As Nebraska prepares to travel to Bloomington, Indiana, head coach Mike Riley met with reporters inside Memorial Stadium following Thursday’s practice. The hot topic once again was the Huskers’ many injuries.
To get the bad news out of the way first, tight end Cethan Carter and wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp will not travel to Indiana. Neither were expected to be ready by Saturday anyway, so that did not come as a surprise. As for good news, there was quite a bit of it.
“Looks like Devine Ozigbo will play,” Riley said. “He looked good today. Had a pretty good workout yesterday. We didn’t know today what was going to happen but just watching him, he had quite a few reps in practice today. He will travel with us.”
Others expected to play are offensive linemen Tanner Farmer and David Knevel, as well as wide receiver Alonzo Moore. Riley said all three “looked good” and that Moore specifically has practiced all week.
With Westerkamp out, Riley said he feels good about Brandon Reilly at the slot position in his place. He is also grateful for the depth at the wide receiver position, which makes it possible to shuffle players around.
“We are moving guys around,” Riley said. “We have pretty good depth at that position which we are thankful for.”
On to other news and notes from Thursday’s practice:
>> Riley likes what he has seen from Nebraska’s special teams so far this season. He pointed out a few key players but made a point to call out Brad Simpson who he feels is “the point leader at this stage.”
Also mentioned were Luke McNitt, JoJo Domann and Chris Weber. He called them all — including Drew Brown, Jordan Ober, Caleb Lightbourn and Spencer Lindsay — “good hard workers.”
>> When it comes to Nebraska’s third down conversion percentage, Riley would like to keep it around 50 perfect.
“We’d just love it,” Riley said. “That’s what our goal will be.”
He noted that the Huskers are “better at what they’re doing passing-wise” on third down and are also benefitting from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s ability to run the ball. Additionally, he said the team is simply getting better situations on third down.
>> The NCAA’s proposal to add an additional paid coach was met with full support by Riley. He called it “long over-due” and believes it will help with recruiting, as well as better developing players already on the roster.
“We actually have what you would say is the worst student-teacher ratio of all the sports,” Riley said. “When you’re talking about managing the combination of recruiting and coaching your guys, mentoring your guys and making sure they’re doing the right thing in school and off the field, the more hands on deck that are full-time people are good.”
Does Riley think the proposal will easily pass?
“No,” Riley said. “Nothing like that is very easy. It costs money, right?”
>> Riley expects both Nebraska and Indiana to be ready to play Saturday, calling the matchup “a good game.”
“I expect [Indiana] to be ready to play,” Riley said. “Our team, too. I think they have a good team and so do we and I think it’ll be a matter of who plays the best on Saturday. That’s it.”
>> Country music singer Brad Paisley is performing a free concert for UNL students Thursday night, which Riley said he just found out about. Could he play an instrument if invited up on stage?
“I can barely turn on my Jambox,” Riley said.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.