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Red Report: Jurgens will remain starter at center; Huskers more shorthanded at RB now; Frost talks recruiting
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Red Report: Jurgens will remain starter at center; Huskers more shorthanded at RB now; Frost talks recruiting

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Nebraska vs. Iowa, 11.27

Nebraska coach Scott Frost talks with his players during a first-half timeout against Iowa on Nov. 27, 2020, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Scott Frost remains confident in sophomore center Cameron Jurgens and has no intentions of changing centers.

The Husker football coach said he is not planning to move Jurgens despite the Beatrice graduate continuing to struggle with snaps during a 26-20 loss at Iowa on Friday. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Jurgens had five off-the-mark snaps in the first half and was pulled midway through a second-quarter drive before returning to the field for a clean second half.

"We need to get it fixed, so we're going to get as much help and as many ideas as we can to get it fixed," Frost said during Monday's Zoom media session. "He's too good a player not to have on the field, he's too good of a player to even consider moving him out of that role.

"He's smart, he's extremely athletic and he's exceptionally explosive. He's got the skill set to be really special."

But, Frost added, Jurgens can't continue to struggle.

The third-year coach said the team did some research. When the Huskers (1-4) haven't committed penalties, have snapped the ball cleanly and avoided turnovers, they are posting points on 90% of their drives.

"Cam cares as much as anyone on the team, so he wants to get it fixed," Frost said.

Shorthanded at running back: Because of injuries and inexperience, Nebraska has struggled to get its running backs greatly involved in games this year.

That could be the case again when the Huskers play Purdue at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Senior Dedrick Mills, who has not played since early in the first half against Penn State, remains nicked up, redshirt freshman Ronald Thompkins hasn't played since the season opener, and true freshman Marvin Scott "got hit in the head" in the first half against Iowa, Frost said.

True freshman Sevion Morrison will not be available for the Boilermakers for "health reasons," Frost added. Morrison was not in uniform against Illinois and did not travel to Iowa.

"We're crossing our fingers for everybody else at this point," the coach said.

That leaves redshirt freshman Rahmir Johnson as the only healthy scholarship running back on the roster. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder had five carries for 23 yards and a touchdown against Iowa.

"I thought he did really well, and we've been waiting for Rahmir to attack everything," Frost said. "I thought he took advantage of his opportunities.

Recruiting season comes into play: Because Nebraska hasn't played in a bowl game, coaches have been able to turn their full focus to recruiting during December in each of the past two seasons.

It will be different this year. The Huskers are scheduled to play a to-be-determined cross-divisional opponent on Dec. 19, three days after the December signing period begins.

Nebraska has 20 known pledges in its 2021 class, and a little work remains.

Despite the limitations due to COVID-19, Frost is excited about the incoming group.

"Really strong in certain areas that we need help (with) on the football field," he said. "I think that because we weren't able to travel as much, the recruiting class looks a little more regional to our area, which I think could be a benefit."

Defense rebounds: Outside of the Illinois game, Frost said he has been happy with the play of the Blackshirts, which held Iowa to a season-low 129 rushing yards.

The Huskers will have their full attention turned to Purdue's passing attack, which includes wide receivers Rondale Moore (22 catches for 192 yards in two games) and David Bell (43 catches for 493 yards and seven TDs).

Senior safety Deontai Williams was asked if Moore and Bell are the best pair the Huskers have faced this year, and Williams quickly brought up going against Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson from Ohio State in Week 1. 

"Can't back down from great (wideouts) like that. We've just got to go to battle," Williams said.

Nebraska defenders were motivated to bounce back following a 41-23 loss to Illinois on Nov. 21, Williams said.

"That Illinois game; it was a bad atmosphere all around," he said. "Waking up, people wasn't ready, stuff like that. It just felt like we weren't ready to play that typical day."

QB critique: Frost said he thought Adrian Martinez, who started for the first time since Week 2 at Northwestern, was efficient against the Hawkeyes.

Martinez was 18-of-20 passing for 174 yards and added 28 rushing yards while splitting time with redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey.

"There's still maybe a couple simple things that we could have done a little better," Frost added. "I thought returning to play, he did a good job. Luke was really efficient on his snaps, too."

Not looking down the road: Williams said the Huskers' senior class isn't really thinking about whether to use the extra year of eligibility that the NCAA has granted or what might come after the season ends. 

"The seniors ain't really thinking about what's next or the next challenge in life," Williams said. "... We're just trying to cherish this moment as a whole."

Walk-on class keeps growing: Nebraska added another walk-on player to its 2021 recruiting class. 

The latest addition is Millard North defensive back Blake Closman, who announced via Twitter his intention to join the program in college. 

The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder, according to his Hudl profile, finished 2020 with 54 tackles (6.5 for loss), three interceptions and a forced fumble and caught a couple of touchdowns on offense, too. 

Closman is the 11th known member of Nebraska's 2021 walk-on class. 

Clark Grell and Parker Gabriel

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

Nebraska 2021 walk-on class

Name Position Hometown (School)
Michael Booker DB Grand Prairie (South), Texas
Derek Branch DB Lincoln (Southeast)
Grant Buda ATH Lincoln (Southwest)
Alex Bullock WR Omaha (Creighton Prep)
Maddox Burton DL Lincoln (Southeast)
Blake Closman DB Omaha (Millard North)
AJ Collins DB Omaha (Creighton Prep)
Sam Hoskinson LB Elkhorn (South)
CJ Lilienkamp DB Bellevue (West)
Grant Lohr ATH Jenks, Okla.
Joey Mancino OL Holmdel, New Jersey
Kelen Meyer K Ord
Evan Meyersick TE Omaha (Millard West)
Weston Reiman OL Weeping Water
Carson Rohde OL Sumner (S-E-M)
Beau Schaller OL Waukee, Iowa
Matthew Schuster RB Ashland (Ashland-Greenwood)
Jarrett Synek QB Hastings
Taveon Thompson ATH Lincoln (Southeast)
Payton Weehler ATH Mt. Ayr, Iowa
Aiden Young RB Elkhorn
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Husker football reporter

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.

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