Published Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:21 am
Notes: Preparing for NU defense pays off for Wyoming quarterback Smith

LINCOLN — If it looked like Brett Smith was comfortable against the Nebraska defense, there was a pretty good reason.

Turns out he was.

The Wyoming quarterback said he saw plenty out of the Blackshirts that he had prepared for entering Saturday's season opener.

His team's 602-yard output provided plenty of proof.

“I prepared so hard for this defense,” Smith said. “So coming into this game, I knew most of what they were going to do when I went out there and the receivers did as well. So basically when we saw something that they showed pre-snap, we already knew what was coming.”

Smith said he could look at safety positioning and the way Nebraska stacked the box for where blitzes and coverages would shift to.

And were the things he saw on tape the same things he saw Saturday night?

“Yes sir,” Smith responded.

Cowboys coach Dave Christensen said it more than just what Nebraska did, though.

“I think execution on our part was the primary thing,” Christensen said. “Our kids executed the plays extremely well against them. When you execute, it works.”

Christensen added that he felt the Wyoming tempo was also a factor in its success.

“We executed offensively throughout the night,” he said. “Unfortunately we turned the ball over twice in the red zone and when you throw away those opportunities in a game of this magnitude against a team like Nebraska, it's going to be difficult to win.”

Christensen enjoys first shot to call plays for Cowboys

Christensen took blame for one of those turnovers — a second-half double pass that turned into an interception.

But you couldn't blame the coach for dipping into his bag of tricks in his first night back behind the wheel of the Cowboy offense.

Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

Christensen took over play-calling duties for the first time in his four years at Wyoming. He was an offensive coordinator at Missouri before taking the job.

When asked after if it felt like old times, Christensen got a big smile on his face.

“It's fun,” he said. “I noticed I didn't have enough time to help the officials a couple times. They need some help and I was usually able to give that to them and tonight I wasn't.”

Papuchis: Too soon to judge defense's athletic improvement

Nebraska's defense lost loads of experience from 2012. The upside was supposed to be improved athleticism. Did John Papuchis see it Saturday? Too soon to say, he said.

“In some respects, you could see some of the athleticism. Nate (Gerry)'s a good athlete. (Josh) Banderas has some athleticism to him. They have a lot to learn. They're still obviously true freshmen.

“I thought Maliek Collins flashed the little bit that he played. Randy Gregory did some things, Avery Moss did some things that were positive. Corey Cooper.

“So are we better athletically than we were a year ago? It's kind of hard to tell after a game. But I think this defense has a chance to be OK. I think it has a chance to be good. I don't think that's going to be a reflection of what we're going to see on a week-to-week basis.”

Gregory still puzzled by roughing the passer penalty

Sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory was worried that he was going to get ejected after he celebrated what he thought was a third-quarter sack.

The referee, however, flagged Gregory for roughing the passer. Gregory didn't realize that initially. And even after the 37-34 win over Wyoming, he was a little perplexed.

“It happens, I guess,” said the junior college transfer, who made his Husker debut Saturday. “I've been playing since I was 7 years old. Never heard of roughing the passer when I actually sack the quarterback.”

Gregory finished with two tackles and a quarterback hurry. He said the Nebraska game day experience was a little “bigger” than he expected, but he “handled it pretty well.”

Still plenty to improve on, though.

“Just got to come back next week and work on it,” he said.

* * *

Video: NU coach Bo Pelini at the postgame press conference:

Video: NU's Quincy Enunwa at the postgame press conference:

Video: NU's Jeremiah Sirles at the postgame press conference:

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

Contact the writer: Dirk Chatelain    |   402-649-1461    |  

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments.

Contact the writer: Nick Rubek    |   402-850-0781    |  

Nick Rubek covers Nebraska football, Omaha Beef football and high school sports throughout the state, including football, wrestling and soccer.



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