Red-White Spring Game, 4/15

Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf watches a replay on the big video board in the second half during the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Memorial Stadium.

FRANCIS GARDLER, Journal Star

This almost seemed too easy.

I mean, temperature in the 70s during preseason camp? That had to feel like heaven for Nebraska players Thursday on the fifth day of drills.

Cool breezes helped lead to an energetic morning practice as the Huskers donned full pads for the first time in this camp.

[Catch Steve on BTN Live talking Husker football]

Ten observations:

1. Watch 7-on-7 passing drills and you'll notice something very quickly.

Nebraska's top three quarterbacks -- Tanner Lee, Patrick O'Brien and Tristan Gebbia -- seldom are far off-target. They're usually very accurate. You just see a lot of excellent passing work. If you're a Husker fan looking for reasons why this team could surprise pundits this season, you might start there.

2. Of course, there has to be good protection for the quarterbacks.

And there obviously needs to be an efficient running game to provide balance and relieve stress.

In other words, Nebraska's offensive line needs to improve. We all know that. Mike Cavanaugh knows that. As for the inherent pressure on his group, Cavanaugh essentially told reporters Thursday, "Bring it on."

"It's got to be on our shoulders," he said. "It starts up front. We're the starting blocks, right? We're the engine."

You like that responsibility? he was asked.

"Love it."

He paused.

"We better love it."

Good to hear.

Let's see if that attitude translates into better overall play.

3. Nebraska started the practice with the offense in a hurry-up (two-minute?) situation against the defense.

That got everyone's juices flowing immediately.

Good idea.

Throughout the practice, you saw excellent tempo and overall organization.

I like the feeling in this camp. It feels like urgency has escalated a few notches. But I need to think more about that.

4. In terms of arm strength, Lee and O'Brien are very comparable.

No surprise there. They're both big and strong -- Lee is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and O'Brien goes 6-4, 230.

Say you were an NFL scout. I would think their size would make an immediate impression.

5. Gebbia (6-3, 180) is still working on his size and strength.

After all, he's a true freshman, for crying out loud. But boy, he practices with the urgency of a quarterback who's getting ready to start the opener (although he's obviously headed for a redshirt season).

Late in the practice, during seven-on-seven work, he rifled a beauty over the middle to sophomore tight end Matt Snyder.

Gebbia's arm strength is a notch behind the top two guys ... for now.

6. I'm continually impressed with Danny Langsdorf's emphasis on the "little things" that go into making a great quarterback.

Thursday, footwork was the focus in one station. Langsdorf put his guys through a five-step drop drill that illustrated the intricate nature of the position. In one case, Langsdorf made a quarterback repeat his drop into the pocket because he was too flat-footed with his first step. 

That's what I mean by "little things."

7. Four players dropped back deep to catch punts: De'Mornay Pierson-El, Tyjon Lindsey, Keyan Williams and Stanley Morgan Jr.

I'm betting on Pierson-El to win the job again.

He's the veteran. He's added impressive strength. He has the hard edge. I like his serious attitude. Always have.

It's one thing to show flash in August. Life gets much different in November, especially in faraway places like Happy Valley.

8. I saw only one interception on the day.

Lee threw a pick in the red zone late in the practice. I couldn't see who made the grab, as it occurred on the field far from reporters.

9. If I were a player, I would like to play for Cavanaugh.

He gets his point across in a direct manner. I think you would always know where you stand.

But he also can be quick with a smile.

It's no wonder Milt Tenopir liked the guy.

10. Beau Davis, a quarterback from the Bill Callahan era, was on hand for the practice.

A native of Venice, California, Davis enjoyed an extended conversation with Mike Riley.

Riley has a way of making visitors feel welcome. There's a lot to be said for that trait.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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