LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska kicked off spring practice on Saturday morning. The two-hour session began a new era of Nebraska football, with a quarterback battle and a new 3-4 defense being installed.
Here’s who stood out to us at practice.
Who looked good
The redshirt freshman quarterback did not seem phased that a good chunk of cameras were pointed his way. O’Brien looked comfortable going through reads and delivering balls to a variety of receivers. He looked crisp, sharp, on target and confident. His chance at being the starter should be taken seriously.
Lee didn’t look quite as good as O’Brien, throwing high on a few occasions. He is, however, a presence in the pocket. Though he and O’Brien are listed at the same height, Lee looks the part of a quarterback a bit more than O’Brien. He’s a bit leaner, a bit taller, and can see the field extremely well. And though O’Brien looked better on short throws, Lee did complete a few beautiful long balls.
The freshman corner probably won’t start in 2017, but there’s a good chance defensive coordiantor Bob Diaco finds a spot for Jackson on the field. It looks like he’s in shape, maybe even dropping a few pounds. He’s still a freak athlete, and he looked fresh on Saturday.
Who looked great
He’s not lying. Stoltenberg put on some serious weight. Though we were skeptical at first about Soltenberg playing at nose tackle, that 15-to-20 pounds he’s put on since the Music City Bowl shows. He eats up space in the middle, seemed comfortable at that position and was coaching up players around him. Wouldn’t be shocking for him to step up and be a really vocal leader on this team.
Davis played at defensive end and seemed comfortable. There are some kinks in the scheme that are still be ironed out since it was just the first practice. But the set-up of the 3-4 defense did look like it made sense. We can’t report on depth charts unless a coach talks about them, but we can say that the way it looked on Saturday made logical sense on where you’d expect players to be, particularly Davis and his brother, Carlos.
Though it wasn’t surprising to Mike Riley, the initial shock of Diaco was something to behold. Demanding perfection, throwing first-team players off the field to run back on because he didn’t like the intensity — it was night and day from last year. The main thing that stood out was the intensity of the coaches around Diaco. Though we haven’t been able to see much of cornerbacks coach Donte Williams, since he also was recently hired, Williams was just as loud and intense as Diaco.
Again, a complete turnaround from the atmosphere with Mark Banker as defensive coordinator.