Brenden Stai says Nebraska's offensive line has had 'great push,' but needs more reps

Nebraska running back Dedrick Mills has been victim at times to mistakes along the offensive line, said Brenden Stai, NU’s director of development.

Nebraska is working on some packages on offense that would use running backs Maurice Washington and Dedrick Mills at the same time, former Husker Brenden Stai said Thursday at the Big Red Breakfast.

Mills, a junior college transfer who started his college career at Georgia Tech, has gotten off to a slow start for the Huskers, averaging less than 3 yards a carry at 68 yards on 23 attempts.

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Stai, who attends some practices as NU’s director of development, said Mills “looked phenomenal” on inside runs in the preseason. But like quarterback Adrian Martinez, he’s been victim at times to mistakes along the offensive line, said Stai, an All-America guard on the Huskers’ 1994 national champions.

In Stai’s playing days, the saying for linemen was four hands on the defender in front of you and four eyes on the linebacker behind him.

This year’s line needs some work on the second part, he said.

“We’re getting some great push,” he said, “but we’re missing that backside linebacker streaking in there and making the tackle for loss. And that’s youth. That’s not seeing and not having the reps.”

Other breakfast leftovers:

» Tight ends also need to improve as blockers, Stai said after the breakfast. The position has changed since his playing days, with tight ends at times lining up as slot receivers. But other times they need to “set the edge” by blocking an end or outside linebacker — often one of the most athletic players on the defense.

Starter Jack Stoll “has been doing a heck of a job,” Stai said, “but there has to be improvement across the board.”

» Stai said every Husker needs to ask himself how he can improve after last week’s loss to Colorado – and team leaders such as Washington, quarterback Adrian Martinez and tackle Matt Farniok have to make sure the team stays together.

“It’s important that you don’t have a divide,” Stai said. “You don’t want to have any sort of malcontent in the locker room. Because a lot of things will start happening. You’ll get those locker-room lawyers. You’ll get guys who think they can do it better.”

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