LINCOLN, NEB. — The biggest game of the season for the Nebraska football team is two days away and Coach Mike Riley addressed the team’s injury situation among other things as the Huskers are preparing to take on Ohio State.
Riley said that although it is a big game featuring two top 10 teams, he hasn’t noticed any different feeling in practice this week. In fact, Riley said the Huskers are pretty much all business all the time.
“They’ve been pretty consistent all year long,” Riley said. “I’ve appreciated this team because the one thing that I don’t like is a different feeling each week about what it’s going to look like when I walk out there in Tuesday. I don’t want to have to worry about that. You have to get the team to a point where they know it’s time to go to work and then you come and they’re working. This team has been really consistent and I like that about them. I suppose it comes from a real big desire to win and look good, play well, and they have good leadership among them. I have not been out here where I’ve said this has been a bad week or a bad day. It’s all been pretty good.”
The Huskers played on the road in front of a packed and rowdy crowd at Camp Randall last week and Riley said he hopes that experience will help the team this week as they travel to the Horseshoe in Columbus.
“I suppose it does [help], every time you get to do it,” Riley said about playing in a great road environment. “The one thing I think you have to get to some day, some place with your team is that they like walking into that, that they embrace it. This is right where I’m supposed to be going to somebody else’s park like this and win the game. I think our team is pretty good like that for sure and I thought we kept our poise, we kept playing, we handled all the noise and stuff last week. I’m anticipating that we should do better because of that. I’m sure it’s a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it myself.”
Riley first addressed the status of senior tight end Cethan Carter, who has missed the last few weeks with an injured elbow but returned to practice this week. However, he didn’t make a definitive statement one way or the other.
“I’m really encouraged,” Riley said. “I want to check one more time with the trainer in the morning and then with Cethan, but he’s practiced all three days and taken all the turns that he would normally take, so that’s encouraging. I just want him to feel real confident in it. I think if they let him play then obviously it’s safe for him to play.”
Riley also offered an update on the other injured players – right tackle David Knevel and linebacker Dedrick Young – and added wide receiver Brandon Reilly to the list.
“Knevel hasn’t practiced much until today, but he will travel,” Riley said. “How much [he’ll play], starting, I don’t know yet. Brandon Reilly has had a tight hamstring for a couple days. My hope, and I’ll emphasize that, my hope is that he feels better tomorrow and can go through what we don on Fridays out here. Dedrick I think will play. He’s been very limited, but at this stage of the year, he pays attention, he gets a few reps today in shorts. He should be alright. But we’ll have to have another plan ready. Trent [Bray]’s done a nice job developing pretty good depth there. But Dedrick’s a good player. We’d love to have him playing.”
With Knevel’s status up in the air, the Huskers will call upon walk-on Cole Conrad again to fill in at right tackle.
“I think that when you get to this stage of the season, everybody in the country is dealing with it,” Riley said. “I think we’re well prepared for exactly what we’re going to do: put Cole Conrad in there. Cole will do fine and we’ll play.”
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.