Notebook: 2014 spring game

In front of a little over 61,000 fans, the Nebraska Cornhuskers held their 15th spring practice of 2014 - an offense versus defense scrimmage.

LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska wrapped up spring practices on Saturday with a little over 61,000 fans in Memorial Stadium getting a glimpse of next year's Huskers.

The offense beat the defense 55-46 in a modified scoring system, but no one will remember in a month who won this game.

The goals for the glorified scrimmage: 1.) Put on a good show, 2.) No injuries, 3.) Not put too much on tape, and 4.) Have a little fun.

Mission accomplished.

Oh yeah…one of the most famous cats in college football made an appearance.

Bo Pelini's tunnel walk entrance (Josh Harvey)

"I thought we tried to have a little bit of fun today. I liked our spring. I thought we got a lot accomplished I think we as coaches identified a lot as far as where we are and where we have to go. I just told the team that from here the work has just begun. We have to continue our development and work. We have to make progress until August to be the type of football team we want to be. We should have a more solid foundation come August when we put our helmets on. Overall, I thought it was a very productive spring for us and that we got a lot accomplished."

During the Huskers' famous tunnel walk, Pelini walked out with a cat in his hands – a running joke with @FauxPelini, Pelini's fake Twitter handle.

"It seems people know a lot more about it than I do. They tried to get me to put a sweater on it, but that wasn't happening," said Pelini. "I just hope my dogs talk to me when I get home, because they might be a little jealous."

Cross continues solid spring with final performance:

On a day where potential Heisman candidate Ameer Abdullah was mostly limited for precautionary reasons, junior running back Imani Cross made the most of his opportunity.

Cross, who has found himself in a battle for the back-up running back spot all spring, carried the ball six times for 100 yards and two touchdowns – his longest coming in the second quarter from 39-yards out.

"It was a big opportunity, and I was thankful for the opportunity," said Cross, who is usually seen exiting practices last and is reportedly a film junkie. "I just try to take it one day at a time, one play at a time. I just try to make sure I focus on the little things and not so much looking at the big picture. I just make the picture smaller and try to get better every day."

Cross, who laid out his workouts with Big Red Report earlier in the spring, said the last few months have been all about explosion.

Fans were able to see the work come to fruition, as he looked faster hitting the holes, while still possessing the bruiser running-style.

"I'm working hard and I'm doing my squats. I'm really pushing hard when I'm doing sleds and trying to push so when I get into open field it's not as long of a transition to get to full speed," said Cross. "I think that one thing I've been working on is my cuts and making my feet faster. I think my footwork is something I'm trying to stretch this spring."

Nebraska didn't show much on offense on Saturday, choosing to be very vanilla in their play-calling as the nation and possibly other Big Ten coaches watch a replay of the game on BTN Saturday night.

Cross was asked what he liked about this spring's offense after 15 practices.

"I think it's very similar to last year," said Cross. "I like everything about it. I think that our lineman did a good job today, especially in getting movement. I think that there are a variety of things that you have to look out for. It's not just one thing, it's a variety. We can do a lot of things well so now going into May we'll just try to get better on those things.

Armstrong average day is shadowed by Fyfe's surprising performance

Presumed starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong's Saturday likely wasn't the one he was hoping for. Armstrong completed just 4-of-8 passes for 97 yards. He was sacked twice and threw an interception on just the third interception of the game.

"This spring I've mostly worked on mental things. I've worked on being mentally strong, going out there and playing my game and just have fun. I went out there and threw a pick the first drive, but I feel like last year I would have just shut down," said Armstrong. "This year, we responded the right way. We threw a pick then came out and scored the next three drives. I feel like that's important. We understand that mistakes happen, but I feel like this year we're going to respond the right way."

While Armstrong's day had it's ups and downs (although he finished strong), sophomore walk-on Ryker Fyfe likely left with some confidence. The Grand Island product completed on 9-of-12 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown – also adding 44 rushing yards on five carries.

"We got a lot accomplished with our quarterbacks," said Pelini. "I thought they all made big strides in these last few weeks. I've been tracking their efficiency and training. So what I've been seeing from them is they are learning how to be more efficient. As long as we continue down that road, and with our wide range of quarterbacks, we should be in a good place."

Tommy Armstrong is sacked by Zaire Anderson (Stewart Photography)

The defense forces turnovers, collects six sacks, and looks improved:

The biggest theme of Nebraska's spring practices over the past two months has been the improved play of the defense – a defense still very young, but who grew up last season.

The Blackshirts forced three interceptions on Saturday and got to the quarterback six times, despite All-Big Ten defensive end Randy Gregory's limited play.

"I thought our defense looked pretty good," said Pelini. "Today, we had a bunch of guys lining up. So we have a field of depth. Our top line guys are pretty good. We need a couple of guys that need to separate themselves from the competition and continue to work themselves. I feel really good about our inside guys. I also think our secondary has come a long way. I think they'll be able to step in and provide us with some help. They're continuing to learn and grow. So defensively, we have a chance."

OTHERS NOTES:


* Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Stanton's day should be mentioned. The signal-caller went 8-of-12 for two touchdowns and 135 yards.

* Wide receiver Brandon Reilly continued his hot spring, catching four balls for 92 yards - including a 51-yard reception.

* The Nebraska linebacker group of Michael Rose, Trevor Roach, Courtney Love, Josh Banderas, and Zaire Anderson combined for 28 tackles combined.