Fergusons work ethic prepares him for potential action
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[rl]Nebraska's depth at the linebacker position was thin coming into fall camp, and a couple of minor injuries have further lessened their numbers for the last few practices.
The MIKE position has taken the biggest hit recently. Josh Banderas sat out Tuesday's practice with a pulled groin muscle and is day-to-day moving forward, while backup Chris Weber has missed most of fall camp with an undisclosed injury (he returned in a limited capacity Tuesday).
That left true freshman Tyrin Ferguson taking the majority of the reps with the top unit in recent practices and though he's not a finished product, fellow linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey said his preparation has him ready if called upon.
"Tyrin has given the whole linebacker room a lot of confidence," Rose-Ivey said. "For a freshman, I couldn't give him any more credit. He came in and really separated himself from the rest of his class in a good way. I'm not saying those guys weren't doing that, but you could just see it - there was something different about Tyrin. He's got the kind of work ethic Stanley (Morgan) has, and those two guys set the tone for the freshman class as far as work ethic."
It's highly unlike that Ferguson will be called upon to man the middle of the Huskers' defense for the opener next Saturday against BYU. Banderas' injury isn't considered serious and he'll likely be back at practice any day now, and Weber is clearly progressing and getting healthier.
But their absences at practice are a reminder of how quickly injuries can crop up and drastically reshape the outlook of a situation. All a reserve can do is best prepare himself to be available if the call comes, and Ferguson has reportedly done just that.
"Tyrin was able to come in here and add some weight and, more importantly, he was able to learn the scheme pretty fast," Rose-Ivey said. "(Linebackers) coach (Trent) Bray has opened up more things for him and Tyrin put in great effort. Hopefully he'll be able to excel on special teams and if we need him he can come in and play MIKE for us."
Mike Riley named Ferguson as one of the seven true freshmen that will see the field this season, though he figures to be used mostly on special teams. As quickly as he's picked up the scheme, asking a true freshman to be the quarterback of the defense is a tall order and one that Nebraska wouldn't ask of Ferguson unless absolutely necessary.
For the record, Rose-Ivey said that freshman Dedrick Young would likely be the team's No. 4 MIKE linebacker if injuries removed the first three from a game. Rose-Ivey has played MIKE in the past, but when asked if he could move back to the position in case of injuries, he said that was highly unlikely.
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