Category Archives: Huskers News

Husker Hoops Fills Coaching Aide Vacancy with Butler Assistant Michael Lewis

LINCOLN — Nebraska has filled its assistant coaching vacancy in men’s basketball, sources with knowledge of the process said Monday, but the staff is still waiting on a decision from its top recruiting target.

The new aide is current Butler assistant Michael Lewis, a native of Jasper, Indiana, and a former Hoosier point guard under legendary Indiana coach Bob Knight from 1997-2000.

Lewis has spent the past five years at Butler after working the six years before that at Eastern Illinois. Formal announcement of his hiring likely won’t happen until Tuesday.

The recruit Nebraska seeks is 6-foot-11, 240-pound Jordy Tshimanga from Montreal, who has played high school ball the past two years at the MacDuffie School in Grandby, Massachusetts.

Tshimanga, who also has visited Minnesota, was in Nebraska over the weekend and by all accounts enjoyed his tour of the campus and Lincoln. Yet he departed Sunday without signing a letter of intent.

Sources near that process say Tshimanga is considering a third visit, perhaps at a school that also will give a scholarship to his brother — 7-1 Link Kabadyundi, who played one season at TCU before transferring to Blinn (Texas) College this season. Kabadyundi visited Nebraska in March 2014 before selecting TCU.

As for Lewis, he replaces Phil Beckner, who left Tim Miles’ staff after nine months to take an assistant’s job at Boise State.

Lewis, 39, was a team captain at Indiana and held the Hoosier all-time assist record until Yogi Ferrell broke it this season. Lewis was third-team All-Big Ten as a senior. He also played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association, the U.S. Basketball League and in Belgium before going into coaching.

Lewis worked two years as a graduate assistant under Knight at Texas Tech and spent a season as a full-time aide at Stephen F. Austin before going to Eastern Illinois.

Contacts in the college basketball grapevine on Monday described Lewis as “feisty, a good recruiter and a guy with ambition.”

Nebraska’s Games With Wisconsin, Ohio State Will Be Aired In Prime Time

Two of Nebraska’s Big Ten Conference road games have been selected for prime-time telecasts by the ESPN family of networks.

The Huskers’ matchups at Wisconsin on Oct. 29 and at Ohio State on Nov. 5 will both be televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The Wisconsin game will kick off at 6, 7 or 8 p.m., while the Huskers’ game with the Buckeyes is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The network designations for the games will be made closer to game day.

All five regular season Nebraska-Wisconsin games since 2011 have been televised by the ESPN family of networks, including three in prime time. Both meetings between Nebraska and Ohio State in 2011 and 2012 were played in prime time on an ESPN network.

The two Nebraska games were part of seven Big Ten evening games announced by ESPN on Monday. Additional Nebraska games could be selected for prime time telecast by the Big Ten Network. BTN is expected to announce its slate of night games in the near future, with the Nebraska-Fresno State game already rumored to be one of them.

The Huskers are 4-6 all-time vs. Wisconsin, including a 1-4 mark since NU joined the Big Ten. Nebraska has a 1-3 record all-time vs. Ohio State, splitting two matchups since NU joined the conference.

Miami’s James Palmer Joining Husker Hoops

LINCOLN — Nebraska tapped into the transfer market for another recruit.

James Palmer, a 6-foot-5, 202-pound wing, said by phone Sunday that he will leave Miami to join the Huskers this summer. The sophomore from Washington, D.C., will have two seasons of eligibility after sitting out the coming season.

Palmer, who inspected Lincoln a week ago, was scheduled to visit Temple this weekend. But he canceled that trip to commit to NU coach Tim Miles.

“In transferring from Miami, I was looking for a school that will let me play my game,” he said. “I have a trust in Coach Miles and I could see he has the utmost trust in me, through good or bad.”

Another plus was Nebraska’s success with Division I transfers under Miles. The list includes Terran Petteway from Texas Tech, Walter Pitchford from Florida, Andrew White from Kansas and Anton Gill from Louisville.

“That made a big impact in my decision,” Palmer said. “The guys before me that transferred in blazed the trail for me to go forward.”

Palmer got a taste of Nebraska basketball when Miami, which finished 27-8 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16, played at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 1 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Huskers fell in overtime 77-72. Palmer played three minutes, going scoreless.

“I really liked the atmosphere,” he said. “The crowd was amazing. Everybody was really into the game, standing up cheering. That was one of the biggest games we played.”

Palmer was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. At Miami, he played in 72 games, starting five — all as a freshman. He averaged 3.7 points and 1.4 rebounds as a freshman and 3.4 points and 1.1 rebounds as a sophomore.

“There was nothing bad at Miami, not at all,” Palmer said. “I was just looking for a change of venue and a better opportunity in basketball to show my game.

“Honestly, I think I do everything well. I can dribble, I can shoot, I can pass, I can play multiple positions, I can score and I like to defend.”

Palmer originally drew recruiting interest from Memphis, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Maryland. This time, California and Cincinnati showed interest along with Nebraska — with assistant Kenya Hunter as the lead recruiter — and Temple.

Hunter was an assistant at Georgetown in Palmer’s hometown.

“I had heard of him at Georgetown, but I didn’t have a relationship with him at all,” Palmer said. His commitment Sunday came on Hunter’s birthday.

Nebraska has two scholarships open after the commitment of Palmer, who said he will arrive in Lincoln in time for summer school.

The Huskers this weekend hosted 6-11, 240-pound Jordy Tshimanga from Montreal, who originally is from The Congo. Tshimanga has played high school ball the past two seasons at The MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts.

The left-hander with the 7-2 wingspan averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds this season. He is listed as a three-star prospect by most recruiting services.

On Sunday morning, Tshimanga tweeted: “Had a good time you Nebraskans! Thanks for the hospitality.”

Tshimanga, who previously visited Minnesota, has been tight-lipped about possible future visits or when he will commit.

Broncos See Andy Janovich’s Range; Ravens Get Alex Lewis’ Skills, Pedigree

LINCOLN — Andy Janovich’s signature play of 2015 might have come against Wisconsin, when the Nebraska fullback popped through on third-and-short, made one of the Badgers’ best defenders miss a few strides later and rumbled 55 yards for a go-ahead score.

It was the first career touchdown for Janovich — and the kind of run that NFL scouts hadn’t previously seen from the 6-foot-1, 238-pounder.

On Saturday, that and a handful of other explosive plays likely helped make Janovich the first pick of the sixth round in the NFL draft, leading to his next home with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

“I think that’s a really, really big part of it,” Janovich said. “It showed that I’m a little more versatile, that I’m not just going out there and blocking people but I can run the ball, too, and I can do multiple things.”

Alex Lewis and Janovich rounded out the Huskers’ picks in the NFL draft Saturday after defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine were both taken in the third round Friday night.

Lewis went in the fourth round to Baltimore at No. 130 overall. The offensive tackle is the son of former Husker and 1986 seventh-round pick Bill Lewis, who went on to play eight NFL seasons with three teams.

Lewis joined Spencer Long (third round, 2014) as the only NU offensive linemen taken higher than the fifth round since Toniu Fonoti was a second-rounder in 2002.

Husker fullbacks suffered through a much worse drought before Janovich got his call at No. 176. The last one taken in the NFL draft had been Joel Makovicka to Arizona in the fourth round in 1999.

Janovich broke loose for 265 rushing yards last season after the former walk-on had just three career carries the previous three years. It was the most rushing yards by a Husker fullback since Makovicka in 1998.

The list of impact plays included a 53-yard reception against Southern Miss, and runs of 28 and 25 yards vs. Southern Miss, 12 vs. Michigan State and UCLA, and 10 vs. Illinois and Minnesota. Only I-back Terrell Newby had a longer run than his 55-yarder against Wisconsin.

Those plays only added to the résumé of a blue-collar player who NU head coach Mike Riley had said already had the attention of scouts because of his special teams work.

“Special teams this last year was just a really huge part of my role in general,” Janovich said. “I’m hoping to just come in and, if special teams is the way I can contribute, then that’s what I’m going to do. I just want to come in and compete with everybody.”

Janovich, a former World-Herald All-Nebraska player and two-time state wrestling champ from Gretna, was seen as a possible late-round pick or free-agent signee by draft analysts. So the combination of the draft slot and going to the Broncos made for a good score.

“I’m thrilled about it,” Janovich said. “With the whole draft and everything, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I’m really excited to come here.”

Among those welcoming Janovich to Denver was Broncos General Manager John Elway, who said on Twitter: “Took FB Andy Janovich from Nebraska (6th rd). A tough, hard-nosed player who can block & play special teams. An old-school throwback player.”

Lewis was part of a fourth-round bonanza for Baltimore. The left tackle was the third of five selections in the fourth by the Ravens, the final two being compensatory picks.

Baltimore also spent its first-round pick on an offensive tackle, taking All-American Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame at No. 6 overall.

Lewis started all 26 games as a Husker after transferring from Colorado. He was a team captain and second-team All-Big Ten selection (media) as a senior.

Mike Mayock said during NFL Network coverage that he had a third-round grade on Lewis — listing him at No. 82 among his top 100 prospects — and ESPN analyst Todd McShay started draft week by having Lewis at No. 4 among his “biggest risers.”

Lewis was at the grocery store Saturday when Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome first contacted him, but there was trouble with the cell phone connection. Newsome turned it over to head coach John Harbaugh, who called the family home a few minutes later.

“So I get on the phone with his mom and I go, ‘Is Alex there?’ And she goes, ‘No, he’s not, may I ask who’s calling?’ ” Harbaugh said in the Ravens’ post-draft press conference. “And I’m like, ‘Uh, it’s John Harbaugh with the Ravens.’ ”

Harbaugh said he was unsure what to do next. Lewis’ mother even asked, “Now, who’s this team again?”

“I said it was the Ravens, and then pandemonium broke loose,” Harbaugh said. “They were all excited. Then he got back, and we had a great conversation with him.”

The Ravens took 11 players overall.

“It’s been a really, really good three days,” Newsome said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so good about the collection of talent.”

Big Ten West champion Iowa nearly went without an NFL draft pick for the first time since 1977. The Hawkeyes’ first and only selection was center Austin Blythe, who went to Indianapolis in the seventh round at No. 248 overall.

Husker DT Vincent Valentine Drafted by New England Patriots Late in Third Round

Former Husker defensive tackle Vincent Valentine was selected in the NFL draft on Friday with the 33rd pick of the third round (No. 96 overall) by the New England Patriots.

Valentine is the first Husker to go to the Patriots since Alfonzo Dennard in 2012. He’s the second Husker defensive tackle selected, joining teammate Maliek Collins.Collins went No. 67 overall to the Dallas Cowboys.

After graduating in December with a bachelor’s degree, Valentine decided to forego his senior year at Nebraska and declare for the draft, saying he was grateful for the chance to turn pro. “Playing in the NFL has been my lifelong dream,” Valentine said.

During a strong sophomore season alongside future NFL draft pick Randy Gregory, Valentine played in all 13 games and totaled 45 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and three sacks. He suffered an injury before his junior year and struggled to make an impact in 2015, finishing with 10 tackles.

At the NFL combine in February, the 6-foot-4, 329-pound Valentine had a top 40 time of 5.19 among linemen. He completed the three-cone drill in 8.03 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 4.59 seconds, went 29 inches in the vertical jump and had a broad jump of 110 inches. Valentine had 17 reps on the bench press. He recapped that combine showing during during NU’s Pro Day.

“My bench press (at the combine) didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, but I competed in everything else and I thought I did a good job,” Valentine in March. “It was crazy. Definitely mentally draining, but you’ve got to push through it and get the most out of the situation. I thought it was definitely a good experience.”

Valentine is the second Husker picked in this year’s draft, joining Collins.

Husker Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins Drafted by Dallas Cowboys in Third Round of NFL Draft

Maliek Collins, who left Nebraska with a year of eligibility remaining, was the first Husker selected in the NFL draft.

Collins, a 6-foot-2, 311-pound defensive tackle, was selected Friday with the fourth pick of the third round (No. 67 overall) by the Dallas Cowboys. He joins fellow former Husker Randy Gregory in Dallas. Gregory, a defensive end, was drafted in the second round in 2015.

At the NFL combine, Collins had a top 40-yard dash time of 5.03. His 10-yard split was 1.79 seconds during that run. Collins completed the three-cone drill in 7.53 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 4.52 seconds, went 291⁄2 inches in the vertical jump and had a broad jump of 109 inches — or just over 9 feet. Collins had 25 reps on the bench press.

Collins blamed himself for a drop in production during his junior season. He said he has many positive traits that NFL teams should like. Collins is projected to be drafted anywhere from the first round to the fourth round.

“Being quick and explosive, being a guy who’s low-maintenance,” Collins said.

Collins was the first Husker picked in the 2016 draft.

Kaylan Jablonski’s No-Hitter Gives Huskers Split with Purdue

LINCOLN — Nebraska quickly erased any lingering effects from its 4-3, eight-inning softball loss to Purdue by dispatching the Boilermakers less than two hours later in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.

The Huskers routed Purdue 8-0 in five innings behind the first career no-hitter by sophomore Kaylan Jablonski and two home runs from MJ Knighten.

Jablonski needed just 51 pitches to get the 15 outs for the win that improved Nebraska to 29-17. The game took 73 minutes to complete as the Huskers were able to run-rule the Boilermakers (27-23).

That was the kind of performance NU coach Rhonda Revelle sensed might be coming after the opener’s postgame huddle.

Jablonski “really set the tone” with strong starts to innings, Revelle said. “Then MJ did her thing in the first inning, and that really helped turn things around.”

Knighten belted a solo homer in the first to right-center field, then added a three-run blast halfway up the berm beyond the left-field fence. That put the junior from Buena Park, California, in exclusive company.

Knighten is just the second player in school history with at least 20 home runs in a season. Friday’s dingers before an appreciative crowd of 672 at Bowlin Stadium put Knighten right at 20, two behind three-time All-American Ali Viola’s school record of 22 set in 1998.

On her second homer, she said, “I was just trying to zone for an inside pitch, and luckily I got ahold of one. I was just trying to get something going for the team.”

It was Jablonski’s first career solo no-hitter — she had teamed with Cassie McClure last year for a no-hitter against Montana. The sophomore from Omaha Skutt said she had no idea it was happening.

“Everyone was smiling and MJ was acting weird and I was like, ‘What did I do?’” Jablonski said. “I didn’t know, but it’s a really cool feeling.”

Jablonski was a second-inning walk away from having a perfect game. Revelle, who calls every pitch, said everything was working for Jablonski.

“she was able to throw to both sides of the plate, and she was able to change speeds so well,” the coach said. “When a pitcher can do that, they’re tough.”

The teams played two games Friday because of the forecast of steady showers Saturday. The final game of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday. If the game is postponed, it would be played Sunday at noon.

Knighten tied a career high for RBIs in a game by getting her fifth in NU’s four-run fourth. Her single to center field scored Madi Unzicker to put NU up 6-0. Alyvia Simmons started the inning with a single before Unzicker drew a walk and Laura Barrow singled to center field, driving home Simmons with the fifth run.

Kiki Stokes then singled to left to load the bases for Knighten. After Knighten’s RBI single, Alicia Armstrong singled to shortstop to bring Barrow home. A throwing error by the Boilermakers brought Stokes home with the final run that eventually ended the game two innings early.

In the opener, the teams tore through the first three innings in less than 40 minutes, each getting just one hit. Each scored a run in the fourth.

The Boilermakers regained a one-run lead in the fifth when Kristen Hoppman doubled home Kaylah Hampton. Hoppman’s shot down the left-field line was just out of the reach of a diving Taylor Otte.

Dawna Tyson tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double to left-center. Armstrong led off with a single and pinch-runner Rachel Arthur scored.

In the eighth, Purdue coach Kim Schuette subbed Sydney Pencek into center field for Maya Hughes, and the move paid off. Pencek threw out Simmons trying to score from third after catching a fly ball from pinch-hitter Austen Urness. That ended the game with a double play.

Game 1

Purdue……………..000 110 02—4 6 2

At Nebraska………000 101 01—3 10 4

W: Lilly Fecho (18-10). L: Cassie McClure (16-9). 2B: P, Kristen Hoppman, Katie Harrison; N, Dawna Tyson. HR: P, Harrison.

Game 2

Purdue (27-23, 8-11)………….000 00—0 0 1

At Nebraska (29-17, 10-8)…..103 4x—8 8 0

W: Kaylan Jablonski (7-5). L: Gina Snyder (5-7). 2B: N, Laura Barrow. HR: N, MJ Knighten 2. A: 672.

Rutgers Rallies for 3-2 Walk-Off Win

Piscataway, N.J. – One out away from taking the series opener at Rutgers (22-20, 6-7 Big Ten) on Friday afternoon, the Nebraska baseball team (26-16, 7-6 Big Ten) was able to complete the victory, as a single by Christian Campbell and a throwing error plated two runs, resulting in a 3-2 walk-off win for the Scarlet Knights.

All three Rutgers runs on the afternoon were unearned. Nebraska hadn’t lost a game without giving up an earned run since the 2014 NCAA Tournament, when it lost to Cal State Fullerton, 4-3. Nebraska had won 73 straight games when leading after the eighth inning, with the last loss coming in a walk-off fashion at Iowa in 2014.

Freshman Chad Luensmann struck out the first two Rutgers batters he faced in the ninth before Luke Bowerbank reached on a single and then Luensmann issued a full-count walk to R.J. Devish. Luensmann got ahead of Campbell 1-2 and looked to strikeout the RU first baseman, but instead the count evened at 2-2 and Campbell hit a slow chopping grounder down the third base line. Jake Placzek fielded the ball bare handed and tried to get Campbell, but instead threw it into foul territory. Bowerbank easily scored to tie the game and Devish scored on a close play at the plate for the game winner.

Starting pitchers Derek Burkamper and Howie Brey dueled on the day, but neither factored into the decision.

Burkamper went 7.0 innings and allowed one unearned run on five hits, while striking out five. Brey, who had tossed a complete game in each of his last three Big Ten starts, went 8.0 innings and allowed two runs on five hits, while also striking out five.

Nebraska offense scored a pair of runs on three hits over the first three innings, but then notched just two hits over the its final six frames.

The bottom of NU’s lineup got the Huskers started in third with a leadoff walk by Jake Schleppenbach and a single by Steven Reveles. After Brey got a pop out off the bat of Ryan Boldt, Placzek delivered a RBI double down the left-field line to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead. Jake Meyers followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Reveles, before Brey struck out Ben Miller to end the frame.

Working with a 2-0 lead, Burkamper sat down the Scarlet Knights in the bottom of the third, with all three outs ground balls to Schleppenbach at second base.

Nebraska got a leadoff single from Scott Schreiber in the fourth, but then Brey settled in and retired 13 straight Huskers. Boldt snapped the streak with a one-out walk in the eighth.

The Scarlet Knights cracked the scoreboard in the fifth, taking advantage of a Husker error. Gaby Rosa started the frame with a bunt single and on the play took second on a throwing error by Burkamper. Rosa then took third on a passed ball and scored on a RBI groundout by Devish. Rutgers got the tying on go-ahead runs on base with two outs with a single and a walk, but Burkamper got out of the jam with a 2-1 lead, as groundout off the bat of cleanup hitter Mike Martinez ended the frame.

Due to impending weather on Sunday, the Huskers and Scarlet Knights will play a doubleheader tomorrow. Game one is scheduled for 11 a.m. (CT).

State Prep Hall of Fame to Name Football Exhibit for Tom Osborne

LINCOLN — Tom Osborne’s name is going on the new football exhibit area in the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

“The goal of honoring our past to inspire the future has reached its pinnacle moment,” Chuck Johnston, the hall’s executive director, said in a press release. “Everyone knows how humble Coach Osborne is in light of his own accomplishments, so we are equally humbled to have his permission to use the only name we’ve wanted to promote Nebraska’s rich tradition in high school football.”

Johnston said the football exhibit is under development.

Osborne, a 1955 Hastings High graduate, was The World-Herald’s athlete of the year as a senior. He was an all-state quarterback, a starter on the 1954 Class A state championship basketball team and the state champion in the discus and runner-up in the 440-yard dash.

Offered full scholarships by Nebraska for football and basketball, Osborne turned down the Huskers because neither head coach would allow him to play for the other program. He opted for Hastings College, where he was the 1958 State College Athlete of the Year before he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and played three NFL seasons.

“I’ve seen the progress of Hall of Fame exhibits, and I’m confident that Nebraska’s leadership in technology will honor past, present and future inductees in a meaningful way,” Osborne said in a press release. “I think it’s important to honor Nebraska’s homegrown athletes for their contributions and from what I’ve seen, visitors should be educated and entertained at the same time.”

Oregon, Which Plays at Nebraska This Fall, Not Ducking High Expectations

LINCOLN — If a person on a computer heads to the homepage of Oregon football, the first thing that pops up is a picture of No. 8, ball tucked in his right arm, running into the future.

“MARIOTA, HEISMAN,” are the words over the picture.

And then, after a few seconds, the graphic of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota moves downward, making way for news about the current Ducks team, which holds its spring game Saturday and plays at Nebraska in September.

It’s a clever marketing trick by the school’s web crew, but also a reminder of Oregon’s high standards at quarterback.

“There’s an extremely high standard here and expectation here of how that position is supposed to play,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said this week on the Pac-12 teleconference.

Seen another way, it’s almost a distant memory. The program has changed since December 2014, when Mariota coasted to the Heisman and delivered the team to the College Football Playoff, capping a five-year run that included a 60-8 record, two Rose Bowl wins and two trips to the national title game.

The Oregon team that serves as Nebraska’s marquee home game on the 2016 schedule still boasts talent, speed and a diverse, dizzying offense. But other aspects of the program are different.

Obviously, Mariota is gone. So is the quarterback who replaced him, Vernon Adams. So is the offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach who coached them both — Scott Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback who took the Central Florida head coaching job this offseason. And so is Oregon’s trademark 3-4, two-gap defense, replaced by new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke’s more aggressive, blitzing, one-gap scheme.

Also gone: Just a little bit of the shine on Oregon’s program. A rocky 2015 — in which the Ducks were 9-4, and somehow watched a 31-0 lead turn into a 47-41 loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl — is the reason. So is a defense that gave up 485.3 yards and 37.5 points per game, and an offense that couldn’t automatically put every defense in a blender.

That prompted the hiring of Hoke, who hasn’t coached in the Pac-12 in more than 20 years and matches the West Coast hipster vibe about as well as steak at a vegan restaurant. Hoke had to replace the team’s best pass rusher — DeForest Buckner, who went in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night — while trying to acclimate his team to a new playbook.

“The whole message of one-gap defense has taken a little longer than I would have hoped,” Hoke told reporters in Oregon this week.

A one-gap defense tends to be more aggressive, since each front-seven defender has his own gap, attacks that gap and puts more pressure on the offense to react. Hoke said he wants his cornerbacks to better understand their responsibilities in man-to-man coverage, as well.

“We’re playing faster at times, and then there’s times when we have to have more consistency,” Hoke said.

Said Helfrich of Hoke: “He’s everything to be expected — demanding and a disciplinarian and, at the same time, a player’s coach. A guy who immediately shows he cares about the guys and cares about people and then, at the same time, can really be demanding. That’s been a great balance.”

On offense, Oregon returns one of the nation’s top running backs in Royce Freeman — who rushed for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns last season — and several talented receivers, including Darren Carrington (32 catches, 609 yards, six touchdowns), Dwayne Stanford (30 catches, 463 yards, five touchdowns) and Charles Nelson (17 catches, 270 yards, three touchdowns). Nelson, also a defensive back, is a two-way player.

The Ducks do not yet have a starting quarterback. Adams, a transfer from Eastern Washington, battled through injuries last year, sparkling when healthy. When hurt, replacement Jeff Lockie wasn’t up to snuff. Adams got hurt in the Alamo Bowl, which sparked TCU’s comeback.

Lockie spent part of spring experimenting with playing wideout, and he is not expected to be the starter this year. Montana State transfer Dakota Prukop — who plays a bit like Adams — and redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen — whose lanky build (6-foot-3, 194 pounds) echoes that of Mariota — are the primary candidates. Also in the mix is Terry Wilson, a true freshman who enrolled early. Wilson was briefly committed to Nebraska before flipping to the Ducks.

Helfrich, on the teleconference, said his quarterbacks are a work in progress.

“A couple guys are thoughtful perfectionists,” Helfrich said. “They’ll over-analyze the situation and think about the result way before it happens. Then the play’s over and they’re two clicks behind in terms of timing. It’s like any position: Make a full-speed mistake with good intentions, and we’ll figure the rest out. We’re going to push them. We’re going to try to play better than we ever have at that position. But that might look differently than Marcus breaking an 80-yard run.”

Oregon wants its quarterback to be part point guard and part playmaker, Helfrich said, and the key is knowing when to embrace each role. He’s hired quarterbacks coach David Yost to help with that development. Yost isn’t the offensive coordinator — that role goes to Matt Lubick — so his job is specifically coaching up the signal-callers. Yost previously coached at Missouri, where he mentored Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert.

In a brief press conference with reporters, Prukop said he’s starting to pick up better on the fast-paced, no-huddle offense.

“Things just started flowing and I just felt much more comfortable and confident in the offense,” said Prukop, who amassed 3,822 total yards and 39 total touchdowns in his junior year at Montana State. “I could see the signal one time and get the play and just know it. I didn’t have to sit there and watch the signal over and over.”

On the injury front, Oregon has enough healthy players, Helfrich said, to conduct a standard spring game.

“It will resemble American football,” Helfrich said.