Valentine doubtful with ankle injury
Nebraska's defense will get back two starters who sat out last week's game with injuries but may lose another to an ankle ailment.
Linebackers Josh Banderas (groin) and Dedrick Young (toe infection) should return to the starting lineup at Miami, coach Mike Riley said Thursday. Banderas practiced Wednesday and appears "good to go," Riley said, while Young's infection was not supposed to keep him out more than the 48-9 win over South Alabama.
However, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine has an ankle injury that may keep him from playing Saturday.
"He hasn't done a lot this week with that ankle," Riley said of Valentine. "I'm still holding out hope he'll be able to do some stuff in the ballgame. Right now, I don't think so."
Valentine's replacement will most likely be senior Kevin Williams. Junior Kevin Maurice will rotate in a lot, as well. Both have played plenty of snaps in the first two games because defensive line coach Hank Hughes believes in rotating his linemen often.
"They're good," Riley said of Williams and Maurice. "The starters and the backups at that position — they're all kind of starters to me. They can all play, and we can count on them."
Bits and pieces
To prepare for the heat, humidity and forecast rain for Saturday's game, Riley had the players conducting wet ball drills this week.
"It's just a little extra focus on what you have to do," Riley said. "I've found — unless it's just an absolute downpour — guys can handle the ball just fine, and, as a matter of fact, it helps a little bit with grip with the quarterback. It's just a little extra ball security focus."
Riley lauded Nebraska's consistency and calm in the practices before the Miami game. Riley expects the senior-heavy team to handle the situation and pressure effectively.
"We've got enough veteran players who have done this stuff — traveled, been on the road — and it's been pretty stable as we've gone through the week," Riley said. "There are not a lot of surprises. Guys are pretty much working well in practice."
Nebraska will practice in Lincoln on Friday morning before flying out in the afternoon. Riley said he used to love going to opposing team's stadiums on Fridays but preparatory events inside the stadium tend to render practicing there nearly impossible.
"It's just not worth it anymore," Riley said.
Nebraska will take 78 players to Miami. In Big Ten play, NU is allowed to take 70 players.
Safety Charles Jackson is out because of a knee injury. Punter Sam Foltz will return from a one-week hiatus because of an ankle injury.