Injuries cause uncertainty at starting quarterback position

James Nicas
Staff Writer

The second-ranked Nebraska football team is becoming accustomed to injuries causing uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Those injuries have left Cornhusker Head Coach Frank Solich uncertain about who will start against No. 18 Texas A&M on Saturday.

At Tuesday's press conference, Solich said he is optimistic that quarterbacks Bobby Newcombe and Eric Crouch will be healthy for the Aggies, but he still isn't entirely confident that will be the case.

"I think there is a chance of (Newcombe not playing against Texas A&M)," Solich said. "We want him to start getting at the point where he is as close to 100 percent as possible."

"If he is able to get that done by limited reps this week and take off one day of practice, that would be great. If that is not the case he may have to miss a ball game, and that is the same for Eric."

Newcombe still hasn't recovered fully from a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee suffered in the opening game against Louisiana Tech. In the third quarter of Saturday's game against Oklahoma State, Crouch sustained a hip pointer that forced him to leave the game.

The injuries caused both players to miss practice Monday, but both players practiced in a limited capacity Tuesday.

"You would like them to be out on the field getting as many reps as possible, but we've come through the season where both of those guys have received a good amount of reps in practice and games," Solich said. "I don't see them sitting out snaps this week as being critical to them playing well."

The lack of practice time is not a major concern for Newcombe either. Newcombe said off the field preparation will be the most important focus for the quarterbacks.

"The main thing is to pick up their defense and understand the changes we are making in our audibles," Newcombe said. "The different reads we will have to have are what I need to stay focused on."

If both Newcombe and Crouch are unable to play Saturday, the starting job would go to third-string quarterback Monte Christo. Christo led the Huskers in the second half of the 24-3 victory over California. He also has seen many of the repetitions in practice that normally would have gone to either Newcombe or Crouch.

NU center Josh Heskew said there will not be a disruption in the offensive attack no matter who is at the quarterback position.

"With as much diversity as we've had in our quarterbacks, we are used to all of them," Heskew said. "We're not keyed in on one person or one type of voice, so it shouldn't be too different in the game whoever is quarterback."

Although the quarterback situation still remains unclear, Solich is confident that whoever is put into action will perform well against A&M.

"We're fortunate that we have been able to play three quarterbacks throughout the season," Solich said. "All three when called upon have responded very well, so we feel comfortable."

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