LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska draws one of the biggest crowds in the country for its spring game and this year the fans want to see the new offense the Cornhuskers are taking into the Big Ten.
Too bad. Coach Bo Pelini will keep the offense under wraps Saturday so the Huskers' new opponents will be kept guessing.
"We're going to be very, very basic on both sides of the ball," he said.
Nebraska will open the season Sept. 3 at home against Chattanooga. Fresno State, Washington and Wyoming follow before the Oct. 1 conference opener at Wisconsin.
A number of Nebraska's top players have missed spring practice because of injuries. Quarterback Taylor Martinez (ankle, toe) and running back Rex Burkhead (hamstring) will see limited action Saturday and defensive tackle Jared Crick (knee) is out.
Those absences will give more opportunities to players trying to fight their way up the depth chart, including quarterback Brion Carnes, one of the stars of the 2010 recruiting class; Jamal Turner, who moved from quarterback to receiver; Lester Ward, who has moved from running back to tight end; Jake Cotton, who moved from defensive to offensive line and receiver Kenny Bell.
On defense, Eric Martin has moved from linebacker to defensive end and fans will get a good look at defensive tackle Thad Randle and cornerback Andrew Green.
The scrimmage also will give fans their first look at kicker Brett Maher, who will compete in fall camp against freshman Mauro Bondi to replace Alex Henery.
Brandon Kinnie, the second-leading receiver last season, played coy when asked what the offense would look like.
"We're just going to play fast and attack people," he said.
There are fewer questions about the defense, which has ranked among the nation's best the past three years.
One of the unknowns is Martin, who gained admirers for his aggressive play on special teams last year. The junior switched to the defensive line late last fall and was used in third down situations. Now he's looking to expand his role.
"When he's lining up, he has his hand in the dirt, and he's coming to play every down no matter what," safety Austin Cassidy said. "If he's not making the tackle, he's going to rip the head off the guy who is blocking him. He's going to be a factor in every play no matter what."
Another big crowd is expected. About 57,000 tickets had been sold as of midweek. Last year's game drew almost 78,000.
The Red and White squads have made a friendly bet on the outcome. The losing team buys dinner for the winners.
Kinnie is confident the Reds will win, and he wants the White team to spare no expense when it's time to pay up.
"I want to go to the best (restaurant)," he said. "I want to spend all their money. All of it."