Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini perhaps his longest postpractice interview of the fall so far, touching on a wide variety of defensive topics as NU prepares for Penn State.
Let’s get to it:
>> Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Chase Rome got reps Tuesday and hopes to be good for Saturday after sitting out last with a pulled leg muscle.
“We’re going to play it day by day and see how it goes,” Pelini said.
Rome’s absence made a once-deep defensive line perilously thin in a 28-25 loss to Northwestern. Baker Steinkuhler and Terrence Moore — along with converted offensive lineman Justin Jackson — played most of the snaps.
“We thought were deep at defensive tackle,” Pelini said. “And we were. But we’ve lost four of our six. We’re lucky we were deep but that depth is gone. They’re battling their tails off.”
Pelini said he would not burn the redshirt of Todd Peat, Jr. this late in the season. He was ready to play true freshman Kevin Williams after Williams had a strong spring, but Williams is sitting out this fall with a knee injury.
>> If Rome can’t play, look for junior defensive end Cameron Meredith to slide inside for some snaps. Pelini said NU may use different fronts and incorporate some movement, as well.
>> Though the defensive coordinator, Pelini’s spending “a good 20 minutes per day” with the line right now, and more individual time with the tackles specfically.
>> Penn State’s offensive line will try to wear out NU’s defensive front, Pelini said, with shifty running back Silas Redd bursting to daylight.
“He’s really patient in the hole,” Pelini said. “He’ll duck in there and you’ll think he’s got nothing and then you see him squirt out and there he goes.”
The Nittany Lions’ offensive structure is similar to that of Michigan State, Pelini said, but “it’s much more run-oriented.”
>> As a result, look for Nebraska to use nickel and base personnel Saturday — not much dime. Senior nickel back Lance Thorell was limited in practice Tuesday, and played hurt through much of Saturday’s loss to Northwestern. Thorell struggled at times in coverage against the Wildcats’ speedy slot receivers.
“Don’t be too hard on Lance,” Pelini said. “…There’s something about being tough and there’s about being too tough and not communicating with coaches things that are going on with you during the game. We love his toughness, but maybe he was a little bit handicapped in that game.”
>> At corner, sophomore corner Andrew Green has solidified his hold on the second starting corner spot, holding off sophomore Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
“Andrew’s playing very well,” Pelini said. “He’s got to keep coming.”