LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon after a little more than a week off for spring break.
The Huskers practiced in shorts and helmets — no pads — on their first day back, but defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said the second part of this spring feels a little like “putting on a new coat of paint.”
He thinks the initial installation of his 3-4 defense has gone well, and believes his players are ready for a bit more.
“They clearly were locked in,” said Diaco, who has been optimistic about this defense since the moment he took the job in December.
The coordinator reiterated he thinks the defense has retained the information from the first few weeks of spring ball well. Diaco said that during the break he leaned “so much” from looking at the film. In particular, he said, is he seeing a wealth of options within his defense.
“I believe that we’re building depth and I can see that,” Diaco said. “We have a very responsible group that wants to serve. So they’re willing to learn around and shuffle around and they’re not getting too excited about looking at different spots. So they’re gaining a lot of understanding of the fundamentals necessary to play under our structure, so that’s been pleasing.”
The most notable “shuffling” that has occurred this spring is senior Joshua Kalu moving from cornerback to safety. Kalu moved to that spot for the first time at Nebraska’s final spring practice before the break.
Diaco said the decision to move Kalu was based, essentially, on trying to put more playmakers on the field.
“We grade every player, every play, every day,” Diaco said. “And in doing that we’re trying to be sure we have our best players on the field most and how long they can play and how long they can play in the structure and in the call. It looks like Josh and some others needed to maybe take a look at another position to see just how many good players we can get on the field at one time.”
Sophomore CB Lamar Jackson has replaced Kalu at the corner spot. And so far, Diaco’s liked the look.
“I’ve been pleased with Lamar,” Diaco said. “He’s a big skill athlete that moves like a little athlete. Which is unique collection of traits.”
Some other nuggets from practice:
- Diaco didn’t want to go too into detail, but did mention he does like disguising defenses.
- Jackson spoke briefly to the media. He said he’s starting at boundary corner as of right now. “It’s where I wanted to be,” he noted.
- Nebraska will be back in full pads by Saturday, when freshman WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. will be able to practice in pads for the first time after being cleared to play before the break.