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Red Report: Robinson's status still 'wait and see' for Saturday's game; DB Pola-Gates out until spring

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Nebraska vs. Purdue, 11.02.2019

Nebraska football coach Scott Frost looks on during second-half action against Purdue in November at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Scott Frost on Thursday said freshman wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson remains in wait-and-see mode for Saturday's game against Wisconsin as he works his way back from an injury suffered Nov. 2 at Purdue.

"We're not going to talk much about it," Frost said after NU's practice. "He's got a good chance to play, but we're going to have to wait and see."

Robinson left the game late and wasn't allowed back in for NU's final possession against the Boilermakers.

He wasn't seen at all Tuesday or Wednesday after practice as the players came off the field and walked past reporters, and was not in uniform for NU's walk-though style Thursday session.

Robinson has played in all nine games so far this season for Nebraska.

RB depth waning: If Robinson isn’t able to play, NU will be even more short-handed at running back.

Ideally, Robinson won’t play from the backfield as much in the future anyway and only carry the ball 5-10 times a game, Frost said Thursday.

He’s seen far more than that recently, though, and if he can’t play, it will be up to junior Dedrick Mills to carry the load with help from walk-ons Wyatt Mazour and Brody Belt and perhaps freshman Rahmir Johnson, who can play in one of Nebraska’s final three games and retain his redshirt.

Mills would likely be asked to shoulder a heavy load.

“I just think he’s getting a better understanding of how the offense works and where the cuts can hit,” running backs coach Ryan Held said this week of Mills. “I think he’s really run hard. He’s run hard when he’s got the ball out and we’ve hit him on a few pass plays. He runs through the smoke, so to speak, and runs hard. We’ve just go to get going and get in a rhythm.

“He has a good attitude, he’s getting better. All of my guys are getting better. I really like my room right now. They’re working hard and we’re going to strive for five — 5-plus yards per carry and anything above that is a bonus.”

Pola-Gates back in spring: Frost confirmed that freshman defensive back Noa Pola-Gates suffered a left leg injury over the bye week that required surgery, meaning the former four-star recruit will not be available for the remainder of the season.

“During our bye week we were mixing it up pretty good and he got rolled up on a little bit,” Frost said.

Frost said the Huskers expect Pola-Gates to be ready in time for spring ball.

Big plays required: Wisconsin is ranked seventh in the country in scoring defense, fifth in rushing defense and second in passing defense nationally, so it goes without saying that the Huskers have a big challenge on their hands.

“They have good players at all three levels,” Frost said. “Obviously (senior outside linebacker Zach Baun) is a pretty special player in pass rush and everything else, but he’s surrounded by a bunch of good players. They’re going to try to lock you down outside and load the box, make it hard to run and have pretty tight coverage on your guys. We have to block well and run good routes and complete some."

In Frost’s mind, that means NU is going to have to hit a couple of big plays. Iowa did it last week, getting a 75-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to get within a failed two-point conversion of tying Wisconsin.

“The way they play defense, you’re going to have to hit some shots on them,” Frost said. “They’re not going to give you much easy, it’s hard to grind out drives against these guys, so you’re going to have to try to make a big play here and there.

“Watching teams that have done OK against them, pop a long run or hit a couple of long passes and that keeps you in the game with them.”

Robinson up for award: Robinson has shown a unique brand of versatility since he arrived on campus as a highly regarded prospect out of Kentucky, and now he's being recognized for it. 

Robinson, the Huskers' do-it-all threat, is a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, which is given annually to the most versatile player in college football. 

His 112.8 all-purpose yards per game are sixth in the Big Ten and his 40 catches are seventh. 

In Big Ten play, Robinson is averaging 105.5 scrimmage yards per game, good for fifth in the league. 

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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