Nebraska football: What we learned from Huskers' third week of spring practice

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s third full week of spring practice has come to an end. During Week 2, we learned about the status of the offense and defense through install and what players are starting to stand out. Week 3 provided more information on the current state of coach Scott Frost’s team.

What did we learn over the last week of practice? Let’s review what we know now about Nebraska football following its third full week of spring ball.

QB competition even more interesting

Nebraska’s quarterback competition took an interesting turn in Week 3 with the departure of sophomore Patrick O’Brien. After limited reps on Tuesday, O’Brien was mysteriously absent from practice on Thursday. He later tweeted his decision to transfer.

O’Brien’s departure now puts even more emphasis on redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, freshman Adrian Martinez, and sophomore Andrew Bunch. Noah Vedral — who transferred from Central Florida and has to sit out a year due to transfer rules — hopes to receive a waiver from the NCAA to play right away at Nebraska.

In the meantime, the quarterbacks on Nebraska’s roster this spring have put a focus on building a brotherhood regardless of who the eventual starter will be.

Chemistry building

There is youth and inexperience between the quarterbacks and wide receivers, but offensive coordinator Troy Walters isn’t concerned. During the last three weeks, Walters has watched both position groups build strong chemistry with one another.

“It’s good,” Walters said. “It’s important that the receivers and quarterbacks are on the same page. We emphasize that as a receiver that quarterback has to be your best friend. You’ve got to spend time with them not only on the field but off the field and make sure you are all on the same page. As a receiver, we have to make sure that the quarterbacks are confident and that we are going to be in the right place, and then when they do throw the ball to us we’re going to make a play.”

Both position groups have plenty of time to keep the momentum regarding chemistry going, but it sounds like everything is moving in the right direction.

No spring game format yet, but soon

Coach Scott Frost had yet to determine the format of Nebraska’s annual spring game, but he hoped to have it sorted out by the end of Week 3. Regardless, Frost shared he wanted the spring game to be entertaining for fans.

“We’re going to kind of decide on the format of the spring game this week,” Frost said after practice Tuesday. “We had to kind of wait to see where we were as a team on both sides and where we were health-wise so we could get the team split up. There’s 90,000 people coming. I want to put up the best show we can for them and show people the progress.

“Spring games are more for the fans than they are for the coaches.”

Fans with tickets for the April 21 game — or those planning to watch on Big Ten Network — can at least expect a good show.

Defense seeking vocal leader

While some Huskers are individually starting to stand out, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander still doesn’t have the vocal leader he’d like. Chinander made it clear following the practice Saturday that “nobody has been good enough” in the vocal department.

“I wouldn’t say we have a bell cow right now, a guy we can rally around,” Chinander said. “Mick [Stoltenberg] has done a nice job on the sideline getting some guys going even though he’s been a little banged up and a little sick. Even when he hasn’t gone a couple of practices, he’s done a nice job with those guys on the sideline helping us coach, helping with those kinds of things, but we don’t have a guy on the field yet that we can rally around.”

Part of that may be a byproduct of players still learning positions, so Chinander isn’t too concerned. He’ll continue to work on improving the vocal aspects of his defense, and hopes to have it improved by fall camp.

Building consistency

In the same vein as the vocal aspect, Chinander is also hoping to see better consistency from the defense. While one group may have a great day, it’s never consistent through practices. One day will be good for one unit, while another day will be good for another.

“Right now, I’m trying to get some consistency out of everybody, the whole unit, and a little more fight when it’s tough,” Chinander said. “We went outside and it got a little cold and I think both sides of the ball went down a little bit. They’re used to practicing inside and we need to see a little more fight in them when things get tough.”

As a result, Chinander hasn’t really seen any players stand out as potential starters yet. He needs to see improvement across the board.

“To be honest with you, there hasn’t been a depth chart really jumping out at me yet,” Chinander said. “And to be honest, someone asked me the other day who is playing good and nobody. Everybody needs to improve. There are some guys playing OK but we have to get better all across the board. I’m not ready to say anybody’s taken the job yet, anybody’s stuck out yet because we all need to get better right now.”

Similar to the vocal aspect, time and more practice will hopefully correct the lack of consistency in Chinander’s mind.

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