Six players to watch

Nebraska's Kenny Bell snags a long pass over Quinton Richardson of the Huskies on the first play of the game for a long gain. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Bye weeks are an interesting phenomena. It is a free week for the coaches to put their younger players through a mini camp while resting the veterans to get them healthy. For the most part it is the last opportunity of the season for the younger players to realistically push for increased attention which can equal more playing time.

I know the coaches stress that competition is going on every day at practice but with the veterans resting the emphasis is definitely in finding out who can help the team during the second half of the season.

Here is a list of six guys that I will be keeping close eye and who I feel can raise the teams performance level during the second half.

Semisi Tokolahi - He is back and he looked pretty good while he was in there on Saturday. He is definitely the missing link on the defensive line and his continued presence is going to give the defense a huge boost. He had a solo tackle and recovered fumble against the Utes.

Kasen Williams - Kasen has been steady and he has gotten his reps but he hasn't had that explosive break out game yet. I think it is just a matter of time until he takes a punt return home for a touchdown. just a matter of time until he turns a short pass over the middle into a long touchdown.

Jamaal Kearse - He looked real good in his first start. Timu is going to have hard time winning back his starting job during the bye week. Kearse really lays some lumber and has become a special teams demon. You just never know when it is going to click for a kid but keep an eye on Jamaal because he is improving exponentially.

Josh Shirley - Everyone expected Josh to hit the field this fall and become the next Andy Mason. When it didn't happen immediately he received a lot of criticism on the boards. Josh is going to be playing quite a bit over the second half of the season. Who didn't enjoy the wake up call he delivered to Jordan Wynn on Utah's first offensive play of the game?

Quinton Richardson - I haven't been too kind to Quinton this year. Hopefully a rest during bye week is what he needs to get back to being 100%. Honestly at this point I prefer Ducre playing corner and Glenn playing the nickel. Maybe we can switch to that once Fellner returns to action. We have all seen Quinton rally and put it together in the past. Lets hope he can do it again over the second half of his senior season because when he is playing at peak efficiency he can be a pretty good player.

Micah Hatchie - Sark and Cozzetto like to pick their five linemen and stick with it throughout each game and the entire season. They really don't rotate on the offensive line unless somebody gets sick or injured. Inserting Micah Hatchie into the lineup in the second quarter against Utah sent Kohler a signal. It also sent us fans a signal that the coaches are comfortable with Hatchie playing out there.

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