Published Tuesday, September 17, 2013 AT 7:13 PM / Updated at 7:15 PM
Practice report, Sept. 17: Papuchis expects to play more linebackers Saturday
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis is planning to see South Dakota State regularly line up in formations with two tight ends Saturday. That means more 4-3 base defense from Nebraska.

Papuchis said Tuesday after practice that the Huskers have installed a 4-3 package this week — the first time they’ve worked out of that formation since preseason camp. And the players are pumped about it, according to Papuchis.

Here’s how the depth chart read Tuesday…

>> Freshman Josh Banderas at MIKE (middle), junior Zaire Anderson at WILL (most often on the weakside) and freshman Nate Gerry at BUCK (strongside). Those are the three linebackers working with the first-team defense.

>> The second-string guys: sophomore David Santos (MIKE), redshirt freshman Michael Rose (WILL) and redshirt freshman Jared Afalava (BUCK).

>> But Papuchis indicated that nothing’s set just yet. The goal remains to play lots of guys at the linebacker spots.

And as for the issues that plagued Nebraska’s defense in its 41-21 loss against UCLA… Here’s what Papuchis said: “In the first half, we dominated them, for the most part. In the second half, they dominated us. I wish there was a magical answer as to why that happened, but we’re addressing all the things that we think it could be. And for right now, at least, I’d like to keep that a little bit in house.”

Papuchis continued to chat with reporters after practice Tuesday, complimenting South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner. The 220-pound junior was the leading rusher in FCS last season (157.2 yards per game) and he leads the division again this year (180 yards per game).

Zenner’s more athletic than one might think, according to Papuchis. “(He’s) able to make guys miss in short space, in the hole, but also has the ability to put his shoulder down and run you over,” Papuchis said.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.