Husker notes: Nebraska creating receiver depth; Splitting quarterbacks’ practice reps

Husker notes: Nebraska creating receiver depth; Splitting quarterbacks’ practice reps
Tyjon Lindsey is expected to take a big leap during his sophomore season and provide another weapon in Nebraska's receiving corps. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Though Nebraska’s quarterback corps became one man lighter with the Thursday announcement that Patrick O’Brien will transfer, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said the remaining group continues to cram in practice repetitions in an effort to learn the offense and, eventually, establish a pecking order.

“I told them I was proud of them (Thursday), but we gotta get better, no doubt about it,” Verduzco said. “And they know that. But at least for what we’ve got in terms of our install and how they’re operating and how they’re taking care of their business from snap to snap has been pretty good.”

The coach said the quarterbacks’ feet and eyes are mostly where he wants them to be, which marks a step forward from earlier this spring. The group includes redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, true freshman Adrian Martinez, sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch and UCF transfer Noah Vedral, who is currently not eligible to play this fall.

Offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Verduzco manages the reps the quarterbacks receive well — even if each one doesn’t necessarily get equal numbers.

“If it’s a 10-play series or something, one guy, one quarterback, may take five, another three, another two, based on how he sees it,” Walters said. “He does a great job of making sure everybody gets reps. So even though some guys may be getting more, all the quarterbacks are getting enough to make an impression.”

Catching up with the wideouts

Everybody knows what senior wide receivers Stanley Morgan and sophomore JD Spielman can do in the passing game. Sophomore Tyjon Lindsey also is a known quantity and is  expected to take a step forward in Scott Frost’s up-tempo offense.

But what about the group of wideouts behind that trio? Walters points to redshirt freshman Jaevon McQuitty, true freshman Justin McGriff and junior college transfer Mike Williams as candidates to make an impact.

“Spring, we have a pencil depth chart, and it’s going to change,” Walters said. “When we start in the fall, everybody’s competing for a job, everybody’s competing for a role. Nothing’s set in stone. I feel like we’re going to have six, seven, eight guys that are going to be able to play that we can count on. We gotta have depth. We know what Stanley can do, but we gotta have depth behind him, and that’s what we’re creating this spring.”

Walters said McQuitty, a 6-foot, 195-pound wideout who missed all of last season after injuring a knee during a blocking drill in preseason camp, is physical and combines good speed with size.

Walters also said senior receiver Keyan Williams — the son of former NU wideouts coach Keith Williams — has bought into the new staff. Walters said the elder Williams called him a couple of weeks ago to tell him the player is enthusiastic to learn under the new coaches.

Keyan Williams is fundamentally and technically sound and it is evident he is the son of a coach, Walters said. The offensive coordinator added that he acknowledged all the receivers’ relationship with Keith Williams before beginning their offseason work together.

“I told the guys when I came, because I know Coach Williams is a great receivers coach, I told them that what you learn from him, you have,” Walters said. “And now you can learn some more from me and you’ve got more tools in your toolbox. They’ve embraced that and they’re doing a great job.”

Quick hits

» Walters said “not really” when asked if anyone has stood out at running back. He said the plan is to use a committee approach. He said he is confident that three or four guys will be able to run the ball effectively. “They all do different things well,” Walters said.

» Running backs coach Ryan Held said he wants an unselfish group of players. If one back scores a touchdown, his position mates better be the first ones to chase him down and celebrate.

» When a Nebraska official signaled to media members that Verduzco was ready to talk by saying his name, Verduzco jokingly finished the sentence by saying “… has already had a glass of scotch.”

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