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Nebraska football spring practice

Nebraska linebacker Marcus Newby listens to directions during practice on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at Hawks Championship Center.

Marcus Newby admitted he was "a little nervous."

After all, Saturday marked his official debut as a Husker.

A redshirt freshman from North Potomac, Md., he said he possesses plenty of confidence as a pass-rushing specialist -- a role that perhaps will take on added importance in light of All-Big Ten defensive end Randy Gregory's apparent knee injury.

Gregory had ice on his left knee in the first quarter and didn't play in the final three quarters. His status is "day-to-day," Bo Pelini said after the game.

As for Newby's debut, "I feel it went alright. I think I could do a lot better," he said.

Listed No. 2 at BUCK linebacker behind David Santos, Newby's alternate role has him line up as an edge rusher in obvious passing situations.

He seeks continual improvement.

Most of all, he seeks that first glorious sack.

He blew up at least one play Saturday. With Florida Atlantic facing second-and-10 at Nebraska's 28 in the second quarter, Newby bulled toward quarterback Jacquez Johnson, providing initial disruption. FAU eventually settled for a 45-yard field goal, which sailed wide right.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Newby, recruited as a linebacker, said he needs to improve the use of his hands to help combat much bigger linemen.

He twice was double-teamed Saturday -- most likely the result of the defense's scheme as opposed to FAU targeting him specifically.

Newby will constantly square off against tackles that exceed 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds. He said he will rely mostly on his quickness and athleticism.

It'll obviously be imperative to get a quick and explosive initial burst.

He was asked if it felt like a mind game trying to beat tackles who weigh 100 pounds more than him.

"It's not really a mind game," he said. "It's just every play, I tell myself I got to get to the quarterback, got to get a sack and try to make a play for my team."

He's not totally comfortable with the Nebraska defense's overall scheme. But his assignment as a rusher is clear-cut.

"I didn't ask them (the coaches), they asked me," he said of trying the role. "I felt like they knew I was pretty quick and athletic. They felt like they could use me there, and basically it's worked out so far."

With many more chances to come.

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