LINCOLN — Of all the words and phrases Ryan Held says to his running backs in a given practice, he estimates one is easily atop the leaderboard.
“Press! Press! Press!”
The assistant harps on the idea, which calls for rushers to make their cuts as close to an offensive lineman as possible. Held called it “striking a match” for the way backs should rub the side of a blocker as they slash through a hole. It forces a defender — usually a linebacker — to choose a side in pursuit. It creates certain angles that fit into the offensive scheme.
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Held can evaluate the technique during the team’s “Nebraska drill,” when a rusher weaves through a confined space trying to score amid a pair of blockers and defenders. The coach noted that Wednesday’s session wasn’t necessarily ideal for judging the vision of backs.
“First of all, we gotta stay within the cones,” Held said. “And some of the guys went outside the cones, so they weren’t following directions there.”
But pressing to the “heel line” of the offensive line will continue to be something Held prioritizes as the Aug. 31 season opener nears. If everyone has speed and vision, the best presser could earn a prominent role.
“We show it in meetings,” Held said. “And trust me, we miss many cuts. But that’s why we coach; that’s why we film it; that’s why they put ‘Coach’ on my back. So I gotta get those guys right. Or if not I’ll be selling pickup trucks at Amarillo Ford.”