LINCOLN — Randy Gregory said Tuesday that he didn't envision himself leading the Big Ten in sacks and tackles for losses, and the sophomore Nebraska defensive end called it humbling to be there.
Now he wants to add to the totals.
“I'm never satisfied with what I have, what I'm doing,” Gregory said, “so I'm only going to take this and try to get better.”
The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder from Fishers, Ind., had three sacks at Michigan to push his season total to 7Ĺ. He has 12Ĺ tackles for loss.
After he started his Husker career with three games without a sack, the junior college transfer joked about being referred to as “the sackless wonder.” That tag didn't last long. But it got plenty of use.
“It was everybody,” Gregory said, laughing. “It was everyone from the equipment managers to everyone on the team to friends that heard it from reporters and stuff like that. It was all fun and games. But I'm glad I'm at where I'm at now.”
Pelini: Spartan defense 'for real'
NU coach Bo Pelini said the “results speak for themselves” with a Michigan State defense that ranks at or near the top in every statistical category nationally.
“When you're up there as high as they are in all the categories they're in, they're as good as it comes,” Pelini said. “They've earned it. It's not like any preseason hype or anything like that. This is for real. They do it week after week.”
Michigan State ranks No. 1 in rushing defense (43.4 yards per game), total defense (210.2) and pass efficiency defense (90.29 ranking).
Offense embraces test
Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck's little smile told plenty about the Nebraska offense's enthusiasm for a big tilt against Michigan State's top-rated defense.
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Beck was asked several times about the Spartans' swarming, well-coached unit being an intimidating bunch, and Beck finally responded with this:
“Maybe our guys relish playing them,” Beck said. “Maybe they enjoy it. There's a lot of people who have mentioned to me, 'Are they intimidated?' or 'Is there a fear factor?' because they're good. Maybe our guys like playing them.”
Cotton may play Saturday
Guard Jake Cotton (sprained MCL) practiced Tuesday and still has a chance to play Saturday against the Spartans.
Wide receiver Kenny Bell practiced Tuesday, too. Tackle Jeremiah Sirles (sprained MCL) did not practice, nor did wide receiver Jamal Turner (calf).
Late verdict for Rose
It wasn't until the team arrived at Michigan Stadium on Saturday that middle linebacker Michael Rose found out he was starting his second straight game.
The seats were empty and Rose was walking around the field, getting a feel for the venue. That's when linebacker coach Ross Els came up to him and told him the Huskers' plan. At the team hotel earlier that day, Els had told Rose and freshman Josh Banderas that he planned to talk with coach Bo Pelini about the lineup.
It doesn't usually work like that, Rose said. Fellow starting linebackers Zaire Anderson and David Santos knew all week they'd be starters.
But Rose and Banderas didn't mind the uncertainty, Rose said. They've embraced the competition all year.
“I think we put more pressure on each other to make sure, if one of us goes down, that we're ready to go regardless,” Rose said.
Bad memory for Jean-Baptiste
Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste didn't need Tuesday's film session to remember the 46-yard touchdown pass that Michigan State completed against Nebraska last year.
Jean-Baptiste just missed getting a hand on the ball before receiver Tony Lippett corralled it in the second quarter.
During position meetings on Tuesday, the Husker defensive backs watched that play and several others from last season's 28-24 win against the Spartans — just to analyze a few strategies MSU used against them, Jean-Baptiste said. That particular play is ingrained in Jean-Baptiste's mind, though.
“I don't ever forget about it,” he said. “I messed up on that. I tried to let it fall in my hands instead of trying to go get it.”
Reserve tight end gets DUI
Nebraska redshirt freshman tight end Trey Foster was cited Sunday morning for driving under the influence and minor in possession of alcohol.
Foster, 19, was pulled over at 2 a.m. Sunday by the Nebraska State Patrol on West O Street in Lincoln for speeding 45 mph in a 40 mph hour zone, according to a State Patrol spokeswoman. According to a report, the State Patrol officer smelled alcohol on Foster's breath, cited him for DUI and MIP and placed him in detox.
A Lincoln Southeast graduate, Foster has one catch for nine yards this season.
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