Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013 AT 7:26 PM / Updated at 8:29 PM
Practice report, Nov. 6: NU preparing for versatile Michigan offense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Film study indicates that Michigan’s offense is capable of attacking opponents in multiple ways. And that’s one of the challenges facing Nebraska’s defense as it prepares for the Wolverines this week.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said the Wolverines’ design, although often featuring a pro-style feel, has some “flexibility and multiplicity” to it.

“They can be whatever they want to be,” he said. “When they’ve decided they want to pound the football, they’ve been pretty good at it. But when they’ve wanted to spread it out and throw it — get more zone-read-type style offense — they’ve been pretty good there, too.”

But what’s working in Nebraska’s favor is the fact that its young unit is coming off the best half of defensive football — the second half against Northwestern — by the Huskers in “a couple years,” Papuchis said.

He said the players better bring a “sense of urgency” and an “attention to detail” to The Big House Saturday.

Other practice notes are below…

>> Players who weren’t suited up Wednesday: quarterback Taylor Martinez, receiver Jamal Turner and offensive guard Jake Cotton.

>> Michigan’s recorded 19 passing plays of 30 or more yards. That threat of explosiveness certainly has Papuchis’ attention. Said Papuchis: “Because of their athleticism … they have the potential to make big plays.”

>> Papuchis said the way the Wolverines use their receivers (sometimes out of formations where one lines up directly behind another) will increase the importance of communication within the NU secondary. “We’ve got to be very smart in how we pass routes off,” he said.

>> Redshirt freshman Vincent Valentine was out on the field for six of the Huskers’ nine defensive possessions during the second half against Northwestern. Part of that increased playing time had to do with starter Aaron Curry getting banged up, but Papuchis said Valentine played well — with more physicality and emotion than usual, too, according to Papuchis.

>> In Saturday’s game … That jet sweep handoff to freshman I-back Terrell Newby (went for a 3-yard gain in the first quarter) was one block away from being a touchdown, according to coach Ron Brown. Why add that kind of play for Newby? “He’s fast. He can run,” Brown said.

>> Some of the freshmen offensive linemen stayed after practice for a few extra minutes Wednesday, running one-on-one blocking drills with coach John Garrison.

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: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.