Quick practice update from Nebraska’s Monday workout, in which the Huskers began prep for Idaho State:
>> Running back Rex Burkhead returned to practice with a brace on left knee. He said he suffered a grade two MCL sprain. Burkhead went through the same workout the rest of NU’s running backs did. Burkhead said he felt a bit of “hesitation” at the beginning of practice but felt normal by the end of it. Burkhead biked, swam and used an anti-gravity treadmill — Livestrong.com puts the cost of this thing at $24,500 — to quicken his recovery, impressing a NFL scout last week who visited practice.
Of sitting out, Burkhead said: “It’s been tough but at the same time, you’ve just got to stay positive. Encourage your teammates when they’re out there. Just staying positive about the whole situation.”
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he wasn’t sure yet how he’d split carries Saturday between Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard.
“Just because Rex is back doesn’t mean we’re going to push those guys to the wayside,” Beck said. “They’re a big part of our offense. Always has been … but they’re excited for him, too. He means a lot to our team. He’s not just another tailback.
>> Beck said Nebraska’s offense performed efficiently with five or six plays “where we had some missed assignments or miscues, and they cost us.” This would include the turnovers and sacks of quarterback Taylor Martinez.
>> Beck said the Huskers’ offensive line “played really well,” adjusting well to the “five or six defensive fronts” that Arkansas State threw at NU in the first quarter alone. Beck expects Idaho State to throw a lot at Nebraska as well.
“It’s becoming more and more the norm to try to confuse the tempo offenses,” Beck said. “Sometimes they get free and hit your quarterback in the back for a sack and a fumble, and the next time they give up a long touchdown pass. That’s kinda what happens.”
>> Martinez has developed good chemistry with wide receiver Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa over the last two years, Beck said.
“You’re starting to see that battery, so to speak, develop,” Beck said.
A good example: Bell’s 42-yard touchdown catch, in which he adjusted to an underthrown ball from Martinez.
“You gotta have those plays,” Beck said. “We didn’t have those plays at UCLA. We didn’t have them. You gotta make plays. And he did.”
>> Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Todd Peat, Jr. — who got his first career snaps Saturday despite not making the 105-man roster — said he’s finally getting healthy after recovering from back surgery. Peat hurt his back in January, got surgery in March, couldn’t lift until June, couldn’t run until July, and “wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in” to be ready for fall camp in August.
After being left off the 105-man roster, Peat said he didn’t consider transferring. Rather, he took the coaches’ decision as a “wake-up call” and a “moment of clarity.”
“I really had to get some stuff together personally,” Peat said. “I spent a lot of time just trying to lose weight and get back in shape.”
>> Defensive backs coach Terry Joseph said he’d give his secondary a grade of “C+ or B-” for its play vs. Arkansas State.
“I thought we left some plays out on the field,” Joseph said. “We ran to the ball better. I thought we played with some passion and some fire.
Corner Andrew Green gave his unit a B+ grade.