Northwestern vs. Nebraska, 10.24.15

Tommy Armstrong is entering his second season in Danny Langsdorf's offense.

Shush. The kids are resting.

For Nebraska football players, it's quiet time. They'll report in a couple of weeks for the June 1 start of weight training and conditioning.

That's also when NU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf will go back to work with his quarterbacks, in earnest.

"We'll be studying," Langsdorf said. "We'll go through spring practice — all the video cut-ups — and prepare for the season. We'll review the entire spring and start to look ahead toward the first couple games of the year. That will be our June."

Nebraska will open the season Sept. 3 against Fresno State before playing Wyoming the following week.

Then, once-mighty Oregon comes to town Sept. 17.

Like Nebraska, Oregon made Athlon's recent compilation of 15 "wild-card" programs for 2016. It's basically a list of teams that are hard to get a solid read on. The Huskers belong in the group in large part because of the quarterback position.

Will senior Tommy Armstrong reduce his interceptions? Will Langsdorf and NU head coach Mike Riley do a better job of tailoring their pro-style system to fit Tommy's skill set?

The evolution continues.

"As we get toward July, we really want to have a good plan for what kind of things each guy needs to work on, whether it's throwing to receivers or any type of seven-on-seven work they'll be doing — just making sure the plan is sound rather than just going out and playing catch," Langsdorf said. "We'll have a lot of thought that will go into that.

"It's also a time for the team to really come together and take ownership. There will be time for the quarterbacks to kind of lead the charge."

Senior Ryker Fyfe is the solid No. 2 ahead of sophomore AJ Bush and true freshman Patrick O'Brien. Tanner Lee, a transfer from Tulane, has said he'll join the group in early June.

The NCAA in 2013 amended its bylaws regarding summer workouts to allow players to participate in up to eight hours a week of mandatory weight training and conditioning work, with coaches present, during an eight-week period. Up to two of those eight hours can be used for film study.

In terms of a general summer program for his quarterbacks, Langsdorf said he formulates a plan of attack that by and large covers the group, although he leaves room for areas of emphasis specific to each QB.

"Ryker, for instance, needs to work on the speed of his drop-backs," Langsdorf said. "At the same time, they could all use work on dropping back and the speed of their drops, and throwing on the run.

"They all need work on the (play-)action passing game, which is a big part of what we do. With the amount of running that we want to be able to do, we need to have some throws that look like those runs. So those fakes and those actions off the runs are going to be important for us to be good at.

"Couple that with the bootleg game, where we're going to fake a run and get the quarterbacks on the perimeter. So, we want to make sure they're doing a good job of being ready to throw on the run and move the pocket a little."

Listening to Langsdorf, you get a handle on what the offense will look like.

Riley emphasizes that he still wants to be a 50-50 run-pass team.

"I like that," he told me in February. "I've always liked that."

A strong downhill running game obviously could help the effectiveness of the play-action and bootleg plays, and even the fly sweeps.

"I always say we're going to play the game we're in," Riley said. "Now, we have to be mindful of what we want to establish, too."

Which is?


Got it.

* A longtime reader wondered to what extent Riley is involved in formulating the offense. Riley clearly has a significant say, but he leaves much of the work to Langsdorf.

However, "The one thing I tell the coordinators is this: If I have an idea, I've thought about it and to just listen to me," Riley said.

* OK, I lied. It's not completely quiet for all Husker players. Senior wide receiver Brandon Reilly was poolside with a few teammates in the Bahamas last week when he noticed Hulk Hogan in the cabana next to them. "He told me they probably talked for 45 minutes to an hour," said Paul Reilly, Brandon's father.

I had breakfast with the Reillys recently. Brandon has bulked up. I can just hear him come fall, addressing cornerbacks. …

"Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania destroys you?"

* I'm about to shift into NU baseball mode. Promise.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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