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Arkansas State vs. Nebraska, 9.15.2012

Nebraska safety P.J. Smith (13) said his team got some good preparation for quarterbacks like Braxton Miller by seeing Taylor Martinez in practice this past spring.

It's true Nebraska saw plenty of spread offenses in September.

But Idaho State's spread didn't quite have anyone like Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, did it?

"This is a different deal for us," Husker secondary coach Terry Joseph said this week. "Because, they have a lot better skill guys than we've faced so far. Those wideouts especially. And when a quarterback gets out of the pocket, it really makes them extra dangerous. They do a great job of when he scrambles, of making plays."

Joseph said Miller's ability to extend plays with his mobility makes things more of a challenge for his defensive backs.

"Obviously, we want (the play) to happen in about four seconds, but this week it can be eight and 10 seconds sometimes," Joseph said. "So that's a huge challenge, because sometimes even the best DB in America, it's hard to cover for that long."

Miller also likes to sometimes get the ball out quick to his receivers, putting the pressure on defensive backs to tackle well in space.

Husker coach Bo Pelini said after Thursday’s practice that it would be a good test for his defensive backs on the outside.

“We’re going to challenge routes, challenge everything that they do,” Pelini said. “I think our style of play lends to that. We don’t play real soft in our coverage.”

* Mum on the AD: Pelini didn’t have much to say about soon-to-be athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

Asked after the practice if he had a statement, Pelini said: "No. I've been concentrating on Ohio State, I don't know anything about that."

Earlier in the day, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman expressed the belief that Eichorst and Pelini would form a good connection.

"I'm confident knowing Bo as I do, and knowing Shawn as I do, that it will be a very positive relationship," Perlman said.

* Beating away the hype: P.J. Smith said he expects it to be a wild and crazy atmosphere at Ohio State on Saturday night.

"There's going to be hype, but we've got to keep our emotions to a normal level," the Husker safety said.

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Controlling emotions is one test. Controlling Miller is another.

Working against Taylor Martinez in the offseason could help.

"They're both explosive running the ball and they're both also good passers," Smith said. "So practicing against Taylor this spring ball, that kind of prepared us a little bit for Braxton Miller. It's going to be a heckuva challenge. We have to get 11 guys to the ball."

Winning the turnover battle, of course, will loom large.

"We should have had at least four more," Smith said of missed opportunities in the Wisconsin game. "If we were able to get those turnovers, the game would have probably been a little bit different."

* Injury rundown: True freshmen Jordan Westerkamp and Avery Moss did not practice Thursday.

Westerkamp, who appears headed for a redshirt season, “tweaked his MCL,” Pelini said.

The coach said the receiver will be fine and compared the injury to the one suffered by Rex Burkhead in the opener.

Moss, meanwhile, was out because of sickness, the coach said. The defensive end will make the trip to Columbus, Ohio.

Reserve senior safety Courtney Osborne (concussion) will not play Saturday. 

* Happy for Marlowe: Pelini said he’s glad to have wide receiver Tim Marlowe joining the team as the 71st guy on this road trip -- something that was allowed by the Big Ten after Tom Osborne called around to gain approval.

It’s a special trip for the senior, who is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. He is recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in the season opener.

“Obviously, Tim is a big part of this football team,” Pelini said. “I wish he was playing in the game, but we’re happy, obviously, that he’s able to go. He’s a real leader on the football team.”

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

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