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2010 Sep 21

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 9/21


By HuskerLocker

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Through two days of Nebraska’s preparation for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game with South Dakota State, not only have coaches not seen a practice letdown after a 56-21 win over Washington - they’ve witnessed a post-Seattle bounce.

“They were intense today,” NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said after a two-hour workout inside the Hawks Championship Center. “They had interest. They had a good bounce in their steps, both sides of the ball…they’re as locked in now as they’ve been any week.”

Said defensive tackle Jared Crick at the Tuesday presser: “This is just a motivated group. Doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we’re going to go in with the same mindset and the same emphasis of preparation.”

While head coach Bo Pelini conceded Tuesday that Division 1-AA/FBS teams weren’t his first choice in opponent for future schedules, he wasn’t about to renege on any portion of Steve Pederson’s parting gift - either the Sun Belt Three in 2009 or the WKU/Idaho/SDSU trio in 2010 - unless those parties had approached Nebraska with the request.

And Pelini’s not about to pull punches with his roster or back certain starters down to create playing time for backups.

“You gotta have respect for the game, you gotta have respect for who you’re playing,” Pelini said. “We have to play hard. And we need to get better. Period. End of story.”

Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie put it bluntly: "I like to play football regardless of who we play.”

On with the report:

Particulars: Nebraska practiced for two-and-a-half hours inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center in full pads. Tuesday is typically a heavy installation day, so practice usually runs a bit longer. Quarterback Taylor Martinez did not give interviews after the workouts.

What’s New: NU is practicing for SDSU, a team with multiple looks on both offense and defense. The Jackrabbits are 0-2 with two losses to Division 1-AA/FBS schools.

Coach Quote: “He wants to sling it around like any quarterback. And I’m telling you: he is a really good passer. He could be one of the better passers I've been around. He has such a fast trigger - very accurate passer.” -Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on Taylor Martinez

Coach Quote II: “He’s a special guy. He really is. What I like about him is he’s an intense son of a gun. He’s very physical, uses his body well, but he’s got tremendous athleticism, too. He can jump out of the gym. He’s just so fast out of his break. He really shocks quarterbacks.” -Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini on cornerback Alfonzo Dennard

Player Quote: “We have guys who can come in and give us a blow if we need it. I'd rather play 100 reps as long as the offense is putting up points for us.” Defensive tackle Jared Crick, on the offense’s efficiency


***Watson said he studied a number of shotgun option offenses in the off-season - including Oregon’s - to incorporate the zone read and midline-option into NU’s attack. But he was bullish on keeping the West Coast Offense passing scheme, which empathizes timing and the usage of “check downs” when initial targets aren’t open. The combination, Watson said, makes Nebraska unique.

“I still believe the West Coast passing attack is the best there is,” Watson said. “It is very simple for the quarterback. It's very fast. He doesn't get sacked. He spits the ball out on time. It's very multiple.”

***That said, Martinez has taken sacks in both the Idaho and Washington games. Watson said he’s coaching Martinez to run with the ball or utilize the check down.

“He's having to learn some of those things like not waiting for those receivers to get open, throw on rhythm, throw on time, trust your read, and if it isn't there check it out of the back and run it,” Watson said. “It's that simple.”

***The Brothers Pelini don’t like to define their pass defense with any one word. They bristle at suggesting it’s a man-to-man coverage, and it’s much too aggressive to be considered a zone look. It’s a match-zone concept that requires Nebraska’s defensive backs to play man in certain patterns and default to zone in others.

And, in year three of the defense, the Huskers are getting really good at executing it. And it does a number on opposing quarterbacks.

“It’s different than what they’re used to,” Carl Pelini said. “Preparation time plays into it. It all ties in to how we play up front with two-gap and bull rushing.”

NU’s defensive line, Pelini said, doesn’t have to get a sack to make an impact.

“I don’t want open windows for that quarterback to see through,” he said. “Combine that with covering guys and getting bodies on guys and I think it creates an uncomfortable feeling for a quarterback. A lot of time it creates a sense of panic where there is none.

Next Practice: Wednesday

Tags: practice report, shawn watson, carl pelini, jared crick, alfonzo dennard, taylor martinez

Comments (1)

Profile image for Cornbred

FYI...Div I-AA = FCS and FBS = Div I-A (BS = Bowl Subdivision; CS = Championship Subdivision)

– Sep 22, 2010 at 8:31 am

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