The Huskers wrapped up their sixth practice of the spring Thursday, the final one before the players all scatter for spring break. Coach Mike Riley said he likes what NU's accomplished.
Skill development and technique improvement — that was the priority for much of these early practices. They worked on certain aspects of the game that sometimes get overlooked during the heart of the season (like fielding pooch kicks, Riley said). They also devoted 10 minutes each day to their new tackling techniques.
The Huskers did end also Thursday's session with two sets of scrimmage-like segments. Both the first- and second-team units faced off. Then the third- and fourth-team squads matched up for their own exclusive reps. The emphasis was always on the fundamentals, according to Riley.
"We're kind of right on track with what we wanted to do so far," Riley said.
Riley said the coaching staff will meet Friday to evaluate the team's performance and set some goals for the final three weeks of spring.
More notes from Thursday's practice are below:
>> There's a pretty dramatic difference between the quarterbacks' production in spring practice this year, as compared to last, according to Riley. "Passing percentages are up, interceptions are down, decision-making is better," he said. (That applies mostly to seniors Tommy Armstrong and Ryker Fyfe, Riley said).
>> High praise for true freshman Patrick O'Brien. Said Riley: "(He's) pretty impressive. He's kind of fit in and knows his stuff and operates pretty easily out there."
>> Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said he's witnessed some execution issues on the offensive line early on, though that was a bit expected given NU is replacing three seniors. Developing O-line depth is Langsdorf's top concern at this point.
>> Tight end Cethan Carter's had a good spring, Langsdorf said. Carter's improved considerably as a blocker, Langsdorf said — which is something the senior has worked hard at.
>> Running backs coach Reggie Davis isn't naming a frontrunner for the top I-back job. He's still in evaluation mode. (sophomore Devine Ozigbo, senior Terrell Newby and sophomore Mikale Wilbon are the top three).
>> It's a similar approach to the fullback position, too — Davis said junior Harrison Jordan, senior Mitch McCann, junior Luke McNitt and senior Graham Nabity are competing for that spot. ... As the fullbacks work to improve, Langsdorf said Nebraska's experimented with some formations with multiple I-backs.
>> Receivers coach Keith Williams gets to work with his son, Keyan, every day now. And it's been great, Keith said. Keyan transferred to NU from Fresno State. Said Dad: "It's been pretty sweet. I've coached him, per se, his whole life. It's not brand new in terms of that."
>> Senior receiver Jordan Westerkamp said he'll have his groin injury reevaluated after the spring break. He's not sure if he'll return to practice this spring or not. Riley indicated that Westerkamp is likely out.
>> Nebraska is hopeful that receiver Stanley Morgan and safety Aaron Williams will return to practice after the break.
>> Redshirt freshman Lavan Alston, recovering from an ACL tear, won't be playing in the spring game. But he said he's close to being 100 percent healthy.