It’s March 11. It’s the first day of the second week of spring football. So caveats apply here. When Nebraska opens up the doors to the Hawks Championship Center and lets the media observe the opening portion of a practice, like it did Monday morning, everything is scripted. If there’s something the media isn’t supposed to see yet, we won’t see it yet. If there’s something they want the media to see, we’re for sure getting it.
So, with all that being said, here are some observations from the first 30 minutes of Nebraska’s practice Monday morning.
>> Sophomore running back Maurice Washington was not on hand for the practice. Not just in street clothes, but he wasn't even in the building. Head coach Scott Frost said the back would be a limited participant this spring as he deals with criminal charges in California.
>> Freshman wideout Wan'Dale Robinson and freshman tight end Chris Hickman were both on the field with their jerseys on, but no pads. Neither participated in practice but neither had any kind visible brace on. Sophomore wide receiver Kade Warner was also only in his jersey with no pads.
Sophomore safety CJ Smith isn't expected to do much this spring as he recovers from a knee injury last season; he was on the field with teammates but not practicing.
>> Sophomore outside linebacker Caleb Tannor also missed practice, but unlike the three guys mentioned above, didn't have his jersey on. That could mean something, or absolutely nothing. Defensive coaches are available to the media on Wednesday and we may know more then.
>> The two scholarship inside linebackers coming off knee injuries, junior Will Honas and freshman Nick Henrich, both moved well in drills. Neither had on a knee brace. Both players will be needed this fall at a thin position group.
>> Lamar Jackson jumped right into contact during the only contact drill we saw. Nebraska ran a modified Oklahoma drill with a lineman and downfield blocker for the offense and in two reps for Jackson, the senior corner looked as aggressive as we've seen him. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher did say he's a done pancake that’s ready to be flipped.
>> Freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey is quick and seemed to have a good command of the offense during the 7-on-7 drill we saw. The offense moves fast but the freshman handled it and had good footwork.
>> Speaking of fast, things are very fast. Maybe even faster than they were last season. In 30 minutes that we saw, got reps for four different units on offense during 7-on-7 work.
>> During that 7-on-7 drill, the first offensive line unit up to work with quarterback Adrian Martinez went like this (from left to right): junior Brenden Jaimes, sophomore Trent Hixson, redshirt freshman Cam Jurgens, junior Boe Wilson, junior Matt Farniok. J.D. Spielman, Mike Williams, Jaron Woodyard and Wyatt Mazour were the skill guys with that group.
The next offensive line up, from left to right: sophomore Broc Bando, junior John Raridon, redshirt freshman Will Farniok, sophomore Matt Sichterman (who worked at tackle last season), senior Christian Gaylord.
>> Last year, during stretch, senior captains Jerald Foster and Mick Stoltenberg ran things. They were at the front of the group leading the way. This year, it looks like that role might belong to sophomore defensive lineman Damian Jackson.
Last season we saw Mick Stoltenberg and Jerald Foster amping the #Huskers up before stretching drills.
Looks like Damian Jackson is taking over the role in 2019. pic.twitter.com/zvoVBqyES0
— Hail Varsity (@HailVarsity) March 11, 2019
Frost named Jackson as one of the players he called into his office before spring began to talk about becoming a vocal leader on the team. Jackson was also at the center of the Nolia Clap the team does (along with Martinez and sophomore defensive back Cam Taylor), leading the breakdown.
>> Guys who were seemingly all over the field, encouraging guys and getting in teammates' grills after strong plays: Martinez, Matt Farniok, Taylor.
>> Jurgens is a very large man now. If you didn't know he was a converted tight end, you'd probably never guess he was anything other than an offensive lineman.
— Greg Smith (@GregSmithHV) March 11, 2019