‘More depth, more speed, more athletic’
LINCOLN — “More depth, more speed, more athletic.”
When asked to boil down his 2013 defense, that’s how defensive coordinator John Papuchis summed it up on Thursday after the Huskers’ fourth practice of the fall. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck also met with the media for the first time this fall. Here’s some quick news and notes with more to come throughout the day.
–Everybody wants to see and read about the new guys at this stage in the game, and the one player that’s the source of the most intrigue right now is junior college transfer Randy Gregory. There’s a reason for that.
“Because he’s good,” Papuchis said. “The sense of urgency, in some respects, comes from us but in other respects he was a very highly recruited guy so I think that outside these walls people are excited to see what he’s all about.”
Papuchis said that Gregory has had a “very productive” first four days of camp at defensive end. On the inside, at defensive tackle, he mentioned Kevin Williams, Vincent Valentine, Aaron Curry, Maliek Collins and Kevin Maurice as guys who have all taken first team reps alongside senior Thad Randle.
–Maliek Collins, who missed the Huskers Tuesday practice due to a personal issue, was back both Wednesday and Thursday. He’s made an early impression on Papuchis.
“Maliek is a guy who I think will have a chance to impact our team pretty significantly as a true freshman,” he said. “For one is his toughness and desire. You’ve got to be willing to put your face in there as a true freshman against some pretty good offensive linemen and not back down from that challenge.
“The second part is that he is extremely gifted athletically. I think his wrestling background helps him, he has a great power base, he’s strong. He’s further ahead than most defensive linemen that we’ve had the opportunity to have in camp, after four practices.”
–David Santos, Michael Rose, and Zaire Anderson were the first names Papuchis mentioned when talking about the Huskers’ linebacking corps. Redshirt freshman Jared Afalava has also gotten noticeably better since last spring.
“He’s been really good. His jump from this past spring to the fall was pretty dramatic. He obviously put the time in over the summer to keep learning his craft,” Papuchis said.
–Senior Andrew Green, a 22-game starter at cornerback over his career, has been taking most of his reps at safety this week. Papuchis talked a bit about the decision to move Green.
“We don’t have a lot of experience at the safety spot and he’s played a lot of football for us. The corner and safety spots are always tied in together in terms of scheme, so Andrew should know what’s going on at safety without even having to play much safety. That’s part of it. The other thing is we have pretty good depth at corner.”
Papuchis mentioned Ciante Evans, Mohammed Seisay, Josh Mitchell, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Jonathan Rose, and Danie Davie as six guys in contention at corner, adding that, against spread teams, the Huskers have the depth to put four cornerbacks on the field at times this year.
–Offensively, there’s less newness, but that presents it’s own challenges despite some of the gaudy numbers the 2012 offense put up.
“Confidence comes from being prepared, it doesn’t come from statistics,” Beck said. “Our guys are going to have to work to earn everything that they get. Like they did last year. They worked hard and believed in the system and themselves and we were fortunate enough to have some success.”
–With Jake Long sidelined for a few weeks with an injury, Nebraska’s rotating in a bunch of new tight ends. Beck said that guys like Jared Blum, Cethan Carter, Trey Foster, and David Sutton are all pretty much equal at this point, noting that they’re all either true or redshirt freshmen.
–Beck said he likes what he has in true freshmen running backs Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor.
“Both of them are going to have a chance to help us. They’re two different styles of runners, but they’re both good at what they do and they’re not bad at the other things either. They both can run inside and catch the ball and run outside,” he said.
–And, finally, the turnovers. Nebraska had the 26th-ranked offense in the country last year despite ranking 122nd — second-to-last — in total turnovers lost.
“It’s an emphasis,” Beck said. “Like I told our guys, it comes down to them. We coach it and we teach them ball security, we do drills for it, but obviously they’ve got to have a sense of urgency as a football team.”
Beck said the Huskers offensive numbers were “amazing” in light of how often Nebraska turned it over in 2012.