The Nebraska football team took to the practice fields bright and early on Sunday starting their first session of fall camp at about 9:15 a.m. While the squad wasn’t going at full speed and it was a feeling out process, there were still some interesting takeaways as the Big Red begins prepping for the 2017 season.
The quarterbacks all picked right up from where they left off last spring. Shock and awe, Tanner Lee looks like a quality Big Ten quarterback and a perfect fit for Mike Riley’s offense.
Patrick O’Brien should serve very well as his backup and Tristan Gebbia again surprises with how comfortable he is making reads and completing passes. There was a little rust but an impressive amount of polish for Day One.
Nebraska’s top three running backs (Tre Bryant, Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo) all look ready to contribute this fall. Given the opportunity to watch their footwork a bit, Ozigbo appears to have a little work to do but runs more confidently than he did last season.
True freshman Jaylin Bradley certainly looks like a back that could grow into a contributor as his career goes on. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this fall.
With De’Mornay Pierson-El absent due to attending his sister’s wedding, Stanley Morgan and DJ Spielman were the highlights of the afternoon. Most of the other wideouts had the occasional mental lapse but nothing out of the ordinary for a first practice.
Tyjon Lindsey looked excellent on a sweep when he was able to get to the edge and bolt past defenders on the outside. It was against the second string defense with no pads, but still. A pleasant surprise was C.J. Young. He ran very crisp routes and was in sync with his signal-callers from start to finish.
The starting offensive line appears to be (from left to right) Nick Gates, Jerald Foster, Cole Conrad, Tanner Farmer and David Knevel. Their day was largely about technique.
Mick Stoltenberg had a solid day at nose tackle batting down a Tanner Lee pass and really seeming to embrace his new role.
Considering the amount of time DiCaprio Bootle is getting, it looks like the coaches are going to give him every opportunity to earn some playing time.
Post-practice quotes from head coach Mike Riley
On what Riley wants to see out of his young cornerbacks:
“Probably as we go forward with the corners, they’re all young and their experience isn’t big but they are talented and they are smart so what we’ll just be looking for immediately is being sound. Just being real smart.
I think that’s going to be the way that they give everybody the trust that everybody needs for them to play is that they understand their assignment, they understand what they have to take away at their position and then that they are really sound down the field.”
On the thought process on Joshua Kalu potentially staying at safety:
“We understand we have a little bit of versatility there with Josh and his experience at corner is good. We have been excited about his fit at safety, what he brings in that area so we like that look and we are hesitant to move it.
We feel like with three guys right now when you’re talking about Lamar (Jackson), Eric Lee and (DiCaprio) Bootle that we feel we will have those guys and see who else breaks into it that are sound, smart, good football players so that’s our first option, obviously.”
On working with nickel packages:
“We’re working through all that as we go. I remember the days when I coached the 3-4 in the Canadian league and we didn’t have many players on our roster and the backup players were not quite the same so we didn’t go Nickel.
We would rather keep Tyrone Jones on the field than have some other guy come in the game. I’m not saying that we will not do that but we have to be very thoughtful about that as we go into it.”
On the top three running backs:
“I was impressed with the backs. They’re all in good shape. It appeared to me that it was all kind of workmanlike with those backs. They went in, did their job, they looked good, they’re all physically prepared. I think probably at the highest level of their lives, I think they’re all ready to go.
I also just had some glimpses of Jaylin Bradley athletically. I was impressed with that. I think that room is rising as far as what we might get out of them, I’m excited about it.”
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