Quarterback. It's the position that'll get the most attention when thousands of fans cram their way into Memorial Stadium Saturday.
And those players know that. The performance they have in the spring game will provide the foundation for the outside expectations — the kind of buzz and hype that's impossible to ignore here. So they want to play well.
The key for them? To stay under control and keep it simple, according to offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.
He won't be over-analyzing the spring game. But he will be looking at some intangible elements from the guys running the offense in what amounts to be the unit's first public unveiling since Langsdorf and the new staff changed basically everything.
"We don't have to try to do anything crazy," Langsdorf said. "Just try to be poised with a lot of people watching. Handle the nerves, handle the pressure. Be able to get rid of the ball on time and complete passes."
It'll be a simplified playbook Saturday, according to Langsdorf. They'd like it to be a confidence-boosting afternoon. But they're still tinkering with the plan.
More noteworthy items from Monday's practice are below.
>> Senior cornerback Daniel Davie was back in pads Monday. Still not 100 percent healthy, though.
>> Senior Alex Lewis seems to have secured the No. 1 job at left tackle. But beyond that? Nothing's solidified. Langsdorf said the rest of the spots within the top group are still open. Which is good — because they want competition. But the downside: The staff would like to see its top 5 develop a chemistry. "A good problem to have," Langsdorf said.
>> Nebraska's split its team in half for most of the spring, effectively running two practices at a time. Almost all of the projected starters on defense have been working together, though. They want to build chemistry in a new system. And lately true freshman safety Aaron Williams has joined that group. But don't read too much into that. There are two sets of first-teamers, and Wiliams is on a second-team. But he's rotated in for some snaps with the top guys. As a safety. As a nickel. Performed well. Here's defensive coordinator Mark Banker's take: "He may not necessarily be that guy, but I'll tell you what, he keep playing like this, he's going to find himself on the field."
>> Another player who's gotten some reps with the No. 1 unit: Redshirt freshman Mick Stoltenberg. That doesn't mean he's surpassed Kevin Williams or Kevin Maurice. It's just how the staff's rotating. Stoltenberg played alongside Maliek Collins Saturday.
>> By the way, regarding Stoltenberg, the plan was always for him to play defensive end after working at tackle with the scout team. But then the new coaches came in. They wanted him at tackle. So he's at tackle. And he has no problem with that. "It's been a good transition, for sure," said Stoltenberg, the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder from Gretna.
>> Collins said he's weighing in at about 310 pounds, the result of a productive eight-week lifting regimen. He'd like to get down to where he played at last year — which was between 300 and 303.
>> One more tidbit from Collins: the offensive lineman giving him the most issues this camp? Senior offensive guard Chongo Kondolo. Said Collins: "Every time I work a move, his hand's right there in my chest. I'm like, 'Man, I just can't get away from him.'"
>> Offensive guards Nick Gates, Jerald Foster and Tanner Farmer — the three scholarship freshmen who redshirted last year — met with reporters for the first time in their careers Monday. Look for more on that trio in Tuesday's paper.