LINCOLN, Neb. – With well over a 100 Nebraska high school coaches in attendance, the Nebraska football team finished up week three of spring practices on Saturday. The practice was split between Hawks field and Memorial Stadium. Nebraska will have five more practices before the Red-White Spring game.
“It always feels like it’s too fast,” said Nebraska head coach Mike Riley. “I think without an over abundance of inventory that we are putting in, we are making some progress and getting better on some things we wanted to focus on.”
Riley, who spoke with reporters for nearly 13 minutes, was asked about the Huskers’ trenches.
“We have to continue to grow,” said Riley. “The growth and development of this group is really important to the success of this team. Right now I would say, we are going to have a solid defensive line, we are still looking for guys to be individual pass rushers. That will be a key element there.…Offensively, I feel pretty good…I like the look of the group and they have actually built some depth from the competition we have.”
* Riley said offensive tackle David Knevel has not been a surprise, but has done well. He looks comfortable in his new role and hasn’t been overwhelmed at right tackle.
* The Davis twins (Carlos and Khalil) are doing well right now according to Riley. He said it’s all about consistency for them, but the horizon looks good. “It’s a nice picture there.”
* No running back has emerged right now according to Riley. He likes all three (Terrell Newby, Mikale Wilbon, and Devine Ozigbo). Wilbon has progressed well with pass protection and on special teams.
* Riley admits it’s hard at times to get a good look at the running backs with limited live work. The long-time head coach said he’s changed his views a lot when it comes to hitting and workload in the spring. In the past at Oregon State, practices were longer, included more hitting, and more installation. Now it’s more about the foundation heading into the summer. The players will get two to three live opportunities over the next two weeks – including the spring game.
* Defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun continues to progress nicely according to Riley. The head coach feels he could be the Huskers biggest pass rushing threat. I turned my head to see him knock Nick Gates back on his rear during some live work between the offensive line and defensive line. This was minutes after the sophomore recorded a sack during a 11-on-11 period between the first-teams. "We need Freedom to elevate," said Riley.
* Wide receiver Stanley Morgan had a few drops during 1-on-1s against the defensive backs, but made up for it with a long touchdown catch against a chasing Joshua Kalu and Kieron Williams during 7-on-7s.
* On the nickel first-team defense, linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey went to the sidelines and Aaron Williams entered as the extra defensive back.
* Quarterback Ryker Fyfe had one of his best practices that I have seen during the spring. He’s usually been one to be cool in the pocket, but is getting even more comfortable holding on to it to scan the field before a dump down to the back.
* Nebraska is starting to implement a scout team offense and defense already in the spring. It is giving the first-team units a different look and has been beneficial according to Riley.
* Wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El is now 80 percent and starting to feel good mentally on where he is at with his leg injury.
* A.J. Bush might have had his best practice according to Riley. “He threw it with authority.” The second-year Nebraska coaches also praised Patrick O’Brien, saying he has a nice arm and well ahead of the freshman curve when it comes to quarterback awareness.