Husker coach Bo Pelini said his team is eager to get back on the field following last week’s setback.
What is Pelini looking for against Northwestern on Saturday?
“I want them to communicate,” he said. “I want guys to play fast, hard and with decisiveness and do their job. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s what equates to success. Nothing less will be acceptable."
The Huskers hope to do that with young players in the center of it all. Nebraska is putting the middle linebacker position in the hands of two freshmen – Michael Rose and Josh Banderas.
Rose moved to the position this week, with sophomore David Santos switching to the WILL spot.
Rose and Banderas held up well during practice, Pelini said. But he knows what matters is how they do in the heat of competition.
“I thought they took command. Now we obviously (have) got to put it on film on Saturday. I thought we had a good week. I thought we had a good week of preparation. I like our plan. Now it comes down to execution.”
Rose is obviously eager for the opportunity.
A message on his Twitter account Wednesday night made that clear.
“I promise you I cannot wait to go on that field Saturday," Rose tweeted.
* WEEKEND VISITORS: The 2:30 p.m. kickoff is giving the Huskers a chance to bring in more visitors than previous weeks.
According to HuskerOnline.com, five players -- wide receiver Robert Lockhart (Hinds Community College in Mississippi), offensive lineman Nick Gates (Las Vegas), athlete Jaevon Walton (New Orleans), linebacker Devante Bond (Sierra Community College in California) and kicker Drew Brown (Southlake, Texas) -- plan to visit. Brown has already committed to NU.
* ALLEN KEEPS COMING: It's been a long recovery for Taariq Allen, the wide receiver who tore an ACL last year against Michigan.
Wide receivers coach Rich Fisher said the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Allen is close to 100 percent, but not quite there yet. He keeps telling the receiver to stay patient.
"It's constant. These guys are all competitors," Fisher said. "I know it's frustrating when his mind is telling him he should be out there, but his body is telling him something different. You've got to stay the course. He's got plenty of time here. This is just the beginning of his career. It's not the end of it."
* BATTLE OF THE BATTERED: Both teams come into the game with their share of injuries.
Taylor Martinez is the only player Pelini ruled out because of injury.
But the coach classified tight end Jake Long as doubtful and wide receiver Jamal Turner as 50/50. Neither was in uniform for practice Thursday.
Pelini also said redshirt freshman linebacker Jared Afalava will not play, though it is not injury-related. He did not specify the reason.
Northwestern has its own injury issues.
Teddy Greenstein, who covers the team for the Chicago Tribune, reported Thursday that running backs Venric Mark, Mike Trumpy and Warren Long are all ruled out for Saturday. So is defensive end Dean Lowry.
With those injuries, Northwestern will likely give many carries to redshirt freshman Stephen Buckley, who impressed against Iowa, picking up 99 yards on 17 carries.
* CAREER ENDS: Pelini confirmed Thursday that wide receiver Tyler Wullenwaber’s Husker career is over.
Wullenwaber tweeted that news Wednesday. A day later, Pelini added details.
“His shoulder’s still bothering him too much,” Pelini said. “He doesn’t think he can play through it. He came up and saw me Wednesday night.”
Pelini pointed out that Wullenwaber, who had a touchdown against South Dakota State, has “gone through a number of injuries” during his career, including a season-ending knee injury suffered against UCLA last fall.
“He just doesn’t feel like he can do it anymore,” Pelini said. “It’s too bad. He’s a great kid. I feel bad for him.”