NU football practice, 8.9.2017

Offensive lineman Michael Decker (79) watches teammates drill as he prepares for practice at Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.

The final Nebraska football practice open for the media to observe took place Thursday at Memorial Stadium, with the Huskers working out in full pads.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the day was NU offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh saying Fremont junior Cole Conrad has locked down the starting center position.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Conrad had been in a preseason battle at the position with sophomore Michael Decker.

"He's done a pretty good job overall, consistently — calls, technique," Cavanaugh said after practice. "Everything starts with that center. That's a big, big job."

Despite the individual praise for Conrad, Cavanaugh had his own unique assessment of his unit's work on a day when the defense more often than not won the battle at the line of scrimmage.

"I just don't think we had the fricken intensity, so I jumped their butts," Cavanaugh said before adding, "I don't think today was a great day, but the fun thing for us is coach (Bob) Diaco's defense is very, very multiple, and it's awesome to go up against every day."

While Thursday was rough, Cavanaugh has been pleased with the progress made by the o-line through the first few weeks of practice.

"They've had a pretty damn good camp overall," he said.

Some other notes from Thursday, when offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf met with the media.

* A running back battle that head coach Mike Riley said Saturday was still even still hasn't had a player grab ahold of the top spot.

Four players — Mikale Wilbon, Tre Bryant, Devine Ozigbo and Jaylin Bradley — have each had their moments, Langsdorf said, but it's been difficult for coaches to see separation because there hasn't been much live tackling during practice.

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"I don't think anybody has really separated from that group quite yet. I think we need a little bit more work. Some live stuff is going to help us," Langsdorf said. "You've really got to get some live tackling in there to get a good evaluation. When you're doing things that aren't live, that makes it hard sometimes to see how they're hitting the hole and breaking tackles and taking on those hits.

Riley said Saturday that if a back hadn't separated himself by the end of this week, the team would go forward with a running back by committee approach. It appears that will be the case, at least for the immediate future.

"It's just a really tough evaluation and we haven't really had anybody take off with that job yet."

*Both Langsdorf and tight ends coach Tavita Thompson had high praise for senior Tyler Hoppes, who continues to have a very solid camp. Hoppes would probably fall more under the category of "receiving" tight end, but the Wayne State transfer and Lincoln Southwest graduate has worked hard to improve his physicality and blocking.

"Right now everybody is chasing Tyler for what he does in his work ethic," Thompson said. I think the biggest thing for Tyler is, last year we knew what he could do athletically. He has really, really good hands, he's fluid in his route running, and last year we told him, you need to get more physical. You got to be willing to stick your face in the fan and be able to hold the edge, and he really took it upon himself to do that. He's by far the most physical he's ever been."

* We've heard all through the spring that freshman receiver Tyjon Lindsey is a special talent. The coaching staff wants him to contribute immediately, but the star recruit has been slowed at times by the same thing that slows a lot of freshmen — getting caught up in thinking about what to do from play to play rather than just playing.

Well, Lindsey played Thursday, and played spectacularly well. 

On Nebraska's first play of live scrimmaging he broke free on a deep post route and was five yards past his defender when quarterback Tanner Lee hit him in stride 40 yards down the field.

Later in the same session Lindsey made what will probably go down as one of the best plays from camp.

Running another deep route up the sideline, Lindsey was blanketed by a pair of defensive backs. Lee again fired his way, and Lindsey leapt, turned in the air and made a one-handed grab before falling to the turf. 

It was no doubt the type of play Husker coaches envisioned Lindsey making when he got to campus.

Reach the writer at (402) 473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.​


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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