Working out the kinks before ISU arrives

It probably couldn't have come at a better time. An offense struggling to move the ball and against some suspect teams, is an offense that needs a little work. That's just what the coaches and players have been doing all this off-week. According to head coach Bill Callahan, things are moving along well and the team seems to be right back on track. That's good, because in just over a week, conference play starts and if they are off track then, who knows when they are going to get back.

You have to feel fortunate to be 3-0 no matter who you are. When you are a team that ranks amongst the worst in the country in offense, if you are 3-0, you have to feel darn lucky.

 

It's doubtful the staff will admit to feeling lucky, because they have a defense that is dominating perhaps more than the offense is struggling right now.

 

The staff hit the field, meeting rooms and film room to see if they could get those kinks worked out during this off-week as they get ready to open conference play. "We reviewed the objectives today as a staff, and everything we set out to do in terms of improving ourselves fundamentally, we accomplished that," head coach Bill Callahan said. "Every drill we set up to that end, we completed."

 

That's a lot of work to get done in just a week, the Huskers trying to correct a bevy of problems that have plagued an offense that has been outscored by their cohorts on the defensive side. From a poor third down conversion rate, to completion percentage to protecting the QB, there wasn't a lack of things to do.

 

Coach Callahan realized this as did everyone else, so it was pick each aspect apart and see just how much they could fix. "We worked on a lot of third down," Callahan said. "(and) I really thought we took a step in our pass-protection today. That was positive against the pressure."

 

"That was huge and as long as we can answer the blitz question and get better against the blitz, I feel that we'll have success. But, we'll have to do a better job in that category."

 

The head coach is referring to the seven sacks given up by the offensive line thus far this year. That compares to just two given up at this point last year. In addition, Zac Taylor has been chased out of the pocket three separate times.

 

All that is a factor against whoever you play, but with 22nd ranked Iowa State Cyclones soon coming to town, there's loads of new ideas on defense to face. "They mix it up, they do a nice job," Callahan said of Iowa State utilizing blitzes along presenting a host of other problems for the offense. "They play a lot of coverages, they like to play a lot of "zone dogs". A year ago they gave us a lot of heat up there."

 

"They will mix it up externally, internally, they have a very good core of linebackers that they bring and they mix the coverages; man and zone up with it. And they will bring the perimeter blitz, the safeties or the corners, so they will bring a full repertoire."

 

"They make you play alert and they force you to pick up, so our protection will be tested."

 

The offensive line will get a little more help, redshirt freshman Lydon Murtha expected to see even more duty than he did against Pitt, Murtha taking a reported 12 snaps during the game. Over the course of practices in the last week, Murtha said that he's been trading reps with fellow left tackle Cornealius Thomas-Fuamatu, 2 reps each, alternating throughout the session.

 

On the defensive side, the team can expect a little more help as coach Callahan indicated that Zack Bowman should be ready for the Iowa State game as will linebacker Lance Brandenburgh, who's been sidelined since before the start of the season.

 

On the negative side, true freshman defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be out for an estimated two weeks, Suh having undergone arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday. While Callahan couldn't give an exact date for his return, Suh's quick recovery just hours after surgery has him optimistic. "A few hours after surgery, he was walking into the football office with no crutches," Callahan said. "So, I was optimistic after that."

 

Nebraska will take the next two days off, the players out on their own for the first time since before Fall camp began and many will be taking in the Iowa State game this weekend, as the Cyclones face Army. As for Callahan, he said he would be taking the game in and relaxing or at least, relaxing for him.

 

"Yeah, I will be relaxing……..watching film."

 

Nebraska resumes practice Sunday afternoon.

 

Make sure to check out our latest edition of Sound Bytes as we give you the FULL post-practice interview with head coach Bill Callahan, plus one-on-ones with offensive tackle - Lydon Murtha, defensive end – Jay Moore and defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith.

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