The Huskers were driving in the left lane on their first day of fall camp. Foot to the pedal, working faster than last spring, with players moving from snap to snap and station to station with few beats in between.
A week ago, Bo Pelini talked at Big Ten Media Days about wanting to be more efficient in practice, limiting the walk-through session at the beginning and doing everything at a snappy pace.
Monday evening, during a practice that lasted roughly an hour and 45 minutes, that was on display.
You probably wouldn't expect otherwise this time of year, but it received rave reviews from players.
“It really forces us to go out and kind of have a perfect practice and really execute all the things we touched on in film,” said sophomore running back Terrell Newby.
On the other side of the ball, sophomore linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey added his input.
“This is the best first day I’ve experienced since being here,” Rose-Ivey said. “We kind of had the plan laid out about a week ago. It just kind of feels different … from the past two years, the way we came out and worked today shows how much we offseason work we put in. But as Kenny (Bell) said at the end, ‘It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’"
Pelini said he did a lot of research while considering speeding up the pace of practices. After talking with different people about it, he ran it by strength coach James Dobson, then the trainers, to make sure the groundwork was in place to go at the speed he wanted.
“Then I sat down with the staff and shared with them what I thought. I wanted to hear their thoughts and their vision,” Pelini said. “We came to a conclusion. We think this could be very good for us.”
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Postpractice assessment from Day 1 without pads: The tempo was just as the coach hoped it would be.
“I thought practice moved along extremely well. I thought the guys reacted to it very well. We’ll learn a lot from the first day,” Pelini said.
And while the practice didn’t take as long as past practices, Pelini felt his team got just as much work done.
“I think if I count the reps, it’s not much different than what we get on a normal basis. We just did it more efficiently.”
Sophomore tight end Sam Cotton's take?
"I love it," Cotton said. "The higher tempo, it's higher energy, and it's simulating what it's going to be in a game. Because, when it's play to play to play, we want to be a lot faster. So to do it in practice, it's obviously going to carry over."
Whether it will translate to more wins this fall remains to be seen, but the Huskers are looking for anything this offseason that may help them get over the hump in their pursuit of a championship.
"I say it all the time that I don’t have all the answers," Pelini said. "I don’t know if anybody does. But you have to continue to look for ways to grow and make your program better."