Nebraska’s coaching staff said before and during spring practice that the offense is getting the entire playbook thrown at them during these 15 practices.
Offensive coordinator Troy Walters likes where his unit is at in terms of grasping the offensive practices with seven practices in the books.
“It’s a process,” he said Saturday. “We basically have the majority of our playbook in. So, the guys have a grasp of what we’re trying to do. They’re doing a good job of picking it all up, understanding what we’re asking of them, and we’ll just continue to go from there.
“There’s a lot we can do within our offense in terms of different formations, motions, shifts, the tempos, but they basically have most of the offense in. Now, we just have to detail everything and we have to execute better.”
Walters stressed the importance of getting a lot of reps in spring, and how that can help an offense fine tune any details that need fixing.
“That’s why we practice fast,” Walters said. “That’s why we, a lot of times, split up in two groups so that everyone’s getting reps. We think you learn better by playing and by getting the extra reps, so a lot of the details, a lot of the little things, are going to come from extra reps.”
Looking big picture, Walters understands that getting this offense up to full speed and making it as explosive as UCF’s was in 2017 will take some time.
“I’m not going to put a time frame on how long it’s going to take,” Walters said. “We have some great student athletes and they want to learn, they do everything they can to learn what we’re throwing at them, but it’s going to take some time. At UCF, it took us pry (until) year two when the guys really understood what we wanted, how we wanted it done, but it can be faster here.
“We’re just going to keep feeding the guys information and the plays and coaching them up, and then this summer is going to be big for them to go out there on their own, and really practice what we put in. If they do that, they’ll get better, and we’ll have what we need for the season.”
Walters said the offensive line has done well in adjusting to the quick tempo of practice.
“We’re going to be physical and it all starts up front,” he said. “Those guys understand that if we can play fast, that’s to our advantage. They’re doing a great job, we’re throwing a lot at them, defense is throwing a lot at us, and so the combination of both doesn’t look as good as it needs to be, but the guys are learning, the guys are all in, and we’re going to keep getting better.”
Offensive line coach Greg Austin said his group needs a little more mobility going forward.
“We will be more athletic,” Austin said. “I think some of it is getting those guys’ eyes trained to the defense and seeing some of the movement patterns of the defensive linemen. Generally speaking, those guys are able and capable of doing the jobs we’re asking them to do.”
Saturday was not the O-line’s best day, according to Austin, but the competition at each spot has still been strong.
“I liked what happened today. If we came out there everyday and everything was tit-for-tat or we had our plays, they had their plays and things weren’t really game-speed or tempo-speed, I’d be kind of leery. Or if we came out there and just won everything every day, then I would also be leery just because we didn’t have any adversity. Today was our day of adversity.”
He had 12 catches for 76 yards as a freshman last season, but Lindsey feels like he’s in for much bigger things in 2018.
He didn’t play during his senior year at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, which may have hampered him from doing better as a college freshman.
“My freshman year, I kind of let myself settle,” Lindsey said. “You’re basically playing your senior year in college, and you’ve got to just go out there. I’m going to be honest, my mind wasn’t as right as it was in high school. Reality smacked me in my face. This year, my mindset has changed. I’m doing a lot more things, not just on the field, but getting better off the field. I’m just trying to be ready. Last year, I just wasn’t.”
Lindsey was recruited by Frost to go to Oregon, and received an offer. He also developed a relationship with former Duck turned Kansas City Chief De’Anthony Thomas, who was known for being a dynamic running and receiving weapon in Eugene under Frost’s direction.
Frost left Oregon at the end of the 2015 season which changed Lindsey’s destination. He never thought he’d get another chance to play for the coach he admired in high school.
“It was like a dream come true now that (Frost) is here,” Lindsey said. “So, we’ll see where it goes.”
Walters looks forward to seeing how far Lindsey can go.
“I’m very excited about Tyjon,” he said. “He really fits what we’re trying to do. He’s versatile, he can play in the slot, he can play outside, he can play running back, he’s dynamic. He’s got great football IQ, so he understands how to run routes, how to get open, how to utilize his size to his advantage. He’s going to be a weapon in this offense. He’s got to just keep growing, keep learning, stay disciplined, and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Like Lindsey, Bradley was a true freshman that made waves in 2017. While he was limited late in the season with injury, the Bellevue native finished with 93 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards and 124 kickoff return yards.
Walters said there’s no depth chart right now, meaning Bradley is getting reps at running back and kick return.
“When he gets the ball in his hands, he can make guys miss,” Walters said. “He has the size and strength to run guys over as well. So, we’re really looking forward to him continue to progress and see what he can do this fall.”
What about Fullback?
The “death” of the fullback position under Frost’s staff has not, for the most part, been a huge source of worry among fans this spring, aside from a thread here or there on the message boards.
However, senior Austin Rose, junior Austin Hemphill, and redshirt freshman Ben Miles are still listed as fullbacks on the roster. Where exactly they’ll fit into the offense hasn’t quite been determined, but they’re still contributing in any way possible.
“They’re working on special teams,” Walters said. “Working in the coverage unit, return units, anywhere, any place they can help the team.”
- Sophomore linebacker Ben Stille mentioned former Blackshirt and first team-All Big 12 defensive end Adam Carriker was one of several former Huskers who talked to the team after Saturday’s practice.
— Brian Rosenthal (@GBRosenthal) April 7, 2018
- Senior Peyton Newell says he’s worked exclusively at nose tackle this spring, but is still learning how to play defensive end as well. Mick Stoltenberg didn’t practice again on Saturday.
- Running backs coach Ryan Held said he saw “good stuff” out of junior Greg Bell on Saturday when the team scrimmaged. Held said all of the backs had their moments, but Bell was the one who stood out the most.
- Quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said all five QBs have thrown a combination of four interceptions and three “near misses” through the first seven practices. He said it was “four too many.”
- Junior defensive lineman DaiShon Neal said both Carlos and Khalil Davis are “freak athletes” and have shown significant strength in the weight room.
- Coach Austin said redshirt freshman Hunter Miller continues to push for time at center this spring, and is someone “we’re putting a lot of stock in right now.”
- Sophomore Branden Jaimes has made the move from right to left tackle this spring – a position that Coach Austin says he is more comfortable with.
Quote of the Day
When Walters talked about the timetable of the offense getting up to full speed, he was asked if he sees a team that’s better than 4-8.
“The standards are high here at Nebraska. We didn’t come here to be 6-6. We didn’t come here to be average. We’re trying to win championships, and that’s the mindset the guys have and that’s the the culture we want to create is a championship culture. Every day you come to work, you’re going to prepare and play like a champion. The guys are starting to buy in. By the fall, we’ll be good to go.”
Complete Audio from Saturday
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.