LINCOLN, Neb. – After a 14-13 loss to Illinois on Saturday, Nebraska is 2-3 and much of the buzz about the start of the Mike Riley era has turned negative.
On Monday, the Huskers (3-2) returned to the practice field, trying to figure out a way to bounce back after three loses within the final minute of the game.
“Well I’ve had a lot better Mondays, I guess, in my college football career,” said Nebraska defensive end Jack Gangwish. “It’s disappointing. I didn’t want the game to come out that way, especially because, on defense, we did a lot of good things. I’m really proud of the way a lot of our boys played. You know at this point I try to capitalize on that and keep moving forward.”
After the Huskers first two losses, they rebounded with opponent like South Alabama and Southern Miss. This time around, Nebraska faces Big Ten rival Wisconsin. The same Wisconsin (3-2) squad that beat Nebraska 59-24 last season.
“Well, first off, to us, regardless of our current record or how games have gone in the past, our approach to every game is the same,” said Gangwish. “You’re striving to achieve the very highest level of preparedness for every team. I guess, to stop you there, no, there is not really any emphasis on getting up for Wisconsin or taking this game, especially, serious or anything like that. Our guys show up to work every single day.”
The Huskers did see the return of junior defensive tackle Vincent Valentine field on Monday, but the team was participated in an advanced walk-through with no pads or helmets. "He's walking well," said Nebraska defensive coordinator Mark Banker. The staff is optimitic he will play on Saturday, but if he doesn't, defensive end Greg McMullen could give them snaps at the DT spot.
WISCONSIN OFFENSIVE SCOUTING REPORT
Banker was asked about Wisconsin's offense. Here is what the defensive coordinator had to say about the Badgers.
“[Wisconsin] is a very physical group. Seventy percent of the time they run one play and they do it well,” Banker said. “They run a power scheme or double-team kick outs. They want to run straight downhill at you, out physical you, get you leaning downhill [and then] all of a sudden come with a big play-action.
“They do something with personnel, to give you some adjustment issues. They’ve got their base group on the field, just two backs, one tight end and two wide-outs, and they’ll get into one-back formation, 11-personnel formations, they’ll put a fullback out at the No. 1 receiver, out on the three-man side, so they give you some challenges there. But it all comes back to tight ends, fullbacks, running backs and just trying to maul you up front.”
* Nebraska linebacker coach Trent Bray did indicate linebackers Josh Banderas and Chris Weber are veteran enough that when Banderas can come back, one of them could learn the outside linebacker spot to keep both on the field. It was not a certainty, but more a hypothetical question. At this point though, Banker is not holding his breath that Banderas will be in the lineup on Saturday.
* Nebraska offensive tackle Alex Lewis was seen at the Huskers' practice on Monday. No word on on the conversation he had with head coach Mike Riley and if there were will be any repercussions from his post-game antics in Champaign.
* Junior defensive tackle Maliek Collins played the best game of his season on Saturday and a large part of it was because of the staff's decision to move the former Missouri prep around. Illinois never knew where the defensive tackle was going to be lined up. Defensive line coach Hank Hughes pointed to the previous staff's decision to do the same with Randy Gregory last year. He said at previous stops, he's done with defensive lineman.
* Hughes said he's not afraid to play defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg, but the redshirt freshman is just not as experienced as others and the defense was playing well on Saturday. Hughes didn't want to mess up a good thing.
* Banker wanted the media to know how well Kevin Maurice played on Saturday, saying the defensive tackle "played his ass off." You can tell they are disappointed that they will be losing him for a few weeks.
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