‘Bloody Tuesday’: Huskers focused on physicality going into Michigan game
LINCOLN, Neb - Nebraska continues prepping for what could be their toughest test of the year, welcoming second-ranked Michigan to Lincoln on Saturday.
Offensively, Offensive Coordinator Marcus Satterfield is emphasizing taking care of the football as Nebraska turned the ball over eight times in its first two games, but just once in the last two.
For the Blackshirts, it’s all about physicality. As a matter of fact, it was theme for Tuesday's practice, donned “bloody Tuesday”, described by players and coaches as a practice with heavy contact and intense action.
Defensive End Blaise Gunnerson discussed what that type of practice looks like.
“On Monday, you have to do a great job of knowing your opponent…. Knowing what they do, knowing their tackles, knowing their run game, so on Tuesday you’re ready to go,” Gunnerson said. “We get a walk through, but it’s a very physical practice. Offensive and defensive line going at it, secondary guys flying in to hit running back’s and I appreciate coach Rhule understands how important physicality is.”
Nebraska sits as the number one rushing defense in the Big Ten, and sixth nationally. However, they’ll face a tough Michigan O-Line who paves the way for one of the best backs in the nation in Black Corum, who enters averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
In order to win that battle, for linebacker Mikai Gbayor and Defensive Coordinator Tony White, it again comes down to being physical.
“Just like every other week, we have to play hard. Be the most physical team on the field,” Gbayor said. “One slip up could lead to a touchdown.”
“We want to set a standard of how we play and how physical we are, no matter who shows up,” White said. “I think if we hold ourselves to that standard, the game takes care of itself so we’re just focusing on ourself right now."
Flipping sides, Nebraska’s offense struggled with turnovers to start the year, while Michigan is the top scoring defense in the nation. To win on Saturday, Offensive Coordinator Marcus Satterfield says Nebraska has to open up the passing game, but to make that work, they can’t turn the ball over.
“The last two games, we’ve done a nice job taking care of the football,” Satterfield said. “You have to do that in order to win games. Our play right now, we have to throw the ball.. Over the next eight weeks, we’ve got to open up the passing game.”
Although no starting quarterback has been announced, Heinrich Haarberg has gotten the nod in each of Nebraska’s last two games, both of which he threw for at least one touchdown and led Nebraska in rushing yards. Wide receiver Alex Bullock has been impressed by the sophomore from Kearney.
“I said after the Northern Illinois game, that was his first start, but you’d think he’d been a starter for three years,” Bullock said. “He’s very confident out there… In practice he’s been way more of a leader. He’s been very vocal and he’s got all the attributes you’d want in a quarterback. He’s doing really well right now.”
Additional notes from Tuesday:
- Heinrich Haarberg 100% practice paricipant
- Jeff Sims practices, not quite at 100%
- Josh Fleeks shifts from WR to RB
Nebraska and Michigan kick off at 2:30 p.m. central time, 1:30 p.m. mountain time on FOX.