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Nebraska football, first day of spring practice, 3/4

Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and the defense gather after a drill during practice on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Hawks Championship Center.

A glimpse of Bob Diaco's 3-4 defense awaits at least 64,000 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

A glimpse is likely all those in attendance will get. Diaco's message to those who will be watching this weekend: Don't read too much into what you see.

"If you're interested in filming the spring game to figure out what we're going to do on defense, you're going to waste a lot of film and footage," the first-year Nebraska defensive coordinator said after Tuesday's practice, the 13th this spring.

Diaco will be watching Saturday's spring game closely. Defensive assistants plan to grade the scrimmage in more of a gameday fashion, Diaco said.

That said, he is not going to make any personnel decisions based on the outcome.

"To me, they're not auditioning for me," Diaco said. "We're all on the team together, we're all in the family together, so they're not trying out to be in 'Cats' on Broadway. They're not auditioning.

"A dress rehearsal may be the best way to describe it if we're doing Broadway terms.”

Standouts: Diaco didn't give a direct answer when asked about what players have stood out so far. But he eventually did drop some names.

"So rarely do we get a chance to say that Chris Weber is a stalwart, and a leader and doing everything the right way," he said. "And Aaron Williams, who does it all the right way, gives great energy, is fundamentally sound. Chris Jones, who does the same, and approaches his work with a deep professionalism. There's some veteran players that are really doing a good job."

Talkative linemen: Squaring off against the offensive line in practice, Nebraska defensive end Carlos Davis notices that crew's intensity.

"They're passionate about what they do, especially (Nick) Gates and Jerald (Foster)," Davis said.

Davis said Gates and Foster, in particular, do a lot of trash talking.

"I have to keep my composure because they're always yapping," Davis said. "But, hey, that's part of the game. I love it."

Davis noted that Foster even chatters while blocking on the field-goal unit.

"He'll always find a way to make something funny," Davis said.

Gates and Foster are juniors who start alongside each other on the left side of the line.

They get serious when it's time for battle, as do the rest of the linemen, Davis said.

"They're doing great, from what I've seen," Davis said. "It's not perfect. There's still room to grow, but they're doing a hell of a job. Some days we'll go out there (as a defensive line) and fire them up. The next day they'll come out and fire us up. It goes back and forth."

Seeking a big finish: Drew Brown said guys have "been working their butts off so far" this spring.

That includes the Husker senior kicker, who isn't resting on his laurels after making 12-of-14 field goals a year ago. (One of those misses was from 56 yards.)

"There's not really a ceiling to how good anyone can be," Brown said. "You can always be working on something. I had a good season last year so that's in the past, so I got to be able to move on and be able to write how my senior season is going to go. And it starts right now in April."

Brown has already made 47 career field goals, third-most in Nebraska history and 21 short of the record set by Alex Henery. 

Brown admits it feels weird that this is his final year as a Husker.

"It's gone by fast, but I think I've done some good things here," Brown said. "There's things I could have done better, but I'm going to make sure I finish my career off on a good note."

Back at it: Nebraska returns to practice Thursday, the final work in advance of Saturday's scrimmage. Mike Riley is scheduled to address the media corps.

— Steven M. Sipple, Brian Christopherson and Clark Grell

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Husker columnist

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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