This could (and probably will) change by next week, but defensive coordinator John Papuchis provided a detailed update of the Huskers’ starting lineup after practice Tuesday.
We won’t waste time. Here’s the good stuff, courtesy of Papuchis…
>> Defensive end Jason Ankrah and defensive tackle Thad Randle are starters (you knew that). Redshirt freshman Avery Moss and sophomore Randy Gregory are still battling out for the other top D-end job. And if the game were today, Papuchis said, the fourth lineman would be redshirt freshman Vincent Valentine — who’s apparently better conditioned (what used to be his biggest obstacle).
>> Sophomore David Santos is settled in as the top middle linebacker in the nickel and dime formations. Junior Zaire Anderson, freshman Nathan Gerry and senior Mo Seisay are the three players taking reps at the dime back position.
>> At safety, nothing’s certain yet, Papuchis said. But he expects to see junior Corey Cooper, junior Harvey Jackson and senior Andrew Green out on the field a lot Saturday. Sophomore Charles Jackson is in the group behind that trio.
>> Senior Ciante Evans (who’ll likely play the nickel back spot all game long Saturday), senior Stanley Jean-Baptiste and junior Josh Mitchell are the top cornerbacks. Papuchis did mention sophomore Daniel Davie as a guy who’s made a jump over the last week.
The multiple-receiver formations that Wyoming will utilize out of a spread offensive scheme will test Nebraska in Game One, according to Papuchis. Lots of different quarterback runs, too.
Said Papuchis: “They’re good up front, they understand their blocking schemes and how to adjust it to different looks. They spread the field well. They create space. And I think the passing game and the run game marry up pretty well.”
He’s eager to see how his players respond.
Other notes from the second practice of the week are below…
>> Anderson said after practice that he’s able to play without worrying about his knee. He tore his ACL last fall. And even though that knee will get sore every now and then, Anderson doesn’t feel limited by it.
>> A walk-on to watch Saturday? Sophomore receiver Sam Burtch, who’s made so many improvements that he’s worked his way into the rotation, according to junior Jamal Turner. At this point, when NU goes four-wide, Burtch is the first guy off the bench. Why? “His blocking is ridiculous,” Turner said. “How he approaches practice, the energy he brings. He’s a really, really good wide receiver.”
>> By the way, Turner said he can’t throw a football anymore. Then he busted out laughing. The former high school quarterback moved to receiver as a freshman. Back then, he was taking a couple snaps in practice, just in case. Not anymore. Turner isn’t afraid to admit it: He’s better off at receiver.
>> In terms of game prep, Papuchis said the Huskers are a bit ahead of their normal mid-week schedule. That’s typical, though. The coaches end up using the final days of preseason camp to get a head start installing the game plan for the season’s first opponent.
Listen: Defensive coordinator John Papuchis discusses NU’s preparations for the Wyoming game after Tuesday’s practice: