Published Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm / Updated at 10:34 pm
FOOTBALL
Notes: Illini's versatility gives NU defenders plenty to ponder
Illinois at Nebraska
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln
TV: ESPNU
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

LINCOLN — Nebraska's coaches think the Illinois offense can do it all.

Under center or out of the shotgun. Finesse or power game. Sideline to sideline or between the tackles. Short passes or deep throws.

The versatility makes the Illini difficult to prepare for — not to mention the fact that the Huskers are certain they'll see some new strategy saved specifically for them.

“One of the things that's common throughout their four games is they have a different wrinkle for that particular week,” defensive coordinator John Papuchis said. “I'm sure they're going to have something for us. And we're going to have to be able to adjust to it.”

But there's also the potential for problems even when Illinois is running the plays that Nebraska expects to see during Saturday's Big Ten opener.

NU anticipates an up-tempo pace from the Illini, who can rotate about a dozen skill players while mixing and matching looks based on what they see from the Huskers.

Assistant coach Rick Kaczenski called it “personneling you to death.”

What does that mean for Husker players? They'd better be locked in mentally Saturday, according to Kaczenski.

“(They're good at) getting a bunch of guys out there and giving you a ton of formations and forcing you to get lined up,” he said.

Just don't spend too much time analyzing everything. Said linebackers coach Ross Els: “Once you're done thinking (right before the snap), you've got to be able to play and make tackles.”

4-man race at safety

As many as four players could get a chance Saturday at the safety position next to junior Corey Cooper.

Junior Harvey Jackson and senior Andrew Green have improved in practice this week, secondary coach Terry Joseph said. But it appears that sophomore Charles Jackson and redshirt freshman LeRoy Alexander have earned opportunities to play as well. Joseph mentioned all four by name when talking about the position on Wednesday.

“Until we get some production in the game,” the coach said, “it'll still be an open competition.”

Moore makes his mark

Receivers coach Rich Fisher said redshirt freshman Alonzo Moore has made the most of his increased reps in practice.

With Kenny Bell recovering from a shoulder injury last week, Moore and junior Tyler Wullenwaber have gotten more work. Both performed well, according to Fisher.

Fisher then spoke about Moore specifically. “Alonzo is really, really coming on,” Fisher said. “He's doing really well.”

Defensive end Avery Moss has bench trial set

Defensive end Avery Moss, facing charges of public indecency and disturbing the peace, appeared in Lancaster County Court Wednesday afternoon to set a bench trial for Nov. 19.

Moss, 19, initially missed his 2 p.m. hearing Wednesday, but he arrived about 90 minutes later to withdraw a motion to suppress evidence and extend the proceedings into November. He's also charged with failing to appear in court.

Moss has pleaded not guilty to all three charges, which stem from a December incident in which he was accused of exposing himself to a female student employee at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln residence hall convenience store.

The redshirt freshman from Tempe, Ariz., leads the Huskers with 2Ĺ sacks this year. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder has also started one game.

Quick hits

Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez did not suit up for practice Wednesday. ... At linebacker, Els said, sophomore David Santos (middle) and junior Zaire Anderson (weakside) are the expected starters for Saturday's game.

* * *

Video: The Big Ten Preview Show, Oct. 2



Video: The Big Red Today Show, Oct. 1

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

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

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