Published Thursday, September 5, 2013 AT 6:26 PM / Updated at 7:10 PM
Practice Report, Sept. 5: Pelini eager to see growth in game two
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

Quick hits from Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s media availability after Thursday’s practice, as Nebraska continues prep for Southern Mississippi:

>> Injury report: Linebacker Jared Afalava will not play Saturday, nor will tight end Sam Cotton. Every other major contributor, Pelini said, should be good to go.

>> Pelini said Nebraska had its best practice of the week Thursday after going “a little bit back and forth through the week.” The media is no longer allowed to watch any portion of NU practice, but Pelini made it sound as if the coaching staff put quite a bit on the offense and defense’s plates this week because Southern Mississippi only has one game on tape.

“What I saw was the sharpest day today,” Pelini said. “I saw the gameplan come together. We threw a lot at them early in the week and I kinda liked the way it all worked. Then we pared down as the week went on. I think they’re more comfortable. We’ll put it to the test on Saturday.”

>> Communication on defense has improved in practice, but it’s still not where Pelini would like it.

“Their understanding grows by the day, by the practice, by the period, by the rep. That’s what it has to be. There’s one thing about going out there and understanding the defenses and all that, but having to make adjustments within a gameplan according to your opponents and things, that’s part of the process. Especially the young guys are starting to understand.

“I was concerned last night … I lay awake half the time thinking about different things we’re doing defensively, and the young guys on either side of the football. But you keep making progress, keep working with them, and I’m seeing the light start to come on. And that’s fun to watch.

>> Expect Nebraska to use a large rotation again on defense, especially on the line. With temps near 100 degrees, that’s not entirely a surprise.

>> Based on a Pelini’s comments, it seems reasonable that linebackers Michael Rose and Zaire Anderson may see some more playing time this week.

“Michael Rose had an excellent week of practice, as did Josh Banderas,” Pelini said. “Zaire Anderson — he worked his tail off this week. That’s one thing about what we have going right now — we have really good competition. And that can only make you better.”

>> NU’s offensive line had a good week in practice, Pelini said. The offense as a whole faced a lot of looks in practice because Southern Miss hasn’t necessarily shown everything it can do on defense on tape yet.

“The week started off a little slower than you’d like, but I thought it picked up and it finished up very well today,” Pelini said. “I feel good where our offense is headed into the game.”

>> Seen after practice: Fullbacks C.J. Zimmerer and Andy Janovich juggling the tennis balls NU uses in catching drills. They’re pretty good at it.

Video: Pelini talks after practice

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at sam.mckewon@owh.com. And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.