LINCOLN — Even if some Maryland fans aren't thrilled with the Terrapins' move to the Big Ten, Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis isn't complaining.
A native of Gaithersburg, Md., and a self-described “Maryland hoop fan,” Papuchis said the Terps' switch to Nebraska's league might give him a shot of coaching in front of friends and family, most of whom still live in the area.
But Papuchis — who served as the Huskers' recruiting coordinator in 2011 — also said the move could help Nebraska's recruiting.
“I have some pretty good inroads — a couple guys on our staff do also — but the drawback was always guys not having the opportunity to play in front of friends and family,” Papuchis said. “So from a recruiting perspective, it'll be good.”
Papuchis said he can understand why Maryland fans — confronted with a sudden move away from traditional rivals — might be frustrated by the switch from the ACC and traditional basketball rivals. Maryland views itself, Papuchis said, as a basketball school.
But some of the traditional rivalries, Papuchis said, had already been watered down by ACC expansion anyway.
“College athletics is changing, and they see how it's changing,” Papuchis said of Maryland's leadership. “And Maryland's trying to get ahead of it.”
Burkhead '50-50' for Iowa
Coach Bo Pelini said senior I-back Rex Burkhead is “50-50” for Friday's game against Iowa.
Burkhead, recovering from sprained knee ligaments, suited up for NU's 38-14 win over Minnesota on Saturday but did not play. He practiced last week and will participate in workouts this week, too.
Burkhead hasn't played since leaving in the first quarter of Nebraska's 29-28 victory at Northwestern on Oct. 20.
Abdullah OK with nickname
Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah smiled and shook his head Monday when asked about his new nickname “Mighty Mouse,” given to him by coach Ron Brown. It's not the first time Abdullah been slapped with the cartoon moniker. It seems that a former high school coach of Abdullah's called the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder the same name.
“It's OK, I guess,” Abdullah said. “I'm not big on nicknames at all, but Coach Brown, yeah, he has a lot of nicknames for everybody, not just me. ... Mighty Mouse, you've seen the cartoons. He was a really courageous person, he beat all odds. If (Brown) thinks that highly of me, I appreciate it.”
Iowa defense a new challenge
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn't talk with reporters after Nebraska's 38-14 win over Minnesota, so he took a brief opportunity to assess the Huskers' play after practice Monday.
“We were good enough,” Beck said. “Early, we played pretty well. We were pretty sloppy in the second half though.”
Beck said the Gophers' pack-the-box-and-blitz defense dictated that Nebraska throw to its receivers, who enjoyed one-on-one matchups on Minnesota corners.
Iowa's defense — a bend-don't-break scheme that plays zone pass defense — is an entirely different challenge.
“They play a system their guys know and they're good at what they do,” Beck said. “... I don't think they're gonna try to trick you. I don't think they're going to try to do something unique or different that maybe we haven't seen.”