Nebraska’s football team is winding down the “fall camp mentality” and beginning to ratchet up its preparation for Southern Mississippi, NU defensive coordinator John Papuchis Thursday said after the Huskers’ practice.
“We got a feel for the gameplan,” Papuchis said.
The Golden Eagles aren’t necessarily an easy team to scout. They have a new coach and an ongoing quarterback race that’s yet to be settled.
“You try to turn over every rock and resources that are available and use your best judgment,” Papuchis said. “We’re not going to know exactly what they’re going to do, but we’re going to try to get the best idea you can possibly get from all their coaches’ backgrounds.”
“We hope we taught enough lessons throughout spring ball and fall camp that we apply them next week.”
Current USM coach Ellis Johnson previously served as South Carolina’s defensive coordinator. Johnson’s offensive coordinator, Steve Buckley, comes from Petal (Miss) High School, where he was head coach for five years. One of the Golden Eagles’ quarterbacks, freshman Anthony Alford, played under Buckley at Petal.
Nebraska recruited Alford, as did NU secondary coach Terry Joseph when he was at Tennessee. A two-sport star who played minor league baseball this summer, Alford is a mobile threat who hasn’t won the job yet, but whom Joseph expects to see play in Lincoln.
“He likes the ball in his hands in space,” Joseph said. “We just gotta make sure we get enough people around him and reduce the space and get him on the ground.”
More quick hits from Thursday’s workout:
>> The cornerback battle will likely continue into the season. Papuchis said he could play “four or five guys” who have thus far earned playing time.
“We’re at least have a top four rolling Saturday and see how it’s going,” Papuchis said.
The coordinator declined to name those players, but Joseph said he felt comfortable with senior Antonio Bell, juniors Andrew Green and Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Mo Seisay, and sophomore Josh Mitchell. Seisay’s been hampered by an ankle injury during camp.
“He’s a new guy in the program and he needs every rep he can get,” Papuchis said. “But he was moving around good today and he’s gaining ground.”
>> Papuchis wants to temper expectations of junior college linebacker/safety Zaire Anderson a little bit, reminding reporters it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth game that defensive back Dejon Gomes (2009-2010) and linebacker Lavonte David (2010-2011) got their feet fully under them.
Anderson is playing in NU’s dime spot on the defense and practicing at Will linebacker.
>> Sophomore safety Harvey Jackson “brings his lunch pail every day,” Papuchis said, which is why Jackson is fighting for time at safety with senior P.J. Smith.
“He makes mistakes just like everybody else does, but it’s important to him that he keeps getting better,” Papuchis said.
>> Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said that no decisions have been made on whether or not to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp or freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong.
>> Senior Justin Jackson has been the “most consistent” at cente, Beck said. Ditto for Mike Marrow at fullback.
>> NU has improved its efforts with turnovers and other mistakes, Beck said, “but it’s still not enough.”