August 14, 2009

Friday notebook: Qvale working with second team

Injuries happen in fall camp, and with that it creates opportunities for other players.

One player that's taken advantage of an injury opportunity in fall camp thus far is true freshman offensive lineman Brent Qvale, who has been working with the No. 2 offense for the last few days.

Junior Ricky Henry has been sidelined with a minor injury for most of the week, so senior Derek Meyer has moved into the No. 1 right guard position in his place and Qvale and been working with the second team offense.

Following Friday morning's practice NU head coach Bo Pelini said the 6-foot-7, 335 pound Qvale has really taken advantage of his time with the No. 2 offense.

"I thought Brent Qvale, a true freshman, came out and made some big strides this morning," Pelini said. "We've got a lot of guys making improvement and working through it. The more we get of that, the better depth we are going to have."

Qvale is one of four true freshmen lineman the Huskers signed in 2009, and it appears he's been the most impressive one of the bunch thus far.

Junior left tackle Mike Smith said he's definitely come away impressed with what he's seen from Qvale in the first week of practice.

"Qvale is going to be really good," Smith said. "He's just a big dude. He's huge. He's big and strong. As an offensive lineman that's a good thing to have."

Junior left guard Keith Williams said he has been the most impressed with Qvale's physical strength and size. He added that if Qvale continues to develop like he has already, he has the chance to be a pretty special player in the future.

"Look at Qvale right now," Williams said. "He's already running with the two's. He stepped in and those are some big shoes to fill especially as a freshman. Having to grab on to the offense and learn like he has been is pretty impressive."

Friday fall camp takes
Trev sighting: As we were walking out of practice on Friday, we ran into former Husker and current UNO Athletic Director Trev Alberts walking into the North Stadium football offices. Alberts said he was on his way in to have lunch with NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne. "I'm going to have lunch with coach," Alberts said. "You can always learn something from coach."
Bowl line-up changes?: It's already been announced that starting in 2009 the Big 12 will match-up with the PAC 10's runner-up in the Alamo Bowl, but that doesn't appear to be the only change in the horizon. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette the Gator Bowl is in the process of working a deal with the Big 10 Conference to replace the Alamo Bowl in their line-up. If that were to happen the Gator Bowl would feature the ACC's No. 2 team against a Big 10 school. The Gazette also reported that the Big 10 is in negotiations with the Holiday Bowl to potentially replace the Big 12. Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said they hope to keep the Big 12 in their bowl game, but they are definitely open to listening to the Big 10's offer.
Injury update: Freshman safety Dijon Washington returned to practice after missing the last few days. Junior offensive lineman Ricky Henry and sophomore cornerback Alfonzo Dennard both remain out with minor injuries. "It's day-to-day," Pelini said of Henry and Dennard's injuries. "They're both coming along and they are both pretty close."
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team held a two full-padded practice on the grass practice fields North of Memorial Stadium on Friday morning. They will also hold an afternoon practice later today from 3:45 to 6 p.m. The Huskers come back on Saturday for their final practice of the week at 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. before taking their first off day of fall camp on Sunday.

-Sean Callahan

Green leads talented, young DBs

Though players like Prince Amukamara and Anthony West are currently working as the No. 1 cornerbacks, a talent group of newcomers has been pushing them since the start of fall camp.

In particular, freshman Andrew Green has made quite the impression in his Nebraska debut this fall. The 6-foot, 175-pound native of San Antonio has come into camp living up the billing he got coming out of high school as one of the nation's most talented and physical cornerbacks.

Amukamara said he's definitely taken notice of Green's play thus far, even comparing him to fellow corner Anthony Blue when he first came in as a freshman.

Nebraska defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders included Green in a trio of newcomers at the position that have made an immediate impact so far in practice. Along with Green, Sanders pointed out junior college transfer Dejon Gomes and redshirt freshman walk-on Justin Blatchford.

Could any or all of the three come in and see playing time right away, or even push for a starting spot this season?

"Absolutely," Sanders said. "I think Andrew Green, Dejon Gomes and Blatchford are three guys that are very talented and are playing well. They're competing, so that's good to see out there."

- Robin Washut

Williams taking leadership on o-line

As junior Keith Williams has worked his way up the depth chart to become Nebraska's No. 1 left guard, he's steadily accepting the leadership role that comes along with the title.

Williams said he's made it a point this fall to join senior center Jacob Hickman and junior left tackle Mike Smith as leaders of a young but promising Husker offensive line.

While he had previously been more of a reserved player who let his play on the field speak for itself, Williams said he's tried to be more vocal in making sure his younger teammates follow his lead.

"We're the leaders of the offensive line," he said. "We've got to show and lead by example, and if we're not doing our job, others are going to slack off."

One part of his new leadership role that Williams said he's still trying to get used to has been making sure his play in practice is as close to perfect as it can be. In order to lead by example, he said, you have to make sure you're doing it right.

"You can't make mistakes," Williams said. "You've got to be mental error free. You've got to just be able to go, because once you go, everybody else will follow you."

- Robin Washut

Players from '62 team make appearance

In part with Nebraska's 300th consecutive sellout celebration this season and the throwback uniforms it will wear against Louisiana-Lafayette to honor the 1962 team, four members of the '62 squad made an appearance at Friday's practice.

Modeling commemorative sell-out streak apparel, former Husker quarterback Dennis Carlson, halfback Willie Paschall, left guard Dwain Carlson and center Lyle Sittler all spoke to the media before the end of practice, talking about their 9-2 record in legend head coach Bob Devaney's first season at NU.

Additionally, Ndamukong Suh and Roy Helu came back onto the field after practice to model the full throwback uniforms for media.

An auction featuring the actual player uniforms and helmets and other apparel will be held on beginning today and running through Wednesday, Oct. 7.

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***Sanders said he's hopeful that sophomore Alfonzo Dennard can return to the practice field in the next day or two.

"I hope fairly soon," Sanders said. "We've been hit by that injury bug a little bit, but that's part of camp. I know he's fighting to get back out, so hopefully we'll see him soon."

***Pelini said he was pleased with what he saw in Friday morning's practice. The Huskers did some light scrimmaging during the workout.

"They responded fine," Pelini said. "We had pretty good tempo. We had a little scrimmage in at the end, it was a good day."

***Pelini would obviously like to have both Dennard and Henry back on the practice field, but he also knows you can't rush a guy back from injury.

"It's detrimental to anybody who misses time," Pelini said. "But what are you going to do, you can't put somebody out there and put them at risk and lose them for a long time. You can't miss practices, but obviously (Henry) wants to be out there as much as anybody that's hurt. If you are injured though, you have to get right."

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