As NU finishes its first week of the training camp, here are several quick hits from Saturday’s practice availability with NU coach Bo Pelini:
>> With projected starting tight end Jake Long missing the first half of camp with an injury, opportunity abounds for his backups to get extra reps. When asked which tight ends had been practicing well, Pelini initially said “all of them” before offering three specific names: Gretna redshirt freshman walk-on Jared Blum, Lincoln Southeast sophomore David Sutton and true freshman Cethan Carter, the late commit of the 2013 class that LSU had been trying secure as a grayshirt until NU convinced Carter to head north.
“I don’t really consider him under-the-radar — he was a heck of a high school player,” Pelini said of Carter, a graduate of New Orleans Archbishop Rummel. “I think he’s a guy who’s already opened some eyes in camp. I expect big things out of him.”
>> On Thursday, Nebraska offensive line coach John Garrison said that he’d seen Huskers in this camp rooting more for each other than merely the unit (offense or defense) that they belong to. Pelini said NU coaches made a concerted effort at the beginning of training camp — and the end of spring camp — to send that message to players.
“We’re a team — it’s not just about offense and defense,” Pelini said. “We need each other. Everybody understands that. That’s the thing you hate about spring practice — sometimes it feels like one against the other … hey, we need each other. It doesn’t mean you don’t compete and make each other better by getting after one another. But you’re not in there, it’s not one unit against the other. We have to be holding each other accountable.”
>> Husker players have attempted to define Pelini’s “Process” by putting three words to it: Relentless. Accountable. Competitive. They even made a YouTube video of it.
“That’s more with this football team and how they wanted to identify themselves,” Pelini said. “Like I told them: ‘It’s OK to have those words, but you gotta live it.’ That’s the key.”
Video: Nebraska players discuss Pelini’s process:
>> Redshirt freshman linebacker Jared Afalava is working at Buck (strongside) linebacker in NU’s base defense and Will (weakside) linebacker in the Huskers’ nickel scheme. Pelini said Afalava at times “overthinks it” but is generally making good progress.
“When he just lets himself go, the more comfortable he gets, you see his athleticism come out that much more,” Pelini said.
Pelini said true freshman running backs Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor still have an opportunity to contribute as true freshman. Since 2009, six running back recruits — Rex Burkhead, Tray Robinson, Aaron Green, Braylon Heard, Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross — have all take significant carries as freshmen.
“It’s still a little early to tell, but I know they have the talent to do it,” Pelini said of Newby and Taylor. “Sometimes at the running back position it’s a little bit more instinctive. There isn’t as much to learn.”
OWH reporter Rich Kaipust will have more on Newby and Taylor in a Sunday story. Look for it in your paper or on Omaha.com.
>> Junior college transfer tackle Matt Finnin has “showed some good things” in his first week, Pelini said, but isn’t as far along as returning Husker linemen.
“Nor would we expect him to be,” Pelini said.
>> No more injuries, Pelini said, other than Long and quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who has been “basically going full go” for the last several practices. Armstrong is slated as one of Taylor Martinez’s two main backups.
>> Nebraska will scrimmage a bit in its Saturday night practice, but Pelini said the Huskers aren’t quite “at that point.” NU players take off Sunday — Pelini stressed the importance of getting the right kind of rest tomorrow — before plunging into 9 practices over 5 days starting on Monday.
>> Media access has changed for the second time in camp. The press will be able to talk to Pelini and players after Tuesday night workouts, and coordinators and coaches after Thursday night workouts. Previously, the media was scheduled to talk to all Huskers after the Monday and Wednesday morning workouts of two-a-days. A Nebraska spokesman said Pelini preferred his team to talk after the single-day workouts.
NU had originally been scheduled to make players available for comment seven times during camp. Because of Pelini’s one-day cancellation and revised setup, players will be available three times.
Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini addresses the media: