Nebraska coach Mike Riley appears ready to shelve the marathon, three-hour practices he employed at times during his Oregon State tenure.
Speaking at a Lincoln Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday, Riley said he asked weight coaches and trainers in spring to examine how best players could be well-prepared mentally for games while staying physically fresh.
Using technology — including GPS trackers embedded into players' uniforms — the trainers gave Riley a practice schedule similar to the one used by former Husker coach Bo Pelini last fall: Sixty-minute practices on Monday, 90 minutes on Tuesday and Wednesday, a 50-minute Thursday walk-through followed by a Friday "catapult" practice at a higher tempo.
Riley added that he's been the type of coach in the past to conduct three-hour practices to prepare his team for games. That matches the practice style of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who's long used the lengthy practice.
"We have a lot of NCAA rules and if it says you could practice for three hours, then I was going to practice for three hours," Riley said to laughs in audio recorded by KLIN. "So it's like 'How am I going to stuff those three hours of practice into 90 minutes?' It's going to be interesting. Some of the guys who are with us now who played for me at Oregon State or are coaching with us as graduate assistants, they just kind of shake their head, because they went through those three-hour practices back in the day.
"We're looking at every way to try to do it the 'best way.' That's kind of our motto around the office. Let's continue to find a better way, whether it's the process of recruiting, whether it's how we're going to run the zone play, whether it's how we're going to play this coverage, how we're going to run this route, how we're going to block protect on a punt."
More notes from the speaking event:
>> Riley said he met with all 120 players on Nebraska's spring roster for roughly 15 minutes each in recent weeks. The roster will grow to 150 by fall.
>> Riley estimated that he brought 15 former employees from Oregon State to Nebraska to work for him; that was important, he said, for consistency of vision.
"For me, it's very important how the pieces fit together," Riley said.
>> Nebraska's strengths include depth on offensive and defensive line, but Riley wants a "unique pass rusher" to develop. Linemen and cornerbacks, Riley said, are "gold" in recruiting. The Huskers have good depth at corner.
>> To grow the number of personnel groups — Riley likes multiple personnel groups to throw off defenses and keep more players engaged — NU will recruit more tight ends than those currently on the roster.
>> On quarterbacks, Riley said junior Tommy Armstrong is "most ready game-wise" while several young quarterbacks are "talented." He specifically mentioned details about A.J. Bush and Zack Darlington.
Riley appears also ready to be "inclined to look at that more versatile guy" at quarterback. Although Riley can't mention recent 2016 commit Terry Wilson by name, Riley obliquely referred to him.
"There are times in a game when you have the right coverage, the receivers aren't open and defensively you did a great job, but the quarterback, he's the X-factor. He pulls the ball down and runs for a first down. That's one of the most frustrating things in defensive football."