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2010 Sep 14

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 9/14

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By HuskerLocker

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They probably aren’t the best memories for Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, but the two beatings NU received at the hands of USC in 2006 and 2007 could serve some use as the Huskers prepare for Saturday’s game at Washington.

UW’s defensive coordinator Nick Holt previously served in that same role for the Trojans 2006-2008. While then-head coach Pete Carroll designed the defense, Holt was a disciple who took those teachings to Seattle when he followed Steve Sarkisian in 2009.

“Like everything, you evolve, but there are similarities,” Watson said Tuesday. “There’s similarities not only in style but similarities in in scheme. You can recall back. There’s changes along the way though. Nick’s advanced himself, too.

Washington’s 4-3 attacking scheme suffered through growing pains last year, bottoming out in a 37-30 overtime loss at Notre Dame. The Huskies gave up 530 yards. Subsequent games vs. Arizona (461 yards), Arizona State (464), Oregon (416) and UCLA (455) weren’t much better. But UW held a dynamic Oregon State offense to 372 yards in a 48-21 loss. Then, to end the year the defense found its way, holding Washington State to 163 and California to 296.

Thus far in 2010, Washington is 78th in total defense, giving up 372 yards per game.

“A year ago, where they might have been feeling around a little bit, not for sure, this year, they’re a veteran group that knows,” Watson said. “There’s a big difference in the speed they’re playing at.”

The ringleader of the Dawgs’ attack: Linebacker Mason Foster, who has 24 tackles in 2010. He led the Pac-10 last year with six forced fumbles.

“He’s got a real nose for the football,” Watson said. “He gets your respect right away.”

NU wide receiver Niles Paul has been studying UW’s secondary, led by cornerback Desmond Trufant, whose older brother Marcus plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

“They like to jump around a lot in the sense that they come up and press, or do the bail technique,” Paul said. “When they come to press, we can make them pay because we probably have some of the biggest receivers in the country from a weight standpoint and then we're all fast.”

Particulars: Nebraska practiced in helmets and shoulder pads Tuesday inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center.

What’s New: NU attempted to simulate some of the crowd situations that Nebraska might encounter at Husky Stadium. The Huskers are also continuing to reemphasize ball security with individual drills in practice.

Coach Quote: “He’s really quick with his feet, he’s really quick with his release. He’s got NFL quickness in his trigger. He’s fast. In a second. That’s an attribute.” - Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on quarterback Taylor Martinez

Coach Quote II: “I think we're at a point in our program, as a culture and a team, that they understand where I'm coming from. I don't think that I said anything to them, when I walked in there and I talked, that they didn't see themselves. Am I trying to send them a message through the media? No, not really. I also don't want to walk in and paint a picture for you guys. I'm being honest with what I saw.” - Head coach Bo Pelini, on his message to the media - and his players - after Saturday’s Idaho game

Player Quote: “Just block out the crowd. Can’t listen to the noise, can’t listen to the fans in the stands yelling behind bench. You’ve just got to focus on what you’ve got to do and focus on each play.”
Running back Rex Burkhead, on Husky Stadium

Notes:

***Niles Paul confirmed that he will return kickoffs for the Huskers Saturday in Washington.

“They brought me in the office and told me they want me to do kick returns this game,” he said. “I know Coach Pelini told me he didn't want me doing kick returns the first couple of games because he didn't feel like there was a need for me to do it."

***Paul said Tuesday afternoon there hadn’t been any specific discipline for his odd fumble in Saturday’s game other than the individual drills that all Husker skill players were running. Paul was, for what it’s worth, one of the last players off the field Tuesday night.

Next Practice: Wednesday

Tags: washington game, shawn watson, taylor martinez, niles paul, rex burkhead, practice report

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