LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska offense is incredibly banged up, but the Huskers will have to prepare for the Purdue Boilermakers with the personnel they have. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf discussed the strength of the Purdue defense and the state of his offensive line after Wednesday’s practice.
“They’ve got two good, good defensive lineman,” Langsdorf said. “They’ve got a tough high motor guy, tough, 54 [Jake Replogle]. He’s a really good player. They’ve got a good pass rushing D-end [Evan Panfil], and they’ve got some size on that line. I think that probably is their strength, that defensive front.”
Right tackle David Knvel, who did practice on Thursday after leaving the Indiana game after one play, said the Huskers have to expect a lot of creativity from the Purdue defense.
“Movement and they’re pretty good up front,” Knevel said. “They move around a lot and they’re pretty good; they bring a lot of stuff.”
Purdue’s defensive line will be even more difficult to contend with if left tackle Nick Gates, who was in street clothes for Wednesday’s practice, can’t play.
“We’re working through that,” Langsdorf said. “We’re so thin that it’s a concern against a good defensive front. You can look at the stats, and they’ve given up rushing yards, but we’re beat up. We’ve got make sure that we get some guys healthy and get them into the game.”
Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said he isn’t ruling Gates out at this point, but Langsdorf did not sound optimistic.
“We need him as soon as possible,” Langsdorf said. “He’s still pretty hobbled so we’ll see; we’ll get some more information tomorrow.”
One back-up plan at left tackle appears to be sliding Hahn out to tackle and having senior Corey Whitaker fill in at left guard. Hahn said he is ready to play at whichever position they ask him to.
“Tackle is where I’ve been at for years so I’ll bounce out there if I need to do something, and if not I’ll stay at guard,” Hahn said. “Whatever needs to be done I’ll do it.”
The offensive line has been in flux since starting left guard Jerald Foster went down a couple weeks before the season began.
“I think they’ve dealt with it pretty well,” Cavanaugh said. “It hasn’t been easy, obviously, but the next man in has stepped up. Everything’s not perfect obviously but the guys are working hard and playing hard and that’s the bottom line.”
Versatility has been key for the Huskers as several players have had to fill in at various spots throughout the season.
“It’s important to have versatility so if you get in a bind like that you can step up there and the coaches can feel confident in you going in there and getting the job done and doing the things you need to do to win,” Hahn said.
>> Tight end Cethan Carter has already been ruled out and obviously did not practice on Wednesday. He was in street clothes with a brace on his elbow. Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp was not in pads, although he did wear his jersey on Thursday. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. did practice after playing through injury at Indiana.
>> With Carter out of the lineup, Sam Cotton and Trey Foster have both seen an increased workload, and Cotton responded with a career-best three catches for 37 yards against the Hoosiers.
“They’ve both filled in nicely,” Langsdorf said. “Sam’s been playing both Y and H. he’s been kind of more of an H the last couple of weeks without Cethan [Carter]. But he can play some of the wide positions. Trey’s been going in there and blocking well.”
That being said, Carter’s loss can still be felt both as a receiver and as a blocker.
“Cethan is a force on the edge and having a good tight end is something that’s underrated, and you know it when it’s gone,” running backs coach Reggie Davis said. “Sam did a great job for us and Trey did a great job for us, so those guys are going to do well for us and they’ll be able to step in. But there’s a reason Cethan is the starter and not being able to have him athletically on the field, we’ll have to find a way to work around it. We’ll always find a way to get it done. We have guys ready to step up … Tavita will do a good job getting those guys ready and we’ll be able to fill in the hole.”
>> Terrell Newby has been the one constant in a running backs group that has also seen its share of ups and downs. Davis said Newby is the clear starter, and Davis offered an update for how the depth chart looks behind him.
“Devine [Ozigbo] has been getting good run and Devine’s been doing a good job for us, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t be next in line,” Davis said. “Then Tre [Bryant] is a guy that we’re bringing along and we’re able to give him small doses and he’s been handling it pretty well. That’s the way it’s been going and it’s been working pretty good.”
>> Nebraska has closed out multiple games with strong running efforts in fourth quarters this season.
“I think it’s their will,” Cavanaugh said. “They toughened up and got after it in the fourth quarter. We were all over the place earlier in that, so we just have to get consistent.”
Newby has played a big part in the team’s fourth quarter success as well, as he’s done some of his best work as a runner in those situations.
“I think he gets better; kind of like wine, he gets better with time,” Davis said. “He’s doing a good job of getting better as the game progresses and it was nice to see him be physical the last couple of runs in that last game.”
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.