The Nebraska football team returned to practice Monday morning refreshed after Spring Break.
The coaches were pleasantly surprised with the players’ behavior and health following the week-long hiatus.
“We had a great day,” Offensive coordinator Troy Walters said after practice. “Guys came out with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. There was no hangover, so to speak. We [still] have to clean up the detail part of it.”
Players had a separate meeting about how they would handle themselves over Spring Break and be ready to come back.
“I think they did a great job,” quarterback Adrian Martinez said about his teammates. “It’s tough when we have spring break right in the middle of spring ball, but we responded well. The guys brought the energy, the defense challenged us today and had good competition out there.”
Running backs coach Ryan Held, a former head coach of 12 years, was simply relieved to not see any familiar faces in headlines or viral videos last week.
“You’re nervous, but then you can be at peace knowing if you have the right kids in the program,” Held said about it. “If you can see the team more than you see yourself, then you don’t have guys going and doing things they probably shouldn’t do and being on a video on the beach like we always see on Twitter.”
“That’s encouraging,” he continued. “It’s always scary. I was a head coach for 12 years and I was always worried every time when guys would go on spring break that we would make the news or something. But if you recruit the right kids, they’re going to not want to put themselves in a bad situation or our program in a bad situation to make ESPN.”
One year prior, the Huskers had just one practice before spring break. As the entire team was still learning under the new coaching staff, the first practice after break did not go well.
“Last year we took two or three days to get going again,” Walters said. “This year, it was totally different. The guys are mature, the guys understand the standard. And when we step on the field, man, to me there’s a standard and that’s to be a champion. To me, we practiced at a championship level today and we’ve got to keep going Wednesday.”
“The guys were fresh,” Walters added. “A lot of times you go on spring break and guys are out doing who knows what and they’re not getting their rest. A day back, especially when you have a week off, you come back sluggish but our guys were crisp and had enthusiasm and excitement and playing fast.”
Martinez, along with eight other teammates, spent spring break on the Gulf Coast shores in Alabama. Despite coming to Nebraska from the much warmer city of Fresno, California, he returned from his trip sunburned, something he said rarely has happened to him.
“They took care of their bodies,” Walters said. “It shows us as a staff that they’re putting team first. You can still get away, but their focus is still on the University of Nebraska and this football team and making sure that you don’t lose all of the gains that they have made up until this point.”
The offense wasn’t the only part of the team ready to get back to work on Monday. Both Walters and Martinez said the defense looks much better this spring and is challenging them every practice.
“Defense is confident,” Walters said. “They’re flying around. They make us better. I don’t think we’re going to play against a better defensive scheme. The speed that they’re flying around at makes all of us better.”
“They’ve been stepping up,” Martinez said about the unit. “I’m really excited about that group. Trying to challenge them, I know they’re accepting that challenge and excited to compete.”
Once again, there was not much of an update on the status of sophomore running back Maurice Washington. Prior to spring break, he returned to California to be processed and a court date has been set for April 11. He has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography, as well as sending revenge porn.
“Football-wise, he’s doing a pretty good job,” Walters said about the matter. “That’s about all I can say.”
“He’s got things he has to get done in the classroom,” Held added. “[We have to] keep his schedule consistent and go out there and focus on what he’s got to get done.”
Nebraska’s next practice will be on Wednesday morning. Head coach Scott Frost is expected to speak to the media following it.