The home-stretch to Western Illinois

It's home-stretch time. Less than a week away before all the clichés can hit the headlines once more. Don't tell the staff at Nebraska though to start getting nervous because for them, it's just another day at the office. That's what it amounted to even on a Sunday as Nebraska finished off the last weekend of practices before the "real" weekend arrived.

Nebraska hit the inside of Memorial today in shorts for a brief round of situational-drills. Unlike the mock-game yesterday though, it wasn't about preparing for a game, rather THE game that lies less than a week ahead. "Today, we were just covering some situations that we needed to cover – just base things versus Western." Jay Norvell said. "We had a good mock-game yesterday and covered a lot of different situations."

"(We) Covered all our communications, substitutions and different kicking situations, so that was really a great learning experience for our guys."

The coaches will take that into tomorrow where the players will have a day off, but the coaches will be working feverishly to finish up their preparations for the "Leathernecks". We're going to finalize our game-planning." Norvell said. "We're going to go back and watch tape and really finalize some of the things we want to do in the "base. And put our game-plan together and get those prepared for our guys."

While Norvell admitted that it was technically a day off for the players, they were expecting that many would still be in to watch film so that they could zero in on Western Illinois even more.

And, as the game draws near, you might think that with a Husker fan-base that's a little nervous and excited, Husker players that are no doubt a little anxious as well, the coaches themselves might have those butterflies floating around, if only just a bit. For experienced coaches, however, even ones that are new to an area, this is simply business as usual. "It's pretty much the same as it has been every year." Norvell said. "You do a lot of things getting ready for the season. You have off-season conditioning, you've got Spring practice, Summer conditioning, Training-Camp and now it's time to play."

It's been a blur indeed for a staff trying to put so much in that's new and players trying to absorb it an acceptable rate. That doesn't mean though that even all this change can't become a little redundant at times. "At this time, you are pretty much stale on practicing." Norvell said. "Our guys don't really want to practice anymore. They don't really want to practice against each other."

"They really need an opponent. After awhile, things kind of get monotonous on the practice-field. You need a focus to really keep you edge and Western Illinois is our focus."

That's the main focus, but only one of many that the coaches will have as the Western Illinois game arrives. In the more immediate future, however, many are the questions about the cemented depth chart that will come out on Tuesday.

Not wanting to wait that long, the questions still come as to redshirts, if anyone has already been officially named as using theirs this year and who might fore-go that this year. As you would expect, for now Norvell was non-committal. "We really haven't made any concrete decisions on that." He said. "We need depth and there's some positions that we are awfully thin at and where some of these young guys might play. So, we haven't really ruled anyone out as far as a redshirt this year."

Some players that are almost givens to not use their redshirt this year are wide receiver – Terrence Nunn, cornerback – Cortney Grixby, either of the QBs vying for the second spot – Ryan Goodman or Beau Davis and running back – Brandon Jackson.

Earlier during training-camp, Callahan talked about Jackon's possible use in that it would be from a fairly limited standpoint. Given what they had said previously would only be a small portion of the playbook, Jackson's role would be isolated and more than likely in certain situations. That mind-set hasn't changed and if anything, Jackson's future role for NU could get heavier as the season goes along. "We're preparing as if he's got a chance to play and we're getting him ready that way." Norvell said. "He has shown a lot of good things and he's still a young guy, but he's shown some promise and we're going to get him ready to play."

Other true freshman that could be likely to see the field this year are offensive lineman - Lydon Murtha, wide receiver – Nathan Swift along with the junior college transfers - Marque McCray as a sub on punt returns, wide receiver – Shamus McKoy and offensive lineman – Cornealius Thomas. Thomas arrived fairly late on campus and needs additional conditioning, but could be considered probable by mid-season.

On Saturday, head coach Bill Callahan did say that Monday was also a day for finalizing the depth chart which will be announced officially during Tuesday's press conference which is slated to start at 10:50 A.M.

You can view that press conference live on with your HuskersNside subscription or you can check out our front page as we'll bring you press conference coverage, video interviews with players and sound bytes of everything the coaches had to say.

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