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Innovative Yet Simple: A Coach’s Takeaway from Nebraska’s Spring

April 27, 2018

George Petrissans, the head football coach at Clovis West High School in Fresno, California, knows a thing or two about coaching quarterbacks. His most recent one is hoping to win the starting job for Nebraska this fall. 

Freshman Adrian Martinez's former head coach sat down with Chris Schmidt on Hail Varsity Radio to chat about spending some time during Spring ball with the Huskers coaching staff, what he saw and what he learned.

The interview has been slightly edited for brevity.

CS: With your time back, what were some of your observations? What did you soak in from Nebraska’s spring sessions that you got to see?

GP: "First off, coach Frost and the entire staff was awesome. They let me into the meetings, into the offensive meetings as well and just to be able to sit down and watch film and speak with a lot of the coaches, it was tremendous. 

"I just thought that one, the way their offense is set it’s very simple to learn and it’s very player-friendly. I thought that they were really open with allowing me to learn some of the things that they try to do. 

"And then the facilities themselves are just tremendous, they’re so beautiful. Having all the access that those players have in such a small area, to be able to go into your fieldhouse, to your stadium, the meeting rooms, the lounge, it was just awesome. I was just so impressed with everyone and how friendly and helpful everyone was."

CS: Coaches always want to learn from other coaches … What did you take with you, what were you able to learn from sitting in?

GP: "I would say the way that they out-leverage defenders with the way they use quick motion to get backs out in the flat area and the way they use their system to help offensive linemen. There are patterns for them to understand, and once they understand their pattern against certain fronts it’s really the same, it doesn’t matter what the actual presentation of the play will be, it’s really still the same for the offensive line. 

"I thought the way they bring everything together is really innovative but at the same time simple for players to be able to play fast."

CS: Just talk generally here from a defensive standpoint, how are you going to be able slow down or shut down this type of offense?

GP: "Some people will try to say, ‘Well I’m going to load the box and we’re going to play more man coverage on the perimeter and we’re going to force you to throw the ball or throw it deep,’ and put pressure on you in that regard and try to get you out of your run schemes as much as possible. 

"That’s a two-edged sword right there because one, they’ve got playmakers on the perimeter like Stanley Morgan Jr. — he’s tremendous — and the way they start to actually combine certain patterns with their run schemes to affect you defensively… so if you’re going to play man-to-man coverage they have their man-beaters on the perimeter that they can implement really easily and it’s going to hurt you defensively.

"This is going to be really interesting. It’s going to be fun to watch. I’m excited for Nebraska fans and I’m excited for all those quarterbacks that are going to be playing because Adrian played well but there were a lot of other guys that played well, too, and it’s going to be a great competition all the way through."

CS: The theme has been support and encouragement in that quarterback room, which is great, but they all want to win the job. How's Adrian dealt with that opportunity in your opinion?

GP: "I was lucky to kind of watch first-hand in a couple of those meetings, what those boys are saying I agree with [based on] what I saw. I saw a lot of bonding, I saw a lot of guys working together to help each other learn the system and I saw guys rooting for each other. Yeah, they all want to be the guy, I’m sure, but I think they all want to see Nebraska be successful.

"That’s not always the case. You get guys at that position, there can be that arrogance or confidence that rubs people the wrong way, but I didn’t see that. 

"I just think [quarterback] coach [Mario] Verduzco and coach Frost are doing such a good job with those guys and you can see it in their play."

CS: What's coach Verduzco bring not only for Adrian but for the other two quarterbacks?

GP: "He’s extremely honest, he’s funny, he relates really well with those players and he’s so open and welcoming with all those guys, they can go in and talk to him whenever. I just feel like what a great, great fit. I’ll tell you, coach Verduzco is such a technician working with their mechanics and their footwork. 

"He’s a heck of a coach, Nebraska’s got a good one there."

CS: Were you able to temper what you saw or did you just kind of go, "Wow that's awesome," because you know where practice started this Spring to where the endpoint was?

GP: "I approach it that it’s still just a spring game, just from the aspect that Adrian and the other quarterbacks weren’t getting tackled. 

"You still want to be able to see that. At one point you’re going to have to deal with the physicality of the game and sometimes you’re going to take a good shot and how is that going to affect that quarterback or those other players that are playing and are they going to be able to pop back up and get back into the offense and set that tempo the way that they want? How are they going to respond to the adversity when they take a sack or a negative play? 

"So I kind of temper that because hopefully everything goes well and everyone stays healthy. But I love the pace. I know they want to play faster, I know this is just the starting point for them and I think it’s only going to get better. They just need practice."

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