Mike Riley is proud of Jamal Turner.

For one, the senior is one of the few wide receivers who has stayed healthy this fall camp.

"Jamal has lasted," the Husker head coach said with a grin after Saturday's scrimmage inside Memorial Stadium. "He's like the last man standing out there."

Turner stood pretty tall during the practice, too. He caught two touchdowns, including one that covered about 70 yards off a double move in which he outran the defensive backs to the end zone after catching the ball at midfield.

Turner also took some turns returning punts.

"He came into camp in great shape. He lost a lot of weight in the summer. He had great intentions. He's made a lot of plays," Riley said. "I'm thankful that he came back for his (senior) year here. I know that was weird for him probably, losing everybody that he knew. But he came back and I think we're going to be better off for it. He's been like the warrior, the iron horse, and made a lot of plays."

The coach also agreed Turner has some of the same skills that injured wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El possesses.

"With De'Mornay not being here right away, some of those things will be spread around. But you're exactly right: Jamal can do some of those things like De'Mornay does. And as you'll see in the future, we'll recruit guys that are like that, that can run the fly sweep, run the reverse, run the fly screens. And I think Jamal can do some of those things."

* CONCERN AREA: Riley said his biggest worry right now is consistency in the running game.

"We take too many runs with nothing there. You'd like to see 3 or 4 yards at least. There's too many that are not good-looking runs. We're still procedurally just average. And defensively, we gave up big plays today," he said.

"I think that was probably the most significant thing in the scrimmage footballwise. We made some plays offensively that were real nice but we can't give those plays up defensively. That's where we are."

While he'd like to see the running game have more success, there is a silver lining that comes with those issues.

"I think one reason is 7 and the other reason is 98," Riley said of defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine. "They're pretty good and we don't block them all the time. So that's really good for us though, right? We're practicing against as good as we're going to see … and that's a factor.

"And I think defensively, too, you should be predicated on stopping the run. And if you don't do that, that's all you'll see and you'll lose games. … So you want to be stout that way, so we're kind of fighting city hall. But we have to be better."

* CAMP ENDS: Saturday's scrimmage two weeks before the opener, in Riley's mind, marked the end of fall camp.

School begins Monday, and so does a new phase within the football program.

"Adapting as fluidly as possible will be a key to having a good week of practice," he said.

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Consistency, again, is the word. The coach wants to see more of it.

"Frankly, that's why days like this are hard for me. You just want it to all look good all the time and it doesn't. You have enough stuff you can make notes of to practice, I'll tell you that."

* POSITIVES FROM ARMSTRONG: Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong had one of his best practices of camp Thursday.

He wasn't shabby on Saturday either, completing his first five passes of the day. His best throw might have been a strike to the end zone that perfectly led Jordan Westerkamp, who caught it while falling to the ground despite good coverage.

The second group, led by Ryker Fyfe, "struggled badly," according to Riley, but he also felt the deck wasn't in favor of Fyfe, who was surrounded by some makeshift parts.

"But I thought Tommy did a nice job. There was some stuff that wasn't real pretty, but boy, did he throw a couple of nice touchdown passes. Great reads. … There were some nice things that were good to see."

* DISRUPTIVE: Pierson-El watched Saturday's scrimmage while sitting on a cart. As did true freshman Lavan Alston, out for the year with a knee injury.

But it's some other nagging injuries at wide receiver that continue to hurt the flow of things.

"We have so many pieces that won't be gone long but they aren't there now, so it's very disruptive," Riley said. "(We're) moving guys around. Some guys are learning two, sometimes three positions at receiver, and it doesn't look like football when that happens a lot of times."

Among key players who were sidelined Saturday were running back Terrell Newby, cornerback Daniel Davie and wide receivers Stanley Morgan and Brandon Reilly.

"All pulls," Riley said of those injuries. "Groins or hamstrings is what we're dealing with mostly with receivers and DBs."

One player who was back on the field was true freshman running back Jordan Stevenson. On the mend from an ankle injury suffered the first week of camp, he took a few reps as a kick returner.

* IN FRONT OF FRIENDS: Riley wouldn't have minded practicing a tad longer Saturday. Mother Nature said no such luck.

"We got lightning, that's why we had to get off there," the coach said. "We were going to go another series."

Before the lightning showed up, there was a crowd.

The practice was opened up to University of Nebraska students. "Welcome to the Boneyard Bash," the stadium ribbon boards read.

About 1,000 students watched from the East Stadium. They were served food from Valentino's and Riley spoke to them before the practice. They no doubt approved of the coach's wardrobe. His black shirt had the word "Boneyard" across the front.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.



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