Any time a team is going to Michigan to play a game, there will be questions about getting guys ready to play in the Big House. The stadium that holds nearly 110,000 fans can be dauting for young players and veterans alike. There are many players that will be counted on to contribute this Saturday against the Wolverines who have not experienced a road atmosphere quite like that.
Quarterback coach Mario Verduzco said on Wednesday after practice that getting freshmen prepared to play in an environment like the one in Ann Arbor boils down to blocking out the crowd and being prepared enough to know the game plan.
“Do your job and get our work done. Find your work, work your plan and go out and let her rip," Verduzco said of the message to players. "That’s all you can do with those guys. You don’t want to make too big of a deal about it. I think they understand they are going to Michigan. They’ve all watched it on TV before.”
Ultimately, it’s not just the crowd noise at Michigan that will be a potential problem for Nebraska. The Michigan defense is one of the best in the conference, if not the entire country. They present a lot of issues for opponents which starts with confusion up front.
“When you are dealing with a young quarterback you want to make sure they know what they’re looking at,” Verduzco said. “The up-front piece of the puzzle can be a problem. It’s a problem for everyone they play when you look at it. The amount of people they put up at the line of scrimmage becomes a bit of an issue.”
The Huskers hope to have true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez back for the conference opener this Saturday. Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Troy Walters said that Martinez is making progress and looking better and better every day. Verduzco noted that Martinez, for a young quarterback, is unusually good at deciphering the sort of complicated looks Michigan could throw at the Huskers on Saturday.
“Adrian, in my experience since I’ve been here, has really naturally good vision. He sees the field," Verduzco said. "We talked about that when I first got here in spring. Some guys just have that. Can you coach it up and make it better? Absolutely. Some guys just inherently have that ability. That’s part of his profile.”
Nebraska's first road game will also be the first road game at this level for a couple of key contributors in the running back room.
“We obviously have a great environment here," running backs coach Ryan Held said. "It’s just when you go on the road, the cheers just might be the other way. For us, it’s the focus and staying within what we are trained to do. See the signal and be able to execute. At the end the day the crowd doesn’t control if we can run ‘51’ or a pass play or whatever. We can’t get caught in the emotion of things. If they have a big play, that’s what it is. Come back to balance, regroup and play the next play. We stick together.
"That’s the fun thing about going out on the road. You get on the plane, you’re in the hotel, it’s kind of us against the world. It’s fun and I think it can bring us closer as we keep building this thing.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.