Spring practices for Nebraska have been in session for a couple of weeks now and before you know it, April 13th will here and Memorial Stadium will be full to watch the Red-White Scrimmage. Each position group is vital and for the next couple of weeks, we will take a look at each one. First, the offensive line.
In the past decade or so, the offensive line has been the Achilles heel for Nebraska, which is the case for most college football teams. It’s been quite some time since they have had just an overly dominate line that can change the game. Honestly, it might be since the 90’s when Nebraska had their reign of college football, now those were some offensive lines that just about anyone could run behind. Last season we saw the pipeline look stronger and much more conditioned. The sole reasons for that is the coaching of Greg Austin and the work of Strength and Condition Coach Zach Duval. Nebraska does lose some depth on the line with the graduations of Jerald Foster and also Tanner Farmer, but a lot of young guys got some experience and this season you will see the growth of this position.
You look at this bunch and the young man that looks to be the leader and most seasoned offensive lineman is left tackle Brendan Jaimes. Jaimes has a dynamic blend of size and great footwork The junior stands at 6’6 and 300 pounds. Jaimes started every game last season and during his freshman campaign, he played most of the snaps as well at the right tackle position. Jaimes is what a left tackle exemplifies, tremendous pass blocker and protecting the blindside of the quarterback. He does a great job of keeping pass rushers in front of him. When facing a run-stopping defensive lineman he does a great job of bodying up the defender. With a quicker, speed-rushing type of player, he widens the route of that pass rusher and then makes great contact with his hands and attacking the defender. In the run game, Jaimes does a great job of initiating the contact and then driving through. In such an option-heavy offense, deception is key and Jaimes is great at that, He will lull the defender into thinking the play is going one way, then pursuing that blocker after the overpursued in the wrong direction. That is not easy to do. For him, the next step is punishing guys. Sometimes Jaimes lets that head of his slip down, then losing the block. That’s a fairly nitpicky thing because he has all of the tools to be great.
On the other side of the line, at right tackle, the Huskers have junior Matt Farniok. Farniok started all 12 games and had to grow up in a hurry during the season to be an every-down player for NU. There were times where many mistakes were made for him but by the end of the season, Farniok was reliable every play. He allowed Nebraska to be able to run the ball effectively on the right side towards the boundaries. He did a great job sealing the edge making it tough for defenses to stop the option and the speed of quarterback Adrian Martinez.
The third starter returning for Nebraska junior Boe Wilson. Wilson played in all 12 games as a sophomore, starting in the last nine. He is a great run blocker for the Big Red and helps anchor down the right side. His ability to block the initial player then move onto the next level is crucial in an option-heavy offense.
The wildcard in this group is Beatrice native and former tight end, Cameron Jurgens who is now playing the center position. Jurgens took a redshirt last season and they have bulked him up and he now stands at 6’3 270 pounds. Jurgens could be the guy that totally transforms this offensive line. His speed, strength, and overall athleticism could make this offensive line a force to be reckoned with.
It’s awful early right now but Trent Hixson is getting some looks at left guard. Hixson played in four games last season and what has allowed him to find the field a lot this spring is his coachability. He does what he’s asked and according to Austin, he’s a “no-nonsense” guy. Fits the bill for an offensive lineman.
Other athletes that should see action this season include, junior John Raridon, sophomore Matt Sichterman, sophomore Hunter Miller, and true freshman Bryce Benhart.
The offensive line has a lot of capable players and in year two of the Scott Frost Era, we will see if things click even more with this group.