NU preparing for Robert Griffin show

Nebraska returned to the inside of Hawks Championship Indoor Center for a full-padded practice as the Huskers prepare to face the visiting Baylor Bears. Health is a concern for the Huskers to an extent, but it's markedly smaller than the concern they probably have for Baylor freshman phenom, quarterback Robert Griffin.

Clayton Sievers and Tyler Wortman were back to practice today, but Defensive Line Coach Carl Pelini that their issues were never anything remotely serious. Sitting out was just a day to give them a little rest.

"Yesterday was more for them - just a rest, a little precautionary. It wasn't anything major," Pelini said.

What will be major this week is Nebraska trying to prepare for another spread out offense, but this time with a very mobile quarterback in freshman Robert Griffin. Nebraska faced a dual-threat type like Griffin already, but that was against the more downhill offense of Virginia Tech, whereas this will be a mobile QB working out of a spread system.

Take that into account, along with the fact that this true freshman just set the NCAA record for most pass attempts in a row to start a career without an interception (155), Griffin gives you anything but a typical look for someone so young. "I haven't seen any evidence on team that he can be shaken, and I saw him against some darn good opponents; up at UCONN with a real hostile crowd and playing against Oklahoma," Defensive Line Coach Carl Pelini said of Griffin.

"He just looks like a veteran out there. He's just a unique, unique individual, that kid."

Consider that stat and his reputation as slightly ironic considering the fact that Pelini said of Griffin that he might actually be faster than Tyrod Taylor, the dual-threat Nebraska faced in week four when they took on Virginia Tech. "I'd say that probably flat out speed, he's (Griffin) probably a little bit faster (but) Taylor has a little bit more game experience than he has," Pelini said when comparing the two. (But) He (Griffin) presents a lot of the same types of problems."

In the Big 12 where elite quarterbacks seem to grow on trees, Griffin posts an impressive 148.7 pass efficiency rating. To give you some perspective, if you took the quarterbacks from this conference out of the equation, Griffin's numbers would put him nationally in the top 13.

The good news for Nebraska is that coming off a stellar performance in Lubbock where the Huskers almost pulled of the upset against top 10 Texas Tech and the convincing win against the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames, Pelini said that the defense is really starting to come into its own. "I just think once they started practicing with the right tempo and intensity, the improvements started to show, and we just look sharper right now on both sides of the ball," he said.

It's a process which you can never know for certain as to how it will take, how long it will take and how much you can put in over time. But as Pelini said, with experience you realize just what the task ultimately requires in patience. "You know it's going to take some games, because no matter how much you try to simulate in Fall Camp, there's no substitute for game speed and game experience," he said. "It's happening at about the right time. They are starting to move forward and they are starting to see so many different things and gain so much experience against so many types of offenses, that the decisions are coming faster.

"We should start to sharpen up, and the expectations, honestly - we are raising the bar in what we expect of them in terms of scheme and fundamentals."

Baylor comes off a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State, where the Cowboys held the Bears to under 50 yards rushing for the game. Going into that game Baylor was ranked second in the conference, averaging over 206 yards rushing per game.

The emphasis will obviously be the same for the Husker defense, one which has gotten back on the right track in slowing the running game down. During the three-game losing streak the Huskers gave up over 200 yards rushing to both Virginia Tech and Missouri. But against Texas Tech, a team obviously not known for its running attack, the Huskers gave up 137. They bettered that this last week against an anemic Iowa State offensive, giving up just 102 yards, 67 of that coming off the second offensive play for ISU in the second half of the game.

Griffin ranks in the top 10 nationally in yards rushing per game at the quarterback position, averaging just over 61 per contest. His high came against Washington State, when he ran for an eye-popping 217 yards, scoring twice in the 45-17 pounding of the Cougars.

Nebraska will resume practice tomorrow, most likely in full pads as they were today, drawing closer to their home stand against the Baylor Bears.

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