The day before full pads: Fall practice continues

Even this early into practices, people want to know who is doing what and if anyone is standing out. Even before the pads are donned, the questions come in bunches about progression, comprehension, retention and that all important depth chart. It's too soon, of course, but even after just four days, there's something coaches can learn about what these players have to offer.

As Nebraska took to the grass fields by Cook Pavilion for the fourth day of fall practices, those that were new coming in are still new right now. Having not even put on all the pads, something that will start tomorrow, defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said that there is only so much you can know. "It's just a different feel that they'll have," he said. "It's a little bit different when you've got lowers on. It's easier to move around a little bit and you are a little fresher when you just have the uppers. When you have the lowers, it gets a little heavy."


For offensive line coach Dennis Wagner, what he was looking for when the pads went all the way for the first time was real basic, but it is one of the biggest keys in seeing just what he's got to work with for the future. "Get off," Wagner said of what he was looking for during the first day of pads. "Shooting your hands, getting your hands on the man and getting off the football on the snap count."


Most of this applies to the newcomers, of course, the coaches mostly aware of what each has of those players that have already been with the team. But, with some players, coaches continue to learn as the player themselves might have undergone a certain change.


Cornerback Tierre Green has done just that, changing over to the defensive back position from running back, where he started one game last season. There wasn't any question in anyone's mind as to his athleticism for the position, rather could he grasp fast enough the fundamentals of play. To that end, Cosgrove said that he was pleased with where Green is in his progression, but knows that much of the reason for his success goes with the fact that he wants to be right where he's at.


"He likes the position," Cosgrove said. "He likes the position of defensive back, so he accepts the coaching and he's working very hard."


Green's work has been mostly about just understanding the position, even Green admitting last spring that his success wasn't based on his knowledge of what to do, but knowing that athletically, he could make up for a lot of his mistakes.


Cosgrove said that if you take the experience factor aside, just from an athletic standpoint, Green's upside is considerable. "He's got very good potential," Cosgrove said of Green. "He's a tremendous athlete, has nice hips (and) a good change of direction and he's a competitor."


"We like what we see so far."


Currently, Green is working with the number one unit along side sophomore Cotrney Grixby. Junior college transfer Bryan Wilson is backing up Green currently, while another junior college transfer, Zack Bowman, is backing up Grixby.


Former cornerbacks Blake Tiedtke and Titus Brothers are now working as safeties in the secondary.


Chances are there's going to be a variety of position changes yet to happen over the fall. As some players find their niche', some find that they could seek it elsewhere on the field. Perhaps some just fit another spot better than someplace else.


There's probably not many positions where fans expect change more than they do on Cosgrove's side, playing Cosgrove's main position: Middle Linebacker.


With the variety of experiments at the position over the spring, still trying to replace the most prolific tackler in Husker history, there was never a sense that any one player had the edge over another.


If it wasn't the two players already slated for the spot (Corey McKeon and Lance Brandenburgh), there were other names tried there (Dontrell Moore), plus many like Steve Octavien, speculated about as to going there before it was all said and done.


Cosgrove said to that end, nothing has changed at that position and based on what he's seen thus far, it's not clear just how it will pan out. "I have not changed them," Cosgrove said of officially changing the rotation. "I am getting the rotation in there, mixing the groupings up a little bit, first and second units, but it's still wide open."


It's wide open now, but as head coach Bill Callahan said of his quarterbacks, Cosgrove has said as much with his defensive players and Dennis Wagner has said of his linemen, when the full pads are on, that's when things will start to materialize as to just what they have.


After that, it will be approximately three weeks more for the coaches to figure where what they have goes and in what order.


Nebraska hits full pads tomorrow and it's also a day where the freshmen and newcomers on the team will begin to address the media. In a very structured gameplan of sorts, there will be selected newcomers from the class of 2005 that will address the media each day. Tomorrow will be linebacker Nick Covey and wide receiver Chris Brooks.


Make sure to stick here, because for our subscribers, we'll have sound bytes, video interviews and all the stuff from practice as the countdown to Maine continues. And, if you want post practice sound bytes with Kevin Cosgrove, but also Dennis Wagner and running back coach Randy Jordan, take advantage of that free 7-day trial and see what you've been missing. Video interviews with players and coaches, along with sound bytes as well. Get closer to the action than you've ever gotten before. Check it out!




Yellow Jersey winners were:


Offense – Tight End – J.B. Phillips

Defense – Rush End – Wali Muhammad

Special Teams – Safety – Andrew Shanle

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