LINCOLN — Secondary coach Terry Joseph said Tuesday that the plan for Saturday's game is to continue to split reps between junior Harvey Jackson and senior Andrew Green at safety next to junior Corey Cooper.
Jackson and Green rotated at one safety spot during the season opener against Wyoming, while Cooper played the entire game.
All three safeties met Joseph's expectations but still have plenty to work on, starting with communication, both before and during the play.
“There were some situations in pass coverage where there wasn't enough communication to realize where help was at,” Joseph said. “That's the biggest thing back there.”
Joseph mentioned a play on Wyoming's first drive, when Cooper broke up a pass on third down. That might have been an interception had there been better communication, Joseph said.
And it's not necessarily being louder or more forceful with the calls, Cooper said. He made it sound like a confidence issue, something that can be gained through experience.
“It's being able to make adjustments on the fly,” Cooper said. “When you get caught off guard, it's applying your rules. If we're all on the same page, it doesn't matter. It's being comfortable when you see something you haven't seen before.”
Cotton: Expect more targets for tight end group in future
After Nebraska tight ends caught 48 passes last season, some eyes might have been on that unit Saturday night to see how it fared without Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed.
The fact that there was only one target in the passing game, NU assistant coach Barney Cotton said, probably wasn't an accurate read of what's to come.
“What happened in that second half is we went to a ball-control offense,” Cotton said. “And the biggest thing in a ball-control game is you eliminate a lot of guys' (receiving) chances.”
The lone reception by a Husker tight end in the 37-34 win over Wyoming was a 26-yarder by Jake Long on a pass intended for Quincy Enunwa that skipped off his hands. Long had another opportunity but couldn't pull in a Taylor Martinez pass.
Long played around 50 snaps after the senior was limited for most of preseason practice with an injury. It was a higher number than planned but dictated by the amount of two-tight end sets in the second half.
“You could tell Jake was a little bit rusty,” Cotton said. “I know he has better football in him.”
Cotton said true freshman Cethan Carter played 38 snaps and redshirt freshman Trey Foster 16.
“Once both settled down, got in a flow, they played better,” Cotton said.
Carter was not targeted in the passing game, but Cotton said he has Martinez's trust with his work through the summer and preseason camp.
It's hard to say if the receiving number increases this week or next, Cotton said, but he expects the tight ends to be better each week. It appears likely the group will be without redshirt freshman Sam Cotton again this week.
“We'll see a big jump,” Barney Cotton said. “I'm not disappointed, but we've got to see big improvement.”
Southern Miss assistant has faced Huskers before
The Southern Mississippi returnees from the 2012 team won't be the only Eagles that have played before in Memorial Stadium.
Southern Miss first-year offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo was a San Jose State sophomore quarterback starting the season opener in 2000, when the Spartans lost 49-13 to No. 1-ranked Nebraska.
Arroyo completed 10 of 23 passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. That was against a Husker defense starting four future NFL draft picks and coming off a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl win over Tennessee to finish 1999.
Arroyo came to Southern Miss from California, where he was the quarterbacks coach in 2011 and added duties as passing game coordinator in 2012. Current Eagles quarterback Allan Bridgford played under Arroyo at Cal.
“I think he's a really good and up-and-coming coach,” Bridgford said Wednesday. “I feel like he'll be a guy 10 years from now that you see being a head coach somewhere in a top program. I can't say enough good things about the guy with how hard he works, how detailed he is and just what a great teacher of the position.”
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