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Lincoln, NE - Despite some of their coaching staff out on the road recruiting, the Nebraska Cornhuskers returned to the practice field on Wednesday in preparation for the Capital One Bowl on January 2nd.
At this point, Nebraska has only worked “good on good,” and will not shift their focus to the South Carolina game plan until Friday – the day Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is scheduled to return from recruiting trips.
“I like the energy and the effort. It’s just keeping them sharp,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck told reporters after practice. “That’s the biggest thing right now. I know offensively it’s all about timing and execution for us. I like the attitude and the effort. It’s been good. The guys have been able to run around. I think our workouts have been very spirited and good.”
In addition, players are dealing with semester finals – always a challenging time for a student athlete.
“We’ve got to practice. We’ve got to be ready to play. We have to continue to improve,” Beck said. “Bo will probably tell you as I will; I don’t know if we’ve played our best game or a complete game yet. That’s the goal and we’re going to have to. That’s a good football team. We have to go down there and be able to do that.”
A “complete game” on January 2nd would come at the right time. South Carolina could be Nebraska's toughest test of the year, especially on defense.
“They remind me of a Big 12 type defense: very fast, very athletic, run to the ball and are well coached,” stated Beck. “To be honest, size wise, I’m not exactly sure. I know we’ve played some big ole boys this year in Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State. They can’t be much bigger than that, at least I sure hope not. I think our team plays best against those teams. I think our team rallies and I have a lot of confidence in our guys. We have to make them worry about us. I can’t worry about them.”
“They have all kinds of speed, all over the place. I think their trainers can run...I mean they are fast.”
South Carolina’s defense gives up an average of 18.8 points per game this season and a large part of their success is due to their two pass rushing defensive ends in Melvin Ingram and Jadeite Clowney who have totaled 14.5 sacks. But Beck said that the Huskers are going to try and take advantage of what they do when it comes to game planning.
“I think you try to take advantage of what they do. They’re also going to be coached for the next month and even though they run up the field and they’re great pass rushers. Who knows against us, they might squeeze. There’s no telling,” Beck said. “We typically have to practice against all of it because we just don’t know. We’re so unique offensively with Taylor back there being the dual threat that he is and Rex the way he is, the speed of the tailbacks with some of those other guys, a big-play threat at wide receiver. And the solid play in our tight ends. I think the multiple formations and tempos, I don’t know what we’re going to get.”
* Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez suffered an ankle injury during the Iowa game, but the sophomore is “almost 100 percent” he started after practice.
* Running back Rex Burkhead is back to practicing, after taking some time to heal from minor injuries.
* Defensive end Eric Martin had no comment regarding his alleged incident over the weekend. Lincoln policed cited him for leaving the scene of an accident, after he reportedly backed his car into another in a parking lot. Martin told reporters he didn't want to talk about it, but did say he had a conversation with Bo Pelini.
* The status of senior center Mike Caputo for the Capital One Bowl game is still unknown, expect an update after Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini returns to practices on Friday. Caputo was cited by Lincoln Police for a DUI over the weekend, charges have yet to be filed.
***Parts of the NU Media Relations Release were included in this report***