With their first game just 30 days away, the Nebraska football team kicked off their 2016 season with the first practice of fall camp. With rain in the forecast, the Huskers practiced inside the Hawks Championship practice center. The team practiced for a little over 1.5 hours.
“I was standing with Billy Devaney near the end of practice down here and he said, ‘this doesn’t look like a first-day practice to me,’ and really from a year ago, the comfort level and the starting point is so much different and that’s pretty neat to see,” Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said. “We still have to grow, we still have to find the right depth charts, we’ve got to get all the parts put together on special teams – there’s a lot of stuff, but that part of it was pretty good.”
Riley will get a full report from the assistant coaches regarding players coming off an injury, but was pleased with the way De’Mornay Pierson-El and Mick Stoltenberg looked.
“They looked pretty comfortable, I didn’t notice anything that would give me pause,” said Riley. “Although tomorrow will be a better indicator as they come back and do it again.”
Pierson-El said he wasn't satisfied with the practice.
"I have a lot of work to do, I'm ready to do it," Pierson-El told reporters. "I felt good just running around and it was more of a mental part of the aspect. Physically I'm fine, it's just about not thinking about it too much."
Nebraska returns five full-time starters back from a year ago including safety Nate Gerry. Playing alongside Gerry this season remains a mystery.
“You guys know we did not redshirt Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed,” Riley said. “They played [last season] and then Kieron Williams made a move in the spring that was good. So within that group right there, there’s going to be four viable guys and my guess is by the time we get into sub-defenses and situational defenses, all those guys might play.”
Practicing in helmets and shorts, it was the first time Nebraska has practiced after the tragic death of punter Sam Foltz.
"There has been great enthusaium for coming out here and working, I think it's all been good," said Riley. "I'm not going to say it was what everyone needed, but I do know the enthusaium has been good and they did a good job today."
The Huskers will return to the practice field on Friday.