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Monday Midday Musings as Huskers Prepare for Penn State

Check out what’s happening today around Husker Nation:

PSU Game Details announced

  • Nebraska’s game at Penn State next Saturday will kick off at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) and will be televised on FS1.

Major and minor injury updates for the Big Red

  • Head coach Mike Riley announced today that the Huskers have lost junior outside linebacker Luke Gifford to season-ending surgery today. Gifford has been held out of the last few games with a nagging hip injury and was considered a key cog in Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense.
    • Luke had this to say via his Instagram account today: “God’s plan is far greater than mine… I won’t quit on what’s in my veins!! ☠️
  • Riley also updated the status of junior quarterback Tanner Lee today as well. Lee was on the sidelines for the second half of last weekends game and sustained a blow to his head and is undergoing concussion protocol before being allowed to practice again.
    • Redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien played in the second half of the Minnesota game and is the starter this weekend against Penn State as Lee is held out of practice. Walk-on sophomore Andrew Bunch will be the #2 quarterback behind O’Brien as Riley indicated the staff has no desire to burn true-freshman Tristan Gebbia‘s redshirt for the last 1-2 games.
    • “Today we’re practicing Patrick O’Brien as if he can start.” said Riley.
  • Junior safety Aaron Williams has returned to practice this week after missing the last few weeks. Riley has commented before he was available but Williams has not seen any game time recently due to the injury.
  • Riley also mentioned that Nick Gates (knee), Dedrick Young II (back), and Chris Weber (finger) were all receiving treatment this week for the wear and tears of a long season but are expected to play.  Gates’ knee has historically been an issue for him and is aggravated a bit right now.

Linebacker Mohamed Barry talks about his goals for this season and next

  • Sophomore Barry has been the beneficiary of playing time after junior Dedrick Young’s injury the last few weeks and has a unique perspective on what that’s done for his growth this season and beyond:
    • “I’ve learned so much this season that will fuel my fire,” he said. “Being inexperienced and learning the game, why the game is being played is big. Because we’re an inexperienced team, you know. Even with Tanner sitting out a year and coming back, being away from the game and coming back to the game and learning, relearning, all the things that happen, that you can’t learn in practice, that only happens on game day, is a big part of the learning curve for me and maybe for a lot of players.”
  • One of the things Barry wants to become in his time here is a leader and not just any leader:
    • “An effective leader. Being able to really buy in and make sure everyone buys in. Because if we’re together, and everybody’s buying in, we’re going to be a better team.”

Riley addresses the rumors of a “lack of effort” from his team

  • Riley responded to a question about a perceived “lack of effort” by fans and was quite frank in his response and flashed a greater understanding of it than fans would think. He acknowledged the perception, gave his thoughts on it, then backed the players and his belief in their abilities.
    • “My first thought when I get that question after a loss is I don’t think of our team that way,” said Riley. “And I don’t want to be blind to it, either. I think the way this season has gone when you open the game with a kickoff like that, there might be some fragile parts, it might be more nerves than it is desired. I can’t put a tangible thing down and say that ‘this is it’.”
    • “Like I said, I really don’t want to think of our guys as not giving the right effort. I believe in that, and I believe in our players. My first reaction is, ‘Look at the film, how can we help these guys?’ That’s my response.”

Multiple young players continue to see reps

Whispers of underclassmen making a push for starting jobs.

  • Long considered buried on the depth chart, sophomore offensive guard Jalin Barnett traveled with the team last weekend for the first time this year. In a period where the Huskers are looking for the offensive line to step up, he’s quietly taken a proactive approach to getting his weight under control and has made a big effort this year. If he can sustain this effort look for him to push for significant playing time in 2018.
  • Speaking of offensive guards, before junior starter Tanner Farmer was lost to injury two weeks there were whispers that RsFreshman Matt Farniok was pushing Farmer for his starting spot at right guard. Look for the right guard position to be a dogfight moving forward. It looks like Riley and offensive line coach Cavanaugh have done a great job of building up quality young talent that should benefit the Huskers over the next few years.
  • The linebacker positions have featured a variety of different starting combinations this year. While Marcus Newby has locked down the DOG position the CAT OLB position has been up for grabs all season. Sophomore Alex Davis is the starter but fans may have noticed RsFreshman Ben Stille has blossomed in snaps the last 4 weeks. Keep an eye on his play the rest of this season and next year as he’s putting together a pretty good resume in his limited snaps.
  • I’m not sure he’s taking anyone’s job at this point but the emergence of RsFreshman linebacker Colin Miller should be noted among as well. There is a bit of a logjam at inside linebacker right now and while I don’t see Miller taking anyone’s job he has made his presence felt when given the opportunity.
  • Redshirts freshman Marquel Dismuke has been the beneficiary of playing time this season due to injuries and has been pretty good all things considered. While he may not take the position away from Reed/Williams/Kalu this season he’s been solid in their absence and will certainly push for a starting job next season.
  • Lastly, keep an eye on Damien Daniels this spring and fall. Since there are only two games left I don’t expect to see him this year but I’ve heard he’s really been giving the starting offensive linemen trouble in practice. He should push Deontre Thomas and Mick Stoltenberg in a big way in 2018.

Drew Brown set to join an exclusive club

  • Huskers.com Brian Rosenthal brought up today that senior kicker Drew Brown’s start at Penn State this weekend will be his 50th consecutive career start at Nebraska. Only 3 other Huskers can claim such an honor

 

Offense beefing up for short yardage and goalline situations

  • Many fans noticed in last weekends game against Minnesota that Mike Riley had inserted redshirt freshman Boe Wilson, with number #46 on, as the lead fullback when down around the goal line. Riley commented that they wanted to get better blocking on those plays and Wilson provided just that. He also mentioned it was something in hindsight that he could have used in other short-yardage situations.

 

Husker Basketball is BACK

  • In case you missed it, Husker men’s basketball kicked off the season Saturday evening with a 72-68 win over a pesky Eastern Illinois squad. Check out our postgame piece on the game here.
    • The Huskers had nine blocks in Friday’s win over Eastern Illinois. That was the teams most blocks since January 2011 when the Huskers had nine against Savannah State
  • The team returns for its second game tonight at 7 pm CST against North Texas. Catch a preview of the game right here or tune into BTN Plus tonight to watch the game.

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