LINCOLN — Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and line coach Mike Cavanaugh will return to the press box Saturday night, and a familiar place sitting beside each other.
Both were on the Husker sideline a year ago, the first season for Mike Riley and his new staff in Lincoln.
“It’s not that big of a deal. We can do it both ways,” Langsdorf said Wednesday. “But I think we just felt at this stage, for our team, it was good for Cav and I to go upstairs and get a good look at what’s happening on the field.”
Langsdorf said you could find positives and negatives to doing it either way, but said it allows for him and Cavanaugh to talk through protections and runs “in a little bit quieter setting with a lot less distractions.”
“You get a great bird’s eye view, and with Cav we can really hammer out problems that we’re having and ways to fix it,” Langsdorf said. “And it’s just something we’ve done in the past.”
Langsdorf has now had a season together with quarterback Tommy Armstrong, so he said he will feel comfortable communicating by phone.
Cavanaugh said he does like being on the sideline to look players in the eye, but said graduate assistants Roman Sapolu and Tavita Thompson will be able to handle the linemen during the game.
“They’ll do a good job there on the field, and we’ll be talking,” Cavanaugh said. “It’ll be good.
“We’ve been there before. It’s going to be good to be right next to Danny. We can talk immediately about what’s going on.”
Different defensive look
Langsdorf said there definitely is a difference preparing for a 3-4 defense instead of a 4-3, so it might help that Nebraska is leading off the season with Fresno State rather than seeing the Bulldogs later in September.
“We’ve been working on it since really the first week of fall camp, so I’m not nearly as concerned about it as I would be had we been going against four-down teams for a month and then all of a sudden go back to a 3-4,” Langsdorf said. “It presents some challenges, and they can bring pressure from a lot of different ways with that 3-4.”
Langsdorf said NU will need an answer for the different types of pressure to be successful.
“We always feel like if you aren’t able to handle it, you’re going to just keep getting it,” he said. “So we’ve got to put a stop to a lot of pressure on the quarterback, hit ’em with some runs, and be able to slow that stuff down.”
There also is uncertainty with Fresno State because of Lorenzo Ward taking over at defensive coordinator. Ward spent the last seven seasons at South Carolina.
Three NU offensive linemen will make their first career starts Saturday night, but Langsdorf said the Huskers have done good work through preseason practice.
Junior David Knevel is set to start at right tackle, sophomore Tanner Farmer at right guard and senior Sam Hahn at left guard. Hahn will play between Nick Gates at left tackle and Dylan Utter at center.
“Until you put them out there, it’s hard really to know what you’re gonna get,” Langsdorf said. “I think they’re confident and ready.
“There’ll be some growing pains, I’m sure, that we’ll work through. But it’s a good group, it’s a tough group, and it doesn’t appear that anything’s been fazing them through fall camp.”
Receivers coach back
Husker receivers are looking forward to the return of their position coach Thursday.
Keith Williams, suspended without pay for two weeks after being charged with third-offense DUI, will be back Thursday. He still won’t coach in the first four games.
But his presence on the practice field and in the meeting room will be a welcome boost, according to senior receiver Jordan Westerkamp.
“We all know coach Williams is super energetic and a great motivator for us,” Westerkamp said. “It’s going to be huge getting him back. I’m sure that’s going to jolt our room, and probably the whole team as well.”
The receivers have been going to position meetings with the quarterbacks — led by Langsdorf. Graduate assistant Hardie Buck has guided receivers in practice, and he’ll be the one advising them on the sideline Saturday as well.
For the second straight season, a Husker who started the season as an offensive tackle has moved over to become a first-team guard.
It was Zach Sterup last year. Hahn’s made the switch now, stepping in at left guard for the injured Jerald Foster.
Senior guard Corey Whitaker has returned to practice — and he could be available Saturday, Cavanaugh said. For now, though, Hahn’s No. 1 on the depth chart. And he’s adjusted to the guard spot well, despite spending most of his NU career at tackle, according to Cavanaugh.
“Sam’s excited,” Cavanaugh said. “He goes, ‘Wow, it’s kinda nice in there. I don’t have to deal with all that space.’ ”
Handling a speed rusher off the edge is difficult for anyone. But those big-bodied defensive tackles can provide a test, too.
Cavanaugh prefers that all of his offensive linemen have some versatility. He teaches fundamentals in a manner that promotes it. He did the same thing at Oregon State.
Cavanaugh said he regularly moves guys around in practice. Freshman tackle Matt Farniok has gotten reps at guard. Freshman guard Boe Wilson has played all over, too.
“We do it in practice. I’ll go ‘hey, jump in there,’” Cavanaugh said. “You’ve got to rotate guys around. Throw them in the fire.”
O’Brien working overtime
Freshman quarterback Patrick O’Brien lingered after practice Wednesday night to keep working on his passing after the two quarterbacks in front of him — fifth-year seniors Tommy Armstrong and Ryker Fyfe — had left the field. O’Brien repeatedly faked a handoff, rolled hard to his right and threw a short, sharp pass to I-back Devine Ozigbo, who stayed behind to get in his own extra work.
O’Brien, whom coaches would like to redshirt barring injuries, will split time this fall between the top offenses and the scout team, where Tanner Lee, sitting out a season after transferring from Tulane, helps prepare the No. 1 defense.
“We want him to learn — get exposed to what we’re doing — but also get work down there with the scout team,” Langsdorf said.
A Nebraska football player pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor stemming from a party at a north Lincoln home.
Carlos Davis, 20, pleaded guilty to maintaining a disorderly house, according to court documents.
Davis was among five Nebraska athletes cited by Lincoln police after officers were called to a reported disturbance the night of July 9.
Davis will be required to pay a $250 fine, plus $49 in court and other costs.
Charges have been dropped against the others: football players Khalil Davis, 20, and Brody Cleveland, 20; and track and field athletes Nick Coghill, 19, and James Nizich, 21.
The five lived near 14th Street and Indigo Road at the time of the incident. Officers were called there that night after cars had filled up the street and some driveways were partially blocked, Lincoln police said at the time.
Officers told everyone to leave, which they did, and cited the residents. Police said they had been there on a similar call in late June but had not issued any tickets, opting instead for a spoken warning.