Here's something I never thought I'd hear myself say.

I'm going to miss covering the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. In all seriousness, I genuinely wish it was happening.

Granted, we all know why it can't happen, for safety reasons. So, Memorial Stadium will be vacant. It'll be as quiet as Lincoln's downtown at night the past few weeks. In other words, it'll be eerily quiet, depressingly quiet.


Most Nebraska football players aren't even in Lincoln. The coronavirus has basically shut down campus. It's shut down our lives, for the most part. 

The gravity of the situation tests us mentally — most of us, anyway. It's disrupted the normal flow of our lives. Under normal circumstances for a Spring Game, I would trek the few blocks from the Journal Star to Stadium Drive. It always would strike me how much it looked like a game day in the autumn. Oh, it's never totally the same. There aren't quite as many people milling about before a Spring Game, and the intensity level isn't nearly as high. 

But in covering every Nebraska road game since 1995, I've visited plenty of places that would love to have the intensity level that Husker fans somehow generate for the Spring Game.

That's right, for the godforsaken Spring Game.

Man, I'm going to miss that thing Saturday.

I'm going to miss it even though it's sort of a charade. The quarterbacks typically wear green "hands-off" jerseys. That alone takes a lot of the zip out of the afternoon. I don't need to list all the other factors that diminish the zip. I just know this: Too often I've tried to rev myself up for the Red-White Spring Game — "Treat it like an autumn Saturday," I would tell myself — then the opening kick would happen, and the return man ... wasn't tackled. My instinct at that moment was to take a nap, but I have a mortgage to pay. 

Last spring, I recall standing on the sideline during the second half feeling far too much pressure because I had no idea what I could write that would make much of an impact. Bottom line, I was going to write about a glorified practice that wasn't particularly intense.

The best thing about the Spring Game is when the final gun sounds. 

Man, I'm going to miss it, though. I mean it. I mean it in a big way. 

I'm like a lot of people in that I wonder if there will be a college football season in 2020. I mean, I heard what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the renowned disease expert, said earlier this week when asked about the possibility of sports returning in the United States this summer. He listed a few stipulations. 


"Nobody comes to the stadium," he said. "Put (players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled." 

Keep them very well surveilled? OK then. 

Yeah, it all feels like a scary movie sometimes. But there's obviously some good that comes out of it. To wit: Many of us perhaps will pause more often to count our blessings when (if) we return to something that resembles normalcy. I'm not going to get all preachy here. I'm just here to say I'll never take another Spring Game for granted. I'll never spend another week grumbling about how, as a Journal Star sports staff, we treat the damned Spring Game as if it were a real game. 

I used to loathe that part. In the future, I'm going to give it a big ol' bear hug, as if I were Jason Peter wrapping his mitts around some poor Colorado quarterback (before flinging him to the ground).

Don't get me wrong, there is usually some value in these practices. This year, I think we all would've been interested to watch junior quarterback Adrian Martinez — assuming, of course, that Martinez would've participated. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost told us last month that Martinez would be limited during the spring season following offseason surgery on his non-throwing (left) shoulder.

I don't remember much about last year's Spring Game. But I do remember thinking that Martinez looked ... underwhelming. Maybe he was just bored. 

This year, we could've obsessed about reserve quarterback Luke McCaffrey's speed. We surely would've gotten a big taste of it. Going forward, I'm going to be far more patient when fans obsess over certain areas of Nebraska football. Bring on the obsessions and over-analyzations. I miss it already. 


I wish we could obsess over whether redshirt freshman Bryce Benhart is ready to be a starter on the offensive line, or whether running back Rahmir Johnson (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) has added the sort of bulk to allow him to carry a heavy load if projected starter Dedrick Mills (5-11, 220) gets injured. 

How good does Chris Hickman's straight-line speed look? After all, Frost needs wideouts to step up. Is transfer tight end Travis Vokolek as good as advertised? Who's ready to make an impact in the defensive front seven? What do you got, Jordon Riley? Ty Robinson? Nick Henrich? Just look at Nebraska's 2020 schedule with all those teams that can run the ball. I would've watched this year's Spring Game with run defense in mind.

And what about the kicker and punter positions? Did Frost find some guys who could boom balls into the heavens, a la Sam Foltz? 

OK, that's probably enough. It's not like we get many definitive answers in spring games. 

But holy moly, I wish I were heading to the big stadium this weekend. 

Maybe I'll still be around next year.

Best moments from past Nebraska Spring Games