Talking about practice

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Watching a bare-bones practice session for any sport is thrilling to someone with a thirst for knowledge like myself.
I’ve found myself lurking along the sidelines of several area practice sessions and more than appreciate the coaching staffs for allowing me to become immersed in what’s happening and not chase off the bearded media guy.
It’s for that reason -- along with a plethora of others -- that I’m geared up for this Saturday’s Nebraska Red-White spring game.
I’ve gone the past several years as a member of the working media covering two head coaches, though year two of the Scott Frost era is wildly intriguing.
How much bigger are they? How much faster are they? Do they play faster? Do they hit harder? Do they tackle better?
There’s also an extra layer in all of this with two former Husky players in the hunt -- Austin Allen and Todd Honas. Where do they fit in? How have they improved?
These are all questions I hope to have answers for you in the next seven days.
In Allen’s case, it will be interesting to see how another winter training regime has transformed him. It’s a common conception that the biggest gains for most players and teams is from year one to the second from a coaching transition.
Most know and understand that junior Jack Stoll has become the top dog in the tight end room with fellow sophomores Allen and Kurt Rafdal in tow. Others, like Katerian LeGrone and newcomer Chris Hickman from Omaha Burke provide plenty of competition.
The one thing Oz and the rest of the tight end room needs to do is become more involved in the pass game.
For Allen, he only had two receptions last year for 54 yards. However, his 41-yard catch and run against Ohio State was the longest for a Husker tight end since 2015.
A lot of this will improve with Adrian Martinez and his confidence at the quarterback position. So often last year was he deadlocked on finding Stanley Morgan Jr., or J.D. Spielman.
Those two are great talents, no doubt. However, there were times that not just Oz, but Stoll and Rafdal were open and didn’t get the look. Martinez surely saw that in the film room and should be vastly improved, which almost seems too good to be true.
As for Honas, he earned several opportunities last season to get onto the field and here’s hoping he’ll get many more.
Honas is the classic Nebraska walk-on story who saw his dreams come true last year playing on special teams and even a few offensive possessions.
Special teams is where some players make their bacon, and Honas has certainly embraced that role. If you haven’t seen Honas in recent memory, he’s been a big benefactor of the new strength program and worked really hard.
Sure, the spring game is nothing more than a glorified practice with, in this case, 90,000 watching. You’ll have my full report next week.

RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

 

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