Nebraska football practice, 8/14

Nebraska defensive lineman Keem Green watches a drill during practice at Hawks Championship Center. The junior-college transfer continues to make progress in Nebraska's system.

It’s not always easy to figure out which players are going to play in which games given the flexibility of the NCAA’s relatively new four-game redshirt rule.

Nebraska’s coaches meet weekly to discuss which players are available, who has played in how many games and what both positional and special teams needs look like.

"There's indecision every week," Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said. "I don't know if we'll ever know the right answer on some of those things until you lose a game and somebody says, 'Well, you should have played that guy.'"

For at least one player, though, there is a clearly defined plan. That’s junior college transfer defensive lineman Keem Green, who made his Husker debut in the fourth quarter against Ohio State late last month.

Going forward, the plan is for Green to play three more games and it will not be in mop-up duty.

"He's going to play in four games, and he's coming quickly," Chinander said. "I need to pick the games where it's going to be the games that he fits best in what we're doing, because he's got to get ready to go for next year. And those game reps are important."

Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said the coaching staff has an idea of which games Green will play in.

“Obviously a lot of it will be depending on the roster, if someone goes down (with an injury), it is what it is, but if we had our pick, we’re going to try to get him ready for the big teams,” Tuioti said. “We’re going to need him to be physical up front and we’ve got some games mapped out where we’re going to use him.”

“We do team tempo every day and Keem runs with the No. 1 group every period we go team tempo because I want him to get the pace of the game, I want him to play fast against good-on-good. He knows that. It’s part of his development plan that we’ve got put together.”

Tight end tussle: Minnesota's tight ends don't catch many passes, but that doesn't mean they don't play a huge role, literally and figuratively, in what the Gophers do on offense.

The Gophers have a bevy of massive tight ends to deploy in the running game to try and gain an edge on the front seven of opposing defenses.

How massive? Well, the smallest regular, Ko Kieft, checks in at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, or roughly the same size as Nebraska's Jack Stoll.

Other tight ends who see time for Minnesota include 6-4, 265-pound Bryce Witham; 6-5, 270-pound Jake Paulson and 6-7, 270-pound Brevyn Spann-Ford.

"Their tight ends are big guys. They try to create a lot of C-gap issues. They think their matchup is going to be better when they put almost a lineman-sized guy in the tight end area and try to create a lot of issues for you in the C-gap," NU defensive lineman Ben Stille said Tuesday. "So it’s maybe a little bit different than some Big Ten teams, but that’s really how Minnesota always is."

Minnesota put those tight ends, and the rest of its offensive line, to work in the second half of last week's 40-17 win over Illinois, running on 28 of its 35 second-half snaps while outscoring the Illini 24-7.

"They line up those big tight ends that are like defensive ends, really, and they are a big, downhill run team. And so when you have outside linebackers or smaller guys lined up in front of them, that’s a big advantage to them. So we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us in making sure that we be as stout as we can against those big tight ends," Tuioti said. "So it’s going to be a big challenge for us to make sure we win first and second down, put them in situations they don’t want to be in, in terms of throwing the football."

Lofty projection: Nebraska cornerback Lamar Jackson has enjoyed a strong senior season to this point, recording a team-leading nine breakups and two interceptions.

His nine breakups rank third nationally.

At least one NFL analyst has taken notice.

Chris Trapasso of CBSsports.com projects Jackson as the 17th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, going to the Carolina Panthers.

“Jackson is a huge, playmaking perimeter corner,” Trapasso writes of the 6-3, 215-pound Jackson.

Asked about the projection, Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher said of Jackson, “If he continues to get better day by day, the sky’s the limit. I don’t have anything to do with the draft, and that deal’s so tricky. I don’t like to talk about it much. If it happens, that would be awesome for Lamar and his family.

“But just the day-by-day process of getting better — and giving 100 percent to finding your mistakes on film and trying to correct them — is what’s important. Let’s see how fast we can correct that mistake so next Saturday, we’re showing a fixed mistake. That deal is fixed and looks good.

“It’s about being a pro.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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