LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said his team went a little “back and forth” in its practice progress this week, but the Huskers ended on a strong note with their best workout Thursday.
“What I saw was the sharpest day today,” Pelini said. “I saw the game plan come together. We threw a lot at them early in the week and I kinda liked the way it all worked. Then we pared down as the week went on. I think they're more comfortable. We'll put it to the test on Saturday.”
One area of concern NU had heading out of its 37-34 win over Wyoming revolved around how well certain defenders — like middle linebacker David Santos — could translate sideline calls from Pelini and defensive coordinator John Papuchis to the rest of the unit with 91,000 fans inside Memorial Stadium making noise. Pelini said defenders made strides toward improving it, but not enough to satisfy him.
“Their understanding grows by the day, by the practice, by the period, by the rep,” Pelini said. “That's what it has to be. There's one thing about going out there and understanding the defenses and all that, but having to make adjustments within a gameplan according to your opponents and things, that's part of the process. Especially the young guys are starting to understand.
“I was concerned last night. ... I mean, I lay awake half the time thinking about different things we're doing defensively, and the young guys on either side of the football. But you keep making progress, keep working with them, and I'm seeing the light start to come on. And that's fun to watch.”
Mixing up the defense
Pelini won't back away from playing a number of combinations on defense, especially on the line, which will have to contend with predicted 100-degree temps at kickoff.
Look for two more linebackers — redshirt freshman Michael Rose and junior Zaire Anderson — to play more. Pelini praised both Thursday, along with true freshman Josh Banderas, who played against Wyoming.
“Michael Rose had an excellent week of practice, as did Josh Banderas,” Pelini said. “Zaire Anderson — he worked his tail off this week. That's one thing about what we have going right now — we have really good competition. And that can only make you better.”
Offensive line pleases Pelini
NU's offensive line had a good week in practice, Pelini said. Both Pelini and main offensive line coach John Garrison said earlier in the week that the line struggled to finish blocks when Wyoming appeared ready to tire.
The offense as a whole, Pelini said, faced a lot of formations in practice because Southern Miss hasn't necessarily shown everything it can do on defense on tape yet.
“The week started off a little slower than you'd like, but I thought it picked up and it finished up very well today,” Pelini said. “I feel good where our offense is headed into the game.
Two prospects coming to town
The Huskers will host two official visitors this weekend: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas running Madre London and Houston Alief Taylor defensive back Joshua Kalu.
London, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound, three-star prospect according to all four major recruiting services, takes his first official visit this weekend. He has visits scheduled to Wisconsin Sept. 21 and Michigan State in October. St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the nation's top high school football programs, recently producing Cincinnati Bengals running back Gio Bernard and current Iowa starting quarterback Jake Rudock.
London posted on his Twitter feed: “This is my first official visit to the University of Nebraska tomorrow, and I'm so excited. Man hard work pays off you get what you put in.”
Kalu, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound, three-star prospect, had intended to attend NU's Big Red Weekend in June but wasn't able to arrange the travel. He'll now take his official visit. The Huskers are Kalu's highest-profile offer.
Enunwa excited by zone read
Senior receiver Quincy Enunwa hopes his first in-game experience with the zone read option won't be his last.
In the first half against Wyoming, Enunwa motioned from his receiver position to a running back spot before the snap. He then executed the zone read exchange with Taylor Martinez, but the quarterback held on to the football — instead of handing it off to Enunwa — and gained 10 yards on the play.
Enunwa said his technique was a little off. But he's glad that the coaches continue to experiment with alternative ways to utilize skill players.
“We're throwing around different things, trying to put more dimensions in our game,” Enunwa said. “When you do more things like that, with the rest of our wide receivers, the rest of our running backs, it will be harder for guys to game plan against us.”
Linebacker Jared Afalava will not play Saturday, nor will tight end Sam Cotton. Every other major contributor, Pelini said, should be good to go.