Huskers ‘seamless, smooth’ in preparation for season through first week of camp

LINCOLN — Lightning interrupted the beginning of practice Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium, driving the team indoors for the majority of its workout.

The first week of fall camp has been so efficient, Mike Riley said afterward, that the inconvenience might be as off-task as the Huskers have been.

“This has been just a really seamless, smooth week,” Riley said inside the Hawks Center on Saturday afternoon. “Maybe as much so as any I’ve been in. I don’t want to speak in too dramatic of fashion, but really good. Guys doing what they’re supposed to do.”

The coach said action wrapped up with an 86-play scrimmage in which the first unit saw “25-ish” live plays. Other players saw closer to 30 as position battles and coaching evaluations continued with the benefit of tackling in full pads for the first time in camp.

As for the scrimmage, Riley dubbed it “a mixed bag.” The No. 1 defense made plays — particularly the secondary, which gave extra snaps to corners such as Lamar Jackson, Eric Lee and Dicaprio Bootle because of their relative inexperience — while the offense “had some nice runs” but struggled to perform consistently. Procedural issues like false starts also cropped up, Riley said.

Junior receiver Bryan Reimers also may have injured his back Saturday when he landed on it after rising to catch a ball in the end zone during pass skeleton drills. Riley said the Lincoln East grad may have had the wind knocked out of him, adding, “I don’t think that’s a long-term deal.”

Camp so far has mostly been a “confirmation” of what coaches already knew regarding players, Riley said. But he singled out Ben Stille — a redshirt freshman from Ashland-Greenwood — for his work at defensive end as well as outside linebacker Sedrick King. Bellevue West grad and true freshman Jaylin Bradley also received mention along with redshirt freshman JD Spielman for his work as a slot receiver Saturday.

Riley said the extra week of practice — brought on as Nebraska filled out its schedule after the NCAA abolished two-a-days in the spring — would allow the team to conduct three fall scrimmages instead of two while also putting more of focus on body maintenance than in the previous routine.

“You don’t want to push this thing too far back into July,” Riley said. “But the kids are around here anyway. If you still take the right time off and do it right, I think stretching camp — with a couple more days off in camp, maybe two or three more — is really not bad for them physically.”

The Huskers again ended practice in three groups rotating among ice-tube treatments, stretching and band work. Riley said the routine is new — position mates would stretch among themselves in the past — as NU seeks to keep players fresh leading up to the Sept. 2 season opener.

“That’s the fun thing about this is we learn a little bit more every year of what you should do,” Riley said. “So I think things like this will forever be looked at and probably tweaked a lot.”

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