LINCOLN — Nebraska has reached its bye week after a 5-0 start, and both coach Mike Riley and defensive coordinator Mark Banker said it should be good timing.
NU will have a lighter practice week before beginning preparations for its Oct. 15 game at Indiana.
“I think it’s perfect,” Banker said. “We got guys on offense that are truly banged up. Defensively we got a bunch of guys that have got some cranky things that aren’t allowing them to really be at 100 percent.”
Banker said a break would be good for somebody like defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg, who had arthroscopic knee surgery after the Fresno State game and has been working back into the rotation the last three games.
“Knock on wood, we don’t have anything major major on defense,” Banker said. “But it will give a guy like Mick Stoltenberg a chance to not have to go through that game, intensity, stress on his knee.
“But it’s going to be important that we stay in the flow, maybe get a couple other things going on with our total package. Take a look at the good, the bad, some tendencies, and get ready for the long haul.”
Riley said he has been scribbling down items in recent weeks that NU would address during its off week. He wants to get scout-team players some practice snaps and extended coaching, and allow some assistants to get on the road recruiting.
The players’ part, linebacker Josh Banderas said, is to stay focused and out of trouble.
“Don’t be a knucklehead. It’s that simple,” he said. “Just have fun, be a college kid, (but) get better at your craft because I’m sure we’re going to focus a lot on fundamentals.”
Huskers continue poll vault
Nebraska moved up three spots to No. 12 in both major polls, inching closer to a spot in the top 10 for the first time since being No. 9 in 2011 before a Nov. 5 home loss to Northwestern.
Big Ten West rival Wisconsin is No. 11 in the AP Top 25, but Nebraska is one spot ahead of the Badgers in the coaches’ poll.
No. 2 Ohio State is the only other future NU opponent that is ranked.
Huskers fall slightly on turnover rate
Nebraska slipped in its turnover margin after being plus-seven after two games.
The Huskers have won their last three games despite being a combined minus-three, and are tied for No. 23 nationally at plus-four for the season. In the 31-16 win over Illinois, Nebraska threw an interception and lost a fumble, and didn’t have a takeaway.
Of the Huskers’ four turnovers in the last two games, three were fumbles in the red zone.
“Turnovers in general get you beat, and the turnovers when you have the chance to score just can be lethal,” Riley said. “So it’s always a big concern.”