All that talk about depth pushing Mike Smith out of his starting spot at left tackle may have taunted the football gods this week, as Smith went down with a broken leg on Tuesday. The "glass half full" perspective is to be grateful it happened this season rather than last season, when depth was sorely lacking. Smith might still qualify for a medical hardship and be able to play in 2011; we'll see how that works out.
Of course, the next left tackle, Jermarcus Hardrick left practice on Monday in an ambulance after suffering heat exhaustion in the ridiculous heat this week, so Nebraska is down to redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles at left tackle for now. All this points out the importance of depth, as it doesn't take much to take a position of strength and turn it into a weakness. Just look at I-back last season: at this point, fans thought that with Roy Helu and Quentin Castille established, and Rex Burkhead coming in, I-back wasn't a problem. And by the time the Texas Tech game came around, poof!
Today's World-Herald reports that former cornerbacks Anthony West and Anthony Blue are working their way back. West might be called on at safety, while Blue is simply getting himself back onto the field after a devastating knee injury. I guess I had long penciled in Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith as the safeties this upcoming season, but not so fast.
An interesting read from Olin Buchanan of Rivals, where he rates each part of each team in the Big XII. The Huskers backfield is rated fifth; somewhat surprising considering the lack of production in 2009. Even more surprising is that the receivers were ranked sixth in the Big XII. Buchanan expects big things from the offensive line, ranking them tops in the Big XII this season, though nobody from Nebraska makes his preseason first or second team all-Big XII list. Go figure.
On defense, Buchanan has NU's defensive line tops, which I can see. Third at linebacker might be a bit of a stretch, and the Husker secondary is second only to Texas. Coaching staff is ranked third behind Texas and Oklahoma. A little-too-glowing preseason report card, I'd suggest.