Updated

Let's not be overly complicated.

After all, in the words of the great Allen Iverson, we're talking practice.

In the Red-White Spring Game, you look for sterling individual performances. We saw a few Saturday. We saw why we've heard so much buzz about wideout Alonzo Moore. Yeah, yet another dynamic receiver. Rich Fisher obviously is living right.

Imani Cross evidently is eating right. The sophomore running back shed a few pounds and still sheds tacklers, and now runs away from a few. We see you, Imani.

We saw young quarterback Tommy Armstrong's strong arm (wow) and powerful legs. We saw why walk-on running back King Frazier opened coaches' eyes this spring. We saw a no-name group of tight ends hungry to prove there doesn't have to be a marked drop-off at the position.

We saw Ron Kellogg III's pinpoint passing (11-for-12, 148 yards). It didn't surprise offensive coordinator Tim Beck at all.

Notice we haven't mentioned a defender.

The defenses had their moments. But the offenses made by far the biggest impression as the Red squad defeated the White team 32-25 before a crowd of 60,174 on a windswept, sunny 65-degree afternoon. No surprise there, either. Hey, you saw last season. You see the youth and inexperience all over the defense.

You saw the respective offenses rattle off six straight scoring drives -- five for touchdowns -- to open the scrimmage. The defenses, though, settled in and played better in the second half -- well enough that they didn't put a dark cloud over the proceedings.

Bottom line, this was a feel-good day for Bo Pelini's program.

Nebraska successfully mixed business with pleasure. Former Husker linemen caught punts (or made an attempt) right before kickoff. Then the scrimmage was stopped in the first quarter to show fans an ultra-intense drill in which a defender tries to break through two blockers to tackle a ball carrier. Let's just say linebacker Zaire Anderson's knee is fine.

You probably became a bit misty when Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old brain cancer patient from Atkinson, ran 69 yards for the day's final touchdown.

"Jack was pretty hard to beat," Pelini said.

Nice touch, coach.

The Big Ten Network had to love this stuff.

We haven't seen a Red-White Spring Game of this nature, at least not in recent memory. In some ways, this was Pelini putting his stamp on the annual gathering.

As for that defense, well, one element of the day felt familiar: Coaches had some choice words for defenders at halftime.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said he was "a little bit disappointed" with the first half. He saw nervousness, apprehension. He had to expect it, considering the youthfulness.

What's more, the defense was missing key players, most notably David Santos, Greg McMullen, Vincent Valentine, Thad Randle, Andrew Green and Daniel Davie.

Only five defensive tackles were available. Papuchis knew there would be struggles.

Pelini was matter-of-fact.

"I'm not going to sit here and dissect everything that happened to us on defense," he said. "But there were a lot of recurring themes that happened through that first half.

"I wasn't surprised in some areas."

Papuchis thought the defense responded well during the final 30 minutes, "at least in terms of getting aligned correctly and executing."

Papuchis' level of concern with the unit?

"I'll be worried if we don't maximize April, May, June and July," he said. "If we start up in the fall, picking up where we left off today, yeah, I'll be concerned.

"If we spend the next four months continuing to improve, we'll be where we need to be."

Nebraska players and coaches, in a quiet way, seem hungry for a title. A meaningful title. A Big Ten crown. They should be hungry. Starving, really.

Their approach is different in at least one regard. You don't hear bold predictions. The players have three things they want to be known for, Pelini said, but he declined to state them publicly.

We know the offense is Big Ten-title caliber. You saw it Saturday. Perhaps most impressive was the tempo. It's easy to understand why these fast-paced offenses bamboozle defenses, especially when the offense possesses multiple weapons, as does Nebraska.

There will be plenty of time in coming months to gnash your teeth about Nebraska's defense. The dentists around here have to be champing at the bit.

Papuchis wasn't panicky.

"The spring game is about giving guys an opportunity to compete and putting on as good of a show as you can for the fans," he said. "It's a good day for the program, (and) for Nebraska fans."

Pelini's summation: Good spring. Good effort. A lot of work ahead.

Not a worry in the world, right?

Well, not quite. But it almost seemed that way as tiny No. 22, little Jack, sped around right end for that fourth-quarter touchdown, with smiling Taylor Martinez as his guide.

Nice touch, indeed.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.