Southern Mississippi vs. Nebraska, 9.1.12

Nebraska defensive lineman Alonzo Whaley (45) pursues Southern Mississippi quarterback Ricky Lloyd (8) in the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, at Memorial Stadium.

FRANCIS GARDLER/Lincoln Journal Star

Back from Wednesday's practice -- also known as assistant coaches' day.

Linebackers coach Ross Els was a popular man to form a circle around after the Tuesday news of Zaire Anderson's injury.

As mentioned in the blog below, senior Alonzo Whaley and redshirt freshman David Santos will be the two key figures at that weakside spot.

Corey Cooper will also get looks at that position when offenses are spreading Nebraska out, Els said.

"So there’s a lot of different guys that need to produce. But fortunately we have a little bit of depth there. I think we’ll be fine."

Some quick hits:

* Idaho State does not have the type of football resume that strikes fear into anyone.

But Els said Nebraska coaches and players can't come into this Saturday taking anything for granted.

"It doesn’t matter who we’re playing at any time, you got to be ready to play," Els said. "Look at some of the (FCS) schools that came up and beat the (FBS) schools. Like Houston was a 35-point favorite the first weekend and lost. It’s a football game and they’re going to keep score, and we’re coming out with a lot of fire and hopefully we get off on a good note like we have with the other two (home games)."

* Wednesday's practice evaluation?

Just OK, Els thought.

“I think we threw a couple new wrinkles at them, personnel groupings we haven’t worked yet. It was just OK. We have to be a lot sharper to get ready for Idaho State."

*Els was as impressed as the rest of us that Zaire Anderson played football this past week on a torn ACL -- unknown at the time.

“He’s a tough kid," Els said. "It was bothering him, But even our medical staff and Zaire didn’t realize the extent that it was hurt. I know it’s a very serious injury but he’s going to be fine with this thing once we get it operated on. But it just shows his toughness and his want-to as far as being on the field."

Els said he didn't notice the injury holding Anderson back on defense against Arkansas State.

But there was one place where the coach did think Anderson didn't seem quite himself.

"I noticed it on kickoff coverage," Els said. "He wasn’t getting down as fast as some other guys."

* Husker coaches continue to evaluate true freshmen like Thomas Brown and Michael Rose, keeping them prepared in case they're needed this season.

Rose has not yet been sent down to the scout team, Els said.

“We’re going to continue to give him reps. Very intelligent player. Can play inside the box. So he could possibly play this year, too.”

Rose has been working at the MIKE spot, but is versatile enough to be given looks at various positions going forward.

Since Nebraska will be without Will Compton, Whaley and possibly Sean Fisher next year, Els points out that linebackers like Rose will enter 2013 with opportunities at a variety of spots as coaches look over their options.

"If you lose all three of those guys (next year), it’s all new," Els said. "We’re going to wipe the slate clean and get the best three guys that can earn it. So right now, Rose is a MIKE but he could be a WILL linebacker also."

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