The Nebraska football team continued its week of preparation for Saturday’s showdown against Penn State on Tuesday. The team practiced in full pads 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 after practice, focused on stopping a Penn State offense that has exceeded expectations this season.
“They are extremely efficient at what they do,” Papuchis said. “They don’t do a lot, but what they do is really well-coached, really sound. The quarterback understands where to go with the football and they’re obviously a well-coached team watching them on tape.”
Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien certainly deserves a lot of credit for turning a season that began with two losses and the stain of NCAA sanctions into a 6-3 (4-1) campaign. However, Papuchis said that he’s been very impressed by the Nittany Lions’ fifth-year senior quarterback, Matt McGloin.
“He fits in really well in what they do,” Papuchis said. “He’s very efficient, very productive, and he’s only thrown three interceptions on the year. He’s careful with the ball and makes good decisions.”
Papuchis also mentioned some of the improvements he has seen in McGloin compared to last season, during which he threw eight touchdown passes and five interceptions. This season, McGloin has already thrown 18 touchdowns, while only throwing three interceptions, and will look to continue his progress on Saturday.
“He’s maturing in the role,” Papuchis said. “He has another 12 or 13 starts under his belt since the last time we played them and you can see he has grown as a player. He knows where to go with the ball, he’s accurate, he finds a way to make things happen, and he buys himself time in the pocket. He’s a good player.”
Nebraska’s secondary hasn’t been easy to pick apart for opposing quarterbacks, though. The Blackshirts are giving up only 156 passing yards per game this season, along with the lowest opposing pass completion percentage in the nation at 46 percent. Papuchis commented on the number of players it takes to make that possible.
“We have an all-hands-on-deck mentality when it comes to who we play in the secondary,” Papuchis said. “A bunch of corners have seen significant time for us this year. Our safety spot is a little bit more solidified, but with as much nickel and dime as we play – whether it’s Cooper or Blatchford or a linebacker in there – whatever fits that week, we go with the best personnel and try to maximize the roster that we have.”