Huskers on KLIN


By Tommy Rezac

The Nebraska Football team wrapped up its second practice of the week on Tuesday afternoon, as the road test at Oregon draws closer. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, offensive assistant coaches and a mixture of players on both offense and defense spoke to the media after the workout.

Coach Langsdorf has taken time to look at Saturday’s game film a little closer, and sees a number of areas where the offense could improve against Oregon.

“There were some good things, and some things we’ve got clean up,” Langsdorf said. “I didn’t think we handled some of the protection stuff very well. We took too many hits. Missed a couple of throws. Dropped a few balls. Had some silly holding penalties. So, we had definitely some things to clean up from that game. Always a good teaching tool.”

Langsdorf also made mention of a couple offensive drives that stalled out for Nebraska in the 4th quarter, and how crucial it is to close games out late by running the clock and gaining first downs.

“You get late in the game when you’re in a four-minute situation, you’ve got to be able to get a first down,” Langsdorf said. “That’s a big part of closing games out. It’s usually a run (play). If you throw the ball, you stop the clock. So, you’re going to run the ball there, and everyone knows it. So, you’ve got to do a good job of covering guys up, executing, moving the defensive line and getting a first down.”

Nebraska had two drives inside of ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter that were both six plays or less and both ended in sophomore Caleb Lightbourn punting the ball away.

Oregon’s 3-4 defense

Oregon runs a 3-4 defensive scheme that features a variety of zone coverages like Cover 3. Langsdorf says the variety of coverages the Ducks run will make J.D. Spielman’s involvement all the more critical.

“(Oregon) does a nice job of changing things up,” Langsdorf said. “They disguise well. They give you a lot of different looks, but that inside receiver is big. A lot of times, he’s critical in finding the hole in zone (defense). Like any receiver, getting him into it early and getting him a few touches, especially a young guy (like Spielman) playing on the road for the first time. It’s one of those things where you want to get him into a groove fast.”

Coach Riley and several players mentioned Monday how practicing against a 3-4 defense throughout fall camp could be an added advantage when preparing to go up against Oregon’s 3-4 scheme.

Langsdorf is thankful his offense has had plenty of time to see a 3-4 in practice as they prepare to face that same look in a live-action game.

“You don’t have a week of practice to see a new front or coverage, you’ve gotten a month,” Langsdorf said. “I think that’s a good thing for us. I think it’s a little easier to go from practicing against a 3-4 to a 4-3 team than going the other way. So, I think that’s been a good benefit for us all through fall camp having that work on the 3-4.”

Autzen Stadium

Head coach Mike Riley named Oregon’s Autzen Stadium as one of the top five loudest venues he’s ever coached in. Langsdorf also ranks it as one top five toughest environments to communicate in as a coach.

“Autzen is one of the top five of places I’ve been,” Langsdorf said, in terms of noise. “Very disruptive. They don’t have a huge stadium (54,000 seats), but it’s really a rowdy crowd. We’ve had trouble even hearing on the phones before between the box and the field. It’s going to take a lot of concentration and poise. We’ve been working on it all of fall camp, and of course all of this week. But, the noise has been a part of our practice really from the beginning.”

Returning to Oregon

Langsdorf coached against Oregon nine times during his tenure as offensive coordinator at Oregon State from 2005-2013; five times in Eugene. The Beaves went 1-4 during those trips.

Despite some hard times, Langsdorf is excited to return to familiar territory.

“(Coach Riley and I) have been there a lot of times in our history, so it’ll be kind of fun,” Langsdorf said. “We’re familiar with the surroundings, and with the hotel we’ll stay at. We’ve stayed there every time. There’ll be a lot of familiar sights and faces. So, it’s kind of fun, but it’s one of those deals where it’s a tough place to play and they’re a good team. It’ll be a good challenge for us. It’ll be another exciting road team. We’ve got plenty of those in our own (Big Ten) conference. So, going out there will be fun.”

Oregon wildfires

Langsdorf can’t recall ever being part of a game where air quality was a factor in where and when the actual game would be played.

Oregon and Oregon State are currently monitoring hazardous air quality in the area of Corvallis and Eugene as both schools will be hosting games this weekend.

While Nebraska is scheduled to play Oregon at 3:30 p.m. central Saturday, the Beavers are scheduled to play host to Minnesota at 9 p.m. CT.

The Pac-12 conference released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying, “The universities playing the games make the ultimate decision and that will be made sometime before Saturday morning. Depending on the situation, an event may be postponed or rescheduled if it is too dangerous to play.”

“It’s been bad out there,” Langsdorf said. “We have a lot of friends and family out there that say it’s been pretty bad. So, hopefully we get to play it.”

The fires have mainly affected the Willamette Valley region of Oregon, which sits in the northwest part of the state. It also happens to be the most populated part of Oregon. The region is home to roughly 70 percent of the state’s population, including the three largest cities; Portland, Salem and Eugene.

Other Notables

True freshman nose tackle Deontre Thomas spoke to the media after seeing the first snaps of his Nebraska career on Saturday. The Oklahoma native was overall thrilled to see his first collegiate snaps, including the last and most critical drive of the game when Arkansas State was attempting to tie the game.

“It was nice,” Thomas said. “My first college game. Just got to improve from there. That’s it.”

“He earned it, and he worked his ass for it,” Khalil Davis said, standing over Thomas’ shoulder.

One of the more memorable moments for Thomas was coming out of the tunnel for the first time.

“Honestly, I was nervous I’m not going to lie,” Thomas said. “I had some chills. I was like, “Shoot. I gotta go. I gotta put on. I gotta go.”

On the offensive side, wide receivers coach Keith Williams would grade the receivers’ performance in the first game as “okay.”

“There was some plays made,” Williams said. “There were also some mistakes made. Some good, some bad.”

As for the younger receivers like Spielman and true freshman Tyjon Lindsey, Williams views their performances as “some of the good” from Saturday.

“Tyjon and Tazzy (short for ‘Tasmanian Devil,’ Williams’ nickname for Spielman), I thought they did well for their first game,” Williams said. “I knew Tazzy would be okay, because he’s not necessarily a true freshman, even though that was his first game. He played exceptional for his first game; not necessarily because of the plays he made, but his composure.”

Spielman had the fifth longest kickoff return for a touchdown in school history in the first quarter of Saturday’s game, breaking free for a 99-yard strike and giving Nebraska an early 10-7 lead.

He also had two catches for 44 yards, including a 35-yard grab in the fourth quarter. Lindsey meanwhile finished with three catches for 14 yards.

Nebraska will practice again on Wednesday and Thursday. Coach Riley will address the media on Thursday afternoon before the team departs for Oregon on Friday.

You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.

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