Nebraska didn't hit the inside of Memorial today nor did they practice on the grass as they had done for most of the Training-Camp session. Yesterday, it was inside of Cook Pavilion and as coach Callahan stated yesterday, another chance for more "refinement" and "definement".
With both the offensive and defensive playbooks completely installed, it's all about repetition until Sept. 4th arrives. "We've gone back and we've tried to get more repetition on what we are doing and what we are emphasizing." head coach, Bill Callahan said. "Now, we are going back into those crucial situations like short yardage and goal-line as we did today. And we put an emphasis on Western Illinois on those two areas and get a little bit ahead of the game."
Western Illinois does loom in just over a week's time and while Nebraska is planning for WIU even now, Callahan stated that the practices aren't all about their first opponent of the year, just at times they think it's needed for certain scenarios. "We're not getting complete exposure to Western, but we are getting just an initial exposure to the team, so they can get familiarized with the special categories or some of these odd-ball situations."
"Odd-ball" is not what the staff is banking on being in a lot of for the first game or hopefully, any game after that as Callahan talked today about the offensive efficiency he'd like to see. As we have become accustomed to hearing lately, this offense isn't about a few big plays, but a lot of little ones that end up in huge results. So, when it comes to percentages, especially in the passing department, Callahan's expectations are obviously high. "Every time you look at percentages, you want to get into the seventies." Callahan said. "That's really a high efficient number for the quarterback position."
"If you are operating in the sixties or high fifties, you are doing a good job. If you can work and operate at sixty or sixty-five percent, you are doing good work."
"The offense is based on high percentage decision making. Keeping the team on cycle in normal down and distance and being able to attack coverages and match-ups and being able to keep that percentage high."
One situation that seemed to be getting markedly better took a slight turn for the worse yesterday. The injury bug that had bit and seemingly disappeared struck again, but in almost all cases, it was considered "minor".
Strong Safety - Shane Siegel sprained a foot and did not practice
Offensive lineman - Jared Helming has a calf strain and did not practice
Rush End - Jay Moore has what is being reported as a high ankle sprain and did not practice
Ben Zajicek - Out with a hamstring
Callahan said of all the players except for possibly Ben Zajicek that they are expected perhaps in the next day or two.
The fact that at least some key players have been able to make it back has given the staff some idea of where each might fit into the system and of course, where they might fit on the depth chart come the first game of the year.
And, while Callahan did say that some areas seem to be fairly solid in regards to an established one-two seating, there are a variety of others that are still up for grabs. "There's a couple of key decisions we have to make." Callahan said regarding personnel. "The place-kicker is going to be a key-decision between Sandro DeAngelis and David Dyches. And of course, our offensive line - we have juggled that so many times and our wide receivers are up and down with injuries. If we can straighten those three positions out, I'd feel real good with where we are at."
As you might imagine, the emphasis has been on the offensive side of the ball. As one of the top returning defenses in the country, that side of the ball was fairly firm according to Callahan. And other than the offensive line, the return positions seem to be what's left as far as slots that have yet to see a named one or two person for the position.
One place where the number two slot is perhaps as important as any of the other battles for spots going on around the field is that of playing as the back-up to starting QB, Joe Dailey. True Freshmen, Ryan Goodman and Beau Davis have been up and down as far as who has been holding down that two spot, Davis the last known person to have a slight edge.
Callahan said that he didn't look at either as having an advantage, rather he looked at each of them as players that needed all the reps they could get. "We're trying to bring both of those quarterbacks along." he said. "As you look at the spot and Joe Dailey, we know that he is the starter right now and he's going to be backed up by two young inexperienced quarterbacks, so we are doing everything we can to provide both of those young players as much time and as much repetition as possible."
Callahan would not say whether either QB would actually see any time during the home-opener, but also stated that the state of the game will probably dictate that more than personal preference.
With coach Callahan stating that what is currently seen on the defense should be firm for the season opener, here's your look at what the "blackshirts" are likely to look at come game one. And, we'll put that along side what the Spring depth chart was to indicate any changes that might have occurred.
|Prior Depth Chart (July 1, 04)|
|Projected Depth Chart|