LINCOLN — Junior Mike Moudy didn't hesitate to snap on his chinstrap when he saw his All-America teammate collapsed on the turf at Purdue last weekend.
Moudy hadn't taken a snap at Spencer Long's right guard position since preseason practice. But after splitting reps evenly with junior Jake Cotton on the left side for six weeks, Moudy knew he was next in line behind the Huskers' top guard.
It took a few snaps for the junior from Castle Rock, Colo., to adjust in Nebraska's 44-7 win over Purdue. But now he'll have the bye week to get even more acquainted with the spot.
Long is out for the season, coach Bo Pelini announced Tuesday. The senior, an all-conference player the last two years, will have surgery on his left knee Thursday.
That means a different role for Moudy.
“I've played these games this year. So I was ready to go,” Moudy said. “It wasn't anything new. It was just a different side.”
Moudy could get some help, too.
Long, Moudy and Cotton have played the meaningful minutes at guard for Nebraska this season.
But offensive line coach John Garrison indicated after the Purdue game that sophomores Ryne Reeves and Givens Price would get a chance to earn a spot with the top unit. Junior college transfer Chongo Kondolo is in the mix, too, even though he hasn't played yet and is on track to redshirt this year, Pelini said.
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“(We'll) see who steps up,” Pelini said. “We're looking at all our options, and our best options.”
Long's the only player on the offensive line who did not have a regular substitute this year. He played every important snap for NU.
He did the same thing for the Huskers at right guard last season, too. At left guard, Nebraska rotated senior Seung Hoon Choi with Cole Pensick, now the starting center.
Moudy (whose name rhymes with rowdy) wasn't getting regular playing time until this year's opener. But he's much more comfortable now.
He spent the summer focusing on the little things — his footwork, his body position, his hand placement. He watched a ton of film. He mimicked Long as best as he could.
The result was a renewed confidence.
“I know what can happen if this guy slants here, or if that guy blitzes in that gap — just being able to have that confidence to put my hat in the right place and step here in the right place to pick up that guy,” Moudy said. “That had always been a problem for me. But this year, I decided to work on that.”
The mistakes don't bug him as much, either.
He'll certainly squirm a bit during film study when he sees the sack Purdue's Bruce Gaston had on Ron Kellogg in the second quarter — Gaston maneuvered around Moudy on his way to the quarterback. And Moudy won't like reviewing the illegal chop block penalty called on him in the third quarter.
“Those plays are the hardest to let go,” he said. “But that's what you have to do.”
Especially in the moment. But he's better at that now.
Moudy's able to relax during games, which he thinks shows his growth more than anything.
“It's just a game. It's literally a gap this way, a step this way,” he said. “It's all about effort. Once you boil it down to that, it evens out.”
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Video: The Big Red Today Show, Oct. 15
Video: Bo Pelini speaks on the Big Ten teleconference