Red Report: Farmer played his best game; OL recruiting; Friday an ‘opportunity to showcase’

November 22, 2018
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Offensive line coach Greg Austin spits during warmups at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Nebraska senior center Tanner Farmer played the best game of his career last week against Michigan State, according to Husker offensive line coach Greg Austin.

Which helps explain why Farmer was named by Austin as NU’s offensive lineman of the game.

“He did a good job of finishing and sticking his blocks,” the coach said. “You go back and watch that game, he did a damned good job. Even on our third-down package, he did a good job of declaring the front and communicating his ass off.”

Farmer moved into the starting role at center in the fifth game this season after holding down the starting job at right guard earlier in the season.

“He’s really taken a leadership role from that (center) position — more of a commanding presence that I didn’t see him establish early on when (the new coaching staff) first got here,” Austin said. “He stepped in and is doing a good job.”

Hot hand: Linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt started Saturday’s game against Michigan State with junior Alex Davis at outside linebacker opposite Luke Gifford, but Davis played just two snaps. JoJo Domann factored heavily throughout, primarily in passing situations.

Tyrin Ferguson, though, played as much as he has in weeks. That wasn’t necessarily the original plan.

“Sometimes you have a plan in place before the game to get guys rolling in and out of the game to kind of even out the reps a little bit so not one person is getting worn out, but sometimes you go with the hot hand,” Dewitt said.

Ferguson was that guy against the Spartans.

“He was producing, he had a couple of big plays for us and I just didn’t think there was any reason to take him out and lose any rhythm that he’d generated,” Dewitt said.

Getting the spotlight: Playing on Black Friday gives the Huskers an opportunity to play in front a bigger national audience. There are five 11 a.m. games on TV on Friday, and only two involve Power Five schools.

NU running backs coach Ryan Held, maybe the staff’s most aggressive recruiter, sees a chance for recruits to watch the Huskers from their couches.

“We love that opportunity to showcase what we’re doing against a really good Iowa team,” he said.

Held added he’s hoping his family sticks to red.

“My wife’s from Iowa and she’s got a lot of family from Iowa so I told her, ’You better be wearing red on Friday. I don’t care what the family says.”

Austin “always looking for linemen”:′ Three Husker offensive linemen will play their final game Friday in Farmer, left guard Jerald Foster and reserve Cole Conrad.

Shortly after the game, Austin and company will hit the road recruiting for 2019 and beyond. The Huskers currently have four offensive linemen verbally committed for 2019 -- junior college interior lineman Desmond Bland (Arizona Western) and tackles Bryce Benhart (Lakeville, Minnesota), Michael Lynn (Englewood, Colorado) and Matthew Anderson (Leesville, Louisiana). Austin said last month the Huskers planned to take five. That sounds like it’s still the ballpark.

“We’re always looking for linemen,” he said. “But we are coming close to our numbers right now (for 2019). I’ll let Coach (Scott) Frost talk about the numbers because he’s the one that has control of the numbers in terms of guys we take and don’t take.

“The recruits are well aware of the amount of guys we’re taking and where they are in relation to the class.”

NU has 21 verbal commitments overall for 2019 and is expected to take up to 30.

Winning ugly and loving it: Nebraska easily had its lowest output in yardage (248) and points (nine) of the season against Michigan State. Winning a game without scoring a touchdown was just fine with NU offensive coordinator Troy Walters.

“For us to win a championship here, you’re going to have to play in those conditions,” Walters said of the wind, cold and snow. “I thought (Adrian Martinez) handled it well, I thought our guys on offense handled it well. Was it our best performance? No.

“You’re going to have to play on the road, in hostile environments, in bad weather conditions and you’ve got to find a way to win, and that’s what we did.”

-- Parker Gabriel, Steven M. Sipple and Clark Grell

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