NU Football Practice, 12.15.15

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley shares a laugh with freshman linebacker Tyrin Ferguson during practice Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, at Hawks Championship Center.

The Huskers finished bowl practice number five of seven before heading for San Francisco on Monday afternoon.

The Huskers first practice at the bowl site will be at Laney College in Oakland on Tuesday.

First, the Huskers had to get through this week that combined football and semester final exams.

"You could tell today a little bit that it was the end of Finals Week as well as football practice, so I'm hoping we bounce back tomorrow, just be a little sharper, a little better tomorrow," Riley said.

When it comes to the academic status of his players, Riley said news is already coming in about how players are doing in classes. "No bad news," he made clear, though grades will continue to come out through the weekend. "Absolutely ongoing," he said of that process.

Some quick hits:

*** Tommy Armstrong had a what sounds like a constructive and candid conversation with offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf about a week-and-a-half ago. We'll have much more on that, but one thing Armstrong told Langsdorf was he wanted the coach to treat him like an arriving freshman, coach him hard, "being able to criticize me and me being able to accept it."

*** After the dismissal of senior cornerback Jonathan Rose, Riley said "we're not very deep" at the position. Chris Jones and Joshua Kalu are the top corners, "and the next guy in would be Trai Mosley, right now."

True freshman Aaron Williams will work the nickel spot that Kalu has often occupied when both Jones and Rose were available.

"If we can hold up, I feel really good about the guys that are playing," Riley said even with the lack of depth. "I think that is a position that has sort of solidified through the end of the year, so I'm excited about Chris Jones and of course Josh Kalu."

Senior Daniel Davie had a hand injury that required a cast, but he is available to help out as well.

*** Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine said he'll talk more about his pending decision on whether to leave school a year early for the NFL Draft. It is worth noting that the fourth-year junior will receive his diploma on Saturday.

*** A few bullet point items Riley said Friday he wants to see improve: Turnover margin, finish as a Top 3 rush offense in the Big Ten, and increase team speed.

"Glaring problems," Riley said of the turnovers and inconsistencies running the ball. "Those are a couple things that can help everything get better."

Riley said UCLA will be an example of a team with really good overall team speed, which he wants to see the Huskers keep improving.

"And you'll see it especially on special teams. When their kickoff team runs down the field, you'll see good team. We've got to get more people like that throughout the roster."

*** Riley said the game plan is already installed for the Dec. 26 bowl game.

"My goal for bowl games is to have it all in before you leave ... because the bowl days are so busy for both coaches and players ... so I don't want to have to feel the need on some Wednesday night to make sure we have the goal line studied and ready," Riley said. "We've had a couple weeks to do that, which is beautiful."

*** Yes, Riley has noticed it's become a big deal how different leagues are doing in bowl games.

"And you feel that a little bit more," Riley said. "I have felt it the last few years more than ever, and we're proud to carry the Big Ten torch into this game."

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


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