Fancy footwork a craft for NU receivers

2013-09-03T23:50:00Z 2013-09-04T00:53:03Z Fancy footwork a craft for NU receiversBy BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Quincy Enunwa was adamant he’d caught the football.

The Nebraska senior wide receiver, as he nabbed a perfectly lofted fade pass by Taylor Martinez into the end zone, was certain he’d dragged a foot in bounds.

After all, that’s how he’s coached to do it, over and over again.

“Practice makes perfect,” Enunwa said, “and when we practice it as much as we do, it’s going to happen in a game, and when it happens in the game, it kind of just flows out naturally.”

His 3-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter of Saturday’s game with Wyoming was initially ruled an incompletion but overturned by replay officials.

Enunwa, indeed, was correct.

“I could tell by his reaction,” wide receivers coach Rich Fisher said, “and then obviously when we saw the replay, we knew right away.”

Two of Nebraska’s touchdowns in its closer-than-expected 37-34 victory came as the result of fancy footwork by receivers. Jamal Turner pitter-pattered his way in the end zone while catching a 17-yard pass in the first quarter.

The play resembled Turner’s game-winning touchdown reception last season at Michigan State, when he got not one, not two, but three feet in bounds before leaping onto a tarp beyond the near corner of the end zone.

That’s two games in two years where those receiver drills in practice have paid off directly in the form of Nebraska victories.

“It’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘Coach, why are we doing this? It will never come up,’” Turner said of the drills. “And then it comes up, and he’s in the film room like, ‘Look, I told you! Look at that. I told you. That’s the drill! That. That’s the drill we do.’”

Enunwa agreed, saying Fisher “hammers it into our heads,” that when receivers are near the sideline, tap your toes or drag your feet.

“And that’s one of the things I did,” Enunwa said, referring to one of his two touchdowns Saturday.

One drill Fisher names the hydrant drill, where receivers are instructed to use their back leg and slide it on the ground, Turner said.

On another toe-tapping drill, receivers line up 10 yards from the sideline, where a coach stands with a ball.

“We run full speed to the sideline, he throws the ball,” Turner said, “and our job is to get as many feet in as possible.”

Just like Turner has done for two of his four career touchdown receptions.

“Obviously, great players are going to make great plays, and our jobs as coaches are to develop their talents,” Fisher said.

“It’s something that shows up. It’s nice to see the drill work be implemented in a game. I think it gives the guys confidence that what they’re doing and what they’re working on is a skill set they can apply in a game.”

Fisher said after a slow start to Saturday’s season opener — he wasn’t happy with how the receivers handled the perimeter early in the game — that his position group played better and got stronger as the game progressed.

In addition to regulars Turner, Enunwa and Kenny Bell, reserves Tyler Wullenwaber, Sam Burtch, Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp saw action, although not as much as Fisher had originally hoped.

“At one point in time they probably would’ve played a lot more,” Fisher said. “As the game got tighter, I’m going to stick with the guys I need to make plays.”

Just like they're taught in practice.

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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