Full scrimmage and some surprises for spring

Up and down, drive after drive, it wasn't situational scrimmaging for the Cornhuskers today. No, it was a full scrimmage, even the quarterbacks being targets. They were targets and then some as the defense showed perhaps a glimpse of what they were capable. That didn't stop at least two quarterbacks from shining, however, one making a statement as to being the starter and another, perhaps coming out of the blue.

You didn't need to have to ask anyone about how physical this spring has been. The nicks, cuts and bruises have been a testament to the energy and fire that both sides of the ball have brought to practices this year.


It was an effort that was tested today asNebraska ran their second scrimmage, but the first full live scrimmage where Nebraska essentially moved the ball instead of working in various situations. It was the first real look at this team as they prepare for the spring game, just a week away. "We made today very much game-like," head coach Bill Callahan said. "Moving the ball and starting drives off at the minus forty, letting our offense and defense move the length of the field and get a feel for down and distance, substitutions, sideline management and all those good things you see in football."


"By and large, I thought both sides of the ball worked well today."


In the scrimmage that ran an estimated 100+ snaps, the offense was highlighted by the quarterbacks or more specifically, A quarterback, Zac Taylor (see HOT NEWS for Zac's day and Callahan's comments on Taylor's breakout performance) getting easily the most work he's seen all spring. His efforts were joined by perhaps the surprise showing of Beau Davis (see HOT NEWS for what Davis did to perhaps make himself a name seriously vying one of the top two spots), who's reps at the very least, matched those of the incumbent Joe Dailey.


The quarterbacks did have success at times, but the defense probably felt like they came out the overall winners, Callahan acknowledging himself that his offensive line needed work. "Our defense created a lot of turnovers early in the scrimmage," he said. "I thought our offense started a little bit rusty, but that's usually common in a major scrimmage like this in the first time. But, I thought they got a good feel for what was going on throughout the day and started to pick it up as we moved through it."


For the defense, the highlights came from the likes of Le Kevin Smith, Ola Dagundaro, Jay Moore and Barry Cryer, all of whom had at least one sack. As well, the secondary had some success, grabbing at least three interceptions, two of those coming in the end zone, one off of Joe Dailey and the other from Beau Davis.


The running attack was all but stopped, the longest run by wide receiver turned running back Marque McCray as he had a scamper up the middle for approximately 30 yards. McCray was the top scorer out of the backfield, running it in for two touchdowns. Ross had a touchdown receiving.


Another highlight for the defense was a forced fumble that was recovered by Dontrell Moore, but subsequently was taken from him by Steve Octavien, Octavien then running the ball 45 yards for the score.


Overall, both sides got advantages at times, but Callahan as pleased with the progress the defensive front has made. "I thought our guys came to practice today with the focus that we needed," Callahan said. "We talked about dominance on the defensive line and becoming better and improving ourselves, it all starts up front."


"You set the table up front."


"We put a real emphasis on that play and that focus throughout the spring and they did an outstanding job today. The not only created penetration, but they basically came free on some sacks and provided some big sacks in the passing game that we needed to see."


One of those sacks came from Jay Moore (check out the full audio interview with Moore in SOUND BYTES ) that came on a stunt, where he came free, hammering Zac Taylor for a ten yard loss. "That was a little stunt me and Titus had," Jay said. "It just worked perfectly and I came free and I hit Zac."


"It's good to get out there and make some plays."


There was a first for the spring, but it didn't come on defense. For the first time during spring scrimmages, Callahan turned the play-calling chores entirely over to quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator, Jay Norvell. "I wanted to look at the team," Callahan said as to the reason for not calling any of the plays today. "I wanted to study the huddle, study the reaction and responses to good and bad play."


"I really wanted to isolate my eyes on some particular players and that afforded me the opportunity to do that. I thought Jay did an excellent job today, just getting the plays in and out."


Nebraska will have just a few more days before they get the spring finale' on April 16th, when the red faces the white in the annual Red/White game. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 12:30 p.m. The extended forecast has the weather for the game as sunny and temperatures ranging in the 60s.


Click HERE for the full sound bytes with head coach, Bill Callahan as he covers the gamut for this scrimmage, from his defense, to how he sees the quarterback situation right now. Does he have a leader and will he before the spring is done?

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