Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

No-Contact Crew Shrinks, Time with the QBs and Other Observations from Nebraska’s Practice

April 11, 2023

Nebraska football returned from its Easter break to begin the stretch run of spring practice on Tuesday, and Coach Matt Rhule opened up practice to the media for a 25-minute viewing period.

Here are some notes and observations from the Hail Varsity crew.

>> Nebraska looks to be getting somewhat healthier as the no-contact green jersey crew was smaller than it had been. Offensive linemen Teddy Prochazka and Ben Scott plus defensive backs Javin Wright and Omar Brown remained in green jerseys while offensive lineman Ezra Miller and running back Ajay Allen joined them. However, offensive lineman Keegan Menning and defensive lineman Brodie Tagaloa were in white and red, respectively. Of course, the quarterbacks remained in green.

Blaise Gunnerson, who had been among the crew in gold jerseys, was back practicing with the defensive linemen on Tuesday.

Jalil Martin and Javier Morton remained as the two gray jerseys, signifying an ability to play on either side of the ball. Martin went through drills with the wide receivers while Morton worked with the defensive backs, same as last week.

>> Running backs coach E.J. Barthel was coaching up the returners during the team kickoff drill, which alternated between half and full speed. He stressed getting vertical to the returners and instructed one back to fight to stay in-bounds rather than going out so easily at one point. Wide receivers coach Garret McGuire was near the blockers while defensive backs coach Evan Cooper instructed the gunners as special teams coordinator Ed Foley oversaw the drill.

>> McGuire wasted no time moving his position group through drills, transitioning quickly from one to the next. The unit began with a blocking drill then progressed to off-the-line releases with McGuire calling out, “That’s detailed!” early after a good rep. Malachi Coleman, the 2023 signee out of Lincoln East, was at practice once again.

>> The running backs worked on downfield routes without a ball before joining the quarterbacks to work on under-center snaps and handoffs. Jeff Sims was was the first quarterback to take snaps, followed by Heinrich Haarberg, Chubba Purdy, Richard Torres and Jack Woche. Casey Thompson and Logan Smothers remained in gold rehab jerseys. 

Earlier, the quarterbacks worked on their drops with Marcus Satterfield instructing them on the finer details. Satterfield was also working directly with Sims, because of the odd quarterback numbers, and they did play-extending drills while maintaining footwork and eyes downfield.

>> A group of defensive backs worked in a drill where Cooper would throw a pass deep to either sideline and the backpedaling player in the middle of the field would have to react and range over to try and make the interception.

Cooper took pride in his throwing ability, launching some well-placed balls about 35 to 40 yards downfield. The defensive back group succeeded about half the time in getting over to intercept or deflect the pass.

>> Tristan Alvano, the Omaha Westside senior and scholarship place kicker signee, checked out practice on Tuesday. He accompanied the kickers to the stadium after the team special teams period to watch specialists work on kickoffs and field goals. The kickoffs routinely reached the end zone.

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