Lincoln, Neb. - The Nebraska football team continued preparations for Arkansas State on Thursday, practicing for 90 minutes in the Hawks Championship Center and outdoors on the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Field. The Huskers wore jerseys and shorts during their second-to-last workout before facing the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Saturday.
Head Coach Bo Pelini addressed the media following practice. Pelini acknowledged the challenge of facing a first-year head coach for the third consecutive week, but emphasized that the Huskers are prepared to adjust.
"We saw what they did through the first two games," Pelini said. "I have a little bit of history with him (Gus Malzahn), and I also know what he did while he was at Auburn. It's a little bit of a mix-and-match of all those things. We're just going to have to wait and see what they do against us. I'm not really sure what we're going to see, and we're going to have to make our adjustments on the run."
Pelini also said Husker linebackers David Santos and Zaire Anderson are likely to pick up some quality playing time on Saturday if they're needed against the Arkansas State attack.
"It depends on what personnel groupings they put out there. They had a good week of practice and I think you'll see more of them. That's what we're anticipating."
When asked how much the two young linebackers had grown, Pelini said the unexpected nature of the last two games presents a challenge for younger players such as Santos and Anderson.
"(They've grown) a lot, but they have a lot way to go," Pelini said. "They're learning. It's a lot harder on guys like that to come along when you're practicing for so much and you really don't have a good idea of what you're going to see. It makes it hard on an inexperienced guy, because formationally, it gets crazy with all the motions and things we've been seeing. It's a little bit harder for them to adjust, but I think they've learned and grown a lot in the last three weeks, even though they haven't gotten a lot of game snaps. They've been preparing themselves and they'll get their opportunity on Saturday."
As for Husker running back Rex Burkhead, Pelini said his status remains in question for this Saturday's game.
"I would say right now he's doubtful," Pelini said. "Like I said, I want to make sure he's absolutely 100 percent before we put him back out there. But you know, he's chomping at the bit to get out there. We'll see how the next 48 hours play out."
The Huskers will conduct a final walk-through practice tomorrow before facing Arkansas State on Saturday. The game is slated for an 11 a.m. CDT start and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.