Big 12 spring game recap: Nebraska

What happened:

  • The White team erased a 14-3 deficit early but fell to the Red team 21-16 on a go-ahead touchdown by Kody Spano to Ryan Hill.

  • Ndamukong Suh gave $2 million to the athletic department and $600,000 to the engineering school to endow a scholarship.

  • 77,936 people attended the game at a sunny Memorial Stadium, the most of any team in the Big 12.

What we learned:

  • The big story, of course, is how the Red team got that lead: Taylor Martinez. Martinez definitely has happy feet in the pocket and has to develop as a passer, but his feet won't be the only things that are happy if he breaks runs during the season like he did on Saturday. He ran nine times for 60 yards, including a nice stiff-arm and is pretty tough to bring down. For a quarterback race with two underwhelming frontrunners in Zac Lee and Cody Green, Martinez injects some excitement into the race. That said, my guess is Lee's experience will land him the job this fall when he returns from surgery on his throwing arm. Green has plenty of potential and provided a highlight of his own with a 72-yard score to Will Henry to help spark the White comeback. Expect both Martinez and Green to get some playing time next season, but I'll take the safe route and count on Lee winning the derby.

  • The Huskers threw from the Wildcat with Rex Burkhead once for a four-yard loss. Like Watson said, the Wildcat will be part of what they do, but it's not going to be a featured package in the offense week-to-week. Rely on a solid group of running backs, and get Niles Paul open in space for a manageable throw as often as possible. Trickery won't take this offense very far.

  • Hard to take much away from the defense in a less-than-dominating performance, but it's spring. Pelini spoke this morning about how he was encouraged by the play of sophomore Alonzo Whaley, who had a game-high nine tackles, but stopped short of explaining where Whaley fit in the rotation at linebacker. "He's in the mix, but just like all of them, he's got a long way to go. He's doing some good things, but he's got a long ways to go yet," Pelini said.

  • It's also good to see Rickey Thenarse coming back from last season's knee injury to have a nice game with seven tackles and an interception for the White team.

They said it:

“He has a skill set that, honestly, you can’t coach. He can put his foot in the dirt and go. He’s an instinctive runner. If something breaks down, he can make something big for an offense and can hurt a defense.”

--Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, on redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez