The battle remains tight at Nebraska's linebacker spots, where Ross Els said after Tuesday's practice as many as six players are "very even" at the MIKE and dime backer positions.

Sophomore David Santos is the lone linebacker with a blackshirt, but Bo Pelini said yesterday the gap between Santos and true freshman Josh Banderas is "not big."

Els echoed the tightness of the race, also throwing Michael Rose's name into the mix at the MIKE spot.

"Don't be surprised if you see him in there."

Then there's Mohammed Seisay, Nathan Gerry and Zaire Anderson as dime candidates.

"There's not a lot of difference between those six guys," said Els, Nebraska's linebackers coach. "You'd like somebody to step forward and be better, but we need to get a few games under our belt and see how it goes."

Husker coaches showed a lot of faith in Banderas in his first collegiate game on Saturday, putting him into the fire in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

"We had no hesitation," Els said. "Let's get David out, he's played a ton of snaps, he'd done fairly well. Let's see if we can't get Josh in there and see if we can't get a fresh body and a little bit better coverage guy, and he did it."

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said the plan was to play Banderas more earlier in the opener.

"(But) the game wasn't ever comfortable enough where we were that eager to play a freshman, but kind of bit the bullet there in the fourth quarter where we said, 'Hey, it's time to get him in.' He played well. We put him in I think when we had a 16-point lead and really just left him in there."

One player who did not see snaps at linebacker against Wyoming was junior Zaire Anderson.

Papuchis said that was because of the Cowboys' scheme, but is hoping to get Anderson more involved going forward.

"With Wyoming being a four-wide personnel team, the thought initially was we were going to play a lot more dime to that, which put Mo a lot more involved, and Nate as kind of the hybrid dime," Papuchis said. "I'd like to see Zaire have a bigger role this week, but some of that is going to be dictated by what kind of personnel grouping we're seeing from Southern Miss. You have to have some guys out there that can cover wideouts, and Zaire can in certain situations, so his role I would like to see a little bit more increased this week."

Els said Anderson handled Saturday's situation well.

"Oh, he understands, just like our nickels and dimes understand when we go base personnel," Els said. "Our kids are team players. They're attentive on the sideline, they're ready to go. That's not an issue."

As for how Seisay did in his dime duties?

Some good, some not so good, said secondary coach Terry Joseph.

"To play and start his first game and get some extended time, I'm sure he was nervous," Joseph said. "What I talked to Mo about all week was not trying to get it all back in one game and not press. And I think there were some plays where he was trying to do too much instead of just getting in the flow of the games and make some plays. And I think that's when he struggled. But he'll be back out there this week. I have nothing but confidence in him and we'll take it as a learning experience."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.