Quick notes from Nebraska’s Saturday practice and coach Bo Pelini’s post-practice availability.
>>Defensive tackle Kevin Williams “tore up his knee” and will miss the season. A sophomore, Williams has suffered his second serious knee injury in three years.
“I feel bad for Kevin, but obviously, that’s a position where we have depth right now,” Pelini said. “Just wish him the best because this is the second time he’s had a knee injury. I just feel for the kid. He’s obviously heartbroken. And he was playing good football.”
>>Tight end Jake Long is “way ahead of schedule” on recovering from his undisclosed injury and may return to camp next week, Pelini said. NU’s worked a trio of young tight ends — sophomore David Sutton, redshirt freshman Trey Foster and true freshman Cethan Carter — in Long’s absence. Redshirt freshman Sam Cotton did not appear to practice Saturday, as he was not wearing pads.
>>Sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory returned to practice Saturday, and redshirt freshman Greg McMullen will return Monday, Pelini said.
>>Other players not appearing to practice were wide receivers Alonzo Moore and Taariq Allen and linebacker Courtney Love. Wide receiver Jamal Turner returned to practice Saturday. Pelini said no other injuries are serious, though McMullen has now missed a week of camp.
>>Pelini lauded the improving depth on the offensive line, including the play of sophomore backup Hastings St. Cecilia tackle Zach Sterup, sophomore backup Crete guard Ryne Reeves, and junior backup guard Mike Moudy.
>>True freshmen Josh Banderas and Nate Gerry continue to seem in line for early playing time. Pelini said Gerry’s working at linebacker/dime — in dime, he’d be playing close to the line of scrimmage and helping the Huskers out in coverage — while Banderas appears to be making a strong push to start at Mike linebacker. And that’s not just because the Lincoln Southwest product is an elite athlete.
“We’re putting a lot on him and throwing a lot at him,” Pelini said. “The thing I’m most excited about Josh is, I know he can run, but he’s physical. He’s showing tremendous instincts for the position. It hasn’t been too big for him, for somebody plays Mike linebacker and has to make a lot of calls — do a lot of things — we put a lot on him. And he’s handled it extremely well. He’s going to be a really good football player.”
>>Pelini called next week’s training camp “very important” for a number of position battles, but he expects several of those races to go into fall.
“There’s a lot of guys who have earned playing time out there, and it’s going to be our job to play a lot of guys and see where guys are,” Pelini said. “We’re deeper than we have been probably across the board. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing. But we gotta handle that well. We’ve got to figure out who fits best, and see a lot of guys play and see who can do it when the lights come on.”
Video: Pelini addresses the media after practice Saturday