Defense won the day for Nebraska on the third official practice day.
“Offensively we came out sluggish,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters told gathered media after practice wrapped up. “We didn’t come out and we didn’t attack today. The defense came out and they attacked, we started too slow.
“I tell the guys all the time, if we start that way in a game, we’re down 14-0. In this league, the schedule we play, when we step out on that field we’ve got to attack and be ready to go and we really weren’t early on in practice.”
Nebraska went full pads for the first time Thursday. And things got better as practice went on, but Walters said sometimes those thigh and knee pads, and the extra weight that comes with them, changes the mentality tad. He also said players’ heads were “swimming a little bit” with a new install being thrown their way.
“No excuses,” he maintained. “We expect a better practice on Saturday.”
The rest of the offensive assistants were made available along with Walters and most said the same thing: the defense got the better of the offense on Day Three. When head coach Scott Frost spoke on Tuesday, he said they threw the entire playbook at the offense to give the team a full taste of everything. One of the hopes in doing so was to see who would invest and dive in.
“You can kind of tell who really took it to heart to learn the new installs and who didn’t,” Walters said. “We’ve got to go back, watch the film and really see what we need to improve on. It’s about the details.”
One of the guys that didn’t have any issues Thursday was senior wideout Stanley Morgan Jr..
“He’s a pro,” Walters said. “You can tell that it means something to him, that he wants to go out having a good season and helping Nebraska do something special. He was one guy that stood out.”
As for the rest, Walters didn’t want to single anyone out. “We’re a team, we’re an offensive unit,” he said, and collectively that unit didn’t have it. Walters said in this offense it doesn’t matter if one wide receiver is on his game and no one else is, or the offensive line is crushing folks and the skill players don’t know what’s going on, everyone has to be on the same page or the offense “is not going to go.”
That starts with the right mindset. Walters wants a September approach in March. He knows that’s difficult to bring at this time of the year, but that’s what they expect.
“I tell the guys to treat every practice like a game and I know everybody gets fired up when they play a game,” he said. “You wake up, get out of bed with a little pep in your step, you eat with a little pep in your step, with a little excitement knowing that you’re going to go play a game. So they’ve got to treat practice like it’s a game. When they step on that field it’s gameday, the same mentality, the same focus.
“I think those guys will learn from today and we’ll be better.”
They’ll be back in action Saturday.
Other News and Notes
>> Running back Tre Bryant didn’t practice Thursday. Neither did center Cole Conrad.
>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin said guards Jerald Foster, Tanner Farmer, Will Farniok and Hunter Miller are handling the center position with Conrad and last season’s other starter, Michael Decker, on the shelf.
>> Walters is a major fan of two of the major receiver gets of the last regime: Tyjon Lindsey and Jaevon McQuitty.
“Tyjon’s quick, fast, explosive in and out of his breaks,” Walters said of the sophomore. “You’ll see Tyjon in the backfield, you’ll see him out wide, you’ll see him all over the place because he’s a special kid. He has special talent and I’m very impressed with what he can do.
“Love him, love what he can do. He’s a competitor. When he steps on the field, it matters to him. He’s going to fit very well in this offense.”
As for McQuitty, he redshirted last season after a knee injury cost him the entire year. Walters acknowledged he’s still like a freshman and there will be some growing pains when it comes to learning a new install.
“But he has all the talent in the world, all the tools in the world,” Walters said, “so we’re going to keep working with him and I expect him to be out there in the fall making plays and contributing.”
>> Add Walters to the list of coaches saying this team is better than anticipated.
“We’re better than I thought,” the coordinator said when asked if there was anything unexpected. “Even though the day wasn’t the best, they’ve picked up what we’ve asked them to do. They’re understanding the standards, they’re understanding what we want out of them.
"The one thing I’m very impressed with is if you ask them or tell them there’s a 7:30 meeting, those guys are here at 7:20 and ready to go. The buy-in is there and that makes our job a whole lot easier.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.