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(Video shot by BRR's Josh Hilkemann)
Spring game talk
“The spring game is great and it’s a great attraction for fans and a great attraction for recruits,” said Papuchis. “To me it’s just another practice. You get to see guys in front of fans and you get to see guys on the game field. I think the biggest key is we continue to progress over the course of the week and if we do that and are better at the end of the week than we are today, then it’s been a good week.”
“I hope you see tremendous effort. I hope you see a lot of energy. I hope you see guys flying to the football and trying to create turnovers, gang tackling, but that’s something we’ve always believed in,” Papuchis said. “Saturday’s going to be a little bit vanilla for us, defensively. We’re not going to call a whole bunch of our defenses that we’ve worked on throughout the course of spring ball. But with that being said, I want to see technique, energy and effort.”
Thus far during the spring, the secondary has received much praise, and Monday proved to be no different.
“I think on the back end there’s been some guys that have made some significant jumps,” explained Papuchis. “I think Daimion Stafford has made a good jump. I think Ciante Evans is doing some good things. I think Antonio Bell is doing some good things; P.J. Smith, Andrew Green, those guys, that first group of secondary guys have made a pretty dramatic jump, in my opinion,” Papuchis said. “Harvey Jackson’s done a nice job with the dime and also at safety.”
So when exactly did this surprising transformation take place, and why?
“It’s hard to say when the light clicked,” said Papuchis, “but they’ve been playing good over the course of the spring. I think it started in the offseason. I think the understanding of the offense is better. I think Coach (Terry) Joseph has done a great job with them for being here such a short amount of time.
Spring game shuffle
The defensive tackle position has certainly seen better days; well, at least when it comes to the gloomy injury situation, which will bring some obstacles coming into Saturday’s spring game.
“We’ve got to be a little creative—divide the teams up and make sure they’re balanced,” Papuchis said. “There’s going to be some guys that swing on both teams”
Omaha boy seizes opportunity
One player taking advantage of the injury-plagued DT position is Omaha native Kenny Anderson. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior out of Millard West has played defensive end most of his career at Nebraska, but is now “doing a really nice job” at DT, according to Papuchis. “I think he’s opened up a lot of our eyes.”
Said Papuchis: “Will Compton is playing close to as good as he’s played since I’ve seen him here. Fish [Sean Fisher] has had a very solid spring. Zo [Alonzo Whaley] has as well. I really feel pretty good about the back seven guys of that first group.”
As practices begin to wind down for the spring, Coach Papuchis gave some insight into what he’s looking for in his players.
“You get into the last week and guys start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I just don’t want guys to lose focus.” Papuchis said. “There’s still progress to be made, even though we’re getting to the tail end of spring. I still want our guys to come out focused and be prepared every day and treat it like it’s the first day.”
- Josh Harvey -
J.C. Reid has worked for Big Red Report magazine and BigRedReport.com since December of 2011. He is currently a junior at UNL, studying Journalism.