Nebraska will play the remainder of the football season without Teddy Prochazka.
The true freshman tackle will undergo season-ending knee surgery, coach Scott Frost confirmed during his weekly news conference Monday.
The Elkhorn South graduate was injured during the second quarter of Saturday's 32-29 loss to Michigan.
"I feel terrible for anybody that gets hurt," Frost said. "It's just tough. Teddy's just been improving by leaps and bounds since he got here. It's a tough setback, but guys come back from these things and he'll be fine."
Prochazka has appeared in five games, one game over the redshirt limit, but Frost said the Huskers will seek a medical redshirt.
Benhart's opportunity: Prochazka's void means Bryce Benhart will be inserted into the starting lineup after he was benched for Northwestern two weeks ago. After Prochazka went down, Benhart came down and played at right tackle and Turner Corcoran moved to left tackle.
For Benhart, "He's got a chance to show us this week," Frost said. "He's from Minnesota. I don't think he played his best game against them last year. So this is a big opportunity for him and we got a lot of faith in him."
The redshirt freshman has kept after it since the benching, his teammates said.
"I think it taught him a lesson that anybody can take the job. You don’t get to take it just because you’re older or bigger than somebody," defensive lineman Ty Robinson said. "I think it added a little bit more fire to him, and I think he got a little bit more hungry from sitting on the bench the past two weeks, and now that Teddy’s down he’s coming back, and I think we’ll get a better Bryce."
Nouredin Nouili, with two starts of his own under left guard after the offensive line reshuffle, echoed Robinson.
"He’s held his head high. And he’s showed us that it doesn’t matter where – if you get switched up, if you get put in a different position or a different rotation, it doesn’t matter," Nouili said. "You still support the guy in front of you and behind you. So it tells you a lot about his character, that he supports everybody who’s playing, or not."
Runnin' Rahmir: Redshirt freshman running back Rahmir Johnson has been the one to grab hold of the starting spot at the position, getting the nod in Nebraska's last four games.
The New Jersey native has come a long way, Frost said.
"He was probably fifth on the depth chart to start fall camp. But I've been saying all along, we’ve been waiting for someone to step up and kind of take it, and he’s taken advantage of chances. I think he’s running hard, making plays in the pass game," Frost said Monday. "We certainly need the other guys to keep improving and give him some break, but really happy for Rahmir and how far he’s come.
"When you’re patient with people, sometimes they continue to improve, and end up being good players."
Johnson had a career-high 172 all-purpose yards against No. 9 Michigan, rushing for 67 on 17 carries while setting career highs with seven receptions for 105 yards and a 41-yard touchdown.
"I used to get frustrated with him for not running full speed; he's such a fast kid, and everything wasn't 100% all the time," Frost said. "And he's really learned how to play as hard as he can."
Gearing up again: After three weeks of facing physical, run-first offenses, the Nebraska defense is ready to strap it up one more time before the bye week, Robinson said.
"I think we found a pretty good identity for our front seven in that box, (that) nobody can run it inside of us," Robinson said. "The only way you're going to beat us is, you're going to have to run outside. So I really feel confident in that, and I'd like to hold ourselves to that standard."
Despite being down their top two running backs, the Gophers will still lean on a massive offensive line and try to establish the ground game for quarterback Tanner Morgan.
"They're just big up front. We're going to have to be able to hold our ground, and really be stout in our gaps so we don't get pushed around," Robinson said. "I think we really can do that if we just stick to our fundamental technique and the way we've been playing this whole year as well."
Willing a way: After a rough outing at Michigan State that included a seven-yard shank, NU punter Will Przystup seems to have settled in as the Huskers' lead punter.
Przystup has punted five times over NU's last two games, including an 84-yarder against Northwestern, and a 55-yard bomb against Michigan on a night he averaged 47.5 yards on four kicks, with three going 50-plus yards.
"That spot’s like a couple other spots — we got kids with talent (and) they’ve got to do their job when called upon to do it, and the past two weeks, Will’s done that," Frost said. "The team’s counting on guys to do their job, and I hope all of them continue to do it when asked to."
Returner conundrum: Frost, normally, wouldn't have a starting skill player back returning punts or kickoffs.
But receiver Oliver Martin can catch the ball without a disaster happening, so that's the spot Nebraska finds itself in right now. Since returning to the lineup after missing four games with an injury, Martin has successfully fair caught every punt sent his way.
This is cause for recognition at Nebraska, where anything that doesn't affect the Huskers negatively in the return game is considered progress.
"Normally I would weigh it (whether or not to have a starter returning punts) quite a bit. Right now I want somebody who’s going to catch it and give us a chance to return it. We’re fielding it right now. We need to make a play in the return game at some point, and that would help us," Frost said. "Normally you make sure everybody’s healthy. Right now it’s all hands on deck."