LINCOLN — Weighing in at 255 pounds, defensive end Cameron Meredith admits he's a little small for a defensive tackle. But he's enjoying his playing time on the interior of Nebraska's D-line.
Despite the fact that sophomore Chase Rome played and redshirt freshman Kevin Williams was available for the 23-9 win over Michigan last weekend, Meredith estimated that he lined up at defensive tackle on about 80 percent of his snaps.
There could be a similar type of distribution Saturday at Michigan State. Meredith doesn't mind, saying this week that he just wants to play.
Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski said he intends to get the best four linemen on the field as often as possible. Meredith's been physical enough in the run game and has used his quickness to maneuver around blockers against the pass, Kaczenski said.
“Some of the best players I've ever coached have been smaller guys,” Kaczenski said.
Spartans' Gholston is tough to escape
If Nebraska's offense structures its play calls the way it did last year against Michigan State, junior defensive end William Gholston may have to chase ball carriers down from behind again.
Gholston finished last year's 24-3 Nebraska win with 15 total tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage.
But NU offensive line coach Barney Cotton said Gholston often lined up on the weakside of the Huskers' formations, away from the NU tight ends. Most of Nebraska's plays went away from him.
“Because of the sets we ran, he got a whole lot of plays on the backside — because he can really run,” Cotton said. “We weren't running at him or away from him. Our game plan isn't based on where he's at. But he grabbed guys down from the backside a lot.”
Marrow may miss Saturday's game
Nebraska could be without one of its fullbacks for Saturday's game at Michigan State.
Junior Mike Marrow has missed some practice time after suffering a knee injury against Michigan. The severity is unknown, but running backs coach Ron Brown doesn't expect the injury to end Marrow's season.
Coach Bo Pelini typically addresses a player's game status on Thursday.
If Marrow can't go Saturday, it would mean more in-game reps for junior C.J. Zimmerer and true freshman Andy Janovich. Zimmerer played an “outstanding game” against Michigan, Brown said.
“I think we've come a long way so far this season at the fullback spot,” Brown said. “We were very green and very raw when we started off the season. They're starting to find their way around pretty well now.”
Ciante's spot may be cornerback
It depends on the formations utilized by Michigan State's offense, but junior Ciante Evans will likely see a decreased role as Nebraska's nickel back.
If the Spartans aren't lining up with three wide receivers, then Evans' nickel spot is transformed into a linebacker position — forcing Evans to the bench.
But secondary coach Terry Joseph said Evans takes practice reps at cornerback every week and could play some on the outside Saturday.
“I think he's smart enough and comfortable enough to go out there and play,” Joseph said.
Spartan receivers impress Joseph
Running back Le'Veon Bell may be the poster boy of Michigan State's offense, but Joseph went out of his way to compliment the Spartans' diverse passing attack Wednesday.
Sophomore Keith Mumphery, who leads the team in receptions with 32, regularly catches the ball in space and might be the most dangerous of the Spartan receivers, Joseph said.
But five other MSU players have at least 21 receptions, including Bell and tight end Dion Sims.
“It will be one of those games where everybody has to be responsible for their coverage — corners, linebackers, safeties — because all of these guys can get out in routes,” Joseph said.
— Jon Nyatawa
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