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Nebraska redshirt freshman Ty Robinson received his biggest taste yet of Big Ten football Saturday — and promptly drifted off to sleep.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound defensive lineman played a total of 57 snaps in NU's 30-23 victory against Penn State, which was only one fewer than senior starter Ben Stille, whose 58 snaps led all Husker defensive linemen. Sophomore Casey Rogers was next highest at 34.

Robinson hadn't played that many snaps in a game since his days at Higley High School in Gilbert, Arizona, where he became one of the most coveted defensive line recruits in the nation. He appeared in three games as a reserve last season but has become a mainstay for Nebraska this season.



"I can tell you this, right after (Saturday's) game, I went home, laid down, and I don't even remember shutting my eyes — and then I woke up the next morning," Robinson told reporters Monday. "Sleep's the best recovery for your body. I feel pretty great today. I'm ready for another week of practice to go take on Illinois." 

When Nebraska (1-2) plays Illinois (1-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Lincoln, the Huskers will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since defeating Northern Illinois and Illinois on back-to-back weekends in September of last season. 

Whatever happens in this week's game, you can bet Robinson will be in the middle of it. His 11 tackles this season lead Nebraska defensive linemen, one ahead of Stille's total. However, Husker defensive linemen are still looking for their first sack of the season. That may be one reason why NU ranks 112th nationally in third-down defense, as opponents are converting at a 50% clip. 

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"Pass rush has got to be better, obviously," Robinson said. "We have to get back there. I just feel our pressure isn't as good. But it's slowly getting there, especially after seeing what we did against Penn State. I feel like we're definitely going in the right direction."

With Nebraska clinging to a 30-23 lead Saturday, the Husker defense twice in the final 7:40 of the game forced fourth-down incompletions deep in its own territory. With 37 seconds remaining, Stille's pocket pressure forced quarterback Will Levis' errant throw, setting off a wild celebration on NU's sideline. 

"The feelings and emotions that rushed through my body, they're unexplainable," Robinson said. "Ben's worked so hard all five years he's been here. To make that play, that's the kind of player he is when it comes down to that crunch-time opportunity. I expect it out of him and anybody else on the D-line. I have that trust. I know he's going to go make that play."

Although its statistics are relatively modest — Nebraska ranks 84th nationally in total defense — Robinson said the entire unit's chemistry has improved. The Huskers' run defense clearly has made strides, as they're allowing 4.4 yards per carry after allowing 5.7 in Big Ten play in 2019.

"I feel like we're gelling really well in practice," Robinson said. "We're finally getting to the point where we trust each other enough to know that guy's going to do his job, and all I have to worry about is doing my own job well. 

"Even though we're 1-2, we've seen the progress." 

Next up for Nebraska is an Illinois team coming off a 23-20 win at Rutgers. The Illini rushed for 342 yards and rank 27th nationally with their average of 206.8 rushing yards per game. Against the Scarlet Knights, redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Williams, making his first collegiate start, rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. 

"We're just going to have to hold our ground," Robinson said. "For me, going into this last game against Penn State, we knew their offensive line was going to hold double teams on us for pretty long. We just knew we had to hold strong so our other guys could make the plays. 

"I'm just here to do whatever I can for the team, obviously." 

Even if it means maxing out physically and basically passing out in bed.