Illinois vs. Nebraska, 10/1

Nebraska safety Aaron Williams wraps up Illinois running back Reggie Corbin during the Oct. 1 game at Memorial Stadium.

A nickel might not get you much on the street, but the right one is sure worth a lot on the football field.

And according to Brian Stewart, who coaches the Husker corners, sophomore Aaron Williams is certainly worth plenty to this Blackshirt defense. Stewart said Williams is "doing a great job" at his nickel spot this season.

Stewart knows plenty about it, having played nickel at Santa Monica (California) City College and Northern Arizona in the 1980s.

"The slot corner — the nickel position — it's tough," Stewart said after Tuesday's practice. "Sometimes you don't have anything to leverage it to. You know, the sideline is way over there, and the next guy helping you is way over (the other way). You have to be cerebral and pay attention to details, and he does that."

Senior safety Nate Gerry notes that it's not a position Williams played a whole lot last year. He's also worked at safety. So Williams has had to be a quick learner.

"I think he's stepped up a lot — mentally and physically," Gerry said. "He's a scrappy little dude. All the offensive guys on our team tell me about it all the time how he's sneaky good. A lot of people look at him ... they don't see much of a football player out of Aaron, but he's a sneaky good athlete. That's what we need out of the nickel position."

Gerry says that because Williams is just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds. Smaller in stature, but someone who has definitely proved to embrace contact, which is why the Huskers don't hesitate to play him at multiple positions in the secondary.

"You play safety in the Big Ten, you're not scared of too much now," Stewart said. "You have some bigger backs. You have the opportunity to cover tight ends. He's shown he can do that."

From the blog

When Corso faced Nebraska: Find the Lincoln sports page from Oct. 1, 1978.

This was the day after the last time the Huskers played Indiana. Famous ESPN personality Lee Corso was then in charge of Indiana football.

And much like this Indiana team, that one had high hopes as the Huskers arrived in Bloomington. The Hoosiers had lost a close game to LSU and defeated Washington, and entered the game just seven-point underdogs.

Yet the headline in the Lincoln paper the day after the game read, "CORDIAL EXTERIOR HIDES CORSO'S HURT FROM 69-17 LOSS."

A story written by Mike Babcock detailed how friendly Corso was in defeat, ushering the press into the interview room.

"When the score's 69-17, there's not much you can ask a guy, is there?" Corso told reporters.

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The Huskers had 613 yards of offense that day in a game played before an ABC regional television audience. I.M. Hipp ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter, helping the Huskers to a 28-0 lead before the game was 15 minutes old.

"I thought the first quarter would never end, and that's the truth," Corso said.

Corso coached Indiana from 1973-82, going 41-68-2. His best Hoosier team was in 1979, a team that won the Holiday Bowl to finish 8-4 and ranked in the top 10.

That game in 1978, though, was the worst licking he ever took as a coach.

He noted he once lost a game to Michigan State 69-19 in which he had thrown in the towel. "Today I couldn't find a towel to throw in."

Corso was chapped about what he felt was a cheap hit Husker defenders gave his QB, but clearly even in defeat had the same humor that has helped make him an icon on television years later.

He assured reporters as they left that he had the exact same team on the field that day as the one that almost beat LSU and took down Washington.

Corso lost four times to Tom Osborne's Husker teams from 1975-78: 45-0, 45-13, 31-13 and 69-17.

As a TV personality, he would joke that Nebraska football is one of the reasons he's out of coaching.

This week's chat 

Brian: How big of a loss is Cethan Carter? To me he's the biggest loss on offense. How much trouble do you think we will have with being able to run the ball with him gone? We don't have much depth at TE behind him.

Christopherson: I think it's a significant loss, though I also think the guys behind him are solid players with plenty of game experience. Sam Cotton has been a productive player for this program and probably could be a bigger part of the receiving game, if not for Carter kind of taking ownership of that role. Trey Foster is another guy who now has a fair amount of snaps under his belt and caught a big touchdown pass a week ago. Two seniors there. So it's not like they're throwing newbies into the fire Saturday.

Also, Tyler Hoppes is a player people don't know a lot about, but could be a very good receiving tight end for this team. Needs to keep improving as a blocker, but in any other year, he'd have seen more reps by now. It just happens he's behind three seniors.

Pipeline: No fullback trap and no toss sweep to an I-back this year that I can recall. What's your favorite NU offensive play, BC?

Christopherson: You know, I really do love a good quarterback draw. Love it. Love when it's third-and-5, a team spreads a defense out, the QB hesitates for just a minute, then boom, there's a big opening and ... gotcha. It's sort of a similar to a fullback trap in the way that, when done well, can really leave a defense with its pants at its ankles. I wouldn't give up on the fullback trap this year. You know this staff has it in its playbook based off last year. Might be waiting to be busted out in a key moment.

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


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