Red Report: Gerry eager to face an Urban Meyer coached team
It’s big and it’s loud. That’s what Husker senior safety Nate Gerry has heard about Ohio Stadium. Also known as The Horseshoe, it’ll squeeze about 108,000 people into it Saturday night.
“The good thing about it for us is we play in front of the best fans in college football,” Gerry said of that atmosphere. “From a defensive standpoint, I kind of like it. I like playing on the road because the fans aren’t really yelling when you’re out there, so we can finally communicate.”
Gerry also likes getting a chance to play a game against a team coached by Urban Meyer. He even texted his parents about it the other day.
“Growing up in South Dakota, I saw him on TV with Tim Tebow, and I just thought, ‘That dude, he’s a superstar. One day it’d be kind of cool to play for him,’” Gerry said. “And now I guess I get to play against him on his home court.”
While Gerry is a senior, he’s never played against the Buckeyes. NU last played Ohio State in 2012, losing 63-38 at Ohio Stadium.
Sophomore defensive back Aaron Williams said it’s important the Huskers keep the focus on themselves and not get caught up in the hype surrounding the Buckeyes.
But he is pretty pumped to play in that stadium.
“I’m really excited,” said Williams, an Atlanta native. “I just found out it was called The Horseshoe. I didn’t know what their stadium was. But I know it’s a big game, a prime-time game. Something as a child you dream about, playing in one of these games.”
Dealing with Barrett: Has Mark Banker’s defense seen anybody this season that can prepare the Huskers for what they’ll face in Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett?
Why, yes. “Tommy Armstrong,” the Husker defensive coordinator answered after Tuesday’s practice.
That is, Barrett is a quarterback who can also beat you with his feat, having rushed for 531 yards on 121 carries this season, averaging 15.1 carries a game. To compare, he actually has 27 more carries than Armstrong this year.
“Extremely gifted athlete,” Banker said. “Seems to have a real good command of the offense. They have a lot of run-pass options for him. … He has the ability on some swing plays to check out the box (of the defense) and if the box is clear, he takes the draw and it’s blocked for him. I mean, he’s dangerous.”
The coach noted Barrett’s strong arm, saying he can “throw it out of the ballpark.”
He’s completing passes at almost a 64 percent clip, with 17 touchdown passes. Ohio State has struggled in recent weeks with the vertical passing game, but Banker said that group of wide receivers is “like a track team.”
Linebackers coach Trent Bray finds some style comparisons between Ohio State’s offense and Indiana’s.
As for defending the versatility of Barrett, Bray said you go into the game knowing the Buckeye quarterback is going to get some yards with his legs.
“What you got to do is minimize them, get guys returning once he takes off, and really up front, being aware of where he’s at,” Bray said. “It’s a little different than rushing the passer like the kid we rushed last week where we kind of know where he’s going to be.”
Speedy Samuel: Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel leads the Buckeyes in receiving with 539 yards on 44 catches. He’s also incredibly dangerous as a runner, ripping off 555 rushing yards on just 71 carries, an average of 7.9 yards every rush.
Samuel isn’t even Ohio State’s leading rusher. That’s Mike Weber, who has 770 yards.
“It’s a change of pace in that it goes from fast to fastest,” Banker said of that two-headed monster.
Bando literally leaving a mark: Bray praised the play of senior linebacker Josh Banderas, who has 32 tackles over the past three games, including eight against Wisconsin.
He was officially credited with eight tackles against Wisconsin, though NU’s staff had him in double digits for the third straight game.
“Last three weeks, he’s played at a really high level,” Bray said. “His tackling, especially against Wisconsin, was the most physical it’s been in a long time, and he’s knocking guys back, and those are real guys.”
Physical Blackshirts: Banker liked how physical his defense was as a whole on Saturday, starting up front.
“Because I can remember watching some other games of Wisconsin, some of the (opposing) defensive linemen got rolled up, and that wasn’t the case (with us),” Banker said.
He felt Nebraska’s defense took away most of what wanted Wisconsin wanted to do.
“But we didn’t finish. Two plays in particular got us — a draw and a sweep.”