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Tuesday nuggets: NU talks improvement, Iowa rivalry

Nebraska continued its preparations on Tuesday for this week's Black Friday showdown at Iowa.

Here is a full recap of what coordinators Matt Lubick and Erik Chinander and several Husker players had to say following Tuesday's practice...

Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick.
Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick. (Nate Clouse)

Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick

***Lubick said Iowa ranks near the top of the conference in most statistical categories, and their defensive front would be as physical as NU had faced this season.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

***Lubick said Nebraska was continually working on its third-down offense. He said they went through two third-down periods on Tuesday and would do another one tomorrow.

“I’m a big believer that you can win or lose games on third down.”

***Lubick characterized Nebraska’s passing game as “inconsistent” against Illinois, especially with the deep throws. But it was also not converting on short passes that the Illini were giving up by taking away the long routes.

***Lubick said the freshmen receivers were doing a good job of not getting too frustrated about this season and their roles so far. He said the staff needed to continue to find ways to get them involved and boost their confidence.

He said the receivers have had one of their better weeks of practice so far.

***Lubick said Omar Manning “has been good” and still had a chance to make an impact this season. “We just have to get him healthy,” Lubick said. Manning was still considered “day-to-day” and was making progress in his recovery but has had some setbacks along the way.

***Lubick said, “you’ve got to have more than one running back” just by nature of the position, but “you’d always like a guy to carry the ball 20-25 times a game.” Lubick said he likes the depth NU has at that position.

***On the first offensive play against Illinois, Lubick said he had access to the video replay but didn’t decide to challenge because the officials told them they were going to review the play. He said it was “close” but thought it was “definitely an incomplete pass.”

***Lubick said receiver Oliver Martin had worked his way into Nebraska’s receiver rotation with his consistent play in practice, and now that the NCAA had cleared him, Martin would continue to have a bigger role in the offense.

***Lubick said they're trying to simplify things in the passing and run games. He said coaches do a self-scout review every game about what worked and what didn't.

"We talk about that literally every day...” Lubick said. “What can our guys understand and compete at in a high level, and fast, and execute?"

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander.
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. (Nate Clouse)

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander

***Chinander said the third-down defensive struggles were partly due to being in too many third-and-short situations, “but that’s no excuse.” He said they needed to be a better job at all levels on defense.

“We just need to do a better job of getting off the field on third down.”

***Chinander said the biggest thing NU needed to fix with its rush defense was eliminating the big runs, which have happened far too much this season.

"A hundred yards on two plays is going to kill your run defense statistically," he said.

***Chinander said you obviously always want to keep recruiting and upgrading the roster, but for this season, "We need need to get this done with the people we have in the program right now."

Chinander stressed that he wasn’t blaming the defense’s struggles on the current personnel.

"We can do this.”

***Chinander, a former player at Iowa, was asked about the Nebraska-Iowa rivalry: "The level of rivalry is super high,” especially with Nebraska having lost five straight to the Hawkeyes.

"If you can't get ready for this one, you probably don't need to be playing college football," he said.

Receiver Levi Falck.
Receiver Levi Falck. (Associated Press)

Receiver Levi Falck

***Falck said they ran a similar offense at South Dakota to what they’re doing at Nebraska, and the main difference was different terminology.

***Falck said on his touchdown, he found an opening in the coverage and thought he had an easy touchdown when Martinez threw it to him. Then he saw a black jersey coming at him – freshman receiver Zavier Betts – and thought, “Oh, God.”

Falck still made the catch but had to do so through contact with Betts.

***Falck said Nebraska’s coaches have gone over the importance of the Iowa game this week.

Offensive lineman Matt Farniok.
Offensive lineman Matt Farniok. (Tyler Krecklow)

Offensive lineman Matt Farniok 

***Farniok said his second round of game action at center against Illinois felt a lot easier than his first at Northwestern

***Farniok said Martinez “is always a fighter” who only cares about how he can help the team, and that’s allowed him to handle his situation as well as possible.

"He's responded really well. He's a competitor, and he's a fighter."

***Farniok said the team was “a good type of mad” after the Illinois loss. What he meant by that was no one was happy with what happened on Saturday, but he’s been very proud of the way the team has responded this week.

***Farniok said the offensive line had been playing “OK,” but he judges the group’s success by one thing: winning and losing. They haven’t been winning, so the o-line needed to be better.

***Farniok said offensive line coach Greg Austin’s message this week was to focus on the "small wins” within every drive and every play.

Defensive lineman Casey Rogers.
Defensive lineman Casey Rogers. (Nate Clouse)

Defensive lineman Casey Rogers

***Rogers said last week was “not the standard of Nebraska football.” He said his impression of last week’s practices was that “there wasn’t as much juice” and was “really business-like.”

Rogers said the message this week has been, “you play how you practice.”

***Rogers said there was great player leadership on the team with guys who will keep everyone accountable, noting Ben Stille and Collin Miller as two examples.

However, he said that the standard slipped last week.