Preparations for Clemson begin

The schedules are a little different, but eventually you are going to have to start preparing for the next team you play. Nebraska may still be close to three weeks away from the Gator Bowl and their match up with Clemson, but preparation for the Tigers began today.

The Huskers went half-pads today inside Hawks Championship Indoor Center as they finally star preparations for their January 1 match up with the Clemson Tigers. It's basically business as usual, and now Clemson becomes just another team. "Just like we do against every opponent, we start out with our base plan and then we build from there," Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson said. "With all the preparation time you have for a bowl game it really helps, because we are able to put more time in some of the more special areas like short-yard, goal line, red zone, two-minute that don't get a lot of attention during the week. You can make subtle changes, but we can make some nice changes (now)."

One of the things Watson's offense will be preparing for is a defense he thinks is solid from the back end all the way to the line. "Starting from the back end working up, they have two great safeties (and) I think they have a weakside linebacker who is playing really good football for him," Watson said of senior safeties Michael Hamlin, Chris Clemons and linebacker Kavell Conner, respectively. "And their defensive line is really good. They have some really nice ends and their two inside guys, I think, are the heart and soul of their defense."

The heart and soul, as Watson put it, consists of one senior in 6-3, 310 lbs. Dorrell Scott, along with sophomore defensive tackle Jarvin Jenkins, who comes in at 6-4, 305 lbs. They rank next to each other on the team in tackles, both with 36, both combining for 16.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks on the year.

Now that Nebraska is getting whole-hog, as they say, into preparing for the Tigers, the opportunities for the younger players will start to taper down. Since the bye-week before the regular-season finale' with Colorado the coaches have managed to work far more with the younger players, including many of those who were redshirted this year. Whether it was more time just practicing against the starters or having their own scrimmages, this was seen as a time to get those inexperience players a lot more reps running the Nebraska system.

But it's back to business, and that means the practice schedule, however altered with the extended time frame to the game and with Finals Week upon the Husker team, goes back to normal. "We have been able to work the younger guys earlier last week, and we were able to work them a little big as we began (this week)," Watson said. "Now we are starting to really focus all of our attention on Clemson.

"We'll have some opportunities to work some of the younger guys as we go through, but we'll put really a lot of time into Clemson. For the veterans it was nice, because they have been wanting to move onto Clemson."

With the transition getting into full swing, the practice reps for senior quarterback Joe Ganz go back to normal, as will the reps for those serving a back up role. With only one game left for Watson to have Ganz at the helm, there were obviously questions being pointed toward the guy who might take his place.

As usual, the O.C., who also serves as the Quarterback Coach, was uncommitted as to who was exactly where on the depth chart, but said that those non-starters approach practice even now with a sense of urgency, because he wouldn't let them do anything else. "They have been urgent all Fall. I wouldn't let it go any place but that. That's the way that we practice," he said. "We wanted to give both of those guys opportunities to develop and to compete with each other," Watson said of sophomore quarterbacks Zac Lee and Patrick Witt. "We have been doing that since the second week of the season. They have competed with each other every day."

The downside to this time of year, outside of not playing the following week, is the water cooler conversations about a lot of things. One of those things happens to involve the inevitable discussion about Nebraska's coaches, and if all of them are going to be around next year.

Wide Receivers Coach Ted Gilmore was reportedly interviewed for the Head Coaching position at Wyoming, and Watson was reportedly interviewed for the same position at New Mexico. Watson said that his desire to be a Head Coach is certainly no secret as it is with most any assistant, but he said he's got it pretty good right now. "I've got a great job here, and I am blessed, because I have a tremendous working relationship with Bo, at a great place," he said. "So, it would take something really, really special for me to be interested.

"I've always wanted to be a Head Coach, but I know this though: Good Lord willing and the time comes, those doors will open up. I don't really worry about it. I just keep doing my job, because if I don't, nobody will be interested."

As for how these types of conversations might impact recruiting, Watson said he doesn't worry about that, because there's nothing to worry about. "I don't worry about, because there's nothing to be concerned with right now," he said with a chuckle. "That's why I don't worry about it."

Nebraska will resume practices tomorrow as they continue preparations for the bowl match up agains the Clemson Tigers.

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