Lincoln, Neb. - The
Nebraska football team continued its week of preparation for Saturday's Big Ten
Conference Championship showdown against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday.
The team practiced in shoulder pads and helmets for just less than two
hours inside the Hawks Championship Center.
Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis addressed the media
after practice, focusing on Wisconsin's powerful run game that the Blackshirts
held to a meager 56 yards in the Husker victory over the Badgers on September
"Sometimes rushing statistics are a
little out of whack because of sacks and tackles for loss, but I thought we did
a pretty good job against the run last time," Papuchis said. "We have a tremendous
amount of respect for what they do in the running game. Obviously, it starts
with Montee Ball and we know what he's all about, but he's not the only good
back on their team. We've got to be prepared to stop the run on Saturday."
is coming off a 111-yard performance against Penn State in which he set the
record for the most career touchdowns in NCAA history at 79 with his 17-yard
score in the first quarter. The Badger running back had 93 yards and three
touchdowns in the September loss to Nebraska. However, with so much attention
on the running game, Papuchis also mentioned the threat of the play-action pass.
the running game that sets up the play-action pass," Papuchis said. "You get
guys cheating down and committing against the run. Not only that, but Abbrederis
does a great job with his double moves and making his run and pass releases
look very similar."
receiver Jared Abbrederis had 142 receiving yards and a touchdown against the
Huskers in their previous meeting, and he'll definitely get a lot of attention from
the Blackshirts on Saturday. However, Nebraska will be seeing a new quarterback, as fifth-year senior Curt Phillips will be making his fourth start
in place of injured starter Joel Stave. On Tuesday, Papuchis commented on what
Phillips brings to the Badger offense.
"I think he fits well into their
system and what they try to get done," Papuchis said. "As a fifth-year senior,
he's been around for a while, so I think he understands their scheme and what
they are trying to accomplish. I think he's a good athlete. A couple times he
has gotten out in designed quarterback runs as well as with scrambles. He has a
good arm and he's a good player. I don't know all of his history, but in the
last four or five games he's played well."
also made note of how the loss of senior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler
will be handled in preparation for Saturday's Big Ten Championship game against
a very physical Wisconsin offensive line.
not having Baker is disappointing for him and for us, but we feel very good
about the guys we have on our team up front," Papuchis said. "It's not necessarily
going to be one guy who steps in and solely fills the role for Baker. I think
it's going to be more of a group effort and that's why we practice the way we
practice. All of our guys get a lot of reps, and when their opportunities come
they need to be ready. For some guys those opportunities are going to show up
more on Saturday."
Check back here at Huskers.com as the Nebraska football
team continues to prepare for its Saturday showdown against the Wisconsin
Badgers. Kickoff between the Huskers and Badgers will be nationally televised
on Fox at 7 p.m.