If Nebraska defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski was sweating Chase Rome’s departure Wednesday, he wasn’t showing it.
“I don’t think it affects anybody,” the coach said. “You look at last week (at UCLA), Thad Randle played 31 plays. Kevin Williams played 43 plays. Aaron Curry got in there and he’s going to continue to play more. We’ve been trying to get him on the field more and more.”
Rome, a sophomore, had one tackle in the loss to the Bruins. Randle, a junior, had four stops and Williams one.
Williams is a redshirt freshman, Curry a true freshman.
Meanwhile, look for redshirt freshman Todd Peat Jr. to receive more playing time at defensive tackle. A touted recruit from Tempe, Ariz., Peat missed all of the spring with a back injury and wasn't part of the 105-man roster at the start of preseason camp last month. Then he hurt his ankle a couple weeks ago.
“He’s been out of football a long time,” Kaczenski said. “He’s just getting back in football shape and learning how to play the game at a fast tempo.”
Kaczenksi said his linemen’s approach in practice this week has been great.
However, “The train’s moving,” the coach said. “We've got to quit talking about it. We have to walk the walk.”
* RANDLE HOBBLED: Kaczenski said Randle "has been toughing it out" as he comes back from a knee injury that kept him out of spring practice.
"We're just trying to get him to Saturdays," Kaczenski said.
* HEARD'S THE WORD: Sophomore running back Braylon Heard had only three carries against UCLA.
But as Ron Brown noted, they were three important carries.
Heard had three straight runs of 9, 5 and 7 yards during a second-half drive that started at the Nebraska 4-yard line and ended at the UCLA 20 with a missed field goal.
“He continually proves himself to be ready to carry the ball quite a bit,” Brown, the Nebraska running backs coach, said after Wednesday’s practice. “He came in and had three runs, saw things really well, had very good eyes and made good runs.”
Then why didn’t Heard, now the top backup to starter Ameer Abdullah, get more carries?
Brown said he’s never certain going into a game how many snaps each player will get.
“I never know,” Brown said. “It just depends on the course of the game. I don’t ever go in with a predetermined amount of how many carries a guy’s going to have. I have no idea.”
Through two games, Heard has six carries for 55 yards -- an average of 9.1 yards per attempt.
“He’s playing more physical and you’re able to see his quickness,” Brown said. “I’d like to get him some more carries. He’s a good player. He’s really improved. He’s running with definition and decisiveness.”
* MOSS STUDYING HARD: True freshman defensive end Avery Moss is part of the youth movement that could see more snaps the next couple of weeks.
While he played in the opener, Moss said it was just this week when he really started to feel more comfortable in his role in the defense.
"When I got in against Southern Miss, I was really shaky. I was hoping they didn't call certain play calls because I didn't know what to do on those," Moss said. "But after these couple of weeks I've been studying a lot ... and am starting to really get the hang of stuff."
You have to be a student of the game to find success, Moss thinks.
"You have to actually put hours in studying," he said. "It's not like you're going to read the playbook one time and know it. You have to be repetitive with it and be on it every night."
-- Brian Christopherson, Steven M. Sipple and Brian Rosenthal