Husker practice report, Oct. 8: Nebraska addresses challenges Minnesota's offense brings

LINCOLN — Watch out for those receivers.

That will be a point of emphasis for the Blackshirts this week, Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday. Minnesota's top two — Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson — are both 6-foot-2 and have combined for 51 catches, 887 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. They can accumulate yards after the catch and move swiftly anywhere on the field.

"They have a nice complementary offense and they do a nice job of getting those guys in position to make catches," Chinander said.

Other quick hits following Tuesday's practice inside Memorial Stadium:

» Nebraska's defensive line is more worried about two-tight end sets than receivers. D-line coach Tony Tuioti likened Minnesota's tight ends to a pair of extra offensive linemen on the field. And running back Rodney Smith has benefited, rushing at a clip of 5.4 yards per carry for 536 overall with three scores.

» Chinander said the Huskers' defensive woes right after halftime fall on him. His message to players is to understand that opposing offenses will do something different than from the first half. He said the Huskers did a good job adjusting after the first Northwestern touchdown drive, especially as they settled in against the Wildcats' zone-read look.

» Though Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has often called his offense one of the youngest in the country, Chinander said the flip side of that is the Gophers are very talented. He said they will present a challenge to Big Ten defenses for years to come.

» Ben Stille was NU's defensive lineman of the week, Tuioti said. Stille saw a career-high 70 snaps, while Darrion Daniels (60) also played more than his norm with Khalil Davis out serving a one-game suspension. Those players saw lighter workloads in practice early this week.

» Freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey said he wasn't nervous about getting his first game action Saturday and figured his first play would be a draw, since that is what he's often run in practice. He said he's unsure what his role might be this weekend if starter Adrian Martinez can't play.

» Cornerback Lamar Jackson said the key to stopping Minnesota is quickly and correctly diagnosing the run-pass options the Gophers frequently run. His position coach, Travis Fisher, said Minnesota receivers are as good as they get in the Big Ten.​

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