Husker notes: Bye week will help Huskers with injuries; Diaco says defense will learn and more

Nebraska's Patrick O'Brien looks for a receiver during the final offensive drive in the fourth quarter.

LINCOLN — Nebraska needs a bye week to shore up its injury situation at safety, coach Mike Riley said after the game.

Riley said he’d held out hope that safeties Aaron Williams (neck) and Antonio Reed (knee) might play this week, but they both missed the game. In their place: Dicaprio Bootle, normally a cornerback, who played safety in part, Riley said, because NU thought it might need help in man-to-man coverage on the back end.

“I think that in this game with what we were going to have to do with the interior stuff, tracking the quarterback, zone-read stuff, that the man-to-man, we thought putting the guy that was a little more used to playing man-to-man coverage in there more often, which we thought we might would have to do more of, would be better than putting a pure free safety type player,” Riley said.

Bootle struggled, picking up two pass interference penalties — both of them probably prevented touchdowns — and giving up a 31-yard score in the second quarter.

Riley said safety Joshua Kalu also reinjured his hamstring. He was replaced later in the game by Kieron Williams. Marquel Dismuke also saw some time at safety. They combined for 11 tackles.

Diaco says defense will learn

NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco combined to use the words “disappointing” and “miserable” perhaps a dozen times during his nine-minute postgame interview session with media members.

But as much as he lamented the 633 total yards allowed and the eight straight touchdowns given up to start the game, he also said he saw a group of young players who will be better for the experience.

“That might not make everybody happy — I’m sure it doesn’t,” Diaco said. “But it doesn’t make it any less real. That’s real. These players, in a lot of instances, are learning how to play on the job as young players and they’re doing a good job. And they’re definitely trying as hard as they possibly can.

“They’re wonderful young men and it means a great deal to them and they’re working very hard. And then in game, there are some moments of very youthful, inexperienced play. When you play against great teams, that’s typically — at least it looks — that it’s always at the point of attack because they’re going to find the vulnerability.”

O’Brien makes most of snaps

It was garbage time, but it was a productive time for Nebraska quarterback Patrick O’Brien.

Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said he was mostly pleased with his backup’s minutes at the end of Nebraska’s loss. O’Brien has now come in to close out Nebraska’s two blowout losses. The redshirt sophomore was 4 for 9 for 46 yards and one interception.

Langsdorf’s main takeaway: the offense runs well under O’Brien. No big hiccups, besides a false start.

“He’s showing that he can move the ball around,” Langsdorf said. “I think he’s done a nice job of going in there and running our plays. It hasn’t looked difficult for him.”

How would you grade Nebraska's overall performance against Ohio State?

The Huskers lost to the Buckeyes 56-14 on Saturday. How would you grade NU's overall performance?

You voted: