OMAHA - Defensive coordinator John Papuchis told the Big Red Breakfast crowd that he expects a physical game this weekend with Penn State.
John Papuchis expects a tough game from Penn State.
The defensive coach said it's remarkable what PSU has accomplished given everything that has clouded the players and coaches during the offseason.
"I've been very impressed with the way they've responded," Papuchis said.
Papuchis said he's expecting to see an offense similar to that of the New England Patriots. He called the offense minimal, in the amount of shifts and misdirections, with a heavy use of the running backs and tight ends.
One player that Papuchis singled out is PSU quarterback Matt McGloin. The senior quarterback impressed Nebraska's defensive coordinator with his improvements and overall efficiency.
"He is probably the most improved player in the Big Ten," Papuchis said. "I thought he was a good player a year ago, but he really stepped up."
McGloin has thrown for 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions and has a 62 percent completion percentage amassing 2,436 yards.
Summer leadership work paying off
Leadership was a big theme for Papuchis. The defensive coordinator raved about his group of players and said it is the same on the offensive side of the ball.
Late in the Michigan State game, Papuchis said he overheard the offensive players telling the defensive guys to just get them the ball back and they'd take care of the game. The coordinator called it a special moment.
Papuchis said he felt the team really built this leadership and resolve in the offseason. He specifically pointed out the Navy SEALs work and the pool training.
"Imagine being in a pool in a hooded sweatshirt, treading water 12-feet deep and you can't swim?" Papuchis asked the crowd. "Those guys had to rely on the ones who could swim."
Papuchis also singled out Will Compton and Ben Cotton as the two most vocal leaders on the team. He said that these are the two guys their respective groups look to and hear from before each possession.
- Papuchis said he expects Jonathan Rose to be at corner next year. He said LeRoy Alexander, Corey Cooper and Harvey Jackson are the guys next in line at safety. He also insinuated that there might be a safety recruit or two that could even play next season.
- During his film review, Kenny Bell and Ameer Abdullah both drew a lot of praise from Papuchis. He said both guys have been key players for Nebraska this season. He's really impressed by how Bell has done a great job of taking care of the little things like blocking and route running. Also, said he was impressed with how Abdullah has done a great job of stepping in for Burkhead.
- Cam Meredith moving over to play defensive tackle has taken time from Kevin Williams and Aaron Curry. Papuchis said Meredith has played so well that Nebraska feels comfortable just going four deep - Baker Steinkuhler, Thad Randle, Chase Rome and Meredith.
- Papuchis said he's talked with his senior players and that the message is clear. They all want to finish with a ring.
"Their legacy will be the freshman class that Bo brought in and they got Nebraska right again."