Nebraska’s preparing for Saturday’s rematch against Wisconsin, a game the Huskers will have to play without their most disruptive defensive tackle.
Senior Baker Steinkuhler, a game-changer in NU’s 30-27 win over the Badgers in September, is out for the Big Ten title game. This much we knew.
How do the Huskers plan to replace him? Well, that question may not be answered until Saturday, but defensive coordinator John Papuchis said Tuesday that it won’t be just one player.
“That’s why we practice the way we practice,” Papuchis said. “All of our guys get a lot of reps. When their opportunity comes, they need to be ready.”
Sophomore Chase Rome finished the Iowa game in Steinkuhler’s place and played well, according to Papuchis. But junior Thad Randle will also see some time Saturday, Papuchis said. It’s unclear if any other defensive ends (besides Cameron Meredith) will move inside to play snaps at D-tackle — “no final decisions have been made on that,” Papuchis said.
Other notes from practice are below…
>> Reacting properly to Wisconsin’s pre-snap shifts and motions (especially early in the game) is a point of emphasis for the Nebraska defense. Said Papuchis: “There’s guys running around all over the place.” Papuchis said his players could have handled that better in the first meeting.
>> Junior receiver Jared Abbrederis has mastered the double-move, according to Papuchis. “He does a great job making his run and pass releases look very similar,” Papuchis said. … Ciante Evans had a similar take on Wisconsin’s best pass-catcher, saying he hasn’t picked up too many tells on Abbrederis during film study. “You really have to play him honest,” Evans said.
>> Nebraska will face a different Wisconsin quarterback this time: fifth-year senior Curt Phillips (former starter Joel Stave is out for year). Papuchis said the change hasn’t influenced the Badgers’ offensive scheme much, though. “He fits well in their system,” Papuchis said of Phillips.
>> The Huskers are continuing to split first-team reps at center between sophomore Mark Pelini and junior Cole Pensick. Offensive line coach Barney Cotton didn’t go into too much more detail than that Tuesday. Either Pelini or Pensick will start. Both could play. … Pensick is still taking practice reps at left guard, where he’s already earned significant playing time in the O-line rotation behind starter Seung Hoon Choi.
Also, check out photos and video from Tuesday’s practice.
Video: Husker football practice