Nebraska football has its sixth of 15 spring practices on Friday and it’s going to be a big one.
The Huskers are planning their first full-fledged, tackle-to-the-ground scrimmage of the spring before sending their players off for spring break next week.
“We only get so many live, to-the-ground days, so we’re going to use one on Friday,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “Should have plenty of time to heal up if we get nicked up a little bit. As a head coach, the first thing you want to see is effort and improvement and you want everybody to walk off the field healthy.”
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander will certainly want to get a look at a host of young players, but perhaps more intriguing will be how the Husker offense operates as it attempts to integrate new coaches and players and scheme, and do so quickly.
Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has relatively modest goals for Friday.
“Do a better job of ball security,” the first-year offensive play-caller and quarterbacks coach said. “We’ll play it as the first game, as I say. So, if it’s third-and-10 on the first drive, yeah, I’d like to say we’re going to go third-and-make-it, but don’t turn the ball over. We’d like to get a touchdown the first drive, but may not throw it as much or take a chance that way. Just get out of it and play a clean game, play a clean scrimmage early on. Then know we can take some chances. We want to be aggressive, however you term aggressive — whether it’s in the run game or the pass game — but you want to have a clean game without the ball on the ground, is basically what you look for in the first one.”
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Whipple’s healthy trio of quarterbacks — Texas transfer Casey Thompson, sophomore Logan Smothers and redshirt freshman Heinrich Haarberg — will get plenty of work because neither of the other two is fully healthy. That’s kept NOW from fully realizing the benefits of having five scholarship quarterbacks on its roster so far.
“(The depth) hasn’t really shown up yet because Chubba (Purdy)’s been a little limited and Richie Torres is still healing up from a knee injury from high schools, so it kind of feels like it did before with three, Frost said. “That’s good. The guys that are out there are getting a lot of reps and we’ll start to work the other guys in when they’re healthy.”
This time of year, health pretty much trumps everything else.
“We’ve got certain guys that you probably don’t need to see hit much and some other guys that we really need to test them and see how they’re going to be when it’s live,” Frost said. “We’re going to structure that however we need to in order to get the right reps out of the right guys, and I’m looking forward to seeing the competition.”
After the week off for spring break, NU is slated to return for its next practice on Tuesday, March 22. That kicks off a three-week run of work that culminates with the Red-White Spring Game, which starts at 1 pm on April 9 at Memorial Stadium and is set for broadcast on Big Ten Network.
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