NU football practice, 9.15.15

Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey talks with teammates before practice at Hawks Championship Center on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

Michael Rose-Ivey was one of the Huskers who appeared front and center in the postgame after Nebraska's disappointing 28-20 loss to Iowa.

Among the things said by the junior linebacker: He'd like to be one of the players who helps lead this team in 2016.

He's also sure finding those leaders for the year ahead doesn't start now during bowl practices.

"I think it started awhile ago," Rose-Ivey said. "You don't just wake up one day and go, 'Oh, I'm a leader.' It's just something every day just kind of putting yourself out there and making sure you hold yourself accountable so you can hold everybody else accountable."

Rose-Ivey said it wasn't difficult to begin being a leader this year even though he was hampered by a groin injury that limited his game reps throughout the season.

"Because you can still lead from the sideline. There's guys who may not get a snap at all on Saturdays who I still look at as leaders on this team. Your role on the playing field doesn't really change if you're a leader or you're doing the right thing. That's just who you are, just the person you are."

Rose-Ivey hasn't tried to pattern himself off any former leaders on the team.

"I think that's one of the more important things about being a leader is being yourself," he said. "If you're a goofy guy, be goofy. If you're a serious guy, be serious. I think it's a bad spot you get into when you say, 'I need to be more like this guy.' Or 'I need to be more vocal.' Just be yourself."

* EYE ON WEINMASTER: It’s that annual time of year when you’ll begin hearing names of unknown players who teammates or coaches say to keep an eye on for next season.

Let’s begin this year’s ritual with a shout-out from junior linebacker Josh Banderas for Jacob Weinmaster, a walk-on from Loveland, Colorado, who redshirted this season as a freshman.

“He’s kind of the story of the team,” Banderas said. “Just keep an eye out for this kid on special teams, for sure. I’ve never seen him do anything wrong. You want a definition of a kid who’s buying in, it’s Weinmaster.”

Among the many stories Banderas has about Weinmaster, who was homeschooled, is him taking a test at his home.

“I’m like, ‘Just have your book out.’ And he’s like, ‘Naw, they said you’re not supposed to,’” Banderas said. “When you don’t cheat on your take-home test, that’s the kind of guy he is. He does everything right, he’s an awesome kid and he works hard.”

On the field, Banderas described Weinmaster as a “machine” who never gets tired.

“He’s like a Jano on steroids,” he said, a figurative reference to senior fullback Andy Janovich.

* COLD AND PHYSICAL: What did true freshman wide receiver Stanley Morgan learn about Big Ten football this year?

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"It's cold."

But it wasn't as cold as some years? "It was cold to me."

Fair enough. As for the style of play?

"All-out football," said Morgan, who was fourth on the team in receiving yards with 273 on 23 catches. "You've got to be physical to play in the Big Ten."

There may have been some adjusting to college ball for Morgan, but he made an impression on teammates in Year One.

"Stan's the man," said junior receiver Brandon Reilly. "We were kind of worried early on with the playbook, but we just simplified it for him and he came a long way. If the ball's in the air, we don't have any doubt Stan is bringing it down. He's got great hands and he's fun to have in the room."

* RELIABLE GATES: Husker head coach Mike Riley hasn't often had a redshirt freshman have such an important role on the offensive line as Nick Gates.

Gates won the starting job at right tackle in fall camp and, aside from an ankle injury setting him back for three games in October, held steady as the man there all year.

Along with left guard Dylan Utter, he will be one of two returning starters on the O-line in 2016.

"I think Nick has two separators, or maybe three," Riley said. "One of them is just physical talent, the other one is intelligence, the other one is kind of the confident way he carries himself. I mean, his demeanor is good. You like the look he has to compete. I think the sky's the limit for that guy."

* DEALING WITH CRITICISM: The quarterback at Nebraska always takes his share of criticism after a bad day.

But Tommy Armstrong, well-used to the Husker fish bowl by now, may have received his harshest critiques of his career after the four-interception game against Iowa.

"I didn't really pay attention to it. My teammates had my back," Armstrong said. "It was just about me being responsible for certain things, accepting responsibility. I told my guys, 'It's on me. You can't have four turnovers.'

"And I told the captains, Maliek (Collins) and those guys, they played their tails off and held a team that was 11-0 to less than 300 yards. And we have almost (500) yards. … It starts off with me. Try to fix that, and that's what I'm trying to do this whole offseason going into next year."

— Brian Christopherson and Brian Rosenthal


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