With spring ball in the rearview mirror, Nebraska rolls into the summer having answered some questions over the course of its 15 spring practices and with some still remaining.
The Journal Star is looking at each position to recap what's been learned, what hasn't and who stood out this spring.
Today, we continue with a look at the secondary, focusing on the safeties.
Monday: Defensive line
Tuesday: Outside linebacker
Wednesday: Inside linebacker
Saturday: Defensive depth chart projection
What we learned
Nebraska is really happy to have Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams back for their sixth seasons in college. No position benefited more from the extra year of eligibility than NU’s safeties. Even though it pushes somebody like Myles Farmer out of a likely starting job, he said midway through spring that he was really glad to have the seniors back so he could keep learning from them and pushing them. That’s the kind of respect the senior duo has in the back end of the Husker defense.
What we didn’t
The biggest question is one that won’t really be answered until the season rolls around: Just how ready are Farmer and Noa Pola-Gates for prime time? Farmer certainly gave a good first impression with two interceptions in the first half against Northwestern last year, but then was hurt against Purdue and still somewhat limited in the spring. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher trusts the young pair — he calls them 1.5s instead of No. 2s — and they’ll get a chance to show why sooner or later.
Toss-up between the two seniors. They’re going to be heavily counted on, just like they were last year. They didn’t get much real work in the spring game, but the coaching staff made it clear that their presence is felt on a daily basis.
Pola-Gates dealt with some injury issues early in his tenure at Nebraska but now is squarely on the No. 2 line with Farmer, and is a player Fisher seems to have a lot of confidence in. Odds are that at some point in 2021 he’s going to be counted on in a big way. Out of high school, Pola-Gates was considered a four-star prospect and one of the best athletes in NU’s 2019 class.
Summer to-do list
Whether NU wants a transfer at safety may depend on its plans for Javin Wright and Isaac Gifford, who seemed to play mostly the Sam/nickel spot occupied by JoJo Domann. The Huskers can probably get by with four through the fall, and Koby Bretz arrives as another really good athlete this summer, but for as good as the top line or two lines look across the secondary, depth does remain a question at this stage.
— Parker Gabriel
A look at the 2021 Nebraska football schedule
Aug. 28: vs. Illinois
Sept. 11: vs. Buffalo
Sept. 25: at Michigan State
Oct. 2: vs. Northwestern
Oct. 9: vs. Michigan
Oct 16: at Minnesota
Oct. 30: vs. Purdue
Nov. 6: vs. Ohio State
Nov. 20: at Wisconsin
Nov. 26: vs. Iowa
Sept. 18: at Oklahoma
Week 11 /// Southeastern Louisiana
When: Nov. 13
Where: Memorial Stadium
Southeastern Louisiana in 2020: 2-2 (split-schedule concludes in April)
The last time the Huskers and Lions met: No previous matchups
Week 1 ➡️ Fordham
When: Sept. 4
Where: Memorial Stadium
Fordham in 2020: 2-1 (shortened by COVID-19)
Last time the Huskers and Rams met: No previous matchups
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In this Series
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