NCAA FOOTBALL: MAR 27 Nebraska Spring Practice

Huskers practice under the lights

LINCOLN — Nebraska practiced under the Memorial Stadium lights on Thursday night. Here are some quick hits from the late night session:

–The Huskers used the game setting to scrimmage for a portion of the practice Thursday, including some live tackling.

“We had some tackling and live work but the way we approach it, it was like a regular practice.” defensive coordinator John Papuchis said. “Everything we do in a practice for us involves everything besides taking guys to the ground, so when we do turn that up a little bit, the only difference in everything we do is we are actually finishing the play.”

–Offensive coordinator Tim Beck was in a philosophical mood on Thursday, spending a good deal of time talking offensive theory with reporters.

One choice nugget came when he was asked to describe Nebraska’s blend of power and spread concepts.

“It makes us unique. Look at the top offenses. If you took the top 30, how many of them are also in the top 10 in rushing? Oregon and us. All the rest of them throw the ball,” Beck said.

Based on those criteria, Beck’s right. Texas A&M just missed making the cut, ranking third nationally in total offense and 11th in rushing offense.

–Beck also heaped some praise on senior quarterback Ron Kellogg III.

“He is the ultimate backup quarterback,” Beck said. “He sits in the meeting room with a coffee, maybe a donut.  He may not ever play, but I’ll tell you, he knows the offense. He’ll be a head coach. (He’ll say,) ‘How about if we did this or did this and why don’t we put the protection over there?’

(I’ll say) ‘Hey, that’s pretty good, Ron. I like that.’ He’s sharp, he knows what’s going on.”

–Senior defensive tackle Thad Randle, a crucial veteran piece on a young defense, has been up to the challenge so far this fall. In fact, if the Huskers played tomorrow, you could probably pencil him in as a starter.

“Thad Randle has had a very good camp up to this point, I think we can feel pretty solid that he will be lining up for us on Saturday a couple weeks from now. Beyond that it’s still a little bit up in the air,” Papuchis said, adding that Nebraska has had “six or seven” defensive tackles in the main rotation.

–With true freshman Marcus Newby yet to arrive on campus and redshirt freshman Thomas Brown dismissed form the team this summer, Nebraska’s depth at linebacker isn’t what it was two months ago but Papuchis said it hasn’t been a problem thus far in fall camp.

“With the personnel that we play, a lot of times against our offense we are, at least half the time, in some form of nickel package so there are only two ‘backers on the field,” he said. “From a depth perspective we aren’t hurting too bad.”

Expect to see a lot of nickel from Nebraska, particularly early on this season.

–Even if the Huskers aren’t using a full complement of linebackers all the time this season, it looks like they’re planning to play plenty of guys nonetheless. On Tuesday, it was true freshman Nate Gerry who made a splash. On Thursday, Papuchis praised fellow freshman Josh Banderas.

“Josh Banderas has really come a long way,” Papuchis said. “I think Josh still has a lot of work to do. He is a young guy that has been here for 10 days but I think he is going to push to get some playing time if he continues on this track.”

We’ll have more from the Huskers’ practice on Friday.