Nebraska’s cornerbacks played every snap

September 12, 2018

LINCOLN — Dicaprio Bootle figured he’d be on the field a lot, but the Nebraska cornerback didn’t expect what happened Saturday.

“Played every snap,” said the sophomore. “Not complaining about it. Happy I could be out there every snap.”

The same was true for junior Lamar Jackson. The pair of corners were in on all 85 defensive plays. Bootle — the only member of the secondary to be awarded a Blackshirt Monday — was also in on Nebraska’s punt return unit. Jackson participated in kickoffs.

Senior transfer safety Tre Neal said the defensive back usage against Colorado is similar to what Central Florida did the previous two years under Scott Frost. Safeties frequently rotated — Antonio Reed, Aaron Williams and Deontai Williams also played — while the starting corners stuck throughout.

“That’s one of those positions where once you start getting in a groove, you don’t want to take them out because then they’ll get out of the groove,” Neal said. “That’s why you didn’t really see too much rotation out there.

″... I think they were out there 80-something snaps and I know that takes a toll, but that’s why we try to tell them when we’re in practice, run to the ball. Get your wind up doing that kind of stuff.”

True freshman Cam Taylor also was on the field for a few plays late against Colorado when Nebraska deployed six defensive backs. He said the speed of his first college game took some adjusting. But he expects to see more reps against Troy.

“Coach (Zach) Duval gets us right,” Taylor said in a nod to NU’s strength and conditioning coach. “He makes sure that we’re prepared very well. They take care of our bodies very well.”

Missed opportunities

Nebraska running back Greg Bell is a “fast kid,” Frost said Monday. He’s seen it in practice.

But when Bell twice on Saturday burst through Colorado’s defensive line and into the open field, he was caught from behind by defenders. His runs went for 45 and 20 yards. The 45-yarder is longer than any NU run of 2017, but Frost expected more out of both carries.

“Honestly I think our guys were so amped up that adrenaline got them a little tight,” Frost said. “Greg looked like he was tight when he broke through instead of just loose and running. We need those plays to turn into touchdowns when we pop guys through that cleanly. He knows it and I’m sure he’ll do a better job in the future.”

A few drops on deep passes — Stanley Morgan dropped a touchdown and JD Spielman dropped a key third-down throw from backup quarterback Andrew Bunch — also were missed opportunities. But Frost said “just about every player” on the team had one or two mistakes from which to learn.

“That’s progression, right, when you’re trying to get a team where you want to get it, you have to learn to win the close games,” Frost said. “And that’s by not making mistakes and figuring out how to make a play when it counts. We wish we could have learned those lessons in a win — and we should have — but we need to learn ’em regardless.”

Quick hits

» Frost did not report any season-ending injuries coming from Saturday’s game. Frost generally does not disclose the status or nature of injuries unless they end a player’s season, though he did note that Adrian Martinez did not suffer ligament damage to his right knee.

» According to NU’s game notes, the team did not nominate anyone for Big Ten Player of the Week on offense, defense or special teams.

» The Huskers are 4-0 against Troy — with an average margin of victory of 31 points — and 9-0 overall against the Sun Belt Conference. NU plays Sun Belt teams in 2019 (South Alabama) and 2022 (Georgia Southern).

» Outside linebacker Caleb Tannor said Monday he wasn’t more involved in Nebraska’s defense because he was sick early last week and not included in the game plan.

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