Huskers' last practice under the lights

The sun wasn't required as the Huskers practiced for the very last time this spring. With the stadium lights blazing, the Huskers wound down the practices with no sun, no pads, but all the intensity they had exhibited all this off-season.

AsNebraska warmed up one last time for the annual red/white game, it was amidst a cool morning, lit only by the stadium lights as the Huskers hit the practice field at 5:45 this morning.

 

The practice without pads meant the Huskers weren't going to be knocking heads, doing the one-on-one call-out drills or anything else that had become so thematic this spring, but that didn't stop the coaches from simulating a lot of real-game situations.

 

The emphasis this practice was on third and long and first and goal, all of the quarterbacks taking reps under center.

 

The QB controversy has been rather anti-climactic this spring as from the outset, it seemed as if it was inevitable that Zac Taylor would eventually be the man. Yesterday, after practice, quarterback coach Jay Norvell admitted at least to the fact that for now, Zac was indeed.

 

The battle that was to take place between Taylor and the incumbent Joe Dailey, well, it never really took place. Norvell did also say yesterday, however, that Dailey now residing fourth on the depth chart wasn't an indication that Dailey himself has slipped. "The other guys have improved," Norvell said of Taylor, Davis and Ganz. "We went back in this off-season and started from scratch with these guys. We taught them the principles, the reads, the footwork and we just went through every detail of this passing-game."

 

"The guys have performed, we have evaluated them and we think we've got guys lined up where they should be on their performance."

 

"I don't think Joe has slipped, I just think other guys have improved."

 

The rotation for the spring game will be Taylor with the first unit, versus the rest of the quarterbacks in an as of yet undetermined order. For the second half, it will be Beau Davis taking the reps with the first unit.

 

Like the spring game last year, the first units for the offense and defense will be on the same team, Norvell stating yesterday that for the reason of continuity, this was the best formula for success.

 

Except for the quarterbacks and the punt and punt return segments of the scrimmage, all other aspects are expected to be live, meaning every other player is open for full contact. The quarterback, if touched in the backfield while in possession of the ball, will be considered down at the point he was touched.

 

This should limit the play-calling somewhat, because due to the quarterbacks having only to be touched to be down, the plays drawn up for the quarterback to run the ball might be taken out entirely.

 

Players that will not be participating in this scrimmage are expected to be the following:

 

Matt Herian (leg)

Santino Panico (personal reasons)

Donald DeFrand (foot)

Brandon Jackson (shoulder)

 

In last year's spring game, virtually every passing record Nebraska had for the scrimmage was broken. Joe Dailey completed 29-of-49 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns, shattering the Spring Game record in all four categories. The previous school mark for completed passes was set with 22 by the White in 1992, while the White team attempted 40 passes in 1971.  Dailey also snapped the touchdown mark previously held by Scott Frost with three touchdowns for the White in 1995, and his yardage total surpassed Tommie Frazier's mark of 228 yards for the Red set in 1995.

 

Another record that was broken was the attendance record, 61,417 showing up for last year's game, topping the previous record of 60,498 set in 1998. That year, Eric Crouch and Bobby Newcombe were competing for the top spot at QB and was the first year for the then new head coach, Frank Solich.

 

Final Stats  of last year's spring game

 

The updated forecast has Saturday in the mid-70s, with a 5 to 15 mph wind and a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms.

 

Don't forget that in attendance will be some of the most successful Huskers ever to take the field at Memorial, three being the "Scoring Explosion", wide receiver – Irving Fryar, quarterback – Turner Gill and Heisman Trophy winning running back – Mike Rozier. Along with them will be 20 plus former Huskers that are currently in the NFL.

 

Bio Sketches on NFL Players in Attendance

 

Josh Brown: Josh Brown set the Seattle Seahawks rookie scoring record in 2003, while his 92 percent accuracy rate on field goals ranked second in the NFL last season. While kicking for Nebraska (1999-2002), Brown became the Huskers' third all-time leading scorer with 315 points. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior.

 

Ralph Brown: Ralph Brown will begin his sixth season as an NFL cornerback, and his second with the Minnesota Vikings, in 2005. Brown owns Husker records for pass breakups in a single game with seven and in a career with 50, as well as starts made, with 45. He became the first Nebraska true freshman since WWII to start a season opener in 1996, and he went on to start every game during a career that spanned from 1996 to 1999.

 

Correll Buckhalter: Correll Buckhalter is entering his fifth season with the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles. As a rookie in 2001, Buckhalter set the Eagles' rookie rushing record with 586 yards. Buckhalter ranks No. 11 on the Huskers' all-time rushing charts with 2,522 yards, with his single-game high of 143 yards came in the season opener of his sophomore year against Louisiana Tech in 1998.

 

Toniu Fonoti: Toniu Fonoti is entering his fourth season with the San Diego Chargers after being selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Fonoti was a first-team All-America selection as a junior in 2001, and helped lead Nebraska to national championship Rose Bowl game against Miami. He was only the third player in NU history to earn playing time on the offensive line as a true freshman, joining Jake Young and Will Shields.

 

Jay Foreman: Jay Foreman has enjoyed six standout seasons in the National Football League with the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans. Last season, Foreman ranked third for the Texans in tackles and in 2003, he was among the NFL leaders with 135 total tackles. Foreman, a four-year letterwinner, served as Nebraska's middle linebacker during the 1997 national championship season. He ranks 14th on the Huskers' all-time tackles chart with 233.

 

Ahman Green: Entering his eighth season in the NFL, Ahman Green is one of the league's elite running backs with the Green Bay Packers. Since being traded from Seattle in 2000, Green has recorded more rushing yards and yards from scrimmage than any other NFL back. He ranks No. 2 on the Packers' all-time rushing charts with 5,685 yards, and his career-high total of 1,883 yards during the 2003 season is the highest for any player who did not win the league's rushing title. Green still ranks No. 2 on Nebraska's career rushing list and helped lead the Huskers to national championships in 1995 and 1997.

 

Russ Hochstein: A member of the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Russ Hochstein has logged four seasons in the NFL at offensive guard. While at Nebraska, Hochstein was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News in 2000 and earned All-Big 12 honors for three consecutive years from 1998 to 2000.

 

Eric Johnson: Eric Johnson completed his fifth season in the National Football League in 2004 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons squad that reached the NFC Championship game. Johnson played his four NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders, including two years under Head Coach Bill Callahan. At Nebraska, Johnson was a two-year starter at linebacker, who made 168 career tackles, including 26 tackles for loss. He was a member of NU' 1997 national championship team.

 

Trevor Johnson: Trevor Johnson recently completed his rookie season in the NFL as a defensive end with the New York Jets. Johnson played in all 16 regular-season games in 2004 on special teams, while he also saw limited action on defense. A four-year letterwinner with the Huskers, the Lincoln, Neb., native started 22 of 49 career games at defensive end, recording 131 tackles, 22 stops for losses and 7 ½ sacks.

 

Chris Kelsay: Chris Kelsay showed promise at defensive end in his second season with the Buffalo Bills in 2004. Kelsay appeared in all 16 games, including nine starts, and collected 52 tackles, 4 ½ sacks, two fumble recoveries and his first career interception. A four-time letterwinner at Nebraska between 1999 and 2002, Kelsay was a second-team All-America selection by the Football News as a junior, and he earned a pair of All-Big 12 Conference nods in his career.

 

Kyle Larson: One of the greatest punters in Nebraska history, Kyle Larson has transferred his college success to the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. Larson ranked eighth in the AFC as a rookie last season with an average of 42.2 yards per kick, the highest for a Bengals' punter since 1998. He was a first-team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association, as well as a finalist for the Ray Guy Award as a senior in 2003. His 2003 average of 45.1 is the single-best season for a punter in Husker history.

 

Jammal Lord: Jammal Lord made his NFL debut in 2004 at defensive back with the Houston Texans after making the transition from college quarterback. The former Nebraska signal caller sits fifth on NU's all-time total offense charts, while he ranks No. 10 in career rushing. Lord's 2,573 rushing yards also rank No. 2 all-time among Husker quarterbacks behind only Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.

 

Mike Minter: Mike Minter, entering his ninth NFL season, ranks as the Carolina Panthers' all-time leader with 696 tackles, 14 forced fumbles and four interceptions returned for touchdowns. He helped lead the Panthers to their second Super Bowl in 2004, where they faced the New England Patriots. Minter was a key member of Nebraska's back-to-back national championship squads in 1994-95. After suffering a torn ACL two games into his sophomore campaign in 1994, Minter returned to start every game the rest of his career at rover. He earned a pair of second-team All-Big Eight Conference honors in 1993 and 1995, before being recognized as first-team All-Big 12 during the 1996 season.

 

John Parrella: John Parrella is the dean of former Huskers in the NFL, along with former NU teammate Will Shields, having recently completed his 12th season while playing with the Oakland Raiders in 2004. Parrella has recorded 402 tackles and 26 ½ sacks during 172 career games with the Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills. A three-time letterwinner at Nebraska, Parrella earned first-team All-Big Eight recognition while helping lead the Huskers to a pair of conference championships in 1991 and 1992.

 

Jerrell Pippens: Jerrell Pippens spent the 2004 season on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. A four-year letterwinner between 2000 and 2003, Pippens was a member of Nebraska's 2002 Rose Bowl team.

 

Carlos Polk: Carlos Polk is entering his fifth NFL season with the San Diego Chargers. As a Husker, Polk was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as the top linebacker during his 2000 senior season, while he was also a first-team All-America and All-Big 12 selection. A four-time letterwinner, Polk was a member of Nebraska's 1997 national championship squad.

 

Dominic Raiola: Dominic Raiola has been a mainstay on the Detroit Lions' offensive line during his four-year career, starting 48-straight games at center since the 2002 season opener. Raiola was drafted in the second round of the 2001 draft after a distinguished career as a Husker. He earned the Rimington Award as the nation's top center as a senior, was a finalist for both the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award and was an All-America selection during the same season. Raiola was a freshman on Nebraska's 1997 national championship team.

 

Mike Rucker: Mike Rucker, beginning his seventh season with the Carolina Panthers, has established himself as one of the NFL's top defensive ends. Rucker ranks second in Panthers' history with 40 career sacks, while his career-high 12 sacks ranked fourth in the NFC during the Panthers' Super Bowl season in 2003. A four-time letterwinner at Nebraska, Rucker ranks No. 5 on NU's all-time tackles for loss charts, while his 15 ½ sacks rank eighth. His four sacks as a freshman vs. Texas Tech still stand as a single-game record, along with former Husker great Trev Alberts.

 

Josh Sewell: Josh Sewell recently finished his rookie season with the Denver Broncos. A 2003 honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection, Sewell started all 13 games during the Huskers' 10-3 season. He earned two letters after transferring from Indiana State following the 2000 season.

 

Scott Shanle: Scott Shanle, entering his third NFL season, saw his first significant playing time at linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004 and recorded 23 tackles. Shanle was a four-year letterwinner and a three-year starter at strongside linebacker for Nebraska. He was a member of NU's 2001 Rose Bowl team, while earning honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors in both 2001 and 2002.

 

Erwin Swiney: Erwin Swiney has been a member of the Green Bay Packers organization for three seasons, providing depth in the secondary. Swiney was a four-year letterwinner at cornerback for Nebraska between 1997 and 2001. Swiney became a starter for the Huskers midway through his true freshman season to held lead NU to the 1997 national championship. He ranks fourth on Nebraska's all-time pass breakup charts with 38.

 

Adam Treu: Adam Treu is in his eighth NFL season with the Oakland Raiders. He took over the starting center spot in 2004, starting all 16 games during the regular season. He served as Oakland's long snapper for the entire 2003 season before starting at center during the Raiders' Super Bowl appearance vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Treu, a three-year letterwinner at Nebraska, served as the Huskers' starting left tackle during the 1996 season and was a member of NU's back-to-back 1994 and 1995 national championship squads.

 

Zach Wiegert: Zach Wiegert has become a versatile offensive lineman during his 10-year NFL career. Currently with the Houston Texans, Wiegert became one of college football's greatest all-time offensive linemen at Nebraska. He won the Outland Trophy as a senior in 1994, college football's award for the top offensive lineman, and was a consensus All-America selection while leading NU to its third national championship.

 

Demorrio Williams: Demorrio Williams had a successful rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons as a linebacker and special teams standout. Williams made 56 total tackles, including 2 ½ sacks in helping the Falcons reach the NFC Championship Game. Williams was the leader of the 2003 Nebraska defense, racking up 21 tackles for loss en route to All-Big 12 honors and recognition as a Butkus Award semifinalist.

 

Player bios and some statistics courtesy of NU Sports Information


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