LINCOLN — Senior right tackle David Knevel sat out Nebraska’s practice Tuesday with a walking boot on his right foot. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Matt Farniok was still drilling after most players had left the field.
But NU offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said to expect the same five starters from last week’s opener. The coach called the injury “a little sprain,” and responded “yes” when asked if the boot was precautionary.
Farniok didn’t speak to reporters afterward — he had to go to class — but Cavanaugh had plenty of praise for the 6-foot-6, 315-pound former three-star recruit from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“I’m excited about Matt. … Probably eventually he could be a really good inside guy,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re repping him at tackle, we’re repping him at guard, we’re repping him at center, too. So he’s one of those versatile guys. He’s kind like (center) Cole (Conrad) — he’s smart. He’s a good athlete. He just has to continue to work his craft and he will do that.”
The coach said left tackle Nick Gates graded out the highest from Saturday followed by left guard Jerald Foster, calling the two “neck and neck.” He said Farniok played three snaps Saturday and continues to show a toughness that translates well to the college game.
“I think Matt’s really growing,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s done a really good job with development. He’s a tough guy. He loves football. He’s a smart guy. He’ll compete like crazy. He goes so hard every day, I mean, he’s exhausted at the end of the day. He’s a hustler. He’s just everything that you’re looking for and it’s fun to see.”
Offense wants to finish
“We needed a first down.”
Had Nebraska been able to get one of those on its final series of Saturday night’s win over Arkansas State, perhaps the Huskers walk out of Memorial Stadium breathing easier, instead of sweating out a 43-36 win that came down to the final play.
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, the author of the above quote, wasn’t pleased with Nebraska’s final two series of the game, both of which ended in punts.
“We had a third-and-4 that we were in good shape on where we blow the protection,” Langsdorf said of NU’s final offensive play of the night. “We had an open route for a first down.”
Instead, Langsdorf said, quarterback Tanner Lee got chased from the pocket and threw the ball low.
“It was a good play, and it was a three-man rush,” Langsdorf said. “We got hurried on a three-man rush, which is silly with five protectors. We needed to execute better on that play.”
Langsdorf said NU also needs to run better late in the game to plow out third downs.
Ken Fischer ‘hanging in there’
A member of one of Nebraska football’s most famous families is “hanging in there,” an NU spokesman said Wednesday, after suffering a cardiac episode in the press box at Saturday night’s Husker football game.
Ken Fischer, one of four Fischer brothers to play at NU, took ill in the first quarter of the Arkansas State game. Emergency personnel tended to him in the press box and he was taken to a local hospital. Fischer was part of NU’s 1947 recruiting class, and went on to become a longtime high school head coach at Oakland-Craig before coaching at Grand Island, winning a Class A state title in 1978. He retired from Grand Island in 1991 with a 214-69-9 record, and he is a member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame. He was also a basketball official who worked several state tournaments.
Cletus, Ken, Pat and Rex Fischer all played football at Nebraska. Pat Fischer played 17 years in the NFL for the Cardinals and Redskins. Cletus was a Nebraska offensive assistant coach from 1960-1985. He died in 2000, and the Fischer Native Son Award, given annually to a Husker player from the state, is named for him. Ken Fischer has watched games in NU’s press box often; he used to watch them with Dan Young and Milt Tenopir, former Husker offensive line coaches who have since died.
» Slot receiver JD Spielman, Langsdorf said, will be crucial against Oregon’s zone pass defense.
“He’s critical in finding the hole in a zone,” Langsdorf said.
» Autzen Stadium is one of the loudest places Langsdorf has coached, he said — so loud that he had trouble hearing on the phones between the press box and the field.
“It’s unsettling,” Langsdorf said. “You really have to focus on the ball.”
» Nebraska’s practice against the 3-4 defense in training camp should make it easier to face Oregon’s 3-4 scheme, although the Ducks can run a 4-3 as well.
“They can bring four-man pressure without blitzing you, and you don’t know where it’s coming from,” Langsdorf said.
» Tight end Connor Ketter got a start Saturday night and played more than 50 snaps. In the spring, after back surgery, the senior from Norfolk Catholic wasn’t sure he’d ever play again. It wasn’t until two weeks into training camp that Ketter felt confident he’d be OK.
Nebraska at Oregon
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene
Radio: 103.1 FM