The bulk of Nebraska’s preparation for Akron is now in the books with the Huskers doing the heavy lifting in practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and at this stage, offensive coordinator Troy Walters said his offense is ahead of schedule.
“I’m excited about taking the field on Saturday,” Walters said. “The guys understand the standard, they understand the culture, they understand what it takes as an offense to be successful, the tempo we’re looking for. They’ve mastered the offense. It’s easier now because the game plan is smaller than what we had in the spring and even in the fall, guys are in shape and we have depth. I’m excited about the depth, I’m excited about the numbers of guys we’re going to be able to play and what they can do when they get an opportunity.”
However, the team didn’t quite live up to that standard that they have established for themselves on Wednesday. Walters called it “just OK.”
“We came out a little sluggish,” Walter said. “There were parts that were good, there were parts that weren’t. With the schedule we’re playing, we’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders. We expect Wednesday to be better than Monday, better than Tuesday, and there was some good, some bad. We’ve got to get better today in meetings and then tomorrow and then Friday and then get ready to go Saturday.”
That being said, Walters said he does expect the team to be ready come 7 p.m. on Saturday when the Akron Zips roll into town.
“I like our tempo, I like our effort,” Walters said. “Guys are ready to play; I think they’re ready to go against somebody other than our defense. We’re tested; the defense has given us great looks. We’re excited to play in front of 90,000, Memorial Stadium, and show Husker Nation what we’re all about.”
The 90,000 fans who show up on Saturday will see Nebraska’s new offense take on what Walters called a “good defense” based on Akron’s experience.
“They return nine starters, eight-nine starters; basically their whole secondary returns from last year, so they’re going to play hard,” Walters said. “They’re physical, they’re going to try to get eight, nine guys in the box, play man on the outside, force you to make plays. We’ve got to be ready to go. Just watching tape, they’re a good defensive unit. The linebackers, they’re all coming back. No. 5 [senior linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III] is a good player, No 10 [senior linebacker Brian Bell] is a good player. So we’ve got to be ready to go.”
>> Nebraska released a depth chart on Sunday morning that only featured seven wide receivers including now former walk-on Bryan Reimers. However, Walters said not to count out any of the wideouts that didn’t crack that initial depth chart.
“I told the receivers before the depth chart came out that we don’t have a depth chart,” Walters said. “I’ve got to release something. So you’re going to see five, six, seven receivers playing. We’re going to rotate guys, we’re going to keep receivers fresh, trying to wear down secondaries, so you’re going to see all those guys play at some point in the game.”
>> Until Nebraska hears differently in regards to Noah Vedral’s eligibility in regards to the team seeking a waiver for immediate eligibility, the transfer from Central Florida will continue to see all of his snaps in practice on the scout team.
As for an emergency fourth quarterback on game day should a run of seriously bad luck strike the team, Walters said the coaches would have to talk it over, although he did mention freshman corner Cam Taylor by name as one player on the roster with quarterback experience in high school.
>> “No fear of failure” is the team motto, and that applies to the offensive play-calling as well in regards to the quarterback run game. With just one scholarship quarterback eligible, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said the play calling could change a bit with Adrian Martinez’s health in mind, but Walters said they’re going to do whatever it takes to win games.
“Our motto is attack, and we’re going to play to win,” Walters said. “Whatever gives us the best chance to be successful. Whatever Adrian does the best, that’s what we’re going to do. Obviously he can beat you with his legs, but he’s getting a lot better with his arm and you’ll see him make some plays with his arm out there on Saturday.”
Derek Peterson has more on the quarterback situation following Tristan Gebbia’s departure.
> Andrew Bunch never felt like the forgotten guy, he just doesn’t like glamour and attention. He said he was fine being in the background. Now that he’s the set-in-stone backup, nothing has changed for him preparation-wise. He was working with the third team before the Gebbia news, not the scout team, so he has been getting reps.
Walters expressed confidence in any quarterback that might end up seeing the field for the Huskers this season, Bunch included.
“Guys have put in the work,” Walters said. “We’re excited about the guys that are still here on this team because they’ve proven themselves. We’ve thrown a lot at them. It’s been hard, it’s been difficult, and those guys have stuck it out. So we’re confident with whoever we put in the game that they’re prepared. They’ve taken lot of reps in practice; I think that helps. Whoever gets the call, we’re confident that they’re going to be able to go out there and lead this offense.”
>> Following a vague and since-deleted tweet on Sunday, freshman safety CJ Smith was in full pads after Wednesday’s practice. On the other hand, fellow freshman Cam Jones, another safety, and David Alston, an outside linebacker, were not in pads.
>> Tom Osborne and Jason Peter were both at practice.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.