Friday, April 07, 2006

Gruden compliments Lucky

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden was in Lincoln on Friday as the featured speaker at Nebraska's spring football coaches clinic. Gruden met with reporters following practice and responded to various questions, including one regarding which players had impressed him. He mentioned two by name, quarterback Zac Taylor and running back Marlon Lucky. He said Nebraska was "lucky" to have Lucky. The mention of Lucky caught some reporters by surprise since Cody Glenn has attracted most of the attention this spring. Watching practice is extremely useful, but you can easily begin to believe that you know more than you do. The I-back competition is a case in point. It's probably too close to call, as Gruden's praise of Lucky underscores. Though he saw only one practice, he was watching with a coach's eye.

Posted by Mike Babcock @ Friday, April 07, 2006 || 32 comments

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Upgrading talent

Among Bill Callahan's responsibilities when he was hired was to up-grade talent, and he has accomplished that. It's particularly apparent in competition for positions this spring, and that competition will, in turn, provide more depth in the fall. For example, with Stewart Bradley and Bo Ruud sidelined, and in green jerseys, Kevin Cosgrove still has four proven linebackers: Corey McKeon, Lance Brandenburgh, Steve Octavien and Phillip Dillard. Ndamukong Suh has drawn a lot of interest this spring. He's a load and had an impressive scrimmage today. Yet for now, at least, he's backing up Ola Dagunduro at nose tackle. John Blake indicated that Suh would play both tackle positions, and he still could. But Ty Steinkuhler has made the transition from defensive end (he backed up Adam Carriker last season)and as a result, it appears Suh will concentrate on nose tackle for now, with Steinkuhler backing up Barry Cryer at the three-technique position. Zach Potter has stepped in behind Carriker. Potter scooped up a fumble and returned it 45 or 50 yards for a touchdown on the final play of today's scrimmage. Add Jay Moore and Barry Turner, who has picked up some weight without losing speed, and even though Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams were significant losses, the front seven could be solid, and deep come fall. And that's not counting Brandon Johnson, who won't arrive until then. The same is true of the offensive line. It's young and inexperienced, but there's competition from tackle to tackle, and again, a junior college transfer who arrives in the fall, Carl Nicks, could be a factor, according to Dennis Wagner. And the offense will work only as well as the line allows. With Zac Taylor established at quarterback, much of the attention has turned to the competition at I-back -- the next highest profile position after quarterback. Again, the competition is spirited, and again, a junior college transfer who could be in the mix -- Kenny Wilson -- won't be here until fall. But up-front is where it counts. And that has looked pretty good midway through the spring.

Posted by Mike Babcock @ Saturday, April 01, 2006 || 9 comments

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