After a second consecutive game forcing three turnovers, Chinander said Nebraska's defense is displaying on the field the improvements it has shown in practice.

It comes down to ball awareness, Chinander said - being able to locate the football and go get it.

"They're taking those drills seriously. You watch the film of those turnover drills at the beginning of the year, it looks like it's the Bad News Bears out there running around," Chinander said. "Now it looks like a real football team. It looks like guys are trying to get the football. You can see that that they're ball-aware in team settings, they're more ball-aware in individual settings, and obviously they're becoming more ball-aware in games."

It's been about the process, Chinander said. Coaches preaching the same thing over and over until it becomes habit. It's taken time, but it's started to take hold, he said.

"It's amazing, the kids are talking now. I get them up on the sideline before a drive, and at the beginning of the year it's crickets. I'm talking to myself. Now they're talking about, we need a turnover, we need a score on defense," Chinander said. "It's becoming a real thing. it's not becoming something coaches are talking about now. And that's where you want to be."

* If the Illinois offense didn't have Nebraska's attention before, it certainly does after Saturday.

The Illini rushed for 430 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per carry against Minnesota, with an offense that will require the Blackshirts to be disciplined Saturday morning in Memorial Stadium.

"They got some speed on offense. No. 2 (Reggie Corbin) is obviously a dynamic back. A lot of cutback yardage - the big play against Wisconsin, some big plays last week," NU defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday. "You gotta get a lot of hats to the ball, gotta take good angles on him."

Corbin paced the Illinois attack with 13 carries for 213 yards and two scores, including a 77-yard burst. Illinois leads the nation in runs of 70-plus yards.

"A lot of triple option elements involved in that offense. They're doing a really good job," Chinander said.

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