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April 16, 2012

Spring game or not, coaches view spring as success

Saturday was a frustrating and disappointing end to Nebraska's spring, as the annual Red-White Game was washed away by severe storms and the game wound up being canceled all together.

While the tens of thousands of fans who traveled to Lincoln for the scrimmage were obviously upset about the decision, the Husker coaching staff took it as merely an unfortunate ending to what otherwise had been a great four weeks of spring practice.

Head coach Bo Pelini said he couldn't have been much happier with what his team was able to get accomplished over the past month. Though NU didn't get a chance to showcase its progress to the fans, Pelini said he was still able to see exactly the improvements he was hoping for this spring.

"I thought we had a great spring," Pelini said. "I really, really like what we were able to accomplish through the spring. We've gotten better, we've made some strides, we've seen a lot, we've gotten a lot of people reps. It's been very productive for us. We've learned a lot about our football team, and that's what you go into spring to do."

In reality, Nebraska's true spring game was back on April 7, when the team held its last major scrimmage of the spring to wrap up the third week of practice. Unlike the Red-White game, the April 7 scrimmage pitted the Huskers' No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, and the players said the intensity was in full effect.

"We kind of let it all loose," receiver Tim Marlowe said about the scrimmage. "It got pretty competitive. The defense got a couple sacks and they got fired up. The offense got mad, so we came back firing at them. It was a really physical period."

For the coaches, it also provided an opportunity for new assistants Rick Kaczenski and Terry Joseph to acclimate themselves with the team and their new players.

"I thought we had a real solid spring," defensive coordinator John Papuchis said. "I think our knowledge and understanding of what we're asking our guys to do has increased. I thought Coach Joseph and Coach Kaczenski did a great job in their first spring both from a teaching and fundamental perspective, and also teaching the scheme.

"I feel good about where we are. We're not where we need to be for Sept. 1, but we're better than we were a month ago. To me, that's a successful spring."

More than anything, the fact that Nebraska walked away from spring ball without suffering any new significant injuries was a victory in and of itself.

Combine that with some successful development and progress from players, coaches and the team as a whole, and it's easy to see why Pelini and Co. viewed this spring as a total success - spring game or not.

"It's really about developing your guys individually and setting yourself up for what's coming up for camp and for fall practice, and I think we were able to do that," Pelini said. "I think it was very productive for us."

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