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Published Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Lord likely starter for Nebraska

Husker QB gets green jersey, vote of confidence from Frank Solich

Last modified at 11:41 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, 2003

By Mike Babcock
For the Independent

Quarterback Jammal Lord received what amounted to a vote of confidence from Nebraska football coach Frank Solich on Tuesday, when Solich indicated that the senior-to-be probably would wear a green jersey during spring practice, which begins on March 26.

Solich said he had not specifically discussed the subject with assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Turner Gill and new offensive coordinator Barney Cotton.

But "most likely," as he did last spring, Lord would wear a green jersey, indicating to defenders that he should not be tackled.

Lord started every game last season, rushing for 1,412 yards, a school record for a quarterback and, at times, displayed talent "as good as anybody playing the game in college ball," Solich said. "We've got a great deal of confidence in Jammal."

Solich responded to those who have questioned Lord's passing, noting that the coordination between him and the offensive line wasn't entirely "what you wanted. The quarterback gets a lot of blame," said Solich. "That position takes a lot of it (blame) because it's so recognizable.

"He's got the ball right from the very snap and something good or something bad is going to happen. So the credit goes to the quarterback, one way or the other."

Lord completed 95-of-204 passes for 1,362 yards and 12 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, last season.

"Jammal's been improving as a thrower through his career here," Solich said. "And I imagine that you'll see an improvement from last season to next."

What Solich described as being "a little bit more of an experienced offensive line" should help in Lord's improvement, he said.

The line is a "big factor in whether or not you're able to identify receivers and go through the order (progression), make the throws you need to make."

Lord and his teammates on both sides of the ball will be learning new terminology in the spring.

The Cornhuskers might be going back to a traditional look in uniforms, including red pants for road games, but they will be making some significant changes in the way they operate this spring.

With new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's system, "you're talking about virtually new terminology across the board," Solich said. And the terminology reflects substantive changes.

Those aren't likely to be discussed publicly, however.

"As far as the alignments and the style of defense, Bo will be guarded about that," said Solich. "He wants as many surprises as he possibly can have for the first ball game, which all makes sense."

Nebraska's early opponents will be able to study film of the New Mexico State offense for which Cotton was the coordinator.

But Pelini comes from the Green Bay Packers, for whom he was the linebackers coach, and the changes he makes will be difficult to identify.

"So there's no sense, from our end of it, to help anybody out," Solich said.

Among the terminology changes on defense, for example, are replacing the strongside linebacker with a "buck" linebacker and no longer referring to the strong safety as a rover.

"It's even more expanded than what you see on that sheet," Solich said of a position chart.

What the positions are called "is the easy part," he said. "What they're going to be able to do after the ball is snapped is the tougher part of it, of course."

Offensively, wide receivers won't be designated split ends and wingbacks.

Change will include everything from the numbering system, which has been simplified, to the structure of meetings and practices, during the fall as well as during the spring.

With six new coaches, "I think it's the wise thing to do," said Solich. "I've been associated with only one system. These coaches, many of them, have been around several systems. Many of them are used to operating in a certain manner, and I want to make sure they have their best opportunity to make things work. So we're adapting, fitting in whatever needs to fit to make it easy on these coaches."


  • Richie Incognito, the starting left tackle as a redshirted freshman, will move to center in the spring, but only after getting "some issues taken care of," Solich said. "I wouldn't say suspended. I would just say that there are some policies in place," which Incognito has not followed.

    "I don't foresee any major problems," said Solich. But Incognito "will miss some time."

  • Shane Siegel and Lannie Hopkins are among those who will be switching positions in the spring. Siegel will move from cornerback to strong safety in the new system, and Hopkins will move from what was the rover to weakside linebacker, the position at which he was recruited.

  • Safety Philip Bland (shoulder) and fullback Steve Kriewald (ankle) are the only players of note who will definitely miss spring practice because of injury, according to Solich.

    There will be others identified before the start of drills.

    Freshman quarterback Curt Dukes, originally expected to miss the spring because of a knee injury, will probably "be able to get practices in," Solich said. "He may not be able to have contact early but depending on how much progress he makes between now and the first day of spring ball will dictate exactly what we'll be able to do with him. We've been pleased with his progress."

  • The Cornhuskers are scheduled to go through post-winter conditioning tests on Wednesday, with the results to be announced on Thursday. Winter conditioning has gone "exceptionally well," said Solich. "We demanded a little bit more of them. We think we've put together a good winter conditioning program that challenged them and caused them to really develop a good work ethic.

    HEAD:"There is no question that they're in shape."

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