Story by Eric Olson - Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — It usually happens when the quarterback messes up or someone runs the wrong way. Danny Langsdorf has to take a breath and remind himself where he's at and what he's trying to accomplish.
He is the new offensive coordinator at Nebraska, and he's in the first week of installing a pro-style offense that's totally new to players he's only starting to get to know.
"Kind of like coaching a bunch of freshmen," he said.
"You're with a guy who has won a couple Super Bowls, and then you're throwing a whole new system at guys who aren't necessarily seasoned veterans, 10-year NFL veterans," Langsdorf said. "So there is a little bit I have to pull back on. These guys are doing a nice job. They're well intentioned. They're all trying to learn quickly and get comfortable, but there is a bit of a difference, especially early on, that I've got to keep in mind."
Langsdorf was with the Giants only one year, but the work he did with Manning was notable. Langsdorf tweaked Manning's footwork and helped him sharpen his decision-making. Manning completed a career-best 63.1 percent of his passes and his 4,410 yards passing were second-most in his 11 NFL seasons. He also passed for 12 more touchdowns than in 2013, threw 13 fewer interceptions and took 11 fewer sacks.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin tried to convince Langsdorf to stay, but the 42-year-old said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to rejoin Mike Riley at a tradition-rich program like Nebraska after having spent 11 years with him over two stints at Oregon State.
Riley said while he's glad to have Langsdorf back, he's also glad Langsdorf had that year with the Giants.
"Exposure to other things is always good for guys, and he's bright, and he just brings more to it now that he's been away," Riley said. "We work very easily together. A lot of trust there from a long time ago makes it pretty simple."
Langsdorf, who also had been an NFL assistant with New Orleans from 2002-04, said working with Manning gave him some new perspectives on offense.
"Sometimes when you're together (on a coaching staff) a long time you do the same things and you don't research as many new ideas," Langsdorf said. "So I think having that year, seeing some different defenses, seeing different plays run a different way, was very good for me in my growth."
Nebraska's offense won't necessarily look just like the one Riley and Langsdorf ran at Oregon State. Less than a week into spring practice it's become apparent that the Huskers are better suited to initiating a lot of their running game out of the shotgun formation as opposed to having the quarterback go under center. Also, the quarterback run game will be more of a threat.
As for the passing game, Riley and Langsdorf had a penchant for throwing downfield at Oregon State, where Sean Mannion set the Pac-12 career passing record last year. Tommy Armstrong Jr., the Huskers' starter last year, showed a strong but inconsistent arm last year.
"If we've thrown deep balls real well in our past with an NFL quarterback and then all of a sudden we take some guys that can't throw down the field very well," Langsdorf said, "then that doesn't make much sense."
Langsdorf has until the Sept. 5 opener against BYU to figure out what his players can and can't do and how to tailor his system to their abilities.
"We've thrown a lot at them," he said, "but they're getting more comfortable."