Nebraska figures to run a lot of different bodies in and out on the defensive line Saturday, but a clearer picture on who might start on the front four is forming.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said after Tuesday's practice that if a game were tomorrow the likely starting group would feature senior Jason Ankrah and Avery Moss or Randy Gregory at the ends, with Thad Randle and redshirt freshman Vincent Valentine inside.
The Valentine news stands out the most. At Big Ten media days, Husker coach Bo Pelini said Valentine had a good summer, but also challenged the young player to push to another level.
“Vincent has to learn how to work and how to push through,” Pelini said then. “When you're that big, that physical, that talented, it was easy for him in high school. You step up to this next level, you have to understand the type of mentality, the type of work ethic, the type of being able to fight through when you're tired. The self-imposed hurdles he has to overcome. Some of it is mental with Vincent. He's a young guy. There's nothing new there. With him, the faster he understands that, the more he's going to be able to help us."
Papuchis said he didn't know if Valentine had heard those words, "but he's much improved from where he was in the spring."
"...More than anything, he's more physically mature," the coach continued. "He's in better shape. He's better prepared for what he has to do each and every day. The thing that held Vincent back in the spring was he wasn't in great shape and it's hard to get a good evaluation on a guy when he's sucking wind. So he's in much better shape and that's allowed him to play better."
* In breaking down some other spots on the defense, Papuchis wasn't ready to name the starters at the safety spots but said the top 3 are Corey Cooper, Harvey Jackson and Andrew Green.
* To no surprise, David Santos is expected to start at the MIKE backer. Given Wyoming's spread attack, the Huskers may feature more dime this week. Candidates as the dime backer are Mohammed Seisay, Nathan Gerry and Zaire Anderson.
"So it kind of depends on what we're seeing," Papuchis said. "If there's a tight end in the game, you're going to see more true backers. If there's 4 wide, you'll probably see more DBs."
* Papuchis said Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Josh Mitchell are separated from pack at corner.
Consider Evans will be at nickel Saturday, and that means both SJB and Mitchell will be starting as the corners on Saturday.
Put all that info together and Nebraska's starting lineup against Wyoming would resemble something like this:
DL: Ankrah-Randle-Valentine-Moss OR Gregory
Corners: Mitchell and Jean-Baptiste
Safeties: Cooper OR Harvey Jackson OR Green. Two of the three.