Published Monday, March 11, 2013 AT 7:49 PM / Updated at 8:01 PM
Spring Practice Quick Hits: Defense rebounds from a poor Saturday
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

Every last ear or eye in Nebraska has probably read or heard of NU coach Bo Pelini’s unhappiness with the defense after Saturday’s practice/scrimmage.

The Huskers apparently made some progress Monday.

“We could beat an elementary school, I think, this time,” defensive coordinator John Papuchis quipped. After all, Pelini wasn’t so sure Saturday.

Papuchis did see his young defense rebound after a day off Sunday, returning “with a great attitude.” On Saturday, Papuchis said, as many as nine freshmen or sophomores were working with the No. 1 defense.

“That’s a great situation to be in to a certain extent — and also a challenging one,” Papuchis said. “The upside is, I think, they’re all talented players. Athletically, this is the fastest group we’ve had since we’ve been here. The downside is the inexperience. We knew that coming into it. Doesn’t mean we’re going to change our standard on how we expect to practice.”

Said linebackers coach Ross Els: “A lot more communicative today. The effort has kinda been there; it was more mental issues on Saturday. We expect steps to be made… we took a big step back Saturday. Today we went back up.”

World-Herald reporter Jon Nyatawa will have more in Tuesday’s World-Herald.

A couple more quick hits:

>> Els said Nebraska just started working on punting Monday. Grand Island redshirt freshman walk-on Sam Foltz and sophomore Mauro Bondi will battle for the job. Els wanted to start spring working on kickoff, then kickoff return, then punt return.

On kickoff returns — where Nebraska struggled often in 2012 — Els said schemes haven’t changed. He wants the execution to get better.

“If we can get the teaching fixed or the right personnel out on the field, we’ll be fine with it,” Els said. “We just couldn’t hold our blocks very long.”

Els said the special teams “athletically will be better” in part because of a number of reserve linebackers and safeties who can play on it.

>> Offensive line appears to be having a pretty good camp, according to coaches and players. Senior Jeremiah Sirles said the unit is as cohesive and experienced as it’s been since he arrived in 2009.

“We’re finally the veteran offensive line we’ve been hoping to get,” Sirles said. Position coach John Garrison held court for a good 15 minutes; he seems to be settling into the role of main offensive line coach quite snugly.

>> Click play below to listen to the Papuchis interview:

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.