The 2017 edition of the Nebraska football team has its first week of fall practice in the books. While they take Sundays to rest each week, we’re going to review what we learned.
A Quartet of Quarterbacks: When was the last time Nebraska fans might not have cracked their teeth cringing when a starting quarterback went down even for a second? How about when they felt confident that No. 2 on the depth chart could at least perform to a similar level as the top dog?*
There have been hardworking signal-callers throughout the years, but it’s been a long time since the Big Red has seen a starter and backup that could complement the offense to a somewhat equal extent. This is no longer the case. In fact, Mike Riley’s cup runneth over when it comes to quality quarterbacks.
Tanner Lee stepped out in front in grand fashion but should anything cause him to find the sideline during a game, Patrick O’Brien has the skills to effectively take command.
Let’s not disregard true freshman Tristan Gebbia who finds himself in a similar situation to O’Brien’s from last year. If things get truly dire and No. 14 is under center, the film room fanatic’s presence might not be cause for DEFCON 1. Even walk-on Andrew Bunch has drawn praise from Riley leaving those who’ve seen Nebraska’s quarterbacks for an extended period of time feeling much better about the 2017 offense’s prospects.
*(No seriously, I want to know your thoughts. Leave them in the comment section below)
We-Backs? We Back: Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has been very complimentary of several running backs during a fall camp in which he sees the offense “way further along” than the previous two. Running backs coach Reggie Davis has praised all of his backs for their improvement in the screen game as well.
Where does this leave Jaylin Bradley? Not out in the cold, believe it or not. The true freshman has looked like one of the potential steals of the 2017 recruiting class showing excellent footwork and vision. Whether or not he expands the number of heads on the Husker Hydra at running back remains to be seen.
Savage Professionalism Returns: Whoever is taking snaps for Nebraska will have plenty of explosive targets with when looking to move the sticks through the air. De’Mornay Pierson-El, Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman all offer fantastic options. Keyan Williams has stepped up as a reliable player in the slot and true freshman Tyjon Lindsey looks like he could make an immediate impact. Keep an eye out for Bryan Reimers and walk-on Conor Young as well.
One name that Husker fans may want to learn quickly is tight end Tyler Hoppes’. Riley has commented publicly that Hoppes may be one of the best receiving tight ends he’s had the pleasure of working with. Last year, Hoppes had Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton and Trey Foster in front of him. This season, fans may be wondering where the heck Riley has been keeping this kid.
Bob Diaco is a Secretive Son of a Gun: He ran a 3-3-5 defense during the Red-White Spring Game. He runs his patented 3-4 under a shroud of mystery. Nebraska’s new defensive coordinator isn’t just intense, he’s also rather sneaky when he wants to be. He clearly wants his first edition of the Blackshirts to be one of the most surprising and ferocious groups in the nation. That means unless you’re the biggest of VIPs, you’re just going to have to wait until September 2 to see what all the fuss is about.
One thing that he is not afraid of unveiling is high expectations. We learned about that this past week when he addressed Joshua Kalu’s move from cornerback to safety. Following last Tuesday’s practice, Diaco commented on Kalu saying, “He would be a very, very good corner, maybe even a great corner, but in my mind there’s no doubt: He is and/or will be one of the best safeties in the country, if not the very best safety in the country.”
No pressure, Josh.
Drew Brown is Leadership Material: While the Huskers were dining and preparing for an evening of signing autographs on Fan Day, Nebraska’s starting kicker took to the podium to address the media and give his thoughts on the coming year. He was complimentary, humble and quite frankly came off as the kind of guy you’d name a team captain.
Brown sits third on Nebraska’s all-time list of field goals made with 47 needing only 11 to pass his brother, Kris. He may be “just a kicker” to some, but he’ll be giving his all to put his team in position to win one inch at a time, one point at a time.
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