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Updated: Nebraska Football Practice Report - August 4

The media got to observe a portion of this morning’s Husker football practice and we got to hear from the offensive coaches

Jon Johnston

As usual, this is my best attempt to type at the same rate the coaches and players are speaking. I don’t get these exact, but do my best to capture what they said. Let me know in the comments if you want me to check transcripts for an exact quote.

Note: Read Greg Austin’s section in full rather than skimming. He had some good stuff and funny stuff to say.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Lubick

There’s no one that is the clear #1 at running back yet. Markese is ahead of where they thought he’d be (recovery) and if they had to play tomorrow, it sounds like he’d be ready. They want to name a top guy sooner rather than later.

They are emphasizing the red zone.

“We have to execute and not beat ourselves, last year it seemed like we had a penalty or turnover at an inopportune time and that has nothing to do with the opponent.”

“If you are ahead of the sticks, you can take more shots and throw the ball down the field more. We want to push the ball downfield more.”

“His pass blocking is good (freshman RB Gabe Ervin) he is isn’t afraid to take on a linebacker off the edge.”

On the tight ends:

“Yes, NFL scouts should be looking at those guys (I didn’t catch the question, but I’m assuming it was about Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek - let me know if I’m wrong in the comments). These are the two best (tight ends) I’ve ever been around from consistency, leadership and what we ask of them. Coach Beckton is doing a good job. They lead by example and it spreads to other guys - its contagious.”

On receiver depth:

“Our base personnel could be two tight ends or three receivers. If we can play more guys, it makes everyone better, because we can rest. Guys are more fresh. We are mixing and matching lineups and there’s lots of competition. If we can only play four or five guys, then that’s what we’ll play. We have at least six (wide receivers), probably more. Our depth at receiver is night and day compared to last year. Last year, most were first year guys. This year, we feel like we can go three deep at each spot.”

When asked who is standing out:

“In no particular order, Omar, Oliver, Somari, Wyatt, Alante, Xavier, Brody, and then the freshman but I want to hold on to those guys to make a fair evaluation until they know what they are doing. Shawn, Kamonte, and Natrell are all doing a good job but it’s early. They weren’t here in the spring, so they only have four practices.” (One more name was mentioned, but I didn’t catch it.)

Lubick complimented Samori Toure on his leadership and how he has rubbed off on others in the receivers room.

What is the next step?

“To get better we need to take care of details. A step here, playing with lower pads there, keeping our hands inside as offensive lineman. As an offense last year, we did some things to beat ourselves, which is the exact opposite of details. That’s what we’re trying to clean up. Do the right thing. Do our assignments. Don’t turn the ball over. Reduce penalties.”

On Adrian Martinez:

“I’ve noticed he looks better. He looks faster. He’s one of the better running QBs in the country and I think he has gained a step. It shows how driven he is. It’s showing on the practice field.”

Offensive Line Coach Greg Austin

Right guard competition and cross-training at different positions:

“There’s a competition everywhere. I’d say now nobody is locked in. The right guard was a spot we wanted to shore up, it’s fair game for all positions right now.”

“We’d like to have five guys we’re confident in. But there’s always a case where you need a swing guy. That’s wehre I like our depth because we have guys that have played multiple positions. We’re shuffling guys arounhd and seeing what else they can play, especially those not with the starting unit and even a couple that are. As we approach the season, we want confidence they can do a job they are familiar with - whether a guard shifting in to snap or a center shifting out to guard or guards and tackles so they are comfortable in the assignment and technique.”

On center Cam Jurgens:

“Cam’s in a good spot mentally and physically. He has a good rapport with his QB. He is an emerging leader - it’s about the guys next to you as well. In the past, we talked about him, what he needed to do. Today we talked about what he needs to do to keep the other guys accountable. There’s a lot of horizontal leadership going on right now. I’m proud of where Cam is in his emergence as a horizontal leader.”

“One of these press conferences, I’ll get my Beef Jurgy hat and I’ll have it on, but I’m not paying for it.”

On being more physical:

“I don’t think there is a ceiling to being physical. You are physical and you are always striving for more, in some regard. The standard of physicality continues to elevate every day and every play. Trying to figure out how can I strike, how can I be more explosive. We don’t want to just be a body on a guy, we want to strike and explode. We need consistency in mechanics and angles and be able to maximize your power. The mindset helps you be physical consistently.”

On Turner Corcoran and whether that start at end of 2020 helped him:

“It was awesome for him to get those first game jitters out. We’ve seen a jump. Going back to consistency, confidence...for a guy like him he can put his feet in the ground and the game is slower now. That’s the value of getting that first start. There’s a lot that comes along with getting your first start. There are distractions that creep into your brain. We’ve gotten over that, so now he can dial it in and be confident in what he’s doing.”

On the work in the weight room and accountability:

Coach Duvall and those guys in the weight room have done an amazing job. Guys body fat is down and lean muscle is up.

You know, fat boys we gotta have little fat on us now too. Can’t be all lean, you know, then we’ll start getting too many girls you know what I’m saying? - you guys can laugh, that was a joke.

They came back leaner and moving more efficient than spring ball. It is showing in the weight room. The guys are not allowing each other to miss sets. It’s like going to practice, they are accountable. Attack the standard, day by day.

I go to practice now, Ethan (Pieper) is standing there, he knows it. A guy takes a step wrong, I can’t get a word in. The guys are on them right away and I’m like “Can I coach him please?”. It’s great. Iron sharpens iron. We hold each other accountable and that includes me - vertical leadership as well as horizontal leadership. For a long time around here it was vertical leadership. Now we’re seeing the horizontal leadership too. When you want to be coached, that’s when horizontal leadership really makes a difference.

Offensive Lineman Ethan Pieper

He commented on how close the offensive line room is - as friends, not just teammates. They hang out together a lot and especially so during COVID when they couldn’t go out much.

On Cam Jurgens and the OL mindset:

Cam. He is the focal point, at center, He and Matt Sichterman come to practice very day and demand each rep is perfect. If you screw up, they let you know. I’m blessed to be the left guard next to him. He elevates me and I do the same. Cam is really killing it right now. He’s embraced it. We’ve had too many seasons...we want to get this thing done.

Never take a play off. If you can dominate the guy in front of you, by the fourth quarter, we’ll be running the ball right down the middle.

On this fall being different - less uncertainty:

It’s awesome. The biggest thing is that we’re certain we’re playing on the 28th this year. This year we are certain and we have a goal...what we’re trying to accomplish. Illinois, the 28th. That is our goal right now. Once that is past, we’ll go to the next one.

Take it one day at a time. Don’t focus on everything, just focus on one thing and get better. That will help you become a more complete player.

Roommate update!

Me, Bryce and Turner and Logan Smothers have a house north of town. [comment about a QB living with three oL] Yeah, we’re protecting him. [Laughs]

Open Practice Period

We have an Omar Manning sighting and some very large freshman defensive lineman. There were also some observations on who is getting work with the first team offensive line.

Also, Tate Wildeman is working at outside linebacker this morning. Wildeman is currently on the roster as a defensive lineman and appeared in two games in 2020 before an injury ended his season. Both position groups have a lot of guys vying for a place on the two-deep. He’s got his work cut out for him.