The last time NU held goal-line scrimmages, the defense was all but unbeatable. At every turn, up the gut and anywhere you could imagine, the defense was ready for the stop.
Today though, the offense got to turn the tables on the defense a bit, at one point scoring on six straight snaps in goal-line practice. It was a definite step forward from the red zone scrimmaging prior. "I thought we were vastly improved from where we were a couple days ago." Callahan stated. "I thought our running backs down on the goal-line did a great job of lowering their pads (and) our linemen did some great blocking and we finally got a feel for that area of our play."
As stated above, the offense scored on six straight snaps from scrimmage utilizing both the run and the pass. Callahan said that much of the reason for this newfound success had to do with the ‘bigguns' up front. "I thought that coach Wagner did a great job with the offensive line." he said. "Defining their technique and really working with the exactness and the precision of what we have to get done up front. That's where it all begins."
"Secondly, I thought our fullbacks, their entry into the hole on the isolation blocks was very good. Their pad-level was down, they got under and up on the inside linebackers and then our backs pushed the pile and completed the runs."
"So, by and large, when you establish yourself with an inside running game, it really provides some confidence, some physicalness in which we are looking for."
Throughout the practice, the increased energy level was obvious. Possibly due to the fact that the offense was actually having some success, but overall, Callahan said that the entire team approached today's practice with a definite fervor. "I really thought our guys came to play today." he said. "They were focused in our morning meetings (and) they brought that out onto the field."
"They are beginning to get a feel for what we want to get accomplished within the system and we are beginning to repeat plays."
Repeating plays would have to come as a relief to the offensive players, early on being almost bombarded each day with a new set of plays, new assignments and everything that, that entails. Now, finally being able to focus somewhat, QB coach, Jay Norvell said that it's giving them time to refine a multiple of things. "We've stretched them mentally and we knew we would and it was by design." Norvell said of the instillation of the offense. "But, we also know to focus in and we allowed them to focus in and we saw them respond."
"When you have certain drills and you ask players to respond and when they respond, you are as a coach pleased by that and our guys did today and we made some strides."
One area that has continued to plague the offense though has been turning the ball over. Something both Callahan and Norvell emphasized as they recapped the good and the bad of today. "We've got to learn how to protect the ball." Norvell stated. "If we protect the ball, we win." Callahan added, "It's not something we want to do obviously, but that is something we have to work through."
While with every practice, there is bound to be the negative, for the firs practice all Spring it would seem, the faces are smiling a little more. "We are making great strides." Callahan said of the team. "I was pleased with the two practices we put back-to-back. We are beginning to practice good and continue that on, on a day-to-day basis, so I am very pleased with that aspect."
Nebraska will resume practice on Monday and their next scheduled scrimmage will be on Wednesday, April 9th.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619