Third downs have been trouble for Nebraska's offense and defense this season. Both coordinators Tuesday declined to give any excuses for the struggles.
The Huskers rank 111th nationally in third-down conversions on offense, hitting at just a 32% clip. The defense sits at 121st in conversions allowed at 54%.
Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said with NU playing a variety of freshmen and newcomers — particularly at receiver, but also running back — the path to a more efficient attack starts with simplifying the scheme so playmakers can react instead of overthink.
“Are they getting thrown into the fire a little more before they’re ready?” Lubick said. “I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Nebraska is “probably not” exactly where it wants to be with defensive personnel for how it wants to stop the run. But the fixes must come from the coaches, and the players are talented enough to complete the task.
“We’ve got to get them more ready to play football and we’ve got to find a way for them to do better at their jobs, succeed on the field,” Chinander said. “… We’ve got to play with the guys that we’ve got, and we’ve got good ones. … They can do this.”
Other quick hits from Tuesday’s post-practice interviews:
» Chinander said he wasn’t sure where the Huskers would be mentally following an emotional win over Penn State and a tough loss to Illinois. But he said they’ve had “good spirits” and lots of energy.
» As a former Iowa player, Chinander said the rivalry with Nebraska is “super high.” He said he doesn’t expect to hear any banter from his former teammates this week.
» Receiver Omar Manning is “a day-to-day situation,” Lubick said. The key to getting the touted junior college transfer back on the field is to get him healthy.
» Lubick said a good offense should have four running backs who can do a little of everything. "We feel we have that," Lubick said.
» Lubick said officials told Nebraska last Saturday that the opening fumble/forward pass by Luke McCaffrey was reviewed. A statement from the referee released after the game said "the replay official let it stand because there would have been no indisputable evidence."
» Senior offensive lineman Matt Farniok said quarterback Adrian Martinez has responded well this week ahead of a possible return to a starting job Friday. “He’s a fighter," Farniok said.