LINCOLN — Junior Andrew Rodriguez is likely in line to make a second straight start at right tackle Saturday against Michigan, but Nebraska assistant Barney Cotton said Rodriguez, Jeremiah Sirles and Brent Qvale will continue to play similar numbers of snaps.
Rodriguez replaced Qvale in the starting lineup at Northwestern. Sirles, who had been starting at right tackle, moved to left tackle for the Huskers' opening series.
“We thought that with the way the last couple games had gone, and as you evaluate practice, that he deserved to start,” Cotton said of Rodriguez, who started seven games at left guard last season.
Meredith, Williams, Rome in mix at DT
Backup defensive tackles Chase Rome and Kevin Williams are back practicing after missing the Northwestern trip, and NU assistant Rick Kaczenski said “we're preparing those guys like they're going to get in the game” against Michigan.
But it's possible starting defensive end Cameron Meredith could play some tackle again Saturday night.
Kaczenski said Meredith did well in that role last week against Northwestern. He called the senior an experienced player who knows the defense and knows what the other linemen are doing.
“Most of all, it makes the guys next to him more comfortable and better,” Kaczenski said.
Coach Cotton proud of son's winning grab
Cotton said he was proud to see his son, NU senior tight end Ben Cotton, catch the go-ahead touchdown pass in the 29-28 win at Northwestern.
Taylor Martinez hit Cotton on a 7-yard pass with 2:08 left in the game. Cotton also caught a touchdown pass in the Huskers' previous game at Ohio State.
“He doesn't have a lot of receptions (seven), but I think he's a good receiver,” Barney Cotton said. “I'm just glad that he was in the right place at the right time.”
Burkhead garners scholar-athlete honor
I-back Rex Burkhead was one of 15 players selected for National Football Foundation scholar-athlete awards on Wednesday.
Burkhead, a senior from Plano, Texas, is the 21st Husker to be honored as an NFF scholar-athlete and the first since Chris Kelsay in 2002. Also selected from the Big Ten was offensive tackle Patrick Ward of Northwestern.
Burkhead was a first-team academic All-American last year, in addition to being an All-Big Ten selection.
The recipients will be honored Dec. 4 in New York City at the 55th National Football Foundation awards dinner. They also receive a $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and become candidates for the William V. Campbell Trophy.
Rex sits; coach likes Cross' play
Burkhead didn't practice Wednesday, but in his absence, running backs coach Ron Brown praised the Huskers' backfield depth. A reporter asked Brown if it was his call to send in true freshman Imani Cross on a short-yardage situation at Northwestern. Brown confirmed that it was.
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“I wanted to make sure we got the first down,” Brown said. “He's a good inside runner. He's very strong. Sometimes you don't like to get a guy in a crucial situation with his first carry, but you just kinda go with it. The kid's a gamer. He's a hard-working kid.
“I think you're going to see more and more of Imani Cross as time goes on.”
Joseph praises Michigan receivers
Secondary coach Terry Joseph said sophomore corner Josh Mitchell has practiced well this week after missing the Northwestern game with an ankle injury.
“He feels good, he looks good,” Joseph said.
Joseph praised Wolverine wide receivers Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon as “great athletes.”
the 6-foot-4, 203-pound Gardner, a converted quarterback, “causes some trouble in matchups because he's a tall, long guy who can really get open,” Joseph said. “He wins the jump balls a lot.”
The 5-8, 187-pound Gallon is dangerous on the quick screen, which Joseph compared to a running play in Michigan's offense.
“When you get the ball in the hands of a guy like that out in space, obviously they feel good about it,” Joseph said. “They just get those linemen out so quick, so we gotta be keyed into our keys.”
The caliber of Michigan's athletes, Joseph said, means Nebraska must counter “with as many fast people on the field as we can.”
“We got everything greased up,” Joseph said.
Officials warn fans of counterfeit tickets
Husker officials warned fans to be cautious in purchasing tickets for the Michigan game after it was discovered that some counterfeit tickets had been sold on Craigslist for the Sept. 29 Wisconsin game.
Several other schools have recently seen a rise in the distribution of counterfeit tickets, according to an NU release.
The NU police department is investigating the problem, but Husker Assistant Athletic Director Holly Adam said it's believed to be “an isolated incident.”
Nebraska will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its NCAA-record sellout streak with the 7 p.m. game against the Wolverines. The game will be the 323rd consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium.
Injury question slowed Husker offense
Wolverine safety Jordan Kovacs is aware that he got singled out by the national broadcast team and may have created some controversy during last year's Nebraska-Michigan game.
Kovacs tweaked a knee in the third quarter and tried to walk it off before dropping to the ground and signaling to the UM sideline for a sub.
During the on-air broadcast, it was mentioned by the ESPN commentators that Kovacs might have pulled himself off the field to disrupt the fast-paced tempo of Nebraska's offense. Husker coach Bo Pelini said a few days after the Wolverines' 45-17 win that he thought Michigan players might have been pretending to be hurt at times to slow the game down.
Kovacs, interviewed by The World-Herald this week, understands what it may have looked like. But he was injured. He had recently suffered an MCL sprain, and that was his first game without a brace, Kovacs said.
“I was thinking about hobbling off the field, but that makes it difficult to get the right personnel on the field,” Kovacs said. “I wanted to keep playing on it, but I ended up going out.”
As for the quick-moving NU offense, Kovacs thinks he and his teammates will be ready Saturday.
“(The coaches) do a good job of getting the play in as fast as (they) can,” Kovacs said. “You just have to get aligned, read your keys and digest the play.”
— Rich Kaipust, Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon