Monday nuggets: Several Blackshirts return
Here are some quick notes to pass along from Nebraska's helmets-only practice on Monday afternoon inside the Hawks Championship Center and fields north of Memorial Stadium...
***As expected, linebacker Josh Banderas (groin)], defensive tackle Kevin Williams (hand) and cornerback Daniel Davie (groin) all participated in Monday's walk-thru practice. Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey (groin) also took part in the session.
***Offensive tackle Nick Gates (ankle) did not practice and had a protective boot on his left foot. Defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun (knee) and linebacker Chris Weber (neck) also did not practice. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Weber was "real questionable" to play this week at Minnesota.
***Banker also said that while Akinmoladun has "made great progress" in his recovery from knee surgery last week, "but he's not that much of a miracle man." Banker said he doesn't expect to see Akinmoladun back for two or maybe even three weeks.
***On the positive end, Banker said Nebraska's defense getting 12 pass breakups vs. Wisconsin was a definite sign of progress for the pass defense. However, Banker said the "turnover situation has to change", meaning the Huskers have to capitalize when they get their hands on the football and create more turnovers.
***Another positive for the defense was that Banker only counted eight big plays by Wisconsin on Saturday, which is the lowest total NU has allowed this season. Unfortunately two of those came in critical situations late in the game.
***Banker said UW quarterback Joel Stave had "by far is best day" this season as a passer against Nebraska, especially wit the accuracy of his passes.
***Banker said e was excited about potentially getting Banderas back this week, but depending on ow both he and Weber recover from their injuries this week, there was no guarantee Banderas would jump right back into the starting MIKE spot against Minnesota.
***Defensive tackle Maliek Collins said he had heard of the rumors that former Nebraska defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski had reached out to some of his former players in an attempt to bash the new coaching staff and that they were untrue. Collins said Kaczenski was the reason why he came to Nebraska and that he'll always stay in touch with him, but as a captain he would not stand for any negative talk about his teammates or coaches regardless of who it was coming from.
***Collins said his main message to the team this week is simply to beat Minnesota. He noted that he has not been able to get a win over the Gophers since he came to Nebraska. Collins also said he relishes being able to play a team like Minnesota because they are physical and come right at you.
***Defensive line coach Hank Hughes said he was happy with what McMullen gave them at defensive tackle last week and that he probably is more of a natural inside player, but he's played so much football and is smart enough to also play outside.
***Hughes said Minnesota was one of the biggest teams in terms of size up front that he's seen. He mentioned that when he first took the job at Nebraska he had a good friend in the coaching ranks tell him that the Big Ten is a "lineman's league" and Hughes certainly agrees. Hughes said the main adjustment his defensive line unit has to make this week is to simply "tighten their chinstraps" because it's going to be a physical game in the trenches.
***The Huskers were wearing their black alternate helmets on Monday to start getting used to them before their debut in two weeks against Northwestern. Some players also wore the alternate cleats that will accompany the new uniforms for the game.
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