NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Oakland, Calif. – The Nebraska football team held its first of four bowl practices in the Bay Area on Tuesday morning, working out for nearly two hours in half pads at Laney College in Oakland.
The Huskers arrived in San Francisco on Monday evening and were eager to begin game-week preparations for Saturday’s Foster Farms Bowl matchup with UCLA. Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker met with the media following practice and said the Bruins’ ability to survey the field pre-snap and identify matchups will pose the biggest challenge for his defense.
“That’s the offense,” Banker said regarding UCLA’s penchant for finding favorable matchups. “The quarterback has that responsibility from a run or a pass standpoint at the line of scrimmage. As the game progresses, what they’ll do is you’ll see them stop the cadence and look to the sideline so that somebody up above that’s seeing the configuration can then get them in the right call.”
Banker was asked if the Huskers have seen a similar offense to UCLA this season, and said the Bruins’ offensive attack is similar to that of Northwestern, with one big difference.
“In our conference, Northwestern,” Banker said, referring to the Wildcats’ strategy of calling plays at the line based on the defensive alignment. “The difference between Northwestern and UCLA, UCLA’s speed is by far much, much better.”
To stop the Bruins’ high-powered offensive attack, Banker said his defense will need to make the right calls at all times and will need to make plays. One Husker defender that could play a key role on Saturday is freshman Aaron Williams, who the coaches have chosen to be Nebraska’s nickel back against the Bruins.
When asked how Williams was adjusting to his new role, Banker said “I hope it’s real well. He’s a football player. He’s done well for us this year as a true freshman.”
Following the Huskers’ practice on Monday morning, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley, UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. and selected players from both teams will take part in a Foster Farms Bowl press conference at 2 p.m. (PT). The Huskers will practice again on Wednesday morning before practicing for a third time on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, Nebraska will a walk-through practice at Stanford.
The 2015 Foster Farms Bowl is set for an 8:15 p.m. (CT) kickoff on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN and fans can also listen to the game on the Husker Sports Network.