Wyoming vs. Nebraska, 8.31.13

A water cooling fan gives Nebraska players relief from the heat during the first half at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.

Not unusual for a season opener, but still a challenge, the heat will be something both Nebraska and BYU players have to deal with Saturday.

Temperatures as high as 97 degrees have been predicted for opening day.

Husker coach Mike Riley said cooling benches and sideline fans will help players. But he also wants them to take the right steps before they even hit the field.

"I think it's, as we've learned through the years, very important what they do to lead up to the game for not just the day of, or the day before, but the whole week. It's really hydrating your body and the right nutrition. People know so much more about that than they used to. And so our people have been very good, I think, teaching our players about that."

Perhaps adding to it, BYU's offense is known as one of the fastest-paced in college football. At least it was a season ago when it ran almost 81 snaps per game.

But playing in serious heat the first week of September should be nothing new to anybody on the field.

As Riley said, "It's kind of part of life this time of year. You've got to be able to deal with it."

* NO ROTATION SET: While Terrell Newby is listed by himself atop the running back depth chart, there's a logjam of options right behind him.

One of the interesting sidebars of the game will be exactly how the Huskers use those different running backs and spread around touches.

"We don't have a set rotation of how that's going to go," Riley said. "We have certain things that are kind of earmarked for some guys, so we'll probably do it according to that and be aware of that when we're in the game."

* TIME TO FIND STUFF OUT: The Huskers do have one more practice on Friday before the big show begins.

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The Huskers will have a shortened, fast-paced practice with no contact, though they will wear game helmets so players can get used to them.

The practice is only about 25 minutes of offensive-defensive work and 15 minutes of special teams.

"Right to this point, it's been real good," Riley said. "I really appreciate this team's work. They're conscientious. I think the intentions have been great, they work hard. It's been fun getting to this point.

"I think the game at this time, it's obviously coming, but I think it's really important for us. It's a really good opponent. It's going to be hard and we'll find out a lot about where we are."

* GOOD HEALTH: Aside from the already known injuries to wide receivers De'Mornay Pierson-El and Lavan Alston, Riley feels good about his team's health heading into Saturday's game.

"Right now, I think we're looking at a pretty healthy group," Riley said.

The fact junior tight end Trey Foster has been given the OK to play after an ankle injury two weeks ago is a pleasant surprise.

"The only thing I wish from all that (injurywise) is that we had those receivers working longer together with the quarterbacks," he said. "That's been the hardest part, probably. But I'm just thankful at this time they're getting pretty healthy as a group."

* NUMBER CHANGE: At least for Thursday, true freshman running back Jordan Stevenson was sporting a No. 24 jersey. He'd come into camp wearing No. 2, but also shared that number with quarterback Zack Darlington.

* QUOTABLE: BYU players want to get off a practice field and into a game just as much as the Huskers.

"We’ve been going against the same defense for four weeks, so we’re ready to go out and show what we’ve been working on the past four weeks and all the talent that we have," said BYU offensive lineman Ryker Mathews. "We’re ready to show it to the world."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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