LINCOLN — Coach Mike Riley remains bullish on producing a running attack that’s among the best in the Big Ten, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants Nebraska to run the ball more often. What Riley said he’d like most is to run the ball more efficiently and effectively.
“We had our moments in big games,” he said. “We’ve got to find continuity week to week in running the ball. You guys all know, and I know in my history, that when we’re throwing 45 times a game, it’s not for a good reason. We don’t want to get there.”
Running back Terrell Newby said the backs as a whole can work on a number of things, while Newby himself wants to improve his vision on certain outside runs and in the open field.
“You have to trust your blocks and see where you’re going,” Newby said. “Knowing when to see certain plays and knowing when it’s going to open up. It’s a lot of mental things.”
Parrella impressed, so far
Nebraska’s new defensive line coach said his position group has talent and toughness, but John Parrella indicated that it will take time for him to implement all aspects of his methodology.
Parrella, hired a week ago, said he has met with the defensive linemen. He likes what he sees.
But they haven’t even put on helmets and pads yet, and he knows there will inevitably be an adjustment period — relationships must be built and trust must be formed.
The immediate goal, Parrella said, will be to improve the fundamentals. But soon, the former Husker player and 12-year pro will begin shaping playing styles and molding mindsets.
“A lot of questions are more than just one short answer,” Parrella said when asked how to instill his culture. “It’s going to be a day-in and day-out process with them.”
Coach’s firing came as shock
Defensive end Ross Dzuris was surprised to find out his former defensive line coach, Hank Hughes, had been fired. Dzuris and his teammates found out on social media while they lifted in the weight room.
“It was kind of a shock to us, and we just kind of told each other,” Dzuris said. “We were all working out when the news broke. I went and told some of the guys, and then Coach Riley told us an hour later. It came as a big surprise.”
Dzuris said the line supported Riley in his decision and was eager to learn from Parrella. Dzuris didn’t know much about Parrella, who starred at NU in the early 1990s. But Dzuris’ dad, Plattsmouth football coach Bob Dzuris, worked a number of Parrella’s camps in Grand Island back in the day.
“(Parrella) has been telling us about how much he’s been watching our film from last year and things he wants to work on with us,” Dzuris said. “I think he’s excited.”
Rookie QB learns from senior
A touted quarterback recruit tends to draw the attention of reporters and fans. But there’s nothing Nebraska and freshman Patrick O’Brien can do about that, according to Riley.
In meetings, in weight lifting sessions and in practices, Riley said, O’Brien will be treated exactly like his teammates.
O’Brien will use his reps to learn and improve this spring. He’ll get faster and stronger in the weight room. His level of understanding will increase. Just like everyone else.
Said Riley: “He can get the extra hype from everybody else, but he won’t get any extra from us.”
Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong said O’Brien has carried himself well so far. Armstrong is doing his best to remind the first-year Husker that every moment matters — not just the snaps he gets in practice.
Armstrong’s advice: “Learn as much as you can before you get out on the field.”
Four out with injuries
Riley reviewed all Husker injuries for the media.
» Out for the entire spring: Receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El (knee), safety Aaron Williams (wrist), safety Antonio Reed (shoulder), defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg (knee).
» Limited but practicing: linebacker Luke Gifford, receiver Lavan Alston (knee), receiver Brady Pelzer.
» Limited because of class conflicts: center Paul Thurston.