NU Football Practice, 10.23.2012 (copy)

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis knows his Huskers will have their hands full with the balanced attack of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Nebraska this week has locked in on its preparations for Georgia, said Huskers defensive coordinator John Papuchis.

The sixth-ranked Bulldogs' balance on offense will be a challenge, starting with their physical running game, the coach said after Tuesday's practice.

"Obviously, they have a three-year starter at quarterback — Aaron Murray is a good player," Papuchis said. "He has a strong arm. I have a lot of respect for them on offense. They're physical. So we have to have a good two weeks to prepare for them."

Nebraska (10-3) continued preparations for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl in Orlando. After several practices of mostly focusing on basics, and itself, NU this week turned its attention to Georgia. 

The Bulldogs' style of play on offense roughly compares to Michigan State, Papuchis said. Georgia features two hard-charging freshman running backs in Todd Gurley (6-foot-1, 218 pounds) and Keith Marshall (5-11, 216). As one might expect, the Bulldogs use play-action effectively.

"Up front, they're good. They're big. We have to be ready to return the punch," Papuchis said.

Georgia ranks 27th nationally in both total offense and total defense. The Bulldogs rank eighth nationally in pass defense, no doubt benefiting from the pass-rush presence of 6-3, 241-pound outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.

"They're probably as good as any defense we've played this year," Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck said.

Nebraska practices again Wednesday and Thursday before taking the weekend off. The Huskers will gather again as a team on Dec. 26, when they leave for Orlando.

* Marrow in fold for bowl: Vince Marrow, who last week accepted a full-time assistant coaching position at Kentucky, will stay with Nebraska as a graduate assistant until after the Huskers' bowl game.

"You like to keep things as normal as you can through it, so it'll be good having Vince," Beck said.

* Bouncing back: It took Nebraska players a couple of days to recover once they returned to practice in the days following a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Dec. 1 Big Ten Championship Game, Papuchis said.

"I think our guys emotionally were beaten up," he said. "We were as coaches. The one thing we have is each other. I think things started to get better, and the healing process really started to begin, once we started practicing again.

"We started working toward a different goal, another opponent ... You start that healing process."

* Next step: Beating Georgia would be significant for a variety of reasons, Papuchis said. 

It would give Nebraska momentum going into the offseason, bolstered by the fact Georgia is a marquee SEC program.

What's more, "It would give us a chance to get to 11 wins, which is something we haven't gotten," Papuchis said. "We've been stagnant at 9-4 and 10-4 since we've been here. To be able to get to 11, that would be big for the program."

* Re-recruiting Fisher: Papuchis makes no bones about it: He would like to see senior linebacker Sean Fisher return for a sixth season in the program.

Fisher missed the entire 2010 season because a leg injury, meaning he can likely have an extra year of eligibility if he so desires.

"I'm in kind of recruiting mode with Fisher," the coach said. "Part of it is kind of joking around."

It's not all fun and games, though. Fisher is in the midst of applying to medical schools. He said he plans to make a decision about next season shortly after the Capital One Bowl.

"He has such a bright future ahead of him," Papuchis said. "My angle is, that future will still be there in a year. College football won't be. But that's a decision he and his family have to make, and I'll respect the decision however it plays out."

The 6-6, 230-pound Fisher has appeared in all 13 games this season, starting five, and has 47 tackles.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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