Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

Mike Riley Wraps Up the Huskers' First Full Week of Practice

August 5, 2017
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The Huskers concluded their first full week of fall camp Saturday with an 86-play scrimmage, and it was “a mixed bag.”

Coach Mike Riley met with the media following Saturday’s practice and touched on a number of things, including the team’s first full-contact day. Players in the first unit, not just the 11 starters, but guys that could rotate in as well, got roughly 25 plays during that scrimmage, with the second and third units getting about 30 each.

Riley said he saw good plays from the first offense and defense, but there were some technical issues on down through the depth chart.

“We had real problems as we got down the line in numbers,” he said. “You’ve got to make the plays that come to you, if a guy comes you’ve got to make the open field tackle if you want to be efficient defensively, or a play that should be 3 or 4 yards turns into 20.”

Riley was encouraged though by what he saw from all four of his quarterbacks, from starter Tanner Lee on down through sophomore Andrew Bunch.

“All four quarterbacks actually functioned okay,” Riley said. “It was pretty good.”

>> Junior wide receiver Bryan Reimers appeared to hurt his back while attempting to make a catch during Saturday’s practice, Riley said.

“He caught a pass in the end zone up high and fell on his back,” he said. “(The medical staff) are going to check him out, he was up and about, might have had the wind knocked out of him.”

Riley said it didn’t appear too serious, and he expects Reimers to be okay.

“Right now I don’t think that’s a long term deal,” he said.

>> Riley is a big fan of Adidas.

Next week, the Nebraska Board of Regents will vote on a shiny, new 11-year, $129 million extension with Adidas to keep the “three stripe life” alive and well in Lincoln. Riley said he’s a big fan of the apparel company and what they’ve been able to accomplish in recent years.

“My experience with Adidas has been, at least, outstanding,” he said.

The new deal would include “look-in” options in the fourth and seventh years, giving Nebraska the ability to terminate the contract if it isn’t being treated as one of Adidas’ “elite” partners. Riley has appreciated the dedication to Nebraska.

“The service with Adidas has been outstanding,” Riley said. “I think this is a progressive, creative, hard-working (group). I think Adidas has grown, branding-wise, in three years a lot and it’s due to their work. They’re making big moves. We really love our association with them and I love our individuals that work with Adidas.”

>> When Riley got to Lincoln two seasons ago, the Huskers already had some established, veteran voices in the locker room. Guys like Nathan Gerry and Tommy Armstrong Jr. preceded Riley’s arrival and had earned the team’s respect before Riley demanded it of them. This time around, there’s a new group having to step up and it’s looked a bit different.

“Seeing the next phase of development is interesting,” he said.

Several players taking up the mantle include a pair of inside linebackers, Chris Weber and Dedrick Young. Nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg is another voice on the defense that has moved into more of a leadership role. So has Stanley Morgan Jr.

“They’re just great example guys,” Riley said. “You just don’t have to worry about those guys in any phase.”

Riley said that sometimes, talent gets confused with leadership, and the line between the two can get a little fuzzy. Guys feel like they have to fall in line behind the star just because he’s the star, or star players expect others to listen simply because of their ability. But Riley doesn’t have that problem with this group.

“When your good players are doing the right thing and are working at the highest level, that’s what you have to have. Those guys are the main teachers,” he said. “This group, in general, has been really easy to handle throughout camp.”

>> Nebraska’s fall camp is not without a little intrigue. Just because the quarterback spot is solved, doesn’t mean there aren’t battles elsewhere that demand attention.

The workhorse back is still up for grabs. The center position on the offensive line is still technically a battle. And who will be that third receiver behind Morgan and De’Mornay Pierson-El?

Riley was non-committal to announcing who has played well or separated themselves at different spots throughout the depth chart, but he did single out the secondary when asked which groups are performing well.

“I thought the secondary definitely made some plays,” he said. “We tried to get the corners a lot of turns today. Maybe more than the rest of the ones got just because a couple of them haven’t played a lot.”

As for specific names that stood out? Freshman tailback Jaylin Bradley got more love from his coaching staff. Redshirt freshman Ben Stille has also been a guy who has caught the coaches’ collective eye in recent days. So has junior Sedrick King. The young receiver from Eden Praire, Minnesota, has also been making waves.

“I’ll tell you who was really encouraging today was JD Spielman.” Riley said. “Some of the plays that he made from the slot, some of the stuff he can run the ball with.”

Spielman redshirted last season but managed to earn the scout team’s offensive MVP award from the coaches.

 
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