UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley found himself in a real quandary Saturday in his first game since replacing legendary coach Joe Paterno.
Paterno lost his job Wednesday night after a child sexual abuse scandal rocked the football program.
That left Bradley, 55, with little time to deal with a hastily reshuffled coaching staff or to reconnect with the offense.
Bradley, the team's defensive coordinator since 2000, hadn't worked with the offense in 24 years. He coached Penn State's wide receivers in 1987.
"I'm going to try to spend some time on offense, starting this week," Bradley said. "Not so much with play calling and X's and O's, but I would really like to get around the players. I don't get to spend enough time with the offensive players because I coach defense. I spend all my time knowing the personalities of my defensive players.
"The only guys I know on offense on a day-to-day basis are some of the players I recruited. ... I feel it's necessary that I do that. If I'm going to get around them, I want to know their personalities and the way they do things over there because I've been away from it for so long."
Not surprisingly, Penn State's disjointed offense continued to struggle Saturday, much as it had in the first nine games with Paterno in charge.
Seven of Penn State's 14 possessions ended with punts, two more on downs, one with a missed field goal, one with a fumble and another as time expired in the first half.
The Lions did managed two Stephfon Green touchdown runs in the second half, including one with 5:43 remaining, to pull within three points at 17-14.
But the Penn State offense couldn't come through, even after the defense held Nebraska's offense to two three-and-out series in the final five minutes.
Tailback Silas Redd, who had 15 carries for 53 yards and sustained an injury between his collarbone and sternum in the second quarter, was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Penn State 37 with 1:49 left.
The Lions' final drive fizzled at the 46 when quarterback Matt McGloin threw a fourth-down incompletion as time expired.
"We ran out of time there in the end," McGloin said.
It didn't help that wide receivers coach Mike McQueary was placed on administrative leave Friday as a result of the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, forcing quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno to move from the coaches booth to the sideline to call the plays.
And graduate assistant and former Penn State receiver Terrell Golden worked with the wideouts and handled McQueary's duties of signaling in the plays.
"It was really different," said wide receiver Derek Moye. "When [McQueary] was here, he didn't get enough credit for what he did. He kept it very organized on the sidelines -- sending people in, sending people out, calling plays.
"At the beginning [Saturday] we were in a little bit of a [mess], didn't really know what was going on and it showed a little bit."
Defensively, Penn State played tough despite changes in coaching duties.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden served as co-coordinators, with an assist from Bradley. Kermit Buggs, who previously handled the safeties, assumed Bradley's role of working with the cornerbacks.
Elijah Robinson, a former offensive lineman for the Lions, was promoted from grad assistant to full-time status last week when Bradley was named interim coach, also helped.
"Because of the situation, I helped signal in some things because I've done the signaling for the last 12 years," Bradley said. "I didn't want to drop that on them on a Thursday. I did call some defenses in the fourth quarter.
"I didn't feel that I could do justice to the players and the guys on the defense, who worked their tails off for me, and I didn't think it was right that I would be somebody who would not give them the time that they deserve."
Despite the shuffling of the coaching staff and all the turmoil surrounding the team, No. 21 Penn State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) heads to Ohio State (6-4, 3-3) Saturday still in first place in the Leaders Division.
"Even after everything that's happened, even after the loss, it's good that we're still on top and control our destiny," Redd said.
Ron Musselman: email@example.com and Twitter @rmusselmanppg.