Earlier today the University of Nebraska issued a statement, Husker football head coach Bo Pelini announcing that senior guard Andy Christensen is indefinitely suspended from the team following an alleged altercation this last evening. “We are aware of the arrest of Andy Christensen as a result of an incident in downtown Lincoln last night. The charges against Andy are serious in nature and these types of actions will not be tolerated. Andy has been indefinitely suspended from our football program. I will address Andy's future status when more complete details regarding the situation are available,” Pelini said
The loss of Christensen, perhaps for the entire year, but it would seem almost certainly the Spring, creates a void on the line for the Huskers.
While Christensen has nine starts at the guard position, he was considered the odds-on favorite to take over the center position this year, filling in for graduate Brett Byford. Junior Jacob Hickman, another nine-game starter, spent his time at right guard this last season, but is also one who was thought to be a logical choice to take over for Byford.
Until Christensen returns, if he does indeed return, this puts Hickman almost certainly at the center position, opening the door for senior Mike Huff, who rotated with senior Matt Slauson some at right guard and sophomore Keith Williams, who spent time at both guard positions this last season, but most was spent at right guard, behind Hickman. Huff is an 18-game starter, which should make him a logical choice at this point, unless Williams can make up ground over the spring.
At the other guard spot will be Slauson and sophomore D. J. Jones. Slauson is 21-game starter and has started nearly every position on the line outside of center. Jones never started for the Huskers this last season, but got a decent amount of reps with the loss of Christensen, who was lost for the season after a week-three season-ending injury.
Over the course of this Spring is where you should expect the most mixing and matching for offensive line coach Barney Cotton and company. Similar to how former O-line coach Dennis Wagner did things, you could see any number of combinations being experimented with across the face of the line. And with the loss of left tackle Carl Nicks to the draft, you could see a lot of movement on the outside as well.
The loss of Christensen is significant, but Nebraska has had to adjust to his absence before, the first time coming in 2005, when he suffered a shoulder surgery which put him out for the entire season.
Other names to throw out there for potentially playing inside would be sophomore Cruz Barrett, who could compete at guard and potentially at center, if he’s in good enough condition for the spring, and perhaps even sophomore tackle Mike Smith, who spent most of his playing time on the outside this last season, but could easily move inside, if needed.