Spring Practice - Day 2 - N the trenches

Sporting only helmets for the last time, the Nebraska players took to the inside of Cook Pavilion for the second day of spring practice. The emphasis from day one was obviously pointed towards the quarterbacks, but today, it was those that will be protecting them. Without a line, there's not a quarterback out there that will survive and this line has the comfort of having been through this before.

The pads may not have been on, but when the units lined up, you could still hear the helmets popping from outside of Cook pavilion.

 

The sound of the linemen coming together was probably a delight to those just eager to be back on the field for day two as the team continues progress towards the spring game on April 16th.

 

For offensive line coach, Dennis Wagner, there's a certain higher level of comfort in knowing that he's not teaching from scratch anymore. "They're familiar with what we expect," Wagner said of his linemen. "They understand the plays, so instead of running to the line thinking of what they are doing, they are getting to line, getting lined up, so the pace picks up."

 

The terminology has always been an issue with this line as any linemen just learning it will tell you. Having that aspect at least somewhat behind them, Wagner has had a chance to see where his team was and now, where they need to go.

 

There's still some questions unanswered, though, as there are still a number of potential linemen for this up-coming season that have yet to arrive.

 

Numbered amongst them are junior college transfers, Jordan Picou from Mount San Antonio College and Brock Pastuer from Mesabi Range CTC. Wagner said that at least for these players, because of where they come from, hopes are that they will be in the mix before the home-opener with Maine.

 

"We didn't bring JC guys in to sit on the bench," Wagner said. "Hopefully, that's going to improve our talent and our competition. Hopefully, they can improve our depth and challenge for a starting position."

 

There is expectations of the junior college players coming in, but as to the freshman, Wagner was realistic and point of fact, hopeful the group he had now would make his decision even easier when it came to pulling freshmen out of a possible redshirt. "All those guys will have an opportunity to compete," Wagner said of the incoming freshmen.

"But, I would hope that this group of guys is far enough ahead, that it is going to be hard for them to challenge."

 

"(But) If the freshmen are good enough to play, they will."

 

At least one of those players considered to be a favorite to play early is Ada high school offensive lineman, Craig Roark. Not necessarily due to the fact that Roark is that far ahead, rather, it's a combination of his ability along with the lack of depth at either guard spot.

 

Currently, Brandon Koch holds down the left guard spot and seems the favorite to hold that, even with the presence of Jordan Picou. At the right guard spot, however, the top spot is held down by Greg Austin, who has been battling a chronic knee problem stemming from an injury suffered his freshman year.

 

Wagner said of Austin that he'll get whatever he can out of Greg, but knows the kind of battle Austin has day-to-day. "He's fighting," Wagner said of Greg's daily battle with his knee. "Greg has a tremendous attitude and I've said all along, that if Greg was in a situation where he couldn't play, he was going to coach."

 

"He's a coaches' player. He understands the game, he loves the game and he's one of our best recruiters. We're going to have Greg play as much as he can play and tolerate and we've got to have Gary Pike and the other guys ready to go in that situation."

 

Wagner said that currently, he has 11 players that he can draw on for the line, with 12 when Lydon Murtha returns. Murtha's return is expected next week, but Wagner said that he'll look for Lydon to try and go tomorrow.

 

Tomrrow starts the first day of pads, the team going in half-pads for the Saturday session. This will be immediately followed by Nebraska's first "Youth Experience", which is an opportunity for young kids from around the state to participate in a variety of drills with the coaches and players of Nebraska.

 

There is expected to be approximately 500 kids in attendance, between the ages of 8 and 13 and will run for approx. 50 minutes following the Huskers third practice of the Spring.

 

Check in for participants begins at 9:00 A.M. and the Nebraska team practice starts at around 9:40. There will be hot dogs and beverages served at the event.

 

NOTES:

 

 Matt Herian (leg), Wali Muhammad (academics), Donald DeFrand (mid-foot sprain) and Lydon Murtha (hamstring) were all out of practice today.


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