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Mike Riley is a weather guy. Maybe you knew that. If you didn't — he is. Probably because he's been doing this long enough to know Mother Nature can wreck a good day of football. He was worried she might have that in mind this weekend.

All week, as he looked at Saturday afternoon's forecast, he saw little thunderbolts. There was a chance they might show up. How annoying.

Well, they didn't. Neither did new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's 3-4 scheme for that matter. We'll come back to that in a moment.

What did show on Saturday at Memorial Stadium were 78,312 fans and north of 40 recruits and, and, and ... the benevolent sun! It shined on Husker football this day in mid-April.

"Postcard day today, huh?" a smiling Nebraska football coach said after spring game version 2017. "Beautiful day. Never a doubt, huh?"

It was a comment about the weather, but it could certainly extend much broader. By the time the game kicked off, Riley and his staff were already having one dandy of a day.

Four-star cornerback Brendan "Bookie" Radley-Hiles had committed on Friday night and four-star wide receiver Manuel Allen joined the pledge list Saturday morning. When you looked to the east sideline prior to kickoff, you saw recruits everywhere with no elbow room.

"That was I think a pretty good picture," Riley said. "And I'm so thankful for this — that it was a nice day, but also just for this. For the crowd, for what this is.

"I think until you're right in it (and on campus), for these recruits and the people that are visiting, you can talk about it, but that's why it was just ... it was just perfect. It was pretty good football. It was a great bunch of athletes that are here visiting. It was a nice day. Our fans are our fans. It's a great picture. I love it. We just got to keep going."

The football displayed in the Red team's 55-7 win over the White team was efficient enough for the head coach's liking, too. Quarterbacks Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien were good while going against reserve defenders.

Lee completed 13 of 19 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns. O'Brien was 11-of-17 for 134 yards. There was an occasional throw behind a receiver, but mostly it was solid play with a flash of brilliance mixed in.

Like when Lee hit redshirt freshman JD Spielman in stride in the corner of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

"It was perfect," said Spielman, who had four catches for 70 yards. "Because I wasn't even supposed to get the ball on that play. So when I did see the ball, I'm like, 'If he's throwing this, that means he knows exactly where he's going to put it.' He put it exactly where only I could get it and none of the DBs could get it. That was just a perfect ball."

Lee produced the day's signature play, but Riley was not yet ready to unveil a name for his starting quarterback just yet. "It didn't take you long," Riley joked when the second question was about that topic.

The timetable: "I really don't know."

Such news isn't for public view yet and neither, as it turns out, is Diaco's 3-4 defense. The coach told reporters this week anyone looking at film of Saturday's scrimmage to see what Nebraska is going to do this fall is wasting time.

He wasn't lying. Nebraska lined up in a 4-3 all day. If disappointed, blame ... well, television.

The game was shown on tape delay on Big Ten Network and NU coaches didn't want their goods on display for others outside the stadium.

"This game now, being on TV like it is, just becomes another evaluation scouting tool for all of our opponents next year, so there was no way we wanted to do anything out of the box at all," Riley said.

"We certainly didn't want them to see what blitzes, all the different fronts, all of the different stuff we practiced all spring. I don’t want that on tape for somebody, so this was a pre-planned deal. I'm kind of sorry to have to say that, but that's the way it is and that's a really smart thing to do."

The offenses took advantage and hummed along well enough. The Red team had 574 yards. The White team had 349. There were 62 completed passes on 95 attempts.

Aside from the quarterbacks, nobody had more yards than walk-on running back Wyatt Mazour. Working against the reserves, he had six rushes for 60 yards and six catches for 81 yards. Riley said he's a "fun football player" who he likes a lot.

And Diaco's D? The unveiling on Sept. 2 is all that ever mattered anyway.

Junior linebacker Luke Gifford, who forced a fumble and picked off a pass Saturday, promises it will be exciting and guys will be flying around.

"There's a lot of stuff we can do," he said. "There's a lot more."

It may be a Nebraska team that seems a mystery to many on the outside, but Gifford was among several players who said Saturday they think the Huskers are leaving spring in a really good place.

"Us, we know how good we can be and I think we're pretty confident with where we're at," Gifford said. "Obviously there's a lot of stuff to work on and get better at. But we've got fall camp. We'll be ready to roll."

Riley definitely isn't throwing the picture from Saturday in the trash.

As he answered reporters' questions, "Bookie" stood in the back of the room in a throwback Husker baseball uniform.

Riley saw him, and even made a hand gesture his way. The recruit was no doubt top of mind as the coach's words came out: "I am energized at this very, very moment about this weekend in total. It is so much fun."

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


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