BRR practice donuts (8-6-14)

Topics: Harvey's observations, Ryker Fyfe, Allen is back, the battle for center, and more.

LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska’s third practice of the fall was open to the media on Wednesday. Afterwards, offensive coordinator Tim Beck talked with reporters about the offensive installation, his quarterbacks’ development, and simplifying the offense.

Taariq Allen feels almost 100 percent:

This time last year, junior wide receiver Taariq Allen would leave practices extremely sore. While his surgically repaired knee was cleared for contact, the East Coast native wasn’t himself. Now entering his fourth year in the program, Allen is starting to feel like the player of old.

“I thought I was back,” said Allen. “Coaches were telling me ‘you aren’t 100 percent yet.’ I had to really step back and say, ‘yeah I wasn’t.’”

Through three practices and two media open sessions, Allen has been mostly working with the second-team offense. He’s just waiting for his opportunity.

“I think I have a pretty good chance,” said Allen. “As long as I keep playing and the coaches keep noticing, they will hopefully bring me up to the ones.

”I’m trying to compete and just get that number one spot.”

Big Red Report will feature Allen in a BRR 2014 profile in the coming days.

(17) Ryker Fyfe to (7) Taariq Allen.

The battle for the starting center spot:

While the left-side of the offensive line might be figured out and the right-side has its favorites, the center spot is still up for grabs entering fall camp.

The two leading candidates for the job are senior Mark Pelini and junior Ryne Reeves.

Reeves had a lot of momentum in the spring, showing the coaching staff he was more than up to the job. A neck injury derailed that momentum.

“It’s been good so far, Mark and I really good friends, so we toss things back and forth,” said Reeves. “He’s helping me a lot with the move from guard to center. We are helping each other a lot, so it’s good.”

Fyfe impressing teammates:

The Grand Island walk-on quarterback talked to reporters after practice on Wednesday night – Big Red Report wasn’t in the media session, choosing to listen to Beck talk about the offense.

But, we heard plenty from a few receivers on the team including Brandon Reilly, who feels the quarterback deserves a shot at the starting job.

"I think it’s just how calm he is in the pocket," Reilly said. "He can throw it a mile and as accurate as anyone. I think he’s probably got the best arm out there.”

Reilly says he feels the team, for the most part, has guys competing for every spot and no starters are established – including at quarterback.

Senior wide receiver Jamal Turner, a player who knows a thing or two about the quarterback position, also had reviews about Fyfe.

“I love Ryker,” Turner told reporters, including 93.7’s John Gaskins. “Very accurate…He’s up there with Tommy [Armstrong] when it comes to delivering the ball.”

Fyfe has been receiving most of the second team reps, but did get a shot to work with the ones today.

In the video above, Beck talked about the sophomore quarterback at the 1:50 mark.

*** Harvey’s donuts: ***

* Nebraska defensive back Charles Jackson missed practice and had a good-sized brace on his knee. In a text message to the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, head coach Bo Pelini said Jackson was day-to-day and would be evaluated Thursday.

* Other players who missed practice included: DB.) LeRoy Alexander (hamstring), LB.) Jaevon Walton (personal reasons), and LS.) Gabriel Miller (back).

Taking advantage of Jackson’s stint on the sidelines was true freshman Josh Kalu. The Houston native took second-team reps and showed he’s picking up the defensive system quickly. Kalu was getting constant coaching from Jackson. At one point in the practice, one upperclassman defensive back said, “Kalu can really play,” after the freshman made a stop at the line of scrimmage.

* If they rewarded players for the top practice of the day, the honor might have gone to true freshman Kieron Williams. The Air Force prep signee has only been on campus for a month, but looks like an experienced upperclassman. Getting second-team reps the entire day, Williams made multiple stops behind the line of scrimmage. It’s quite evident from watching practice Williams is definitely liked by Pelini and secondary coach Charlton Warren.

* Redshirt freshman Marcus Newby had a good practice when he received defensive end reps as a pass rushing specialist. Newby made it tough for the offensive tackles to keep him in front. During one instance, the Maryland native got into the backfield, overrunning Johnny Stanton. When Stanton took off out of the pocket, Newby was able to use his speed to chase him down – a play many defensive ends on the roster wouldn’t have been able to make.

* Josh Banderas still received a bulk of the first-team MIKE linebacker reps in the base defense and was also playing the position in the NICKEL. Joining him at the BUCK spot on first-team was senior Trevor Roach. Both Rose and Santos were on the second team (don’t read too much into this).

* Freshman cornerback Chris Jones received a small set of first-team reps on Monday. Humbled by senior wide receiver Kenny Bell on a fly pattern at one point, Warren told his young defensive back, “learn from it.” A couple plays later, Alonzo Moore beat Jones down the sideline, but the ball was overthrown. Jones might have been thrown into the fire, but did enough to deserve those reps along the way. He’s one to watch.

* Nebraska’s defense was the winner on Wednesday, frustrating the offense especially late in the day. Beck isn’t surprised. “See ball get ball,” Beck pointed out at this point. The fourth-year coordinator is using the week to install the offense. More on the offense becoming simpler and the growth of Beck as a coordinator this offseason in my weekend report.

Big Red Report Top Stories