The Huskers hit the grass running today as Nebraska resumes practices as they prepare for their season-opener against Western Illinois.
It started off as you might guess, some good and some not so much. "Offensively, we've got a long ways to go." Bill Callahan stated. "A long ways to go. A lot of miscues, a lot of fumbled snaps - too many for my liking, so we have to pick up that one aspect of play."
Then there's the good, the "blackshirts" picking up right where they left off in Spring, dominating as expected. "They did an excellent job." Callahan stated. "Coming off the ball and responding in the over-package we ran today, I'm pretty proud of our defense."
"The carry-over from Spring was really phenomenal from that aspect."
Within the units getting constant scrutiny from the coaching staff, there was also individuals feeling the heat, so to speak and there are going to be a bevy of competitions for starting spots and even on the two-deep.
Adams would have been considered the odds-on favorite to give Dailey a real run for his money from the outset. That is until Adams was set-back by complications from a bout with mononucleosis. That time coming back is still on-going, Adams having lost weight and of course, not being able to go through any type of conditioning - it added up to some work just to get back to 100 percent. "He's not in great condition at this point." Callahan stated during "Media Day" earlier this morning. "We're working hard on his conditioning. We are going to monitor his progress (and) he'll be day-to-day as we go." "He lost considerable weight prior to coming to training camp and it will be important for us to get that back weight back on, so his work will be very limited on the practice field as we begin."
One of the surprises at the position had to have been true freshman, Beau Davis. The physically slight slinger showed remarkable accuracy throughout the entire day-one session and while at times, he struggled like others in grasping and relaying the correct offensive calls, the coaches came out impressed. "I thought Beau looked good today." Callahan stated. "For being a freshman to come in and handle all the offense and have me sitting there in his ear testing him and challenging him on every play - that's hard for a quarterback."
"When you are trying to run all this offense and I call ‘solo right - u-right 81 Hank' and ‘get it off, get it out, get it up, get up the line of scrimmage quicker, faster and go through the progression in your mind', that's a lot of information."
"So, watching him execute it was exciting to see and he did a good enough job as far as I'm concerned."
The concern with Davis, however, hasn't been his ability to throw the ball, rather the ability to take a hit after he's done throwing it or perhaps even before. At 6-4, Davis weighing in at just 185 lbs., it's not much, but Callahan said so was the worry that his lack of an ideal frame would hurt his chances to compete realistically for a spot. "I don't think that's a deterrent." Callahan stated. "His physical stature doesn't seem to have bothered him at all. He still throws the ball pretty well, he spits it out of his hand quickly, he has good command and poise - I'd like to have him bigger, but that will be in a few years."
Along with Davis, there are many other true freshman that will be vying for a spot on this year's version of the Huskers. Some of those almost expected to do just that are offensive lineman, Lydon Murtha, wide receiver, Terrance Nunn, running back, Brandon Jackson and a host of others that are just as seriously considered.
Murtha said of his day one experience that it not only hasn't deterred him from the idea of hitting the field early, it's energized him to make sure he does. "I'm excited to get out there and go against people that are bigger, stronger and faster than I've ever faced." he said. "The speed is a big adjustment, but that's why you come during the Summer and work like crazy, so you can get out here and try for a job. I plan on playing my first year, because that's my goal. If I redshirt, that's what happens, but I plan on playing instead."
One player that hit the field today and it must have certainly felt like he was starting all over again was offensive lineman, Greg Austin. After over a year of rehab after a knee injury, Austin came back to practice, but in limited duty. Head coach, Bill Callahan said that with Austin, the process isn't a matter of getting him back fast, it's a matter of getting him back healthy. "I know that we are being careful and cautious about how many reps he gets during the course of practice." he said. "(but) He has been cleared to go and we're just going to have to be smart about his reps right now." If healthy, Austin could be a huge lift to an offensive interior that is at it's best, thin at this point.
This is only day one and already there are a few answers to be had. Who's here, who's not and who's come to play? Those are the easy ones, the harder ones having to be answered over the duration of practices this Fall. Who's starting, who's finishing and who will be that go-to guy in the end? Those are the answers that will only be known probably shortly before Western Illinois arrives.
Today was the first stage. Tomorrow, it's just another track down a long road that has to be traveled in a very short time for NU.
Nebraska will resume practice tomorrow at 2:45 and will go in pads for the first time this Friday.
Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-730-5619