Huskers Prepare for Illinois Pass Rush
Lincoln, Neb. -- The Nebraska football team worked out in full pads for two hours on Wednesday inside the Hawks Championship Center and outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Fields.
Offensive Coordinator Troy Walters addressed the media following the conclusion of practice to talk about Illinois' pass rush and what he's seen from them on tape.
"It's going to be a big challenge," Walters said. "They want to cause disruption. They get after it upfront. They don't do a whole lot in the back end, but they're really disruptive, they twist, they move a lot upfront. So we've got our hands full. I think if we do a good job of protecting Adrian [Martinez] and giving him a clean pocket, there are throws to be made but they present a challenge in terms of protecting and keeping him clean."
Walters went on to discuss if the offense is beginning to look like what he and his staff have envisioned.
"Yeah we're getting better each week," he said. "Week two, we were better than we were week one, week three we were better than week two. So we've got to take the next step this week. We can't turn the ball over. One is too many. We need to make sure we have ball security. We need to finish drives better with our kicking situation as it is. We have to score touchdowns. Special teams did a great job of creating good field position, the defense is doing a good job of getting turnovers and giving us good field position. We've got to finish better and that's one of the things we stressed and we worked on this week."
Walters also said he would like to get more receivers involved in the passing game and what goes into the decisions to play more guys at the receiver position.
"It's a little bit of everything," Walters said. "Trust, putting them out there, understanding that they're going to make a play. Adrian going through his progression. Early on [last Saturday] we wanted to get Kanawai [Noa] a reception so the second or third or fourth play we had him run a quick out and he was a primary target so it was good to get the ball in his hands.
"All those guys worked hard in practice. They did again this week so we have to keep guys fresh, keep guys healthy. It's going to be a long season so I have to have trust in those guys that when their number is called they're going to make a play. So you will see a similar rotation. I want guys to play fast so it may be three plays and you're out, but those three plays you better be going 100 percent full speed and not leaving anything on the table."
Walters finished by talking how much pride he takes in the offense not committing a penalty against Northern Illinois.
"Great pride. Tremendous pride," he said. "This offense, if we execute and guys are on the same page and we're playing fast with fundamentals and details, not beating ourselves, then we're pretty good. That's a good sign with no penalties, and we have to continue on the road. We've had a great week of practice and penalties are big on the road. If you get behind the chains on the road it's tough to win so we have to continue that momentum. Be a disciplined team and not create those penalties and also not turn the ball over."
The Huskers finish preparations for Illinois with another practice on Thursday, followed by a light practice on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday with television coverage provided by BTN.
Husker Walk-on Q-n-A: Jeramiah Stovall
Jeramiah Stovall is a fifth-year senior who earlier this week became the second Nebraska football walk-on this semester to earn a scholarship. A graduate of Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Stovall has been one of the Huskers' top special teams performers, and last season was named the team's special teams player of the year. The 5-foot-11 cornerback plays on kickoff and punt coverage and entered the season with 12 career tackles, all on special teams. Stovall earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice in May and is playing as a graduate student. He visited with Brian Rosenthal for this week's walk-on Q-n-A segment.
BR: First of all, congratulations on the scholarship. What was your initial reaction when you found out?
Jeramiah: "Excited. It's just nice to know your hard work paid off, the things that coach has been telling you, 'You do this, this will come' … It's nice to see your hard work really does get recognized."
BR: You made the team through a walk-on tryout your second semester on campus. Did you enroll at Nebraska with that in mind?
Jeramiah: "It's something I always thought about, the path I was going to go. I kind of just put it in my mind that I was going to make the tryout. I prepared for it."
BR: Did you bypass opportunities to play elsewhere?
Jeramiah: "A couple of small schools. Iowa Western talked to me about getting me over there. I was talking with my parents about it. Me and my dad are very close, and he didn't think that would be my best option. So I told him, 'Why don't I just walk-on?' and he liked that idea. And my brother actually played here, so it just made sense to me that I at least try."
BR: You've been a special teams mainstay through most of your career. What pride do you take in that, and why?
Jeramiah: "I love football. Simple as that. As soon as I touch the field, I'm just happy to play. I make that my biggest goal. I want to make sure my name is called in the stadium. It's not something everybody talks about, but you do hear it, and it honestly pumps me up. If my name's not called, I'm not doing something, and I need to work harder. It doesn't matter who's in front of me, it doesn't matter what happened. If I'm not on defense, so what? You got to make a play somewhere, make a play on special teams. That's a big part of the game right there."
BR: So hearing your name called over the public address system after you've made a tackle inspires you that much?
Jeramiah: "It does. It proves I'm here, doing something."
BR: What's been your most memorable special teams moment?
Jeramiah: "For sure last year against Illinois when I got the fumble recovery (pictured above). It just shows you when you're running hard and you're going hard on every play, and you're just doing what you supposed to do – the ball just really fell in my lap, and it made me think like, 'You do that every time, good things are going to happen. The ball is going to fall your way.' It really happens."
BR: Did you approach your duties on scout team in the same manner?
Jeramiah: "Yes, exactly. You don't think scout team is going to be a big deal, but when you do it, if you go to the game and you see how their corner actually does play, and you play it how it is, it really does give a better look for the offense. You go hard, you try to fight off a block, it makes the receiver better at blocking. And honestly, it's still working on your game. It's not like you're not getting better from it. I want to be the best I can be at the end of the day, and I'm going to go hard on scout team, or whatever I've got to do. It's going to make the guy in front of me a better player, and it's going to make the team better."
BR: What's the most enjoyable part about being a walk-on?
Jeramiah: "I like the fact that when you do do something, it's like, 'Who's that?' or 'Where's he from?' I love that aspect of it. It kind of drives me. Every day we got to make sure someone new is known."
BR: How do you feel about the newcomer walk-ons, and what advice would you give them?
Jeramiah: "I actually love what they're doing so far. They're really passionate about what they're doing, and it makes me see they know what it takes. I would say every day you can't take for granted. You never know when you could pop a knee. It can happen just like that."
BR: You've graduated. What are you studying for graduate courses?
Jeramiah: "Nothing too strenuous I figured I would like to take a semester to focus more on the game – and I would like to get my Master's – I just thought for right now I would like to see what it's like playing football by itself. You have to take 9 hours. I have intro to family finance, coaching basketball, a CPR class. I have a cooking class coming up I haven't even started yet."
BR: What the biggest piece of advice you have taken from Coach Frost?
Jeramiah: "That every little thing matters. I know when I first got here, I honestly didn't see it. I didn't think going to a 9 a.m. breakfast was that that important to me. … It's not just football. It ties into literally everything you do. Take out the trash the right way. It's little details that matter and are going to go into the game. Honestly, when I started to realize that, it cleans up your game."
#ProBigRed: Huskers in the NFL - Week 2
Several Huskers saw action in Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season.
Nathan Gerry recorded an interception for the Philadelphia Eagles in addition to making two tackles in a 24-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night.
Lavonte David and Ndamukong Suh were both active defensively for the Buccaneers over the weekend. David started at inside linebacker and played in 100 percent of the Bucaneer defensive plays. David was responsible for seven tackles on the day. Suh started on the defensive line and participated in 89 percent of the plays on defense and saw action in four special team opportunities.
Prince Amukamara appeared in 98 percent of the defensive snaps for the Bears and made seven tackles (five solo, two combined) to help the Chicago Bears defeat the Denver Broncos, 16-14.
Brett Maher (Cowboys) and Sam Koch (Ravens) both made positive plays on special teams. Maher scored seven points, going a perfect four-for-four on extra points in the Cowboys victory over the Giants in addition to hitting a 25-yard field goal. Koch punted three times, averaging 43 yards per punt in the Ravens' 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Nebraska at Illinois
When: 7 p.m. Saturday (Pregame: 2 p.m.)
Where: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Radio: 103.1 FM, b103.fm