Cameron Jurgens might be Nebraska’s center of the future.
For now, though, the freshman tight end is on the shelf.
Coach Scott Frost on Thursday confirmed that the Beatrice native broke his foot during practice on Monday morning and is expected to miss about a month.
“He just got his cleat caught in the grass and broke a metatarsal in his foot,” Frost said, adding that the timeline for return gives Jurgens at least a chance of playing again this season.
A touted local recruit, Jurgens has been in the conversation this week because NU is moving him from tight end to offensive line, eyeing a potential role on the interior in the future. Jurgens has appeared in one game and has up to three more available this season while still taking a redshirt.
The four-game rule will allow other freshmen to see increased action in the second half the season.
“I think we’ve got quite a few guys that will fit into that category at the end of the year — guys we can get out there and get some experience,” Frost said. “We’re waiting until later in the year when they’re ready.”
Frost, though, lamented the number of injuries among young players, including defensive linemen Casey Rogers and Tate Wildeman and safety Cam’Ron Jones. Those three have each been out several weeks and may miss the rest of the season. Frost wouldn’t say that all were done for the year, but it’s clear they’re each missing extended time.
Not-so-special teams: Frost reiterated the need for better special teams play — particularly from NU’s punt unit — and said that’s why walk-on Isaac Armstrong is going to start at punter instead of Caleb Lightbourn.
“We’ve had too many big plays on that team against us,” Frost said. “We’re last in the country right now in starting field position on offense. We’re close to the bottom on starting field position on defense.”
The head coach reeled off a litany of reasons aside from punting that the Huskers are in such a position, but it eventually starts and ends with the punt unit.
“It’s hard to have 500 yards of offense and lose. We’ve done it three times,” Frost said. “A lot of that is because if you have to go 85, 90 yards every time, you’re going to gain yards but it’s hard to score. I think our offense is good enough that if we get some short fields it will make a difference.”
Woodyard gaining steam: Jaron Woodyard took the third-most snaps at receiver last week in Madison, Wisconsin — behind JD Spielman and Stanley Morgan, of course — and Frost said Thursday that the Arizona Western transfer continues to make a big push.
“Woody’s got all the talent that you need to play the position,” he said. “Would have been great for him if we could have got him in in December and he could have had spring ball. Really what’s holding him back is just understanding where to line up and where to run his route and the detail in assignments.
“He’s getting better every week, but you’ve got to be able to do that on the vast, vast majority of plays to stay out there. He’s getting close.”
The production hasn’t followed yet, as Woodyard has just one catch on four targets for 10 yards through the first five weeks. Nebraska, though, would certainly take a reliable third weapon from the receivers group.
Red takeover: Frost hasn’t been to Ryan Field in Nebraska red, but he knows the history and he’s expecting to see a lot of it in the stands on Saturday.
Husker fans typically travel to Northwestern in droves given the proximity, the alumni base in the Chicago area and the attractiveness of the city as a weekend vacation spot.
NU is so confident that it’s not really planning on all that much crowd noise.
“I hope there’s a lot of red in the stadium. We’re planning on it,” Frost said. “We’re not going to use a silent snap count, so we need Nebraska fans to show up.”