The Nebraska football team started its week of preparation for Friday’s Heroes Game matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Tuesday. The team practiced in shoulder pads and helmets for just over two hours, splitting time between the Hawks Championship Center and outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass Practice Field.
Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis addressed the media following practice, focused on Iowa’s ground attack.
“I think they’re a physical group and they want to establish the run,” Papuchis said. “It was kind of a grind-it-out type of game a year ago, and even though they have different guys, their philosophy hasn’t changed much. I’m sure they’re going to have some different wrinkles ready for us, but I expect what we’ve seen from them over the course of the year.”
Much of Iowa’s rushing game has come from walk-on running back Mark Weisman. Papuchis commented on his running style on Tuesday.
“He’s a pounder,” Papuchis said. “He’s physical, downhill, and faster than you would expect him to be when he gets in the open field. We’ve faced some backs like that over the back half of the season against both Penn State and Michigan State, so we’re going to have to be ready for a 60-minute fist fight.”
Most great passing games are built off of solid running games. With Iowa’s rushing success, quarterback James Vandenberg has benefited with open passing lanes. Papuchis also commented on the challenges of facing the senior quarterback on Friday.
“The play action that comes off of their running game is a big part of what they do,” Papuchis said. “Vandenberg is a good player. I think when he drops back and throws it he’s a good player, so I think they’re a pretty balanced attack.”