Amidst a throng of media, head coach Bill Callahan addressed them and the public about the up-coming Spring practices for NU. With so many questions about depth and the actual implementation of the new system, this was everyone's first chance to see just what the new Huskers were going to look like this year.
One of the big questions as to this Spring wasn't necessarily what Nebraska was going to do, but who on the Nebraska team would be assigned to do it.
The last-minute changes to a variety of positions, especially defensive players to the offensive side of the ball, such seemed to be only the beginning of what promised to be a very interesting precursor to the actual off-season.
Most notable of the recent moves were that of defensive lineman, Jared Helming to the offensive line, defensive lineman, Seppo Evwaraye following suit and most recently, CB, Willie Amos was announced as moving over to the offensive side of the ball, slated to fill in at the wide receiver spot.
The depth chart itself was considerably different not just because of those moves, rather due to a variety of moves across the board, just some being Stewart Bradley to the starting Sam Linebacker position, Nick Povendo to starting right guard, Kurt Mann to starting left tackle and Tierre Green already finding himself as the number two I-back on the team.
Callahan did say though that the moves now and in the near future are hardly decisive as to what the final two-deep could like come fall. "My philosophy about depth charts very early in the process is very simple, it's not how you line-up, it's how you wind up." he said. "Each position will be wide-open for competition."
In addition to the movement of some players, coach Callahan addressed the status of other players in respect to their status on the team, whether their injuries would prohibit them from participating this Spring or those that could be likely to participate, but still are not considered certainties to do so.
OL, Greg Austin – right knee – out for Spring
OL, Jake Chalupsky – right knee – out for Spring
WR, Brandon Biodrowski – low back – out for Spring
DT, Brandon Teamer – left toe – probable for spring
OL, Mike Erickson – right hip – probable for Spring
WR, Mike McLaughlin – abdominal injury – probable for Spring
WR, Andy Birkel – mono – probable for Spring
DT, Chris Bryant – left hamstring – probable for Spring
DB, Joey Robison – right hamstring – probable for Spring
TE, Chris Septak – right shoulder – questionable for Spring
Callahan also reported that Lannie Hopkins and Ryan Schuler were no longer with the team, citing "personal reasons" for their departures. Hopkins had been fighting an assortment of injuries since he became a Husker and Schuler had been dealing with blood clots, a problem that was expected to prompt his early departure from the program and the sport.
While personnel issues would be addressed throughout Spring and Fall, Callahan and company were more interested in not just assessing who, but implementing the west coast offense that Nebraska would be running from this time forward.
The implementation of such a different type of offense has prompted much speculation as to whether an option team with option personnel could indeed make that segue anytime soon, much less in the first season. Coach Callahan stated that the system itself was far more flexible than one might think and it's implementation would be about catering the system to the players instead of the other way around.
"We've got some outstanding players that have some great characteristics and as their progress continues to evolve, we will shape the system around them." Callahan stated. "The system is very adaptable, very compatible to what our players can do, so we will go ahead and work our system around what our players do best and not vice versa."
Callahan stated that the primary goals for this Spring will be to implement that system in one-hour increments where there will be a variety of drills that the team will do as they try to segue to the new offensive style.
Nebraska will start practice on the 24th and continue for four straight days before taking their first break, continue the 27th, 29th and 31st to finish up the month and will finish up practices next month with eight more practices, the final one being on the 16th of April followed by the annual Red/White game on the 17th, scheduled for 12:30 p.m..
Coach Callahan also stated that the media will be allowed to view practices during the Spring.
The quarterbacks will be wearing green jerseys this Spring, restricting contact.
Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback coach, Jay Norvell stated that a definite system of relaying plays into the QB has not been set, the determination being that for now, they will utilize both signaling the plays in and sending them in via players.
Coach Callahan stated that the pass protection schemes would be a predominate theme for the offensive line during the Spring practices
The brunt of the incoming recruiting class of 2004 will report starting in approximately May thru July. No comments were made as to any particular players that were earmarked as hopefuls to contribute early for the team.
Callahan reported that the team is currently composed of 113 players on the roster, 60 currently on campus holding scholarships with the 18 commits coming in bringing the total to 78 and said that the 7 remaining scholarships would be open and walk-ons would be considered to fill those if deemed appropriate.
Breakdown of players practicing this Spring by unit goes as follows:
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619