LINCOLN, Neb. — Every week, Mike Riley’s main goal is for his team to be a force in the ground game.
The Nebraska coach reiterated after practice on Thursday that he hasn’t liked his rushing offense much the past two weeks, and wants the Huskers to reimpose their will against Purdue on Saturday.
“Our consistency on offense can start with running the ball better,” Riley said.
Riley said he wasn’t sure how much sophomore Devine Ozigbo would play on Saturday. Ozigbo traveled to Indiana but only played a handful of snaps. The weight of the run game likely will fall on senior running back Terrell Newby and freshman Tre Bryant.
The main issue Riley’s had with the run game the past two weeks is the blocking up front. Riley said the offensive line needs to sustain blocks better against Purdue. Part of the reason why those blocks may have dropped off the past two weeks are because of injuries up front.
Offensive tackles Nick Gates and David Knevel did practice on Thursday, Riley said. Gates had been out all week with an ankle injury, and Knevel was taken out of the Indiana game after the first play with an ankle injury. Riley didn’t say if, or how much, either of those tackles would play. He added that senior center Dylan Utter was taken out of a few drills Thursday because of a dislocated finger. He will likely play on Saturday.
Riley said he’s also concerned about his passing defense Saturday. Purdue quarterback David Blough is the conference’s leading passer, so Riley said the Nebraska secondary needs to be up to the challenge.
“We gotta be really, really sound,” Riley said.
Purdue torched Nebraska on misdirection plays and play-action passes last year, so Riley wants to shore up that part of the defense.
With No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State on the other side of Purdue, Riley said he thinks his team is “mature” enough to know not to look ahead.
“I didn’t see any difference in the approach this week,” Riley said. “I’d hope and I think this group understands all of these games are hard. I cannot believe they would assume it’d be any easier this week.”
Full audio of Riley’s press conference below: