LINCOLN — Nebraska opened preparation for the rematch against UCLA Monday on a somber note with the news of the death of UCLA wideout Nick Pasquale over the weekend. While the Bruins will wear a No. 36 patch on their jerseys, the Huskers will pay tribute to the late Pasquale with a No. 36 decal on their helmets.
“It’s hard to put yourself in their shoes of what they’re going through,” offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. “Obviously it’s a little sentimental for them. For us, you hate to see that happen to a young guy.”
Bruins coach Jim Mora was visibly upset today at UCLA’s weekly press conference and excused himself, but later returned to address the situation with a handful of reporters.
Nebraska takes on UCLA after a bye week in Westwood; the Bruins defeated Nevada 58-20 in week one. The Bruins finished 9-for-12 in third down conversions, totaled 647 yards of offense (345 rushing) and scored 41 points in the second half.
On defense, the Huskers will have their hands full blocking UCLA rush linebacker Anthony Barr, who is widely considered a first-round draft choice. Barr racked up five tackles against Nevada, but no sacks after recording 13.5 sacks in 2012.
“He’s a terrific player,” Beck said. “Great pass rusher, great athlete. He makes all kinds of plays…you’ve got to know where he is. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got bodies on him and you finish blocks on him.”
–While Bo Pelini and some players downplayed the revenge angle with the classic response along the lines of “every games counts,” some players admit the bite of revenge in the back of their minds. Cornerback Josh Mitchell, a California native is not of those players.
“I’m not gonna lie those guys, they’ve been keeping me motivated with the trash talk,” he said Monday. “It’s all friendly though. We’re all boys. We’re all friends.”
“That’s home for me so it’s a lot of my friends. They gave it to me last year,” he said. “That’s their job.”
Mitchel said he knows about 95 percent of the UCLA team, from football games and camps in Los Angeles.
“It could potenitally be my last time playing these guys, so I can’t end my career with two L’s on the list,” he said.
“I’ll just say that I owe them one.”
–Running backs coach Ron Brown talked about his “ball security vulnerability” statistic, Monday, with which he grades the likelihood of fumbles by the backs.
“Any time the elbow gets away from the rib cage, you’re vulnerable for a fumble,” Brown said.
Brown uses the “BSV” when one of his backs deviates from the high-and-tight ball holding technique, and the elbow moves away from the body. Even if the back doesn’t fumble, Brown said, they’ll be downgraded. Brown divides each back’s numbers of BSV’s by the number of carries he gets, giving a percentage that he ideally wants to see at zero.
To keep the elbows tight to the body, the tailbacks run with a “slick ball” and a towel between their carrying arm and the body. If the towel drops, that’s BSV.
“I just wanted to know what causes fumbles,” Brown said. “I just started to study it.”