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March 21, 2006

Everything you need to know about spring football

Over the next four weeks, HuskersIllustrated.com will have the most extensive spring football coverage of any media outlet. We will have complete practice notebooks, features, photo galleries, chats, projected depth charts and audio interviews all throughout spring football.

Here's a complete breakdown of everything you need to know heading into spring football. Head coach Bill Callahan will have his opening press conference on Wednesday and practice will begin that afternoon.

We will also break news throughout spring ball when it happens on the Red Sea Scrolls message board. Make sure you book mark this page as your official spring football reference guide.

If you are not a subscriber to HuskersIllustrated.com please accept our invitation for a 7-day free trial by clicking here. With spring practice starting this week, now is the perfect time to join.

Major spring football storylines


Protection must improve

In 2005, the Nebraska offensive line gave up 38 sacks for a loss of 253 yards. The scary thing is if it weren't for the pocket awareness of quarterback Zac Taylor that number would've been even higher. Taylor took blow after blow and managed to escape more than his fair share of sacks last season. The bottom line is the pass protection by the offensive line must show drastic improvement this spring.


NU must replace two safeties

There's no doubt one of the major questions that must be answered on the defensive side of ball this spring is can Tierre Green and Andrew Shanle get the job done at safety. Filling the void at safety will be a major priority for Kevin Cosgrove's Blackshirts and the experience he'll have to work with this spring will be limited.


How close to full speed is Herian?

This is the million dollar question that's been asked by Husker fans everywhere you go. How much speed and quickness has tight end Matt Herian lost since the injury he suffered in October of 2004? Nebraska lost a great deal of their offense when Herian went down and even if he's at 80 percent of his old self he still should be able to give them something they didn't have in 2005Herian has the ability to beat safeties and linebackers in one-on-one coverage and that's something none of Nebraska's other tight ends did in 2005. Over the off-season Herian trained with the football team throughout winter conditioning and several people said he's starting to show flashes of his old self. This one should be fun to watch.


Can Lucky be the man?

Sophomore Marlon Lucky has received more hype than any running back that's been at Nebraska in recent memory. The 6-foot, 210 pound Lucky was the No. 2 ranked running back in the nation and one of the stars of the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl-now it's time for him to produce. This may be one of the most important springs for Lucky to prove he can be the man for Bill Callahan in this offense. There's no doubt Lucky has the ability and natural gifts to get there, the hardest thing for him has probably been adjusting to the competition level of Division I football. In high school Lucky was rarely tested and now he's challenged each and every play. This season had its fair share of growing pains for Lucky. One of the hardest adjustments for Lucky has been the conditioning and off-season training it takes to be successful in the Division I game. The fact that Lucky was able to learn under a player like Cory Ross this season should help him learn what it takes to be successful in the Big 12 Conference.


Filling the middle

Nebraska will return both seniors Ola Dagunduro and Barry Cryer at defensive tackle this spring, but don't forget about sophomore Ndamukong Suh, who sat out the 2005 season because of a minor knee surgery he underwent. Defensive line coach John Blake said Suh is one of the most physically gifted freshman players he's ever coached and there's no doubt he'll be counted on to play heavy snaps with Cryer and Dagunduro this fall. It will be key for Suh to blow up and have a big spring so he can gain some confidence heading into the summer.


Carriker will lead the pass rush

Senior Adam Carriker considered heading to the NFL after leading the Big 12 Conference with 9 sacks as a junior, but the 6-foot-6, 300 pound defensive end figured one more solid season in Lincoln would make him a sure first rounder. Carriker had an unbelievable winter for NU closing out with a 4.8 second 40-yard dash, despite the fact he tipped the scale for the first time ever at 300 pounds. Having Carriker back will be important for the success of Nebraska's pass rush this season. There's really no reason why he shouldn't produce between 10 to 12 sacks and be one of the leaders of the defense.


Linebacker has solid depth

Depth, depth and more depth. That is the theme for Nebraska's linebacker unit as the Huskers return a solid two-deep at all three positions. Junior Corey McKeon was one of the major surprises out of last season and it was his hard-nosed attitude that helped set the tone for the 2005 Blackshirts. Sophomore Phillip Dillard should also compete for time at MIKE this spring with McKeon. It will be interesting to see if Dillard will be experimented this spring at one of the outside linebacker positions if McKeon continues his strong hold at the No. 1 spot.

If you are not a subscriber to HuskersIllustrated.com please accept our invitation for a 7-day free trial by clicking here. With spring practice starting this week, now is the perfect time to join.

Complete Spring Practice Schedule

Note: All practices are closed to the public.

Wednesday, March 22
-Opening Press Conference - 12:00 p.m.
-Practice - 3:30-5:50 p.m.
Friday, March 24
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Saturday, March 25
-Practice - 9:55 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (First day of full pads)
-Husker Youth Experience following practice - 12:30 p.m.
Monday, March 27
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Wednesday, March 29
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Thursday, March 30
-Practice - 5:45 - 7:25 a.m.
Saturday, April 1
-Practice - 10:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Monday, April 3
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Wednesday, April 5
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Friday, April 7
-Practice - 2:30 - 5:00 p.m.
-Coaches Clinic
-Tampa Bay Head Coach John Gruden will speak
Saturday, April 8
-Practice - 12:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Monday, April 10
-Practice - 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Wednesday, April 12
-Practice- 3:30 - 5:50 p.m.
Thursday, April 13
-Practice - 5:45 - 7:20 a.m.
Saturday, April 15
-Spring Game, 12:30 p.m.

Also check out our spring positional breakdowns on quarterback, running back, wide receiver/tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and the secondary.


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