Lincoln, Neb. — The Nebraska football team worked out in full pads for two hours on Wednesday inside the Hawks Championship Center and outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Fields.
Offensive Coordinator Troy Walters addressed the media following the conclusion of practice to talk about Illinois’ pass rush and what he’s seen from them on tape.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Walters said. “They want to cause disruption. They get after it upfront. They don’t do a whole lot in the back end, but they’re really disruptive, they twist, they move a lot upfront. So we’ve got our hands full. I think if we do a good job of protecting Adrian [Martinez] and giving him a clean pocket, there are throws to be made but they present a challenge in terms of protecting and keeping him clean.”
Walters went on to discuss if the offense is beginning to look like what he and his staff have envisioned.
“Yeah we’re getting better each week,” he said. “Week two, we were better than we were week one, week three we were better than week two. So we’ve got to take the next step this week. We can’t turn the ball over. One is too many. We need to make sure we have ball security. We need to finish drives better with our kicking situation as it is. We have to score touchdowns. Special teams did a great job of creating good field position, the defense is doing a good job of getting turnovers and giving us good field position. We’ve got to finish better and that’s one of the things we stressed and we worked on this week.”
Walters also said he would like to get more receivers involved in the passing game and what goes into the decisions to play more guys at the receiver position.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Walters said. “Trust, putting them out there, understanding that they’re going to make a play. Adrian going through his progression. Early on [last Saturday] we wanted to get Kanawai [Noa] a reception so the second or third or fourth play we had him run a quick out and he was a primary target so it was good to get the ball in his hands.
“All those guys worked hard in practice. They did again this week so we have to keep guys fresh, keep guys healthy. It’s going to be a long season so I have to have trust in those guys that when their number is called they’re going to make a play. So you will see a similar rotation. I want guys to play fast so it may be three plays and you’re out, but those three plays you better be going 100 percent full speed and not leaving anything on the table.”
Walters finished by talking how much pride he takes in the offense not committing a penalty against Northern Illinois.
“Great pride. Tremendous pride,” he said. “This offense, if we execute and guys are on the same page and we’re playing fast with fundamentals and details, not beating ourselves, then we’re pretty good. That’s a good sign with no penalties, and we have to continue on the road. We’ve had a great week of practice and penalties are big on the road. If you get behind the chains on the road it’s tough to win so we have to continue that momentum. Be a disciplined team and not create those penalties and also not turn the ball over.”
The Huskers finish preparations for Illinois with another practice on Thursday, followed by a light practice on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast on KBBN 95.3 FM with coverage on the Husker Sports Network beginning at 5pm.