LINCOLN, Neb. — Autzen Stadium is noisy. So noisy, coach Mike Riley puts it high on a list of noisy stadiums alongside Canada’s BC Place and Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.
“It’s one of the great, tough environments that I’ve coached in,” Riley said. “The stadium, for whatever reason the way it’s built, is one of the five top noisiest places I’ve ever coached.”
As Nebraska prepares to face Oregon at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, Riley said the team is preparing for the possibility of a noisy stadium. He knows it will be difficult, especially after watching Oregon play at home.
Riley even remembers one year where Southern Cal struggled with false starts because of the noise.
“We’ve been working on that all of camp with noise, especially in our two-minute drills,” Riley said. “We’ve done a lot of silent cadence and we’ll have to be really well-prepped up because that can really mess up a game.”
Aside from the noise, Riley is also excited to go back to Oregon. Coming to Nebraska from Oregon State, Riley has plenty of experience with the Ducks. He also still has a lot of family in Oregon.
“I’m not fired up about all the ticket requests that I’ve got coming,” Riley said. “That’s all right. It’s actually pretty neat.”
But Riley wants it to be clear that the trip to Oregon is not about him. While it is a homecoming of sorts for Riley, he wants the focus to remain on the team.
“It’s not about me going back to Oregon,” Riley said. “It’s about the Nebraska team playing the Ducks, but it is fun for me. I will say that. I’ve spent a lot of time and had too many hard times in that stadium, so we’re excited to go play and win the game for this 2017 team.”
More from Mike Riley
• Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco dodged reporters on Saturday, but Riley called it a miscommunication on his part. Diaco had previously told Riley he felt it would be best to have “one voice” after games, but Riley had not followed up with Diaco after.
For that reason, he understood why Diaco left but has since expressed the expectation for both coordinators to be available after games. In fact, Riley said he had the expectation “all squared away” going forward.
“Nothing was intentional by him in that regard,” Riley said. “It was a discussion we had and frankly, [it’s] my fault because I never revisited the conversation with him. It was a conversation about his thoughts with that and that sounds good and we’ll talk about it, but I didn’t even think about it again until I saw him after the game. It was an hour afterwards and he said he had been approached about it and I said, ‘Gosh, it’s probably all done by now. I wouldn’t worry about it.’
“I think what was a pretty innocent thing [that] turned into a bigger thing, but that’s it.”
• Sundays will now be the day off for players every week. Monday will then be a light day with a focus on installation for the week.
Riley also said he’s focused on making every day be equal in practice time, versus one day longer than others.
“I’ve done this before like this,” Riley said. “And I’ve always liked it, just to get that first down stuff in there and started installation-wise. It gives you a chance to then get third down in on Tuesday, so you get a little jump ahead and Wednesday you get the red zone in that order.”
• De’Mornay Pierson-El hurt a shoulder and will not practice today. While he is currently day to day, Riley expects him back at practice on Tuesday and to play on Saturday.
Marcus Newby’s hamstring injury has been bothering him and he also will be out of practice Monday. Like Pierson-El, he is day to day but expected back at practice on Tuesday.
The only other injury update is Tre Bryant (knee), who is dealing with swelling. Riley expects him to sit out occasionally after games, but the staff was previously aware of this.
• Bryant got the most work at running back on Saturday, touting 192 yards on 31 carries. While the Nebraska depth chart still lists Bryant as an ‘OR’ alongside Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo, Riley was pleased with what Bryant accomplished against Arkansas State.
“The decision to do what we did with Tre Bryant was hard because we had good competition,” Riley said. “But we decided not to overcook it and complicate it with different ways of substitution, which wouldn’t have been bad considering the competition we had.
“We tried to make a good decision by doing it this way and Tre obviously played well and we’re still thankful for those other guys that are playing.”
• Oregon runs a 3-4 defense, which Riley is confident his team will be ready to play against on Saturday.
“They have gone now to the 3-4 defense, which is what I mentioned to you guys earlier that we hoped that having worked against the 3-4 in practice so much that that will be helpful,” Riley said. “There’s no guarantee but you think that’d be helpful. Now I think it’s a better transition than playing against the 4-3 all the time and going by week getting ready for the 3-4. We’ve practiced against it a lot and now we’ll have to do it against their style.”
• While Monday is Labor Day, there is no day off in the world of college football. Riley joked about everyone being at Memorial Stadium on the holiday, but was still glad to be present.
“I’m so glad in sports that we get to keep doing what we do,” Riley said. “You guys get no break. We don’t either. It’s a Monday.”
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