New names emerge on defense
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini met with the media for the first time this week following the Huskers’ practice in full pads on Tuesday. Some news and notes from Nebraska’s 10th practice of the 2013 season:
–At the corner spot, a new leader has emerged in senior Stanley Jean-Baptiste alongside a pair of starters from last year.
“The top two corners right now when we get into nickel are Stanley and Josh Mitchell, and obviously Ciante is playing nickel.” Pelini said, “We have really good depth in the secondary, our safeties are playing at a high level.”
Jean-Baptiste played in 14 games last year, starting five. He recorded two interceptions and led the team with nine pass breakups last season.
Pelini said that when Nebraska is in its base 4-3 defense, Evans will slide out to take one of the cornerback spots. Daniel Davie and Jonathan Rose are working at corner, while Mo Seisay is practicing at the corner, nickel and dime spots.
Andrew Green, a starter last year for part of the season at corner, continues to work primarily at safety.
–Speaking of safeties, one name you might be hearing a lot this season is that of true freshman Nate Gerry. He came in as a safety, but Gerry has proven versatile enough to get a look at multiple positions so far.
“Nate can play a lot of different spots for us, he has played some safety, and he has played some Will, some Buck, some dime,” Pelini said. “He is going to be a good football player. We’re going to find out where he can help us.”
In the best defensive years under Pelini, Nebraska got a lot of use out of players who could play in the secondary but also shift down to linebacker in certain situations.
–At the Buck linebacker spot, Pelini also listed Jared Afalava and Austin Williams, a junior walk-on who played in 13 games as a special teams player last season, as other players in contention for playing time.
–Up front, the Huskers are looking for a starter at defensive tackle alongside veteran Thad Randle. Senior walk-on Broderick Nickens, a former offensive lineman who made the switch in the spring, has impressed early on in fall camp.
“Brodrick does a good job on what we are asking him to do. He has to work on getting a little lower at times but he is a big load in there that can hold the point. He works hard, he’s a leader and he is doing a good job for us,” Pelini said.
–The Huskers have remained relatively injury free so far in camp, other than one big injury update Pelini shared on Tuesday. Redshirt freshman tight end Jared Blum will miss the season with an undisclosed injury. Presumed starter Jake Long is also currently out with an undisclosed injury but is expected back for the start of the season.