LINCOLN — Tre Bryant put on the gear Thursday. Then, Nebraska coach Mike Riley said, the running back wasn’t able to continue practicing.
As a result, the Huskers will go into Saturday night’s home game against Ohio State with Devine Ozigbo, Mikale Wilbon and Jaylin Bradley manning the rotation of running backs. Wilbon sat out last week with a sprained ankle but will return this weekend, Riley said following NU’s practice Thursday evening inside Memorial Stadium.
Bryant, dealing with a chronic knee injury that Riley said earlier in the week has had coaches discussing a possible medical redshirt with the sophomore set to miss a fifth straight game, will have additional recovery time before the Huskers return to action Oct. 28 at Purdue.
“We told him at that point that he got started and that was a good thing,” Riley said. “Now he can have what was left of this week, next week. We won’t play for quite a few days, so maybe he’ll have a chance as we come back either in the bye week or through it.”
Nebraska also may face Ohio State’s high-octate spread attack without two of its top safeties. Riley ruled out Antonio Reed, who suffered a knee injury against Wisconsin last week, and said “we’ll see” about safety Aaron Williams (neck). Joshua Kalu will start at one safety spot in his second game back from a nagging hamstring injury. Senior Kieron Williams and redshirt freshman Marquel Dismuke, who both stayed after practice working, are possibilities to fill the other void.
Wide receiver Bryan Reimers also suffered a sprained ankle during Wednesday’s practice, Riley said, adding about the junior from Lincoln East: “I don’t think he’ll be able to play.”
Among other news on the injury front, linebacker Dedrick Young will return with a cast/club on his hand and right tackle David Knevel (ankle) is someone about whom “we’ll know more about (Friday)” after the senior practiced “some” this week.
Cornerback Chris Jones suffered no setbacks in his return from a knee injury last week and will play again Saturday, Riley said.
» Riley said Brenden Jaimes will start for a fourth straight week after Knevel (ankle) and Matt Farniok (wrist) went down with injuries early in the season. “He hasn’t really blinked; he just goes in and plays,” Riley said of the 6-foot-5, 280-pound true freshman from Austin, Texas. “He’s smart and he fights. He’s got good athletic ability. We all might have liked to have seen him redshirt and put on 20 pounds, but we didn’t have that luxury. He was the next man in line, and we’re proud of what he’s done. I think he’s held up and I actually think Brenden will just get better as we go with the playing.”
» An ankle injury knocked junior Cole Conrad from the starting center job earlier this year, and teammate Michael Decker hasn’t given it back. Riley said the junior from Fremont is back to being “Mr. Versatile” and is the backup at tackle, guard and center if necessary.
» Asked whether quarterback Tanner Lee is more comfortable midway through the season than he was at the start, Riley said Nebraska needs to perform well all around him, “with the game that we play and with the players that have to make plays for him and protect him. But we feel real confident about the plays he can make.”
» Riley said Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett will provide a unique challenge from what the Blackshirts have seen, given his ability to make plays outside the pocket when needed.
“Everybody’s got to stay in coverage, everybody’s got to take good pursuit angles,” Riley said. “And then, when you get a chance, everybody’s got to be a good tackler. This will be a space-tackling game. Guys are going to have to make plays. Guys are going to have to be right in position, put themselves in a good spot to make a play.”
Ohio State at Nebraska
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Radio: 103.1 FM