LINCOLN — David Knevel is looking forward to playing the Indiana game with his left ankle feeling better after the bye week.
The Nebraska right tackle injured the ankle on the fifth play against Oregon. So badly, he said, that he “contemplated staying down” before going the rest of the game without missing a snap.
Knevel was able to fight through at Northwestern, but had to be spelled by Cole Conrad against Illinois.
“Going into the game it was feeling OK, but that first drive I rolled it two times on two short-yardage plays,” he said. “And it was really tough to play.”
With no game last week, Knevel was able to rest the ankle and focus on treatment. The time off also helped right guard Tanner Farmer (ankle), who sat out the Illinois game and was replaced by Corey Whitaker.
“The last couple days they’ve looked pretty healthy,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Wednesday. “This time of year, everyone’s a little banged up. I think the bye was good for us, to get some rehab and rest.”
Hoppes to leap into action
Nebraska won’t be getting back tight end Cethan Carter (elbow) this week, so walk-on Tyler Hoppes likely is bound for his biggest chunk of playing time.
It might be a glimpse into next season for the junior, with Carter, Sam Cotton and Trey Foster all being seniors.
“It’s hard not to think about it,” Hoppes said, “but just taking it one week at a time, and once the seniors are gone that’s when the offseason starts and that’s when I’ll push for that.”
Hoppes said his game is probably most like Carter’s because of his route running and receiving. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Wayne State transfer said he would like to add about five or 10 pounds to his frame.
Where does he fit in Saturday at Indiana? “I’ve heard some things,” Hoppes said, “but I don’t want to release that yet.”
Hoppes played at Lincoln Southwest with Husker teammates Brandon Reilly and Josh Banderas, then played a season at Wayne State before transferring to NU.
Possible ‘diverse’ QB group
Nebraska has offered a couple of dual-threat quarterbacks for the 2018 recruiting class — Colson Yankoff of Idaho and Jalen Mayden from Texas — but Langsdorf said the top priority for him and head coach Mike Riley is to have a guy “who can make some throws.”
“Running’s always been a bonus,” Langsdorf said. Looking for athleticism in the quarterback, he said, has “evolved” in college football. Langsdorf said he and Riley have never recruited a “run-first, throw-second” quarterback.
In 2017, Nebraska will have three pro-style quarterbacks, the most athletic of whom is probably Patrick O’Brien, who will be a redshirt freshman next season. Junior Tulane transfer Tanner Lee and incoming freshman Tristan Gebbia are the other two quarterbacks; Lee had negative rushing yards at Tulane while Gebbia is close to throwing for 10,000 career yards at Calabasas (Calif.) High School. Langsdorf said NU will look at being more stylistically “diverse” at quarterback.
“We don’t want to have all the same guy,” he said.
TE depth chart looking good
A recent bye week gave NU graduate assistant Tavita Thompson, who coaches the tight ends, the chance to work more with players who are further down the depth chart. Two of them — redshirt freshman Matt Snyder and Norfolk Catholic graduate David Engelhaupt — stood out.
“Engelhaupt is amazing,” Thompson said of the former running back. “Obviously everything is just so new to him. Learning the position — learning the playbook — that’s going to take some time.”
Snyder is “really physical,” Thompson said.
In the absence of Carter, Thompson said other players will have to step up.
“Some guys can’t do the things that Cethan can do but, at the same time, I believe we’re good enough in our room that we can still do some of those things,” he said. “Obviously not everything. Some of things, definitely. And we can format things formationally to make sure everybody’s in the best situation.”
» Langsdorf said Wednesday after practice that quarterback Tommy Armstrong looked good enough in practice that he can take a full load of quarterback run plays — should NU need them — Saturday at Indiana.
“He ran around pretty well today,” Langsdorf said. Based on the practice, Langsdorf said, he had little concern for Armstrong in Saturday’s game.
» Indiana’s defense is stingy, Langsdorf said, because it disguises coverage schemes well before the snap and has good blitzes.
“They don’t just line up and stand there,” Langsdorf said. “They move around, which makes it hard on the quarterback. That’s a concern.”
Indiana defensive tackle Nate Hoff is a “good bull rusher” with several moves, Langsdorf said. Nebraska’s offensive line will have to handle him. Langsdorf joined Riley in praising freshman nickel back Marcelino Ball, who was lightly recruited out of Roswell, Georgia. Ball was unrated by ESPN and a two-star prospect according to Rivals.
» Ball security has been an emphasis among the backs, Langsdorf said. Lost fumbles have hurt NU’s red zone production.
» Wideouts coach Keith Williams expects senior receiver Alonzo Moore to take a full load of plays Saturday. Moore is recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the 31-16 win over Illinois.
» In his USA Today blog, five-star prospect Joseph Lewis of Los Angeles — the nation’s No. 1 wideout for the 2017 class — scored his official visit to Nebraska a 9.5 out of 10. A visit to Oregon scored an 8 out of 10. Lewis said Nebraska’s fans were “live.” NU will be a finalist for Lewis’ commit when he announces at the U.S. Army All-American game in January.