Nebraska’s depth on the defensive line took a hit on Wednesday. Head coach Bo Pelini said that sophomore starting defensive tackle has left the team for now.
“Chase Rome is dealing with some personal issues and isn’t with the football team right now and won’t be for the foreseeable future,” Pelini said.
Where does that leave Nebraska for the foreseeable future up-front? Young and still searching for answers.
Junior Thad Randle was listed as the co-No. 1 defensive tackle alongside Rome and will likely takeover the starting role in Rome’s absence. Beyond Randle and fellow starter Baker Steinkuhler, the Huskers are left with three players who are short on experience but expected to be long on talent.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Williams made his Huskers’ debut last week against UCLA, recording one assisted tackle. True freshman Aaron Curry has impressed the staff early and has seen limited snaps in both of Nebraska’s games this season.
Beyond the two freshman with playing experience, Nebraska could also look to Todd Peat Jr. He was a four-star prospect coming out of high school but redshirted last year. Peat was injured in the spring and didn’t make the Huskers’ initial 105-man this fall meaning he likely has some catching-up to do.
Nebraska has also used four defensive ends on the line in some passing situations this season with starting defensive ends Cameron Meredith and Jason Ankrah occupying the tackle spots and Eric Martin and Joseph Carter playing on the edge. Given the lack of proven options on the interior, the Huskers could look to use the formation more frequently in the immediate future to buy the young defensive tackles some time to develop.
In two games this season Rome had four tackles and half of a tackle for a loss. He had 13 tackles and a sack in 10 games last year. The former four-star prospect is the fourth highly-touted prospect to leave the program since last spring.
Running back Aaron Green transferred to TCU following spring practice and offensive linemen Tyler Moore and Ryan Klatchko left the program this August. Moore is currently attending a junior college in Florida and hasn’t ruled out a return to Nebraska. Klachko transferred to Illinois. All three were four-star prospects coming out of high school.
A few other notes from Wednesday’s practice:
–Sophomore walk-on wide receiver Tyler Wullenwaber is done for the season after suffering an ACL tear according to Pelini. Wullenwaber had two catches for 13 yards this season and was the No. 2 ‘X’ receiver behind Kenny Bell.
–Nebraska’s running game could be a bigger factor on Saturday than it has been so far this season due to Arkansas State’s hurry-up offense as the Huskers look to control the clock.
“We want to have as much possession time as we can and to do that, you probably do need to be running the football well,” running backs coach Ron Brown said. “We just want to get as many yards as we can on every carry. How it all sorts out we don’t know. We need to be ready for any type of game.”
–Brown also gave rave reviews to Ameer Abdullah, who has taken over the top running back spot in Rex Burkhead’s absence.
“He’s showing that he can do it – his pass protection, his running routes, his catching the ball, running inside, running outside, and carrying out fakes. There are a lot of things that a back has to be good at. Rex does it all very well and Ameer has stepped up and played extremely well that way.”
Abdullah set career highs in both carries (16) and yards (119) last week against UCLA.