Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, 9.29.12

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) reaches for a ball fumbled by Ameer Abdullah in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, at Memorial Stadium.

The ball hit the turf on three of Nebraska’s first six offensive snaps this past Saturday night.

By the end of the game, NU had fumbled it six times, fortunate to just lose two of those in the 30-27 win over Wisconsin.

Certainly better ball security will be a premium when Nebraska heads to Ohio State this weekend.

“We always work on it,” Husker running backs coach Ron Brown said after Wednesday’s practice. “(We) get in their face a little bit about it. I’ve tried to look at what is the reason for the fumbles. We’ve had the ball put on the ground for a variety of reasons.”

Bad snaps, handoffs, dropped punts, even one by usually reliable Rex Burkhead in which he bumped into his own lineman.

Nebraska has suffered 15 fumbles in the past four games, losing nine.

“We’ve had the ball on the ground too many times,” Brown said. “All those things we address. Concentration, focus and technique. A lot of that. We have our ways to get at it. It works. It will work.”

* Pensick’s rise: Cole Pensick appears to have found a niche in Nebraska’s offense.

A junior from Lincoln Northeast, Pensick played the majority of the fourth quarter Saturday night. He typically splits playing time with senior Seung Hoon Choi.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Pensick competed throughout August for the starting center job, which ultimately went to senior Justin Jackson.

“Cole’s done an outstanding job,” said Husker assistant offensive line coach John Garrison. “He allows us to move him around from left guard to center to right guard. He’s kind of our utility guy inside.”

Losing out to Jackson “obviously hurt him,” Garrison said.

“But his attitude was, ‘All right coach, what can I do to get playing time?’” Garrison said. “His workmanlike attitude has been great.”

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* Linebackers at the ready: Sean Fisher, Alonzo Whaley, Will Compton and David Santos are the top four linebackers Nebraska has been prepping in practice this week, position coach Ross Els said Wednesday.

How much action Santos, a redshirt freshman, could see Saturday night will depend on what looks Ohio State shows.

“They can do some different things,” Els said. “Even though they’re a spread football team, they can certainly pound it at you with two-back type sets. Or they can spread you out and get things open on the perimeter. It depends on what type of game we’re seeing if he plays.”

Ohio State turned to its power running game to run the final 4 minutes, 10 seconds, off the clock in Saturday’s victory over Michigan State. That featured six straight runs that moved the ball from the OSU 18 to the MSU 44.

“I mean, they’re still Ohio State, now,” Els said. “I know they’re trying to run spread, but they’re a physical, physical football team.”

* Recruiting Ohio: Nebraska has made impressive in-roads in recruiting the state of Ohio in recent years.

In fact, of 14 verbal commits in the current Husker class, four come from the Buckeye State -- wide receiver Kevin Gladney (Akron), tight end Greg Hart (Dayton), and linebackers Courtney Love and Marcus McWilson (Youngstown).

Husker coach Bo Pelini said the state has several similar characteristics to other important recruiting hotbeds like California, Texas and Florida.

“They have big population bases and tradition over a long period of time,” Pelini said. “Guys gravitate to places that have good high school coaching. I always believe that with coaching, period. You kind of become a product of what you've been exposed to growing up. That tends to repeat itself.

“So I know myself, and I'm sure Urban Meyer would tell you the same thing, that if you're coached the right way growing up … and you get a foundation built that will establish what you need to do to have success in your career and those things, it gives you a little bit of a leg up going forward.”

While Ohio will surely continue to be an important state for Husker recruiting, Pelini downplayed the impact Saturday night’s game would have on that.

"Just like anything else with regards to recruiting, if you win, it's good for you,” he said. “But I don't really put a lot of stock into that. We're trying to be the best football team we can be. We're going to try to play the best we possibly can on Saturday and try to win the football game. How that applies to recruiting, you'll have to ask the recruits."

-- Brian Christopherson, Steven M. Sipple and Brian Rosenthal

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


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