Turner Corcoran heard his coach earlier this spring when he talked about freshman mistakes.
More to the point, he felt it with his play on the practice field.
Offensive line coach Greg Austin mentioned Corcoran’s tussle with a steep learning curve in a chat with reporters last month, so you can safely bet the topic came up in the film room or one-on-one with Corcoran, too.
“It was a little shaky starting out, there were things like 'Coach G' was saying in a previous interview where I’m making freshman mistakes — and I did make some mistakes — but it was a really good spring for me to finish strong,” Corcoran said after the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday.
It’s not like freshman mistakes are the end of the world, especially during spring ball. Corcoran, after all, has been on campus just more than a year and is going through spring ball for the first time.
So midway through the 15-practice schedule when Austin was asked about his left tackle, his response was not critical, but also not exactly glowing.
"Yeah, he’s got some things to work on. He’s a young guy and his youth is showing up from time to time, and rightfully so," Austin said on April 21. "But he’s been good, a solid player."
Corcoran knew it, too. He spent the 2020 season learning from Brenden Jaimes until Jaimes opted out for the last game of the season to get a jump on his NFL Draft preparations. That thrust the Lawrence, Kansas, native and former four-star prospect into the lineup for his first career start on Dec. 18’s season finale at Rutgers. He played well overall — Nebraska finished with 620 total yards (365 rushing) and possessed the ball for 39 minutes, 31 seconds — impressing just about everybody who watched.
"I saw a lot of myself in him. I was in a pretty similar situation at that age," Jaimes said in March. "Made some young guy mistakes, that was to be expected. But also made some veteran moves, which is very promising to see. The biggest thing for him is to just be consistent throughout his career, and if he can do that, he’s going to be a really good player."
Added Corcoran, "Coach Hunter (Miller) actually said before the game started, 'It’s just another Friday night in Lawrence, Kansas.’ And it was a 7 p.m. game and it was a Friday night, so it really did feel like a Friday night in Lawrence, Kansas, because I was just out there playing football. Didn’t have to take in the crowd factor and everything.
"It’s actually been a pretty good transition because last year I would prep as if 'Jaimey' were to go down, I would be that guy that would have to go in and be that left tackle."
Now he very much is the left tackle. Nouredin Nouili has impressed with his ability to play on the outside this spring, but there’s not a hot competition like Matt Sichterman and Brant Banks have going for the right guard job.
Instead, Corcoran is poised to be the anchor on the left side of the line for as long as he’s at Nebraska.
This spring, he feels as though he took a considerable step forward.
"As it’s come along, I’ve found the game I want to play, the style I want to play and it’s just gone along well for me," he said.
How does a young player find that sort of comfort level so quickly?
"I’m not sure. It was just one practice where it just all clicked," he said. "I felt better where I was using my hands on my pass-blocking and run-blocking and stuff like that.
"Throughout the whole spring, I was doing a lot better and just kept getting better."
Watch now: Here's what Scott Frost and the Huskers are saying after the Spring Game
Nebraska coach Scott Frost and a few players shared their thoughts on the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. Watch full replays here.
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