August 27, 2011

Saturday notebook: Moore a 'rare' talent

The praise of true freshman tackle Tyler Moore has been going on since his first week of spring practice, and it only continued as fall camp officially wrapped up on Saturday.

Following up on what he said in a radio interview on Thursday, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said he's been nothing but pleased with Moore's rapid progress over the past few months.

On Thursday, Pelini said Moore was the leading candidate to win the starting right tackle job for next week's season opener against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Pelini didn't back down much from that evaluation on Saturday.

"Because of injuries and such he's gotten a lot of reps," Pelini said. "He's come along well. He had a good spring, but I think he followed up with a really good fall. He's playing pretty solid football right now. He's got a long way to go, as you would expect with anybody, but he's done well, and I think he'll keep getting better. He's a good football player."

Asked if he has been surprised at all to see a true freshman come in and pick up the college game as quickly as Moore has at his position, Pelini said he and his staff had high hopes for the Clearwater, Fla., native before he even officially became a Husker.

"We thought he was rare when we recruited him," Pelini said. "Like I said, I'm not trying to anoint him to be Anthony Munoz or anything like that yet. He's got a lot to learn, but he's a good football player, and he's earned the right to be in the position he's in right now."

Moore is just one young player who has benefited from Nebraska's brief injury issues on the offensive line this fall. While he obviously would have liked to have the unit remain fully healthy throughout camp, Pelini said there have been some positives in getting young linemen valuable reps in practice and adding a little more depth up front.

Even better, Pelini said he expects the entire offensive line to be on the field when the Huskers hold their first game week practice of the season on Monday.

"The injuries have hurt us a little bit as far as continuity, but it's allowed us to take a look at a lot of guys, and we're getting healthy now as camp winds down," Pelini said. "That's the situation you'd like to be in. I think we should have our full contingent of guys out there on Monday, and that helps you."

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***Pelini said senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard remains out of practice with a leg muscle injury he suffered on Aug. 15. However, Pelini said Dennard's rehab has come along much quicker than the team had originally expected, though he still wasn't sure on Dennard's status for Saturday's opener.

"He's not out there practicing right now, but he's made good progress," Pelini said. "I think he's in pretty good shape. He's ahead of where we thought he'd be."

***Like Moore, Pelini said Nebraska's younger cornerbacks like Andrew Green have had a good opportunity to show what they can do since Dennard has been out.

"It allows guys opportunities and gives us a chance to look at a lot of guys and see who's ready to step up and who's not," Pelini said. "Some guys have come quicker than others, and I think we're in pretty good shape. I think we have a pretty good idea of how we're going to go about it with Alfonzo, first of all when he comes back, and without him if he can't make it."

***Pelini confirmed that senior cornerback Anthony Blue has given up football. After suffering two major knee injuries in his career, Pelini said Blue decided it was time to move on to the next step in his life.

"He just didn't feel he could do what he wanted to do out there," Pelini said. "He's been through some tough injuries, and he felt it was time to call it quits."

Though he's no longer playing, Pelini said Blue would still be around the program and would always be considered a Husker.

"He's not around here every day, but he's obviously still a part of this football team," Pelini said.

***Pelini said he would likely release an official depth chart for next Saturday's game at some point next week, though he said there were several positions that still needed to be sorted out.

***Two of those starting positions yet to be determined are at kick and punt returner. Pelini said the competition at the two spots would likely go on well into next week, but he was excited about the potential for the return game.

"We'll see how the week plays out, but we have a lot of options - a lot of good options - out there," he said. "A lot of good competition."

***Like they do every year on the final practice of fall camp, the Huskers held a helmets-only situational walk-thru practice on Saturday. Pelini said he wanted his team to get a bit of a head start on its preparation for the Mocs, especially considering the number of young players who will be playing big roles for NU next weekend.

"It's kind of good that you have a good mixture of youth and veteran experience, but at the same time you've got some guys that are going to be out there for the first time, and they're going to have some growing pains," Pelini said. "But I think they're pretty well prepared, and I think they'll be ready to go come Saturday."

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