With a playbook that is said to weigh close to ten pounds, for any new recruit coming in, especially an offense one, it can be intimidating. For the quarterbacks, it is perhaps the worst.
It should be enough to know that you are going to have to beat out other very capable quarterbacks on the field, but many lose in that the battle that takes place off the field as well.
The classroom, that one devoted to memorizing plays, drawing the plays out on paper and the next day reciting those plays, what they do and their various motions, shifts, sets and assignments of all the personnel involved, all in front of the coaches, but also those you are competing against.
And it's not a couple of plays a night.
"They've got about 15 or 20 page of plays they have to draw every night," quarterback coach Jay Norvell said of the competing signal-callers. "They had it in every morning and we go over it."
Going over it isn't a matter of just sitting down with the coach, him quizzing you on the plays he gave you the evening prior and you getting an objective, but stern view on what you knew and what you needed to work on.
What players have to do the following day after cramming for a few hours that evening is get up in front of the coaches, but his fellow QBs as well and try as hard as he can not to mess up.
"Guys get on the Budweiser hot seat every night, we put them on the board and they have to know what they are doing, Norvell said. "They've got to know what they are doing and if the guy starts stammering on the board, the guys cut him up pretty bad."
Taylor's presence in spring
start for him in the fall
"That's the only way you can learn it. There's no easy way. You have to draw it, study it and go over it in your head."
"We told our guys they were going to study and it's just like a class."
The sheer enormity of the task in front of anyone that is approaching this offense for the first time is daunting. So much so, that as touted and potentially effective as a true freshman like Harrison Beck may be, what has to be learned off the field slows their progress down immensely.
To Beck's credit, though, Norvell stated that while Beck's growing pains are like anyone's at this point, he's found the learning-curve and passed it to a degree. "He's far advanced of most kids at this stage," Norvell said of Beck. "From where we started from scratch last year, he's much farther ahead then the guys were last year."
"He's just got to keep using his mind and train himself to work within the offense and if he does that, he'll continue to improve."
The playbook has become almost an entity itself. If you ask what an offensive player dreads the most or what's their biggest obstacle in making the progress they want to make, there's more often than not, one answer.
If you ask any one player what they feel that they key for them now is in trying to make an impact this year, the playbook and full comprehension of it will more than likely come up.
Junior college wide receiver
Frantz Hardy said that mastering it
wasn't possible, that there was simply too much to learn. Beck probably looks at
the book and figures he HAS to learn it and even though the system he came from
at Countryside high school in
"There's so many adjustments and options," Beck said of the offense. "You are never out of an option in this offense."
"You can either audible or you are in an empty set and you've got five receivers and you've got five different people to pick a throw from."
Beck would remind you also that along with the playbook, the memorizing of receiver routes, running back assignments and where offensive linemen are at all times, one shouldn't forget that you have to figure all that out and execute the play in under three seconds.
It's not easy when there's a defense intent on stopping you.
"Defensive linemen are swatting at your face, swatting to get the ball out, you've got fast safeties, linebackers that can drop into coverage, corners that are locking your receivers up."
"When you drop back, it's got to slow down and that's what will happen eventually. It just takes time and experience and it will come."
For Beck, there's the pressure to play from himself and a collective of fans that followed him throughout his recruiting process, watching his ranking stay amongst the nation's elite.
Reality says, though, as it has that when you take the transition of high school to division 1-A into account, it's not impossible, but it's certainly not an everyday thing.
That's without the playbook, though, an inanimate object that has literally become an entity in and of itself and when you combine everything that one must learn before he can even think of stepping confidently onto the field of play, something improbable becomes seemingly impossible.
Does that mean there is too much of a playbook? Should a book that weighs almost ten pounds find Jenny Craig and lose about half of that to be realistic at the collegiate level?
That's hard to say and perhaps impossible for at least the next couple of years as the Huskers are still trying to fully stock their offense with the players that fit the profile of exactly what this staff wants.
However, it's doubtful that even an entire team, full of players brought up in the west coast system will be fully prepared for everything this version entails.
It's as one quarterback put it, a difficult thing to learn and time is the only thing that makes the journey easier. "It's pretty tough," junior college transfer Zac Taylor said of learning the offense. "I feel a lot more comfortable now than I did the first day of spring (but) I've still got a lot of learning to do."
"And we haven't even put in the whole thing."
Rumors abound as to the status of safety Shane Siegel and his possible departure from the team. Coach Norvell didn't comment on his status and deferred to head coach Bill Callahan for an official status update
The Yellow Jersey winners today were:
FB – Dane Todd (special teams)
DE – Jay Moore (Defense)
QB – Zac
For the full practice sound bytes with Jay Norvell, along with an interview with freshman Jeff Sounder, make sure to check them out and if you aren't a member, have no fear, because there's a FREE SEVEN-DAY Trial to see just what you are missing.
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