Going on the road has its advantages — especially when the travel destination is prime recruiting territory.
The state of California is certainly that for Nebraska. It’s one of the main focal points for Husker coaches, who gained three recruits from the state a year ago and have a commit from California quarterback Johnny Stanton this year.
So Husker coaches are hoping a recruiting payoff might come with their visit to the Rose Bowl this Saturday to play UCLA.
"… There are some key targets right now in our recruiting that are from California — some guys that are committed and some guys that aren't," said defensive coordinator John Papuchis after Tuesday's practice. "So getting out there and getting some exposure, and hopefully playing really well, will be good for us."
Husker coach Bo Pelini said NU continues to have good interest when coaches go into California high schools.
“And a lot of good California kids are not afraid to go away from home,” Pelini said. “We pick our spots and we've had our success, and I think that will continue. … We've got some good football players from out there just by looking at last year's class. We just got a quarterback committed to us from out there. It's been a good spot for us and we're going to continue to recruit out there."
A secondary test: Papuchis said he expects UCLA to attack the Huskers downfield more than Southern Miss did the opening week.
"This week will be a much better evaluation of where we're at as a secondary," he said.
Among the UCLA targets is 6-foot-7, 255-pound receiver Joseph Fauria, whose size jumps off the screen. He had 39 catches for 481 yards and six touchdowns last year.
“Obviously we have our plan on how we're going to (defend him)," Papuchis said. “I'm not going to disclose it now, but he's a good player and it will be a good matchup.”
Back at it: One possible new addition to the Husker secondary this weekend is Mohammed Seisay. The junior cornerback did not suit up against Southern Miss because of a nagging ankle injury.
Seisay was back on the practice field Tuesday, and looked pretty good, Papuchis said. “But he's got to have a good week of practice to be prepared to play, that's for sure."
Health updates: Rex Burkhead did not practice Tuesday. He walked off the field without a noticeable limp, nothing around his knee. Pelini said during the Tuesday Big Ten teleconference that he expects the senior running back to be on the travel roster.
Senior tight end Ben Cotton (ribs) wore a no-contact green practice jersey during the practice.
“I'm trying to get back in the swing of things this week so I'm ready to go for Saturday,” he said.
More snaps coming: True freshman defensive linemen Avery Moss and Aaron Curry both saw about eight to 10 snaps in their debut, coming in during the fourth quarter of the 49-20 win over Southern Miss.
Papuchis expects both to see more and more snaps as the season progresses.
"The reality was, we were careful with them, they're babies, no game experience,” Papuchis said. “Until we knew exactly what was going on (with Southern Miss), we didn't want to put them in a position where they weren't going to have success."
The 6-1, 280-pound defensive tackle Curry had never been to a Husker game before Saturday. “I had chills coming down (during) the tunnel walk and everything,” he said. “And just getting on the field made it even better.”
Football runs in the Curry family.
Curry’s cousin, Marcus Curry, plays at Texas State as a running back. Another cousin, Howard Griffin, is the Big Ten Network analyst.
No panic: Papuchis wants to see better tackling. But he isn't panicking just now about some of the missed tackles in the opener.
"It will be more concerning this week if we see the same things," he said. "If it's one of those things where it's Week 1 and we have to make improvements, we'll live with that. If it continues to be an issue, obviously that's something we got to get fixed. So I'll reserve judgment on some of the missed tackle stuff until we get to evaluate us in this coming week."
Popular ticket: Quincy Enunwa, a native of Moreno Valley, Calif., has an important file saved in his phone. It’s a list of those teammates who’ve promised to sign over their allotted tickets to him for Saturday’s game at UCLA.
“I’m still trying to get more tickets. I’m hoping for 30, but I’m at 20 right now,” said Enunwa, whose hometown is about an hour from Los Angeles.
“My dad gave me a list, and he had like 50 names on it … and I was like, ‘I have friends, too, Dad.’”
Complimentary player tickets — each player gets four for each game — are a hot item this week, what with Enunwa, Cameron Meredith, Taylor Martinez, Eric Martin and Josh Mitchell among those Huskers hailing from California.
“It’s tough,” said Enunwa, noting he stops short of trying to bribe teammates for their tickets.
“Not so much bribe, but I can trade. Like, I’ll trade Idaho State or something, some game my parents aren’t coming to.”
At least friends and family won’t have to worry about getting shut out of the Rose Bowl — not if they’re willing to buy a ticket. The Los Angeles Times reports that UCLA officials are expecting a crowd of about 55,000 in the 91,500-seat stadium.