LINCOLN, Neb. — Talk about a memorable way to end practice.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley gave junior offensive lineman Jerald Foster an opportunity to end practice early on Thursday, but there was a catch: Foster had to cleanly field a punt from Nebraska sophomore punter Caleb Lightbourn.
“That was out of nowhere,” Foster said. “Coach brings us up at the 40 and he was saying that everyone has responsibilities and then came out saying that I was going to be responsible if we were going to keep our practice going. We had, I feel like, 30 more minutes to practice, but he was like, ‘Yeah, Jerald, if you can catch this [at] the 5, you guys can end it.’ I was like, ‘Thank God, I’ll be able to pull this one down.’
“And then Caleb gives me the hardest punt he possibly had and punts me to the side, but it’s all right. [I’m] happy to help the guys out.”
Legends live forever.@JeraldFoster coming in clutch today.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) August 10, 2017
Notes from Thursday’s practice
• Nebraska ran a series of situational team periods, which offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf recapped after practice.
“We are in a tough situation with the third-and-long deal and we didn’t execute great on that,” Langsdorf said. “I thought we did some good things coming out on that backed-up area that we had. We had one turnover that was kind of ugly. It’s good work for us, we get a lot of different situational work, whether we are in the high red zone or coming out or third down. All that stuff has been really good work for us.”
• As for the quarterback position, Langsdorf has liked what he’s seen from Tanner Lee during fall camp. While there are still a “few things that [the team needs] to clean up,” Langsdorf appreciates the work Lee has put in.
“I think he’s done a nice job playing fast and making good decisions, for the most part,” Langsdorf said. “There’s been a couple plays that we need some work on. Overall he’s been a consistent worker. He’s really steady, he’s the same guy every day. He comes to work ready to go, so I’ve been pleased with that.”
• Speaking of Lee, the quarterback briefly discussed the loss of key wide receivers to injuries. While disappointing, he’s approaching the situation as a potentially positive thing for the receivers overall.
“I think it’s important to get other guys in there and have them feel comfortable in your huddle and [be] able to run plays and execute with different guys because over the course of the season, other guys have to get in there and make plays,” Lee said. “I think it’s good for their comfortability while the other guys get to heal up and get back into the game.
“It’s not all bad.”
• When it comes to the offensive line, Langsdorf has a list of improvements he’d like to see made before Arkansas State comes to town Sept. 2.
“Just the overall protection on the [stunts]. That’s a big thing for us,” Langsdorf said. “[And] a handle on all the different movement. The third-down pressures are where they show up, a lot of movement, a lot of guys kind of milling around and giving you different looks. That’s easy to do in that 3-4; that’s what makes it tough is identification. We need some work there and then consistently running the ball, that’s always a focus. Making sure that we can get positive yards and making sure we are not giving up any free hitters. Overall consistency and protection and gaining ground on the run game.”
• Lee was pleased with the overall performance of the offense on Thursday. He expects the team to take that home and come back ready for an even better day on Friday.
“I think we did a lot of good things,” Lee said. “I think we had a third-down period [where] we didn’t pick up some third downs that we’d like to improve, obviously. I think we’ve been improving every day and we will bring that into tomorrow. We’ll watch the film tonight and improve from there.”