Even in a bye week Nebraska sustained a significant loss.
Freshman running back Ajay Allen will take a medical redshirt for the remainder of the season, interim head coach Mickey Joseph announced during Tuesday’s press conference. Allen, Nebraska’s second-leading rusher, left Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma early and underwent surgery yesterday.
Sophomore punter Brian Buschini won’t be out long term after spraining his ankle in the Oklahoma game. Buschini sustained the injury while making a tackle.
“He’s going to be good,” Joseph said. “Can’t punt the ball in the middle of the field. If you do you better make that tackle.”
Joseph said the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Huskers. For the first time in over a month the team doesn’t play on Saturday. In that time they traveled to Ireland for a game, returned for a short week, turned around to lose a head coach and now lose to the No. 6 team in the country. And then an assistant coach was fired.
The interim head coach announced former defensive coordinator Erik Chinander was let go on Sunday. Bill Busch, who started the year as the special teams coordinator, will take over that role and coach safeties and nickels. Joey Connors will step into the special teams coordinator role. Joseph said the decision was made in the best interest of the players.
“Chins a good man and a good coach,” he said. “But the numbers didn’t add up and I didn’t see us getting better.”
The Huskers will likely use the same defensive lingo going forward. Joseph put his trust in Busch to handle the defense. Busch was previously defensive coordinator at Utah State and co-defensive coordinator at Rutgers.
Joseph challenged the Huskers to simply improve this week through competition. He issued that challenge under the motto of: “Nebraska vs Nebraska.” He reiterated the need for improvement as one team in all three phases. That includes cleaning up fundamentals: lining up, tackling, gap integrity and position in coverage.
He also analyzed his own performance in his coaching debut. Nebraska could have slowed the ball down to take more possessions away from Oklahoma, he suggested. The thought crossed his mind during Saturday’s game but at that point it was already 35-7. He also thought he could have put younger players in quicker to get more reps on Saturday.
The Huskers will slow down the offensive tempo going into the bulk of their Big Ten schedule. That would allow the defense to catch a break. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, with head coaching experience himself, is understanding of the move, Joseph said.
Joseph also said he wanted to draw upon influence from the previous few years coaching at LSU. Under his view, the Huskers would move at a higher speed and perform less reps.
“Keep encouraging them and let them know that I have their best interest at hand,” he said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I make them a better football team. I’m going to hold everybody accountable, coaches all the way to the players, and keep encouraging them that you can get better if you come out and give effort.
“But you’re right we’ve got to keep their chins up because they have been through some change.”
A noted recruiter, Joseph laid out the staff’s recruiting plan. They’ll continue to “recruit like we want to be here,” he said. The interim head coach will use the bye week to talk with recruits in his native Louisiana.