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Steven M. Sipple: Jurgens clicks with QB; Mario's memorable response; and Herbie's bad take
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Steven M. Sipple: Jurgens clicks with QB; Mario's memorable response; and Herbie's bad take

Nebraska vs. South Alabama, 8.31

Nebraska center Cameron Jurgens (51) snaps the ball before blocking South Alabama's Jordon Beaton in August at Memorial Stadium.

Things I know, and things I think I know: 

Whenever Nebraska resumes football practice -- let's hope for something in the summer -- one area to watch closely is sophomore center Cameron Jurgens' development. 

I'm in the camp that believes the Beatrice native has star power. But he obviously has a lot to prove. 

When Nebraska coaches addressed the media horde three weeks ago, they praised Jurgens' overall progress. For one, his relationship with quarterback Adrian Martinez has evolved. I don't think the relationship was ever bad. It's just that the more comfort those two feel with each other, the better it is for everyone involved. It's common sense, right?

"I saw some things (during the first spring practice) I've never seen in the past between those two," Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin said earlier this month before the Big Ten shut down all organized athletic activities because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

The main thing Austin noticed was more communication between Jurgens and Martinez after a series of plays, or -- as Austin puts it -- after a "rack of plays." 

"They'll be talking about what just happened, and that's a big deal because you're quickly coaching yourself and getting better in that gap of time between when you go off the field and it's time to go back in," Austin said. "That's a big deal."

Regarding Jurgens' overall improvement, Austin said, "It's a little bit of an ownership, a comfort level that he has, and a confidence. The defense gave us a couple different fronts than we expected. No big deal. He was able to communicate and make the adjustment, and still have an accurate snap. 

"In meetings, he asks me a hell of a lot more questions than when we first made the transition to get him over there (to center from tight end). It's like anything. It's like teaching a baby how to walk. You're going to fall a couple times. Hopefully you don't bust your head open. 

"He'll eventually get it."

* How appropriate is it to be talking and writing about Nebraska football practice right now, what with a global pandemic significantly altering our lives -- and, yes, even taking lives? I do think it's important to retain a sense of normalcy amid the crisis. To be sure, it's OK to think about something other than the coronavirus. In fact, it's healthy to think of things other than the virus. For instance, we can still talk sports. In fact, thank heavens for sports. I took it all for granted far too often. That won't happen again.

* With that in mind, perhaps my favorite moment during the Nebraska coaches' March 9 session with reporters occurred when quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco fielded this question: When you hear people talking about redshirt freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey possibly playing wide receiver, what goes through your mind? 

Said Verduzco: "Aside from smoke coming from my ears and that sort of thing?" 

Point taken.

"He's a quarterback, you know," the coach continued. "If anything happens beyond that, that's a discussion I'm certain he would enter into with coach (Scott) Frost. As for myself going forward -- and this is how it's been since we recruited him and since he's been here -- he's a quarterback. That's how he's been operating in terms of meetings and all that sort of stuff."

This much is certain: McCaffrey's development is going to be fun to watch unfold. You can't teach the sort of speed he flashes. But there's a lot that goes into playing quarterback, especially in Frost's system. I've said it before: McCaffrey needs all the reps he can get at that position. OK, I'll stop there. For now.

* Another memorable quote from March occurred when Nebraska senior cornerback Dicaprio Bootle, a native of Miami, discussed adjustments that Florida kids have to make in coming to Lincoln.  

One major change: Driving in the snow.

"People just told me to avoid making too many sudden changes, and just don't drive too fast," Bootle said. "My first time driving through the snow, I was driving super slow. There were people passing me. As I got more repetitions -- it's just like anything else -- the more comfortable I got." 

You see, honey, I just need more repetitions.

* Don't know about you, but I'll look to people other than ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit for analysis about the coronavirus and its impact on our lives going forward. Someone of Herbstreit's stature saying he'll be "shocked" if there's football played this fall accomplishes nothing other than feeding into the dread and fears that millions of folks already are feeling. Why go there, especially if you're uncertain in the first place? 

Herbstreit cites "people that I listen to" in arriving at his world-health conclusion. Wonderful. 

* Guess the transfer culture in college basketball isn't all bad. Think of Dachon Burke's hoops journey. It's sort of intriguing, really. There's no question he's had to learn plenty along the way. From Robert Morris (Moon Township, Pennsylvania) to Nebraska to South Alabama (Mobile). I would venture to say those are places with disparate cultures, although I've admittedly never been to Moon Township or Mobile. Maybe someday.


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