Matt Farniok turned a few heads Monday when the junior captain said there was no excuse for Nebraska's continued issues with off-target snaps throwing off the timing of the Husker offense.
It's on the entire offensive line, Farniok said, to help redshirt freshman Cameron Jurgens rectify an issue that has cropped up in nearly every game Nebraska has played this season.
"In Week 7 we need perfect snaps, and it's just the number one rule of our center and that's what we expect from our center," Farniok said. "He knows he needs to fix it, and he has been working on it."
On Wednesday, offensive line coach Greg Austin shed light on how the snap problem is the responsibility of everyone, not just Jurgens.
"Everybody's shortcomings and their successes is on the offensive line. Certainly I take just as much blame as anybody for the snaps, and we've got to fix it," Austin said. "And when (Farniok) said the whole line, there is no one individual person in any offensive line. Yeah, we're looking at Cam and a snap that goes over a guy's head or is mishandled, but that's on the right tackle, that's on the left tackle. We have to hold him accountable, everybody has to hold him accountable. That's the reason why we say it's on the whole line."
Austin equated the issue to a team struggling to keep its quarterback from getting hit.
"When a guy gives up a sack, it's not just one guy that gives up a sack, it's the whole line that's affected," Austin said. "They don't say in the stat sheet that this guy gave up a sack. It says, how many sacks were given up. And that's a reflection of the offensive line, right? So that's how we think and that's how we function."
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Austin said Jurgens' issue is about technique. When the first-year center gets fatigued, Austin said, is when the issue shows up the most. There are also times Jurgens is anxious about coming off the ball and doesn't use proper technique.
"It's not a fundamental deal, it's more a focus deal. And that's what we gotta continue to work on, is continuing to calm him down," Austin said. "When he gets tired, it's just like anybody — technique goes to s-&thinsp-&thinsp- when they get tired. And unfortunately his snaps, as a new guy in his position, that's what affects him. So that's what we're working on right now."
Most of Saturday's off-target snaps came in the first half. However, with Noah Vedral behind center in the fourth quarter, one snap went wide right and through his hands, forcing the quarterback to retreat and grab the ball before eventually throwing it away. Another was high and to the right that Vedral was able to corral.
So, Austin and the offensive line will continue to search for the right buttons to push to try and shepherd Jurgens forward in his development. There's a delicate balance, Austin said, in pushing a player to mature, but not ruining his confidence in the process.
"You can't, as coach, get down on them when they're still in their big-time growth and maturity phases, their transition from high school to college. From dependence to independence. And that's the shepherding part of it," Austin said. "Now like I said, there's always a guy you've got to hold accountable to his weight. There's always a guy you've got to hold accountable — get your ass to class. There's always a guy you've got to hold accountable to make sure you're on time. Some of those smaller things that you have to do, that's part of the job. Getting those guys to understand the overall picture of what we're trying to accomplish."