John Papuchis knows there is plenty of room for this young Nebraska defense to grow, but the NU defensive coordinator sounded pretty content Monday as he reflected back on the first half of spring practice.
He talked about the Huskers’ pre-break scrimmage (on March 14), when the offense ended up having a good amount of success — said Papuchis: “We saw that a veteran offensive group, who had some moxie and some game readiness, made a few plays.”
But that was just 12 days into spring ball for a defense still trying to transfer its meeting room teachings to the practice field. There are times, Papuchis admitted, the coaches’ expectations for progress are too high.
“I want it to happen faster sometimes, but I do see the light starting to click,” Papuchis said.
That’s the good news. And even though NU’s offense is still ahead of Papuchis’ unit, he can still pull positives out of their game-like simulations.
“For our group, for a lot of that scrimmage, to go toe-to-toe with them — I thought we did a lot of good things,” Papuchis said.
Other tidbits from practice Monday.
>> It was the first day back after a 10-day break. Some players went home, others took a vacation, and the rest stayed around town. According to Papuchis, you could sense a general excitement from the guys about returning to spring ball. Definitely some rust, though.
>> Redshirt freshman defensive end Avery Moss (injured and sidelined for a few days before the break) returned to practice Monday, Papuchis said.
>> Junior center Mark Pelini (muscle injury) was back, too, taking a few reps with the first-team offense. That allowed senior Cole Pensick to work some at guard Monday. He practiced and played both positions last year. Said O-line coach John Garrison: “(Cole) has done a great job at the center spot, but it’s good to have Mark back.”
>> Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he went out of way to create unfamiliar situations in practice Monday, just to see how the offense would respond. “There was some chaos,” Beck said. That was by design. How did the players react? “I saw some guys were focused and dialed in, and it didn’t bother them. Other guys it did.” Beck said it’s an area the offense needs to get better at.