Offensive Line major focus during Spring

Nebraska took the field for the second day of Spring practices as they prepare for the up-coming Spring game on April 17th. Much of the concern right now isn't just implementing a vastly different offense, but having the players to implement it at all. The oft-injured offensive line still remains short-manned and hobbling as the Huskers take the field for day two.

The Huskers hit day two of practices and the emphasis is obviously not on just seeing where you are, but getting to where the Huskers need to be. With only a matter of roughly three weeks to practice before Summer break, the learning phase is in full-tilt, the offense being the biggest emphasis of all.

As coach Callahan indicated in the pre-Spring press conference, pass protection was key. Putting in the packages as quickly as possible and getting those protections down before the Huskers have to hit the Summer break. To that end, Callahan said that much progress has been made. "We have most of them in." Callahan said of the installation of the pass-protections. "We have I want to say a good seventy percent of the protections in. All the six-man, seven-man protections are in."

"We haven't put in our "scats", our "no-backs" and our maximum pressures in yet."

The installation of those protections remains key for the staff early on and Callahan stated that they are working on putting in the rest of the schemes. "We had a special category these last two practices where we worked on blitz pick-up." he said. "We devoted 12 plays each day to really work on our blitz protection. We've got some holes in it right now just in terms of getting the feel for the pick-up, but we need it. That's why we need that drill and that's why we are doing it."

Part of the undoubted frustration of a limited time-frame to put these schemes in certainly has to come from the fact that at all times, not all of the linemen are available because of either scheduling considerations due to school or simply because not every player is healthy, players like Mike Erickson and Jake Andersen playing somewhat hobbled and players like Greg Austin who are out for most if not all of the Spring session.

"Has it been what I want it to be? No." Callahan stated of his current offensive line rotation. Because of the fact that we have a lot of guys that have to leave early for class. We've got some guys that are injured, so we are working towards that continuity."

"We are trying to firm it up and we are trying to evaluate and assess all of them right now to find our best five."

The best five is what has amounted to be the healthiest amongst the group, but coach Dennis Wagner stated afer NU's first practice that he has his hopes that by Fall, NU will have a number much more manageable or in this case, comfortable for the up-coming season. "Right now, we've got 19 offensive linemen practicing." Wagner stated. "We are bringing in five new players, so that gives us 24 and Austin and Thor are still banged up and that's 26."

"That's a good number to work with. You don't want to have too many, but you obviously want to make sure you have enough and that's what we are working at getting to right now."

Coach Wagner stated that while the offensive line units were divided up in a certain way, it shouldn't be considered in any way an indication of how the depth chart for that unit will look like even in the near future. "Coach Callahan says it best." Wagner stated. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Right now, we have no idea who's first and second."

"As we go along and have scrimmages and opportunities to grade players, we'll move them around in first and second groups and right now, we don't have those. It just happens, we have these two groups that are getting a lot of reps."

"The redshirt freshman and some of the kids that maybe haven't played the position are observing more the first few days of install and as they go along, they will get more reps."

"We really have to wait until scrimmage to determine who's first and second."

Nebraska resumes practice tomorrow, will practice Saturday and get Sunday off.

Steve Ryan can be reached at

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