Red Report: Junior linebacker Honas out for remainder of season
Nebraska’s depth at linebacker was dealt a blow to begin the week.
Coach Scott Frost said junior inside linebacker Will Honas will miss the rest of the season after suffering some knee ligament damage in Saturday’s 42-28 loss to Purdue.
“It’s heartbreaking for him,” Frost said. “He’s one of the guys that cares and works his butt off and the type of teammate you want on his team. That’s football and those things happen, but you hate to see it happen to anybody that’s a good kid, on any team, at any time.”
Honas was injured during the second quarter on a goal-line play. He was seen favoring his left knee.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound linebacker will be able to redshirt, saving him two seasons of eligibility.
“That’s where the (redshirt) rule is good,” Frost said. “There’s a chance you might have been able to get him a medical anyway down the road, but that certainly cleans it up for us.”
Honas has 15 tackles and has appeared in all four games. He stepped into a big spot against Troy when Mo Barry was ejected in the first half for targeting. He was on the field, alongside Barry, for many plays against the Boilermakers.
Honas arrived at Nebraska after a standout junior college career at Butler (Kansas) Community College.
Stoltenberg to miss extended time: Senior defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg has a chance to play again this season after a left knee injury, but Frost wasn’t making any guarantees Monday.
“We’ll have to see on Mick,” Frost said. “Mick’s a warrior and he’s going to battle. If he can be out there, he will. It’s not going to be any time in the near future, but I’d love to see him get the opportunity to play again.”
Frost said both JD Spielman -- who took a big shot against Purdue and had to exit the game briefly -- and Tyrin Ferguson, who did not play Saturday, both practiced and were “full go” on Monday.
No “hint” of transfers: The Huskers have now played four games, meaning a player could theoretically have appeared in every game so far and still transfer without losing a season of eligibility. It’s happened elsewhere around the country, but Frost says he hasn’t heard of anything in his locker room despite the rough start.
“I haven’t got a hint of that,” he said. “The guys are doing it the right way and it’s the majority of the team, they’re playing with their brothers, they’re where they want to be and they’re intent on getting this thing right. I see it out of them and really appreciate what they’re doing. People can read into a lot of stuff, but these guys are fighting and we’re going to keep fighting.”
Warner earns trust: Kade Warner is a redshirt freshman and a walk-on in what many believed this summer to be Nebraska’s deepest group. But the wide receiver started against Purdue and he now shares the top line on the depth chart with Morgan and Spielman.
“Kade’s a good teammate,” Frost said. “He plays as hard as he can and he’s where he’s supposed to be.”
Added freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez: “He’s Mr. Consistent. I think if you would have asked us about him back in spring ball, we’d say he was a guy who knows what he’s doing, he’s a guy you can count on out there. I know where he’s going to be on the field. That’s nice to have as a quarterback. You can rely on him to catch the ball, run the right route, block his guy, and that’s definitely a good thing right now for us.”
Looking for playmakers: Frost said the offense is still looking for playmakers behind Stanley Morgan and Spielman and noted that it’s hard to ask those guys to play every snap of every game.
“It’s really important for us to continue to develop guys that can be weapons for us,” Frost said. “When our offense works the best is when we have five skill guys on the field anytime that can make a big play. Until we get there, we’re going to have to move Stan and JD and guys around and try to get them in a spot where we can use them. But you can only ride that horse so long. Those guys get tired, too.”
Center of attention: With Cole Conrad nursing an injury, senior guard Tanner Farmer will be the Huskers’ man at center for the foreseeable future. He was listed ahead of Conrad at center Monday on Nebraska’s depth chart.
Other than the obvious technique differences Farmer needs to perfect, he said Monday that he’s prepared for the change.
“As a guard I know just as much going on throughout the week as far as the game plan and the calls as the starting center,” Farmer said. “The entire offensive line needs to know what everybody else’s responsibility is. I know the tackle’s responsibility on pretty much every play.
“As far as that preparation and that mental preparation, that does not change.”
Lee leans on work in practice: Another player moving to the top of the depth chart Monday was junior defensive back Eric Lee.
Called upon Saturday after starter Lamar Jackson was benched, Lee played the final 2½ quarters and Monday found himself as a No. 1 corner ahead of Jackson.
“There’s a lot of guys that we had to work with and help to understand how we want things done and what it takes to be that kind of person, that kind of good teammate. Eric has figured it out, and I wouldn’t say that was the case at the beginning, but he’s done everything right this fall — everything right,” Frost said. “We’re not giving up on anybody, but if there’s somebody that we trust to go out there and at least not get us beat, I’m going to let them go out there and have a chance to make a play.”
Lee echoed his coach, saying a change in approach helped him through a beginning of the season that didn’t see him play at all until the Purdue game.
“I feel like my mindset’s just changed drastically, thanks to Coach (Zach) Duval (NU’s strength coach). And then another thing that Coach Frost has preaching to us, that no fear of failure. So even if you miss a tackle, just get up, fix it, and no one’s going to be cussing you out or anything like that,” Lee said. “So I really think that no fear of failure has really stuck with me, and helps me to play a lot more freely.”