There was a spark for the Nebraska run game against Northwestern. The team ran for eight yards per carry against the Wildcats. It was the best rushing performance this season for Nebraska’s running backs too.
A large part of that was the decision to change the lineup at offensive line around. Nebraska started true freshman Teddy Prochazka and sophomore Nouri Nouili on the left side of the line. The team also flipped Turner Corcoran to right tackle.
It can be difficult to make that decision in college football during the season. It’s much more common in the NFL as offensive line coach Greg Austin noted on Tuesday. Austin was happy with what he saw from the pair of players making their first start at Nebraska. For being a true freshman, Prochazka impressed.
“He had a good first start. Teddy, he’s a mature kid,” Austin said. “We knew even when he came in as a mid-year that he was going to be a good player early. Then it’s just continuing the development process all throughout fall camp. We got an opportunity to give them him a go this past weekend. He answered the bell so I’m proud of him.”
Austin thought that Prochazka helped establish some movement up front after watching film. That was especially true on some of their double team blocks. Prochazka was pretty dependable in pass protection. He only had one play where a guy kind of got away from him.
Austin was less concerned about Nouili making his first start at Nebraska. While it wasn’t in the Big Ten, Nouili started several games for Colorado State. The Huskers were aware of the German-born o-lineman before he went to Colorado State too.
“Well, we knew about him at Norris. We wanted to get him here as a non-scholarship guy and then develop him,” Austin said “Then Colorado State pulled out the offer on him. He was actually coming here and then Colorado State pulled out the offer then he went to Colorado State. We liked him and we wanted to bring him in to develop him. We established a good rapport with him so even when he was deciding on leaving Colorado State we just picked up where we left off. It became a good deal. We got him in and we saw how explosive he was. The biggest thing with Nouri is being consistent.”
The two new players did have a hidden advantage. They’ve played together a lot because they ran with the second-unit prior to starting. They were comfortable next to each other throughout the week. That helped them prepare well for the Northwestern game. They had a lot of reps of hitting blocks together and understanding what the other would do.
Still, there are challenges with breaking in two new starters at once. Austin said that he coaches them like every other member of the offensive line, yet there needs to be something extra there. He had to continue to stay in their ear about the details. As a young guy it’s easy to miss those details. You get so focused on just trying to do your job that you miss out on the little things.
Since Nouili had started in college football before, Austin didn’t have to be on him as much. He made sure to stay on Prochazka about the details even though both are smart football players. It didn’t take much to keep Prochazka in line.
“Teddy is one of the kids if you say something to him one time, he’s not a two screw up guy,” Austin said. “He’s not going to screw it up twice. He’ll screw it up once. I’m one of those three screw up guys. I’ve screwed up a couple of times and about that fourth time I’ll get it right. Teddy won’t screw it up more than once or twice.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.