball and take it to the crib, it’s nothing, it’s easy,” Taylor said. “That’s something they wanted me to do so that’s something I worked on this spring.”

Linebacker Alexander feeling good

Quayshon Alexander is finally, finally healthy.

The junior outside linebacker led the White team with seven tackles Saturday. And it took two surgeries and a lot of work to get there.

He redshirted in 2016. Then had to have labrum surgery in 2017 as a redshirt freshman. Last year, he played three snaps in the spring game, and his labrum dislocated again.

“We knew it was going to keep dislocating and keep messing up throughout the season, so I just decided to make the big boy decision to go through surgery again,” Alexander said.

He had no problems this spring, other than some stiffness and soreness after practices, Alexander said. But he’s as close to 100 percent as he’s been since 2016. Alexander is now competing for time at outside linebacker and enjoying that battle.

“When this staff got here, everything changed for me,” he said. “We’ve been fighting really hard — all of us just as a collective — it looks great and it looks like it’s coming together. And this year, seriously, our defense is top notch.”