Husker practice report, Aug. 7: Competition the big theme for Nebraska's offense during camp

LINCOLN — Nebraska's offense returns one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Adrian Martinez.

But beyond that, there are holes all over the depth chart.

Which is why the theme of camp, offensive coordinator Troy Walters said after practice Wednesday, is competition.

"The defense, they're making us a whole lot better. Those guys are getting after it, so we gotta compete with them," Walters said. "But competition within each position has been great, so it's been a good camp."

Neither Walters nor running backs coach Ryan Held revealed the front runner to start at running back. Legal issues hanging over sophomore Maurice Washington keep him from being the obvious pick. Dedrick Mills, who played at Georgia Tech and Garden City Community College, has impressed coaches early.

"He's picked up the offense well," Walters said. "Tough kid, downhill. You hand the ball off to him he's gonna get his three or four yards, which you need, so there's going to be a role for him."

During the open portion of practice Wednesday, the media saw freshman Rahmir Johnson take off for a big gain on a nifty pass from Luke McCaffrey.

"He's a speedster," Walters said of Johnson. "When he hits a crease and gets in the seam, he's gonna take it to the house. He's done a good job."

Walters expects multiple running backs to get carries during games. They will game plan plays for specific running backs, he said, and also use Miles Jones and freshman Wan'Dale Robinson for carries.

Robinson has lived up to his hype so far in camp, Walters said. The former four-star recruit from Kentucky missed most of spring with a hamstring injury, so coaches have Robinson on a play count. But Walters said the freshman doesn't need that many reps to know what to do in a game.

"He's everything that we hope for," Walters said. "He makes plays as a receiver, he's making plays as a running back. So that dual-threat option is gonna cause challenges for opposing defenses."

More from practice:

» Media got to meet Cal transfer Kanawai Noa. He said he committed to Nebraska because of his love for Scott Frost.

"He's a kid that's been productive when he's healthy," Walters said. "He's come in, learned the offense, can play multiple positions on the offense, is a tough kid and a great addition to the offense."

Noa said the pace of practice is different than at Cal, but he' picked up the scheme pretty quickly.

» Offensive line coach Greg Austin said the coaches had a meeting in the summer to talk about toughness. In that meeting, it was decided that practices needed to be more physical. And so far they have, Austin said.

» Held said one of the main indicators he'll use for picking the starting running back will be the player's knowledge of the overall offense.

» Rutgers transfer Travis Vokolek is further along than expected, tight ends coach Sean Beckton said. Vokolek is not eligible to play this season.

» The Husker defense has been forcing a lot of turnovers early, according to everyone. That's about 50% the defense playing well and 50% the offense being careless, Walters said.

"We can do better on limiting turnovers," Walters said.

Quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said there were two interceptions during the last scrimmage that were tipped balls. He thought the defense was quicker getting to those tipped balls than they were last year.

Sign Up for Email Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.