Lincoln – The Nebraska football team marked the third practice in their first game week for the 2006 season with a two-hour practice in full pads under ideal weather conditions in Memorial Stadium.

Head Coach Bill Callahan was especially pleased with the team’s focus as they approach the three-day mark until the opening game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

 

“It was a good practice and a good workout today,” Callahan said. “It’s always good to be in full pads. It changes things up and makes it very physical. I really liked the way the guys focused today. That was the main thing. Their concentration on critical downs was huge. Third down is such a critical down in football. Defenses can do so many variations of the nickel (type defense), we’ve got to be prepared to pick up anything. Our scouts did an excellent job, and it was a lot of fun today.”

 

Callahan also noted the improvement of the younger defensive backs due to special attention from the veterans on the team.

 

“I think our safeties have been very good, very solid,” Callahan said. “We’ve given them a lot of things to look at. Most importantly, the young players out there, the (freshmen defensive backs) Major Culbert and the Ricky Thenarse are really being molded by our older guys like (senior free safety) Brandon Rigoni and (junior defensive back) Ben Eisenhart. They’ve done an excellent job out there. They’re helping the younger guys on every snap. We just keep progressing and we keep getting better.”

 

Coach Callahan also specifically discussed Brandon Rigoni, who was one of 14 Husker defenders awarded a Blackshirt on Monday.

 

“It illustrates that he is a leader on the football team and he’s very well respected,” Callahan said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s on the scout team, special teams or a starter, it means he’s very well-respected by his peers, and that’s very important. He’s also respected by his coaching staff, and they’ve awarded him a Blackshirt because he’s had great concentration and focus and effort consistently on ever play. He’s well deserving of that, and certainly guys look up to him for that.”

 

Callahan additionally addressed the depth at the punter position.

 

“If we can bang it out there for 40 yards on every opportunity, that’d be great,” Callahan said. “If we can have make some big plays and stick it in the red zone, that would be super as well. It’s easy when you’re working with the wind. What will be hard is when we’re going against the wind, and if we can just gain some consistency, that’s really what we’re looking for. The two punters are still in competition here and we’ll play both if we had to.

 

“(Freshman punter) Michael Such is a young guy with a really strong foot, and whatever you need him to do he’s done well. (Sophomore punter) Dan (Titchener) is an experienced guy, and he has done really well with his consistency and his ability to place the ball in different directions. We just need to get into a game situation and see how they do.”

The Huskers return to the practice field on Thursday afternoon for their fourth practice of the week before a walk-through Friday and their first game Saturday.