Camp chatter: Sights and sounds of Nebraska QBs, a new OL coach and special teams drills | Football

Sights and sounds from Husker football camp:

SEEN: Six Nebraska quarterbacks — Casey Thompson, Chubba Purdy, Logan Smothers, Heinrich Haarberg, Richard Torres and Matt Masker — going through a series of drills with new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, who started his group with simple rollout passes to tight ends and advanced them through more complicated throws into the end zone.

The arm talent on several of the quarterbacks — including Purdy and especially Torres — was notable on some of the deeper wheel and seam routes. Whipple put the players through some pop pass drills around the goal line, too, with Purdy throwing a smart ball high and towards the hanging goal post.

Purdy has a lower, tighter arm delivery that Nebraska likes; the ball comes up with zip. Torres has a longer, fluid motion that flings the ball. Thompson, the odds-on favorite to start based on his collegiate experience, wastes little motion either with his stroke or his lower body; he doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he was accurate in drills.

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Whipple doesn’t move much. He watches, closely, making corrections as needed. Nebraska coaches, a source said, are happy with their quarterback play so far, and see a legitimate competition for No. 1.

HEARD: “Six perfect jumping jacks!” Nebraska typically used to do one; now they do six, and, on Monday, they had to do six twice after defensive lineman Ty Robinson pointed out a mistake in one of the 110 Huskers doing the jacks. Robinson joked he is a “henchman” of Garrett Nelson — the team’s unabashed vocal leader — and Robinson played that role on Monday. Nelson was more intense than recent NU leaders in that setting.

SEEN: The first portion of Nebraska open practice since August 2021 after a spring in which the media were not allowed to watch. NU communications officials handed out rosters listing 150 players ahead of the 30-minute open period.

SEEN: Coach Scott Frost and Athletic Director Trev Alberts standing together on the sidelines talking.

SEEN: Cornerback Omar Brown standing at the edge of warmup drills. The Northern Iowa transfer missed time in the offseason with an injury.

SEEN: The offensive line working on individual blocking drills tasking blockers with pushing their man downfield. The first combination (from right to left) went: Bryce Benhart, Broc Bando, Trent Hixson, Turner Corcoran and Teddy Prochazka. Prochazka — who tore his ACL early last season — was full go for the open portion of the workout. Corcoran at left guard is also notable after the former four-star recruit started nine games at left tackle last season.

SEEN AND HEARD: New O-line coach Donovan Raiola actively engaging players during drills. He barked for every one-on-one moment — “Drive! Drive! Drive!” he yelled, emphasizing to push defenders at the chin. Benhart quickly drove his man downfield on one sequence, prompting Raiola to shout, “Good! Take his head off!”

SEEN: Early work with punt return units, with a blue recycling can simulating the return man and players blocking gunners at the edge. A mix of receivers, running backs and defenders took part. Frost watched the drill, at one point shouting “Sell out, baby! Sell ​​out!”

SEEN AND HEARD: Quinton Newsome and Tamon Lynum block each other to the sideline to begin a blocking drill among defensive backs. The effort fired up position coach Travis Fisher: “That a way, Q!” Fisher yelled. “That’s a way to start this damn drill off, both of you.”

SEEN: Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jailen Weaver, at 6-foot-8, 345 pounds and in full uniform, stood to the side at one point while other D-linemen and edge rushers hit a tackling sled.

SEEN AND HEARD: Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite constantly teaching during drills. One simulated a running back pushing through linebackers and safeties at the goal line. “Don’t let the first level slow you down,” Applewhite said. “Pad level is crucial.” One back who ran too high on his first rep corrected it moments later. The group then worked on pass protection, to mixed results. “Don’t do it until you get it right,” Applewhite implored. “Do the technique until you can’t get it wrong.”

SEEN: Running back Gabe Ervin a full participant in the open portion of practice. Ervin, in his second season, started two games last season and appeared in four overall before tearing his ACL at Oklahoma.

SEEN: Thomas Fidone and AJ Rollins not practicing. The tight end duo were both recruited in the 2021 class. Chris Hickman, noticeably thicker on top, practiced and looked strong.

SEEN: Jaquez Yant, as trim as he was in the spring. No extra weight gained this time. Yant, if fit and focused, is NU’s best combination of size and elusiveness.

HEARD: Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay Fly” as the first song during the open portion of practice.

SEEN and HEARD: Anthony Grant couldn’t haul in a (slightly underthrown) swing pass during routes-on-air drills. Rahmir Johnson caught one that carried him out of bounds after the catch.

Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite was vocal in correcting both. Quarterback Casey Thompson clapped his hands in encouragement.

“Run it again!” Applewhite said to Grant.

“Stay in bounds!” he said to Johnson.

SEEN: Offensive linemen Teddy Prochazka and Turner Corcoran who missed spring ball with injuries. Were fully padded participants during Monday’s practice. So were tight ends Chris Hickman, Travis Vokolek and Chancellor Brewington, who also missed the spring.

SEEN: True freshmen Ajay Allen and Janiran Bonner, who do not appear their age, physically. Allen, a running back, and Bonner, a wide receiver, looked stout in pads.

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GRACE BELLINGHAUSEN, THE WORLD-HERALD


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