Huskers on KLIN


By Tommy Rezac

The Nebraska Football team concluded its first practice of the week on Monday evening at the Hawks Championship Center. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and offensive assistant coaches addressed the media following the workout.

Many of the offensive themes head coach Mike Riley touched on during Monday’s press conference, i.e. interceptions, penalties, missed opportunities, third down conversions, pass protection, were again highlighted after practice.

“We scored 35 points and didn’t play very well,” Langsdorf said. “That was the reality of it. We were terrible on third down. We did a nice job on our run average and we hit some explosive plays which got us some points. I thought that was a positive.”

“We didn’t complete enough balls. We dropped some balls. We had a critical false start. We were sloppy, and yet, we scored a lot of points. I think that’s encouraging, but we can play better than that.”

Matt Farniok

Redshirt freshman Matt Farniok made his first career start at right tackle last Saturday in place of the injured senior David Knevel, who’s listed as doubtful for this week’s game.

Despite playing from behind for the entirety of the game, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh was quite pleased with effort shown from Farniok in his first full college game.

“That was really big,” Cavanaugh said. “(Autzen Stadium) is a loud environment obviously. He handled it well, so hats off to him for that part of it. I thought overall the whole group (offensive line) handled the noise pretty well.”

Tanner Lee, pass protection

Tanner Lee’s four interceptions, especially the last one inside of two minutes left in the fourth quarter with Nebraska trailing by only a touchdown, were still fresh on everyone’s mind Monday, but Langsdorf is confident that their starter will be just fine, as long as the offense does a better job of protecting him in the pocket.

“I thought he missed some throws,” Langsdorf said. “I thought he was a little bit high on some stuff. He was probably pressing a little bit, especially trying to get back in it. Maybe trying to put a little too much on his shoulders. He made some plays, too. He got us in some good situations. He got hit too many times, which affects everybody. We’ve got to clean up that part of it.”

Langsdorf described the pass protection on Saturday as “inconsistent.”

“Some good, some bad,” Langsdorf said. “I just think we’re getting hit too many times. I think part of the protection is making sure the backs and the tight ends are doing their part in their role, whether it’s a blitzing linebacker or chipping a (defensive) end on their way out. The quarterback has to get rid of the ball. It’s a whole protection unit, but I think we’re taking too many hits. I think the quarterback is playing pretty fast. I think he can get rid of the ball quicker, and I think we can get better as a whole unit at protecting the quarterback.”

Lee was sacked three times on Saturday. His arm was also hit on his last throw, causing the ball to flutter slowly in the air, giving Oregon junior cornerback Ugo Amadi plenty of time to fall under the ball and make the interception.

Langsdorf said there were a variety of factors that led to each of the four picks.

“I thought (Lee) misread one,” Langsdorf said. “He had a tipped ball in the beginning of the game (off of Stanley Morgan) that probably should have been caught. He got hit (in the arm) on the last one. He was a little early on the one with Stanley (in the second quarter). It wasn’t timed very well, I don’t think we came out of the route as well as we probably should have, I thought he was a little early and he threw a little wide. All kinds of stuff went on with all four of them, and obviously that’s too many to win the game.”

Langsdorf didn’t express any concern in Lee’s confidence, saying “he’ll bounce back and play great.”

Running Backs

While sophomore running back Tre Bryant remains day-to-day with a knee injury, Langsdorf is confident backs like Mikale Wilbon, Devine Ozgibo and Jaylin Bradley can provide depth, and tow the line if Bryant doesn’t play.

“It’s been a good group,” Langsdorf said of the backs. “We’ve leaned on Tre the last two games, but that next guy that comes in there, we’re going to expect the same hard running and solid protection and catches out of the backfield. I don’t anticipate a big dropoff if we can’t play with Tre.”

Running backs coach Reggie Davis said Bryant is “good to go” for Saturday, noting a test on his knee that came back negative, but there’s been no confirmation of that from Coach Riley.

Northern Illinois

Langsdorf said the Huskies’ defense reminds him somewhat of Arkansas State, because they run a 4-3 package with an effective pass rush.

“They’re not as big as some of the defenses we’ll face, but they can run and hit. They’re really aggressive. They run to the ball very well. Their linebacking core is strong. They’ve got an excellent defensive end in #15 (Sutton Smith), like Arkansas State had (Ja’Von Rolland-Jones). Really a great pass rusher. Really active, stands up on the edge, and is disruptive to the tight ends and the tackles.”

Smith, a redshirt sophomore, has nine tackles through two games in 2017, including six tackles for loss and one sack.

Other Notables

Coach Riley said in his Monday press conference that watching the tape from last Saturday’s game “should make them sick and make them want to practice hard.” Langsdorf believes the team brought the right amount of energy Riley was looking for.

“I thought they came back with energy and effort,” Langsdorf said. “I thought they ran around well. They embraced kind of a new plan and a new team and got right back to work, so it was encouraging that way.”

Nebraska will practice again on Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, defensive assistants, and a mixture of players on both offense and defense will address the media following Tuesday’s workout. KLIN will have full coverage.

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

More complete audio from Monday's practice:

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