"Big day concerning third downs." Those were the words of head coach, Bill Callahan as he lauded his team for improving in an area that has been one of a few sore spots for this Nebraska offense. Over the course of the first 4 games, Nebraska isn't averaging better than 40% when it comes to converting those situations.
Today was a time to work on rectifying that particular stat. "In football, you don't know what you are going to get on third down anymore." He said. "There's such a mix of covers, pressures and blitzes, you've got to be prepared for all of it."
"So, you try to go out onto the practice-field and duplicate what teams are showing on film so you can prepare your guys, but it changes. That's the one thing we try to get across to our players, the ability to adjust on the move when things change in that down and distance."
Another issue that was at least during Nebraska's game, another sore issue were the special teams, this time pointed more towards the kicking game. Starting field-goal kicker, Sandro DeAngelis missed two 40+ yard attempts, one swerving wide of the uprights and the other hitting the bottom crossbar.
Callahan said that what happened won't dictate what will happen, but as to just how much they will rely on the kicker and in what situations will be a situation that will be evaluated as each instance occurs. "We'll have to see what the conditions are." He said. "I think that's the first thing you do – you find out what your cutoff points are for that particular day."
For the up-coming contest, Nebraska should have the services of some players that missed the game in Lincoln. Adam Carriker, Lornell McPherson and Steve Kriewald all missed the Kansas game due to either injury or simply for precautionary reasons. McPherson is expected back, but as to Kriewald and Carriker, it would appear there's still some questions marks to be answered. "It's possible." Callahan said of Kriewald playing this weekend. "We are going to see how he responds tomorrow after two days on the turf, see how he bounces back."
As to Carriker, he's expected to play, but just how much is still up in the air. "The big role that we see (for Adam) is the ability to get into the rotation. This is going to be one of those forty, fifty, sixty-snap games where they're passing the ball."
"We're going to need linemen and we are bringing eight or nine down there with is and we are going to need everybody. It's great to have him back on the field, I'll tell you that. He had a few snaps last week, he'll pick up a little bit more as we go into Lubbock."
Going into Lubbock is going to be a challenge and that's above and beyond the actual team that Nebraska will be facing on Saturday. Lubbock fans have earned a reputation as being somewhat rowdy, a group of fans even creating a website for the sheer purpose of defining what "heckling" is.
With Bill Callahan's experience in the NFL, however, he harkened back to a few environments that he thought might be hard to beat. "I always thought it was tough to go into Adelphia Stadium down at Tennessee." He said. "I thought it was the loudest place in the NFL. We had been down there a couple of times and you couldn't hear yourself think."
While the noise is certainly an issue, but Callahan also recalled with a grin, a place where the fans weren't just loud, but very colorful as well. "There was this place called Philadelphia I was in." he said with a laugh. "They had a judge at the stadium on game-day, so, yeah, there's some real interesting stories there."
Nebraska will head down to Lubbock, Texas on Friday after Thursday's normal practice. The game is set to kickoff at 6:00 p.m. central time, the Huskers' 3rd night game of the year.
The Huskers go into the game as underdogs to the Red Raiders, the first time Nebraska hasn't been favored all year.
The game will be televised on TBS