Nebraska kicks off its set of spring practices on Saturday, what coach Mike Riley views as a perfect time for the Huskers to get back to the basics.
They're still going to dig into the playbook, discuss expanded concepts and find other ways to mentally challenge the players.
But quality over quantity. That seems to be the idea.
Riley said all three units — offense, defense and special teams — all have a "foundation of football" established. Now they need to master the details within that foundation.
"What we're looking for as a goal is to basically be fundamentally better inside of all (three facets of the game)," Riley said.
Playing with proper fundamentals? That can be carried over to the fall, according to Riley.
"The focus for us is going to be just playing better football within the framework of what you do," Riley said.
Here are a few other notes from Wednesday's Nebraska media session with Riley, new defensive line coach John Parrella, new executive director of player personnel Billy Devaney and NU players:
>> After the Huskers reconvened following the bowl game win over UCLA and the subsequent mini-break from football, quarterback Tommy Armstrong met with the leaders on offense. He apologized for his decision-making at times last year. And he challenged the group, saying they have potential and they need to put in the work to ensure they live up to their own expectations. Receiver Jordan Westerkamp said Armstrong's talk "kind of sparked" NU into winter conditioning.
>> Veteran linebacker Josh Banderas said he and some of his defensive teammates watched film from last year. What they learned: They need to be more consistent. He said they'd watch three clips of the same play call — they'd see two positive results and one disastrous one. It starts with "understanding the base defense more," Banderas said. So that'll be a focus this spring.
>> Banderas said redshirt freshman Mohamed Barry is one of those youngsters who's always texting all of the older guys to watch film. Barry, who didn't get to play last year because of injury, has the physical skills and he wants to learn, according to Banderas.
>> Senior Dylan Utter, a starting guard last year, will play some at center this spring. That's where he started his Husker career, Utter said, so he'll be pretty comfortable stepping in at that position.
>> Riley on grooming three new starters on the offensive line: "There's no sense in being nervous about it yet. We've just got to go to work and get these guys going."
>> Riley said true freshman quarterback Patrick O'Brien will benefit from spring ball — from practice reps, to strength and conditioning sessions, to an increased knowledge of the playbook. But Riley acknowledged that the highly touted O'Brien will attract some uncontrollable attention from media and fans. But he'll be treated no differently inside the program. Said Riley: "He can get the extra hype from everybody else, but he won't get any extra from us."
>> Parrella said he's like most former college athletes. His alma mater holds a special place in his heart. So it was a "no-brainer" for him to return, when he got that chance, Parrella said. There's still a get-to-know process he'll have to go through with his new players. His first impressions of the Nebraska defensive line? Said Parrella: "I think this is a pretty tough group. They're extremely talented. We've just got to get them fundamentally sound."
>> The schedule this spring: NU will practice on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They'll have weight lifting sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (with meetings after).