LINCOLN — Nebraska's depth at wide receiver should help it overcome the loss of a second player without pulling the redshirt of prized freshman Jordan Westerkamp.
NU coach Bo Pelini confirmed Wednesday that backup Tyler Wullenwaber suffered a season-ending knee injury Tuesday. The Huskers already are without Tim Marlowe until at least October.
“Fortunately for us, we've got a bunch of guys that can contribute and play, and play at a high level,” NU assistant coach Rich Fisher said.
Nebraska now has Kenny Bell and Taariq Allen at X receiver, Quincy Enunwa and Steven Osborne at Z and Jamal Turner and Tyler Evans at A. But Fisher also said Westerkamp will continue to prepare as if he were playing.
“I still got plenty of guys in that corps that can get the job done,” Fisher said. “I don't know that we have to burn his redshirt right now.”
Both Pelini and Fisher called it an unfortunate injury for Wullenwaber, a sophomore walk-on from Utica, Neb., who had caught passes in each of the first two games. Fisher described it as a “freak” injury in a special teams drill.
Backup quarterback Brion Carnes also moved to receiver this week, but Fisher said the Huskers have more established options at the position.
“It's nice to have Brion over there,” he said, “but at the end of the day we have a group of guys who have earned their playing time, and that's who I'm going with.”
Abdullah shows he's an every-down back
NU assistant coach Ron Brown said Ameer Abdullah has used Rex Burkhead's absence to show he can be an every-down I-back for the Huskers.
Abdullah has seen full-time duty the last seven quarters, and rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns while also catching four passes with one score.
“It's good to see him just getting into a flow of things and not just being a spot player,” Brown said.
Brown rattled off job requirements such as pass protection, running inside, running outside, carrying out fakes, running routes and catching the football.
“There's a lot of things that a back has to be good at,” Brown said. “Rex does it all very well. And Ameer has really stepped up and played extremely well that way.”
Burkhead continues his comeback from a sprained MCL in his left knee, but his status remains uncertain for Saturday's home game with Arkansas State.
“We're getting him ready,” Brown said. “Whenever he's ready, we're ready.”
Pass rush duties complicated for ends
It's a fine line a Nebraska defensive end must walk in Bo Pelini's defense. He's supposed to get pressure on the quarterback, but do it in such a way that the Huskers' match-zone coverage downfield doesn't get compromised when the quarterback scrambles into the open.
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Senior Eric Martin knows how hard it is to walk that line. More than once in the 36-30 loss to UCLA, Martin flew off the edge toward Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley attempting to sack him. Martin didn't close the deal, and may have compromised NU's contain a few times in the process.
“You can't really tell what he's going to do,” Martin said. “You don't know when he's going to step up. You don't when he's going to drop back. Because what he's doing is looking at you in peripheral vision, and if you come inside, he's going to jump out,” Martin said. “I don't really know what to do when I'm pass rushing. I'm just trying to get him to flush out so he don't throw any deep passes. Hopefully I get him to flush out and one of my d-tackles make the play.
“He had too much time in the pocket. That's what we got to change — stop letting quarterbacks get too much time in the pocket. Then they make the easy read. The more pressure we put on them, the more they get out of their comfort zone.”
Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, while not talking specifically about Martin, said it's important his ends keep quarterbacks locked into the pocket so the coverage downfield can work.
“You can't let the quarterback out,” Kaczenski said. “The way we play coverage, it's a big responsibility for those guys to contain that quarterback. If we can do that, at least it gives us a chance to cover. When everybody's got their backs turned and that quarterback leaks out, that's not good. And it happened to us too many times on Saturday.”
WR Muse leaves Arkansas State
JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State senior receiver Allen Muse has left the football team.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday that Muse “has faced tremendous tragedy in his life” in recent years. Malzahn said after a discussion with Muse that it was decided he should focus on his personal life and family.
Muse was arrested last week on a misdemeanor complaint after allegedly breaking down the door to a bathroom where his wife had locked herself inside.
Muse's father committed suicide in a Jonesboro hotel room in 2011.
Muse had 65 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns in his career at ASU.
— Rich Kaipust, Sam McKewon and the Associated Press
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• Video: Bo Pelini speaks with the media after Wednesday's practice:
• Video: "The Big Ten Preview Show" with Lee Barfknecht: