Pace, footwork and a sense of humor: Whipple and Husker QB use spring to learn the same language | Soccer

Logan Smothers spent 22 months minus a pandemic disruption learning the quarterback game at the school of “Verdu.”

Heinrich Haarberg did the same for the first nine months of his college football career.

While much of the quarterback-related attention so far this offseason and spring for Nebraska football has been on what’s new — power conference transfer quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Chubba Purdy and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple – there are also, in the pair of young Husker returning signal-callers, which is simply changed.

Or, perhaps more precisely, what changed significantly.

Smothers and Haarberg saw their coach, Mario Verduzco, fired in November and replaced by Whipple in December. Both men are 40-plus-year veterans of college football, with deep roots in the NFL, and yet their personalities, processes, linguistics and teaching methods all seem quite different.

So, general question first, how’s it going so far?

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“You probably have to ask them,” Whipple said Wednesday. “Sometimes they like me, sometimes they don’t understand my humor. They are awesome. It was funny. Like I said, yes, it’s important and I get angry, but hey, we have to have fun, we have to laugh. You meet the guys a lot, meet the quarterbacks more than anyone because they’re not on special teams, so they’ve been a really good bunch.

“I saw them grow, I saw them relax.”

Haarberg, the Catholic graduate from Kearney, balked when asked if Whipple was funny, but didn’t when asked to describe his new coach.

“He’s a super smart guy and the way he talks about things is easy to understand,” he said. “It’s not super complicated stuff and it makes everything look stupid.”

Dumbed down, maybe, but it’s not an overnight transition.

Nebraska’s coaching staff and players have all said they’ve tried to retain playbook terminology for Husker players as much as possible despite changing four offensive coaches and the point guard this offseason.

Only time will tell how different the offense is at the start of the 2022 season, but there’s no doubt at this point that there’s still a lot of new things for Husker quarterbacks – and everyone else – to learn. this spring.

“I think all quarterbacks in general are really comfortable with some of the things that we used to do and are still learning some of the new things,” NU coach Scott Frost said Wednesday. “I think Casey actually does his best in some of the new stuff because everything is new to him. It’s a learning process for everyone.

Based on interviews with coaches and players so far, the list of substantial changes for quarterbacks includes footwork and mental processing.

These two go together once the ball is broken. The footwork is married to everything that happens, whether it’s a simple transfer or the schedule of routes developing on the pitch. A quarterback does his readings as his footwork allows him to be at the right time. If you think about your feet, it’s hard to also think about defense.

” That takes time. There are different drops. For me, all the passing game is footwork,” Whipple said. “There is one step, there are three steps, there are three and a snag, there are three plants, there are five, there are one-four. Then you have game action. So you try to record it, and I know they think about it a lot. …


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“If you have a good rhythm with your feet, you have a very good chance of being an accurate passer. This is what we are working on. »

This, rather than what the concepts are called or what signal means what, is the new language Nebraska quarterbacks are learning.

“Obviously they tried to keep the same terminology as last year, that way we can all understand it and not have to relearn everything,” Haarberg said. “But different keys, different readings, different progressions.”

And, in some cases, a completely different starting point: under center rather than in the shotgun.

“Now we do a lot of crashes in five stages, we haven’t done that with trainer ‘Verdu’ so that’s new for us,” Smothers said. “A bit more under the center so it’s a bit new for us, but nothing we can’t handle.”

Whipple said part of the equation is that they want to develop quarterbacks to prepare for the NFL, and playing under center is still essentially a requirement at the top level. But it’s also about patterns in the college game.

“It’s part of the running game, especially the back has a chance to run better I guess, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “When you’ve got the ‘I’ tailback and you’re (next to the quarterback in the shotgun), that cuts some of that off. So when you get the full spectrum of the zones, I think that helps their benchmarks and I think it helps when NFL scouts see those (quarterback) on tape.

Haarberg said he thinks learning through firehose last year as a real freshman would actually help him this year because “I kind of have this process in my head for how to do that.”

Thompson pointed out that he was basically learning his fourth college offense, all of which have their own quirks and differences. His coaches say it paid off at the start of this project.

“He sees the pitch really well,” Frost said. “There are things when you get a new QB, sometimes everything goes fast and they have tunnel vision and it’s obvious from the start that he sees the pitch. When he knows where to go the ball goes out fast. He is one step ahead of the game, and that only comes from the experience he already has.

Whipple added: “He’s been well trained. Those guys he had in Texas did a good job with him. He’s curious, which is nice. They may have done it a certain way before he came back, but I’m pretty open. He goes through his progressions, he likes that. I like what I see.”

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