Lincoln, Neb. - The Nebraska football team practiced for just over two hours in full pads on the Ed and Joyanne Gass practice fields Tuesday afternoon, as the Huskers continued preparations for Saturday's Big Ten Conference opener against Wisconsin.
Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis addressed the media after practice, focusing on a Wisconsin running game that could be without All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball, who suffered a concussion in Saturday's 37-26 victory over UTEP.
"A strength of theirs is that they have good depth at running back. Obviously, Montee Ball is a really good player, but so are the other guys," Papuchis said. "We know we have to be prepared to stop the run game regardless of who is playing, and that is something we are working hard at this week."
Papuchis also talked about his emphasis on the ability of Nebraska's defense to match the physicality of Wisconsin's offense.
"I think the biggest thing you learn in the first go-round in the league is that it's fairly easy to watch some of the things on film and have a good idea of how they are going to try to attack you, but you don't have a great feel for their physicality or their talent level until you play them. Certainly, going through the league once and playing them once should help," Papuchis said.
One of the concerns with such an emphasis on stopping the run is the vulnerability to big plays in the passing game. Papuchis expressed his evaluation of the passing game of Wisconsin freshman quarterback, Joel Stave, who made his first career start on Saturday.
"For a guy making his first start, he seemed poised, composed, and made some good throws on some deep balls," Papuchis said. "He certainly didn't look like a freshman out there, and he didn't look like a guy who was making his first start."