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Husker notes: Wan'Dale Robinson steps up after Dedrick Mills' injury

Husker notes: Wan'Dale Robinson steps up after Dedrick Mills' injury

Wan'Dale Robinson

Nebraska's Wan'Dale Robinson rushes through a pocket the Huskers game against Penn State.

The Husker defense comes up big in the end for a win over Penn State.

LINCOLN — The commentary bounced around social media during the game Saturday that NU receiver Wan’Dale Robinson hadn’t practiced much at running back the week before the game and yet was able to step into the role when starter Dedrick Mills got hurt.

Of course Robinson could. He may be the best running back in Kentucky prep history. And he played the role much of last season when Nebraska needed him to take the job after Maurice Washington was kicked off the team.

So his 16 carries for 60 yards — which included a key fourth-down run that helped set up a field goal — shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. Robinson didn’t seem shocked afterward, either.

“If I have to play running back the whole game, I’ll play running back,” Robinson said. “If I have to play receiver the whole game, I’ll play receiver. It’s really whatever they need me to do.”

Nebraska planned on getting Robinson — one of the team’s top playmakers in 2019 — the ball more Saturday. He was involved early in the passing game and, on NU’s second drive of the first quarter, he was taking carries at running back. Frost didn’t anticipate needing the sophomore at running back as much, then Mills got hurt.

Mills was seen limping at times and also standing on the back bench of the sideline watching the game. Robinson, arguably a better prep running back than any of Nebraska’s actual running backs, then took the lion’s share of the load instead of freshmen Marvin Scott and Ronald Thompkins, who played sparingly.

Mills finished with three carries for 11 yards. Coach Scott Frost said the senior “got nicked up” but would be fine moving forward.

When Robinson moved to running back, it meant NU was using more young receivers than it had planned, Frost said.

“We had a lot of personnel groups — more than I’m used to dealing with — as we’re trying to get young guys involved,” Frost said. “The coaching staff, myself included, have to make sure we do a great job of getting the right people on the field, especially to start a drive.”

Robinson knows what it’s like to have a big role in his third career game. It happened just last season. So he tried to help the young receivers — including Zavier Betts, Marcus Fleming and Alante Brown — as much as he could during the game.

“I feel for them, and I just let them know: ‘Relax, calm down, you’re going to be all right,’ ” Robinson said. ‘If you have any questions, there’s usually a veteran out there who can help you.’

Huskers put star Lion receiver on lock

Nebraska’s secondary shut down one of the best receivers in the Big Ten, holding Jahan Dotson, who came in averaging seven catches and 120 yards per game, to two catches for 27 yards.

How? Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt tipped his cap to NU reserve receiver Demariyon Houston — a redshirt freshman who was a track star — for emulating Dotson in practice last week. It helped the Huskers prepare for one of the league’s fastest and most dynamic players. Taylor-Britt and corner Dicaprio Bootle took Dotson away, for the most part.

“We felt like, when he slows down, go ahead and get right on him,” Taylor-Britt said. “He has that speed to stack and get on top of you with those big plays, so we wanted to stay on top of him.”

Kickers enjoy strong outings

NU punter William Przystup had a productive day. The sophomore pinned Penn State inside its own 20 twice, along with booting a 53-yard punt to give Penn State a long field late in the fourth quarter.

Przystup averaged 40.5 yards per punt.

Connor Culp had a perfect day as the LSU graduate transfer hit 3 of 3 field goals from 22, 25 and 30 yards and made all three of his extra points.

Quick hits

» Taylor-Britt had a variety of unconventional returns. He took back a first-quarter interception 55 yards that led to a field goal. He also brought a Penn State 56-yard field goal attempt out of the end zone for 34 yards. As an up man on a PSU punt, he grabbed a short kick for a 25-yard return.

» Nebraska used the west sideline for its bench Saturday. It is believed to be the first time the Huskers used that side of the field since coach Bob Devaney moved the team to the east side in his first season in 1962.

» Receiver Omar Manning didn’t suit for Saturday’s game for reasons unknown after playing four catch-less snaps in his debut last week at Northwestern. Manning tweeted during the second quarter, posting “Let’s goo! #GBR.”

» Bellevue West junior Micah Riley has narrowed his recruiting list down to eight schools. The four-star tight end named Arizona State, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon and Wisconsin as his finalists on Twitter. Riley, 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, had 23 receptions for 310 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games this season. Riley is one of five prospects from Nebraska with a Husker offer in the 2022 class, along with Thunderbird teammate Kaden Helms, Deshawn Woods (Omaha Central), Devon Jackson (Omaha Benson) and Ernest Hausmann (Columbus).

Photos: Nebraska hosts Penn State in first home game of the season

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