Jacksonville, Fla. --- The Nebraska football team continued its normal practice routine in a two-hour, full pads workout on a sunny and warm Saturday morning at Hodges Stadium at the University of North Florida. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson thought the Huskers showed well in a spirited practice that included in a short live-action scrimmage in preparation for the Gator Bowl against Clemson.
“It was real good,” Watson said. “We actually scrimmaged today and I think the kids enjoyed that. We wanted to get back to hitting each other and the backs getting tackled and the defense actually tackling. We had a period of scrimmage, offense on defense, 1s vs. 1s, which kind of got practice started the way you wanted to. It was a spirited practice. They played fast and physical and it was a good way to start.”
The Husker offense will have its hands full with one of the top defenses in the country when it squares off with Clemson on Jan. 1. The Tigers have allowed just 294.8 total yards per game this season while holding opponents to just 16.6 points per game, totals that rank 17th and 10th in the nation, respectively.
While Watson knows the difficult challenges of getting past Clemson, he felt the Huskers’ recent preparation during bowl practices was improved following some key down time noting, ”I think our bowl practices have been awesome.
“(Players have) had five days off and they’re really fresh now,” Watson said of Saturday’s workout. “It looks like day one of fall camp in terms of their legs and how fast they’re playing. I think they have a level of expectation here that’s developed and they understand what it takes to win and how hard you have to work to win. Other than that there is no guarantee. So you have to put everything into it. They’ve been that way since day one. They’re really looking forward to playing this game.”
On the Husker defense, a new Blackshirt was awarded as senior defensive tackle Shukree Barfield became the 12th Husker to earn a coveted black practice jersey this season.
Also Saturday, the Husker staff held a coaching clinic with local Florida high school coaches. About 70 coaches were in attendance for the practice and clinic, receiving tips on several situational schemes as well as game preparation tips.
“We recruit down here and it’s an area we want to be better in,” Watson said of the coaches clinic. “We just wanted to extend our hand to the Florida coaches and the coaches in this area and let them know we’re good people and we hope they like our product and that we’d like to recruit their kids.”
Nebraska returns to the practice field on Sunday morning when it will work through a typical Wednesday practice schedule in preparation for Nebraska’s 32nd January bowl game and 45th all-time bowl overall. Coach Bo Pelini and defensive coordinator Carl Pelini will be back with the team for Sunday’s practice after missing the Saturday workout to attend their father, Anthony’s, funeral in Ohio.