Randy Gregory celebrates after a play vs. Michigan
Photo by Aaron Babcock/Hail Varsity

Blackshirts Look to Shut Down Spartans

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln, Neb.-  The Nebraska football team continued its week of preparation for Saturday’s Big Ten conference showdown with Michigan State on Wednesday afternoon. The team practiced in helmets and shoulder pads for just over two hours inside the Hawks Center and outside at the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Fields.

Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis addressed the media after practice, noting even though Michigan State is known for its nation-leading defense, their offense is still a huge threat for the Nebraska defense.

 “I think they are a physical group. That has always been a trademark of who they are.” Papuchis said, “I like their young quarterback (Connor Cook), I think he does a good job. I think he has a strong arm and throws the outside throws really well.”

An Ohio native, Cook is the man under center for Michigan State. The sophomore first-year starter has been making Papuchis lose sleep at night, as Papuchis mentioned, he is deceptively athletic. 

“There is not a lot of quarterback designed runs, but there is some. He is a good athlete.” Papuchis said, “I don’t know if that is a huge part in what he tries to do, but if he gets out and runs, he is a good athlete.”

Even though Cook may not be the most mobile quarterback in the country, he does present a lot of challenges to the Blackshirt defense. A main concern for the Husker defense is trying to take the ball away from Michigan State’s offense, especially Cook, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns with only three interceptions. According to Papuchis, forcing turnovers this weekend will be vital for the Huskers to succeed. 

“We’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities. He hasn’t made a lot of bad decisions with the ball and hopefully we get enough pressure on him that guys are getting up in his face.” Papuchis said, “We are going to need some takeaways this game.”

Nebraska will hit the practice field again on Thursday as the team moves closer to its sixth conference game of the season. The Huskers will host the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC. Check back here at Huskers.com for updates.


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