Through four non-conference games, Nebraska is the most penalized team in the country with 43 turnovers, good for almost 11 a contest.
On Monday, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley didn’t have answers for it.
“I’m disappointed with the number of penalties. There is nothing we can do but correct in time and time again in practice,” said Riley. “Some of them are bad choices.
“We get what we thought was a nice interception. We get called for pass interference on it and then get called for unsportsmanlike. That is ridiculous. I don’t have any other explanation besides we can’t do that.”
Riley added, “it has to change.”
After surviving a scare against Middle Tennessee State, Illinois enters this weekend’s game with Nebraska at 3-1 overall. The Illini had nowhere near the same non-conference schedule as Nebraska, playing only one power-five conference, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the contest 48-14.
Illinois junior quarterback Wes Lunt is hitting on 60 percent of his throws this season, throwing for 856 yards and six touchdowns in his first four contests.
“It’s going to be where one of those games where you have to be really accountable with what they are doing with the tailback,” said Riley, who mentioned Illinois likes to use Josh Ferguson out of the backfield as a receiver.
Against Illinois, Lunt struggled, going just 15-of-32 for 140 yards and an interception.
Nebraska's matchup at Illinois on Saturday marks the Huskers' first trip to Champaign as a Big Ten member. Nebraska last played at Illinois in 1986, winning 59-14. The Huskers hold a 9-2-1 edge in the series between the schools, including 2-1-1 in Champaign.
Nebraska has a handful of players on the injured list as they enter Big Ten play. The biggest update from Riley came in the form of wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El, who has been listed as out the last four weeks. On Monday, it sound as Pierson-El’s status for Illinois is questionable, meaning the receiver is making strides and should be back to full strength very soon.
At other positions, starting linebacker Josh Banderas (groin) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (ankle) are listed as questionable. Scout.com would be very surprised to not see Banderas on the field for the Huskers’ first road trip.
Nebraska could also see the return of starting defensive end Jack Gangwish, who wasn’t expected back until next week with a dislocated elbow. Trainers will work out Gangwish and see where he is to determine if he is ready to play this week on the road.
Reserve linebacker Marcus Newby, who is coming off one of the best games of his career this past weekend, is listed as questionable for the contest with a groin injury. He is expected to start in place of Michael Rose-Ivey if healthy.
TWEAKS OR SCHEMATIC CHANGES WITH THE PASS DEFENSE?
* The new Nebraska depth chart game out on Monday and there were a few changes made. Senior cornerback Jonathan Rose takes over for Daniel Davie at one corner spot. Sophomore linebacker Marcus Newby is listed as the first-team linebacker in place of the injured Michael Rose-Ivey.
* Riley said starting running back Terrell Newby is the most versatile running back on the roster right now and didn’t mention the name Mikale Wilbon until after listing senior Imani Cross and true freshman Devine Ozigbo. According to Riley, Wilbon needs work on his pass blocking, because the Huskers don’t want a “liability” at the running back spot in passing situations. Right now it sounds like Wilbon is fourth on the depth chart.
TWEETS FROM THE PRESSER: