football Edit

Quick hits from Mickey Joseph Purdue press conference

Mickey Joseph.
Mickey Joseph. (USA Today Sports Images)

Believe it or not, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-3 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten) are in a three-way tie with No. 24 Illinois (5-1, 2-1) and Purdue (4-2, 2-1) for first place in the West division.

After rattling off two consecutive conference wins — over Indiana and Rutgers — for the first time since November 2018, the Huskers are looking to keep the momentum going. Up next is a contest against Jeff Brohm's Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue has controlled the series lately, winning the last three of four.

On Monday, Nebraska released its updated depth chart, and there were a few notable tweaks.

Tuesday, Huskers' interim head coach Mickey Joseph, as well as Casey Thompson, Ty Robinson, Ethan Piper, Nick Henrich, spoke with the media at Memorial Stadium. Here are a few quick notes from Joseph's presser:

Mickey Joseph

>> Have to play well in all three phases. Joseph called Purdue's offense "explosive" and touted the Boilermakers' stout run defense, which is only allowing 2.95 yards per rush, which ranks 19th in the country.

>> Joseph called inside linebacker Luke Reimer, corner Quinton Newsome and receiver Omar Manning "day-to-day." Both players were injured in Rutgers' game and didn't play much in the second half.

>> Joseph confirmed Tommi Hill switched positions, going from corner to receiver. Hill, an Arizona State transfer who started the first four games at corner, was seen at Rutgers wearing No. 2 instead of his original No. 0 and warming up with the receivers.

>> Joseph said the team wants to find a role and place on the field for Hill, which is why they moved him to receiver. Hill played receiver at Edgewater High School in Florida.

>> Running back Gabe Ervin Jr. didn't get a carry at Rutgers. Joseph said he's dealing with a toe injury and wasn't able to play against the Scarlet Knights.

>> Joseph doesn't know Brohm personally, but thinks he's a great head coach and excellent play-caller.

>> The reason Joseph wants to give the players Mondays off is so they can focus on their school work and get it done before coming back Tuesdays.

>> On Tuesday, receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda entered his name in the transfer portal. After playing in only four games, Garcia-Castaneda will redshirt.

>> Joseph said offensive coordinator mark Whipple is "dealing with some things" but that it hasn't impacted how he's doing his job.

>> Nebraska's defense hasn't allowed a second-half point since the third quarter against Oklahoma. What's the difference been on that side of the ball? "We made a change at defensive coordinator. That's the change," Joseph said.

Casey Thompson

>> Thompson said he knew Rutgers' pass rush was starting to slow down in the third quarter. He knew the Scarlet Knights wasn't going to keep the pace up that it started the first half with.

>> Thompson said Hill is a natural, good route runner with great speed. Thompson said Hill practiced with the No. 1 offense at practice Tuesday. The quarterback thinks fans will be impressed with what Hill will do as a receiver the rest of the season.

Ty Robinson

>> Robinson said Purdue's offense is similar to an NFL offense. It's pass-heavy with a veteran sixth-year quarterback in Aidan O'Connell.

>> Robinson said he appreciated Joseph and others coming to him prior to the Indiana game to tell him "cut it loose." Robinson says he's playing faster and harder while not trying to think so much.

>> Robinson said defensive line coach Mike Dawson has done a good job with how he's distributing snaps. Robinson isn't playing as many as he had earlier this season and said he feels fresher. He feels "a lot better now" compared to the beginning of the year.

>> What's something unique about Joseph as a head coach? Robinson likes how involved Joseph is at practices and pregame warmup. He's always next to players while they're on the field, and says what's on his mind, too. Robinson likes that about his interim head coach.

Ethan Piper

>> What's the biggest step the offensive line needs to take? Piper said the unit just needs to go back to the basics. He said the Husker O-line may have been thinking too much about what Rutgers was trying to do with its pass rush.

>> Piper sought out Thompson after the game on the field at Rutgers to tell him, "Hey, we're going to do better." Thompson took multiple hits and had to leave the game for a play to shake one off.

>> What's it like to watch running back Anthony Grant? "He plays at a speed that's higher than everyone else," Piper said.

>> What does Piper see from Purdue's defense? "They're a whole bunch of veterans out there," he said.

Nick Henrich

>> "Never out of the fight" is something Henrich and a few of his teammates have started writing on their wrist tape. It started at the Indiana game and will continue on, Henrich said. He thinks it's good to have that reminder throughout games.

>> Henrich says the energy Joseph brings to the program every day is contagious, and it's had a real impact on the team's mindset.

>> Inside linebackers Eteva Mauga-Clements and Chris Kolarevic are two of the most unselfish, hard-working guys he's played with, Henrich said. "I have complete confidence in those guys and they'll be ready to go."