For Nebraska coaches, it’s really not much of a bye week, at least in terms of work load.
It’s a key recruiting week, starting Thursday.
“We can send all 10 of us out , and all 10 of us will be out at different times,” said Ross Els, the Huskers’ recruiting coordinator.
Head coach Bo Pelini will be among those on the road.
“Most of us will be out two days, Thursday and Friday,” Els said. “Some are just going out Thursday. Some are staying over for a Saturday game.”
The priorities are wide-ranging.
“It could be players who are close to committing,” Els said. “It could be guys that are committed. It could be guys we need to evaluate.”
Nebraska’s scholarship class of 2014 stands at 12 verbal commitments. The last commitment came on Aug. 30, from defensive end Peyton Newell of Hiawatha, Kan.
Els said there are couple of players Nebraska coaches need to see practice or play before forwarding a scholarship offer.
“But the majority of the guys we’re going to see — probably 80 percent — we’ve already offered them and we’re trying to show them we care and let them know we’re there,” Els said.
* FULL-CONTACT WEDNESDAY: It's been back to the basics with some hitting involved.
Pelini said his team did a fair amount of "good on good" work on Wednesday, with some live scrimmaging involved in a full-padded practice.
“What we are struggling with the most defensively is taking the things from our individual and group work to bringing it to the team side of things.” Pelini said, “Taking our techniques and transferring it to when all the bullets are flying. I saw a marked jump today, but that needs to continue.”
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said there's a heavy focus this bye week on finding teaching moments and getting back to the basics.
"See where we really are," Papuchis said. "Kind of go back and evaluate the first four weeks and make a decision on what's going to help this football team the most going forward."
The attitude by all involved this week has been the right one, the coach thinks.
"I think the misnomer that's out there a lot of times is that when you don't play well, the players and coaches aren't trying or don't care," Papuchis said. "I mean, our kids were hurt by the way they played. They know there's a need to get better. There's a sense of urgency among them to get better.
"Bottom line, it's time to stop talking about it and do something about it. We can have a team meeting every day from here until the end of the season. That's not going to fix what we need to get fixed. We need to go out on the field and actually get better. That's been the emphasis this week."
* COMING OFF A BYE: Papuchis is hoping this team responds in the fashion that last year's defense did after the bye week.
A year ago, Nebraska entered the bye week with slumped shoulders after losing 63-38 to Ohio State. That defense came out strong its next game after a two-week break, holding down Northwestern to just 301 yards of offense.
"In all reality, going into our bye week a year ago was coming off the Ohio State game, I didn't really like where we were (then)," Papuchis said. "Going through our bye, we came back and played the next games pretty well."
* DEPTH CHART BATTLES: The bye week also could have a major factor on the depth chart.
Asked specifically about the fight for the safety job next to Corey Cooper, Papuchis said: "That spot's open, but truth be told, when you're where we are right now, every spot's open. There's no one I feel like should just assume they're the guy. Because to this point we haven't played well enough defensively for anyone to feel that way."
MIKE linebacker still seems up in the air, though it's sophomore David Santos who is back working with the 1s this week. True freshman Josh Banderas had started at the spot the previous three games.
"Everything's a new experience for Josh," Papuchis said. "He rode the high of kind of being the freshman that was in the spotlight. Now he's seeing a little bit of the other side when things aren't going quite as well. And that's something that's good to learn early. You fight through, you push through, and you work to get back."
* INJURY UPDATES: Taylor Martinez continued to be held out of practices, though the senior quarterback did not wear a walking boot on Wednesday coming off the field.
Also held out were receivers Quincy Enunwa (knee) and Kenny Bell (shoulder), though neither injuries are serious.
Asked specifically about Enunwa, Pelini said: “If we would have played he would have been ready to go today."
Nebraska, which also practiced on Tuesday, will take off Thursday, practice Friday, then take off Saturday before resuming normal game-week preparations.
* TOUGH TIMES: Nebraska junior wideout Kenny Bell keeps friends and family in flood-ravaged Colorado in his thoughts.
He’s from Boulder, which was hit particularly hard. His family’s home suffered some water damage, but nothing serious, he said.
A lot of homes did incur serious damage. Across the state, the floods killed at least eight people and damaged or destroyed as many as 2,000 homes.
“It sucks. It’s eating at me,” Bell said. “A lot of friends and family are involved. I mean, my hometown is in bad shape right now. But as far as trying to focus, I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing.”
* JAY-Z FANS: Credit Nebraska coaches for their social awareness.
Els is looking into the possibility of making a Jay-Z concert part of a Husker recruiting weekend.
Jay-Z is scheduled for Dec. 1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska plays host to Iowa on Nov. 29.
Prospects making official campus visits are allotted “X” amount of dollars for entertainment money.
“Are they able to use it for that or not?” Els said. “Or is it going to have to come out of the recruits’ pockets? We’re getting all the details.”
— Brian Christopherson and Steven M. Sipple