Rose-Ivey says this is a barometer game for Huskers
LINCOLN — Nebraska senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey spent his Saturday night like a lot of Husker fans: watching the competition.
What he saw was that the Oregon Ducks have a lot of options. And if you make one mistake, they will pounce.
“They do a great job of putting their skilled guys in a position to succeed,” Rose-Ivey said after Tuesday’s practice.
The Ducks playmaker options include receivers Darren Carrington II (176 receiving yards in two games), Charles Nelson and Devon Allen (an Olympic finalist in the 110 meters). Running back Royce Freeman might be most dangerous of all, averaging 9.2 yards per rush.
“Just his catching ability,” Rose-Ivey said of Freeman. “If nothing’s there, just dump it to him. He’s getting 30 yards on catches.”
All the moving parts of the Ducks offense can make it like an “optical illusion” and get you of place if you’re not locked in, according to the linebacker.
Yet it still comes down to basic football.
“When you strip it down … they’re running power, zone, stretch, counter-sweep as the run plays,” Rose-Ivey said. “And after that, it’s play-action and they try to replace you. If you come up, they’re going to throw right where you were.”
Rose-Ivey respects the challenge, but is excited about taking it on, too.
“If we can line up and run our base coverage, we’re fine,” he said. “We can take away all their options. Now it’s just a matter of going and making a play. That’s what they’re banking on. They’re banking on you’re going to make one mistake.
“For some teams, one mistake is 15, 20 yards. For them, one mistake is a touchdown.”
The senior is one Husker who hasn’t backed away from calling this game what it is: a big one.
“This is definitely one of those barometer games,” he said. “You look at the end of our schedule. There’s no dodging it. We’ve got Wisconsin and Ohio State back-to-back, and Iowa. … This is just a great time to put where we think we are and (see) where we really are, and see where it goes.
“Are we really where we think we are or do we have some more things to improve on?”
Noise: Rose-Ivey is hoping the crowd comes ready to play, too.
“Be loud and don’t be prepared to sit,” he said.
Senior defensive tackle Kevin Maurice has seen up close how a noisy home crowd can mess with an offense.
“They’re uptempo so all their stuff is going to be on sound and they’re going to try to go fast,” Maurice said. “It’s going to be very important and I’m kind of excited to be in that environment on Saturday and hear the fans.”
Maurice points out it makes it tough on the defense to hear their own calls, too.
“But it’s even more exciting when the offense is struggling mightily to get everything off and they got to call timeouts and there’s false starts and everything like that. That really gets us going.”
Expect a fast crew: A Pac-12 officiating crew will work the Nebraska-Oregon game.
Senior linebacker Josh Banderas said coaches made players aware of that, mostly to point out that these are refs are very familiar with the Ducks’ uptempo style of play on the offense.
“They’re used to the speed, so they can get going faster and not keep the game as controlled pacewise as Big Ten (refs),” Banderas said.
Oregon’s speed on offense also means a middle linebacker like Banderas has to be quick in helping command the defense before each snap.
“Every team you play, you want to get done with the play, you want to get the call and get back and look at the (offense),” Banderas said. “With this team, you just have to be more on top of it. You got to get everything sped up … but you still have to go through each one of your checklists to make sure you’re doing the right thing on each play.”
Frosh hangs tough in first start: Maurice offered a positive critique of how redshirt freshman Carlos Davis performed next to him at defensive tackle against Wyoming.
Davis got his first start with sophomore defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg recovering from a minor knee surgery.
“He wasn’t nervous at all. That was a surprise,” Maurice said. “Once we got into it, he was doing a very good job. He got wide-eyed a little bit sometimes, but other than that, he played a very good game.”
Davis finished the game with five tackles, including two solo stops.
Injury report: Three key Huskers Mike Riley has described as “questionable” for this week’s game against Oregon were held out of Tuesday’s practice.
Senior wide receivers Alonzo Moore (shoulder) and Brandon Reilly (hamstring), as well as Stoltenberg, were sidelined. Moore told reporters on Monday he expects to play, while Reilly expressed less confidence in his status against the Ducks.
True freshman defensive back Lamar Jackson (groin) did return to practice on Tuesday.
Quote for the road: Coaching in a game like Saturday’s Nebraska-Oregon showdown is one of the reasons you get into the business, said Husker secondary coach Brian Stewart.
“Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s like ‘Monday Night Football,’ right? Every NFL coach wants to play on ‘Monday Night Football.’ Every college coach wants to play in a big game. So this is a great opportunity for all of us.”