LINCOLN, Neb. — This week isn’t tricky. No gimmicks, no crazy up-tempo, nothing out of the ordinary.
With Wisconsin, defensive coordinator Mark Banker said, you know exactly what you’re going to get.
“It’s a system,” Banker said after practice on Tuesday. “Wisconsin is looking like Wisconsin. They’ve always been good.”
Nebraska expects lots of tight-end sets, lots of shifting formations and lots of run plays this Saturday, similar to what Wisconsin has generally done the past few years against Nebraska.
That’s not necessarily good news, considering that approach has worked extremely well against the Huskers, especially outside of Lincoln. The past two times Nebraska has played Wisconsin away from home, the Badgers ran for 539 yards in 2012 and 581 yards in 2014.
This year, Wisconsin running back Corey Clement is second in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (102 per game) and seventh in all-purpose yards in the conference.
“They’re a team that is a physical team, that’s not about the scheme,” Banker said. “It’s more about a handful of plays they get really good at and give you some problems.”
In the past, that’s been the jet sweep, which was where most of Melvin Gordon’s 408 rushing yards came from in 2014.
Clement isn’t the second coming of Melvin Gordon, but Banker called Clement the best running back Nebraska has faced this year.
“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast,” Banker said.
Up front, defensive line coach John Parrella said battling the Wisconsin offensive line will be the biggest challenge his group has faced all year.
“It’s Wisconsin,” Parrella said, “They’re big and strong and powerful upfront. We’ll have hands our full.”
Beyond strong, Parrella added the Badgers’ offensive line is athletic, despite averaging 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds.
“It’s surprising how athletic they are,” Parella said. “And it’s not just one of them; it’s all of them.”
But, again, that’s just Wisconsin, Banker said. When he thinks of Wisconsin big, athletic offensive lineman are what comes to his mind.
“From the tackle to the tackle, from the center to the quarterback, it never changes,” Banker said. “It’s just all the window dressing on the outside (that) changes.”
The main thing Nebraska will need to have this year is discipline. Not getting fooled by formations and staying in the gaps players are assigned, Banker said.
“We know what we’re in for,” Parella said. “It’ll mean having all 11 guys coming after the ball carrier to stop the run. So it’ll take a lot of guys for us to play well.”