Red Report: Beckton has ‘daily battle’ on his hands to keep freshman Jurgens in TE room

September 6, 2018
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NU tight end Cameron Jurgens runs through a drill during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 at Hawks Championship Center.

Sean Beckton has a daily fight on his hands.

Sure, the veteran assistant and Nebraska tight ends coach is constantly trying to work with a talented-but-young room and make sure that a bunch of underclassmen are ready to hold up against a rugged Big Ten schedule.

But that’s not the fight we’re talking about at this moment.

He’s also trying to ward off several of his fellow assistants and keep freshman Cameron Jurgens in his meeting room as long as possible.

“It’s a daily battle,” Beckton said with a smile on Wednesday morning. “Offensive line coach, defensive line coach, they are messing with the kid every single day, but I’m trying to keep him in my room for as long as I can.”

Beckton, of course, is joking to a certain extent. Both he and Jurgens want what’s best for the team, and if that means the Beatrice native moves to a new spot, so be it.

But Beckton is trying like hell to keep the 6-foot-2, 270-pound youngster under his wing for the long haul.

Scott Frost, speaking last week on the radio, gave an eye-opening title to the freshman and former four-star prospect who was verbally committed to the Huskers for more than two years before signing in February.

“Cam Jurgens is going to be a phenomenal player for us. We’ve got him at tight end right now,” Frost said. “I’m not really sure what he is, but I know he’s one of the best athletes we have on the team and maybe the most powerful guy we have on the team.”

For real? The most powerful player on the team?

“He’s just naturally gifted as far as his lower body strength,” Beckton said. “He plays with such leverage. When he explodes into you and strikes you, those guys go backward. I’m really excited to see what he’s going to do for this football team in the future, down the road.”

Beckton said Jurgens has made strides recently in his continued recovery from a broken leg and ankle suffered in October while playing for Beatrice. Now, Jurgens can get through a whole practice without feeling any lingering affects, according to the coach.

Maybe eventually Jurgens is an every-down tight end. Maybe he’s a guard or a defensive end or any other number of spots. Maybe, even though the Huskers don’t technically have fullbacks any more, Jurgens will lead up through a hole for a running back. Maybe he’ll do a little of everything.

Beckton is winning the battle so far.

“You never know how we may use him down the road,” Beckton said. “But right now he’s a tight end in the game plan this week.”

[ TWO-MINUTE DRILL: Recapping Moos’ Wednesday comments ]

Weekly ritual for QBs: This summer, Mario Verduzco often referenced the tests he put to his quarterbacks at a couple of offseason intervals.

Well, midterms are still a little way off, but the Nebraska signal-callers are tested on a weekly basis now that fall has arrived.

The Husker quarterbacks take a weekly game test that helps Verduzco know where his pupils are head of each contest.

They are quizzed on situational rules and decision-making, and are also asked to diagram routes.

“There are some things that they have to know every week with regards to, say, for example, two-minute drill: things that stop the clock and all those things,” Verduzco said. “Those are things they just have to know and I want to know if they know them every week. And then when they’re drawing up the pass play, usually how a guy draws up a pass play is how he sees it in his head. You know what I’m saying? So if he’s drawing a 5-yard route at 2 yards, there’s an issue.”

The test is distributed sometime in the middle of the week and is returned to Verduzco typically on Friday or early Saturday morning.

“It provides the information,” Verduzco said. “For me, if all the guys have a problem with drawing up a particular pass play, OK, what’s the issue? Maybe I explained it wrong or there’s some issue with that. It’s a diagnostic thing, foremost, for me.”

Run game critical: Nebraska offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Nebraska needs to run the ball effectively against a “stout” Colorado defensive front.

Walters said the Buffaloes will rotate as many as seven players across the front line in their 3-4 scheme, with the idea of shutting down Nebraska’s run game and forcing freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez to beat them with his arm.

“With a freshman quarterback, you can’t drop back (to pass) 40 or 50 times. With the amount of guys they play, the pressures they’re going to bring, their front three are very active, so we’ve got to establish the run game,” Walters said.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Huskers won’t take their shots when they’re available.

“When the ball’s thrown, we’ve got to make plays,” Walters said. “Because they will load the box and they will give you one-on-one matchups on the outside, and we’ve got to be able to execute.”

[ WATCH: Walters talks prep for Colorado ]

Special game for Walters: Walters admitted Saturday’s game will have extra meaning for him. Nebraska’s offensive coordinator worked under head coach Mike MacIntyre from 2013-15 as Colorado’s receivers coach.

“I coached three years there with Coach Mac and that staff, and great man, great tradition at Colorado. This rivalry goes way back. Growing up as a kid I used to watch it. So it’s a special game, for many reasons,” Walters said.

— Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett

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