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Official Husker Locker Blog

2010 Oct 12

Practice Report 10/12: UT Front Four An 'Exciting' Challenge

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By HuskerLocker

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Texas defensive end Sam Acho has a distant admirer in Nebraska left tackle Jeremiah Sirles, who's been watching film of the UT senior for three days.

“He's a great player,” Sirles said. “He's got good moves. He's fast, he's quick, he's strong.”

Acho is the physical and emotional anchor of a UT defensive line that might be statistically better than the 2008 or 2009 versions, which featured All-Americans Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle, respectively. The Longhorns are 2nd in the nation in tackles for loss and 9th in sacks. Acho has two sacks; bookend Eddie Jones has four more. Freshman Jackson Jeffcoat is a rush specialist who's given offensive lines fits on third down.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson explained the scheme of Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp: Pressure with the front seven in a way that isolates the defensive ends for one-on-one matchups against tackles. UT's opponents have converted just 33 percent of their third-down opportunities.

“There's a lot of one-on-one opportunities that they create and they really force you to be good across the board with your blocking patterns at every position,” Watson said. “You can't have a weak link.”

Said Sirles: “We have to execute our technique. We can't be giving free runners at the quarterback. That's the big thing. We have to know where everyone is and who we're responsible for and just use good technique.”

Watson said UT's front four is the best Nebraska has faced this year. A quick glance at the remainder of the schedules reveals that Texas' defensive line might be the best NU faces, period.

Sirles, a redshirt freshman, is excited.

“Every player loves to test themselves against someone who's considered a top-notch, big-time player. It's like 'Bring it on. Test it,'” he said.

On with the report:

Particulars: Nebraska worked out for two hours inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center.

What’s New: NU appears to be about as healthy as it's been all season, with Will Compton and Marcel Jones returning to full speed in practice.

Player Quote: “I got to pop a couple wheelies but I felt pretty (stupid) driving a scooter around in front of people.” Will Compton on rehabbing his injured foot.

Coach Quote: “We haven't faced anybody like them. We've faced good receivers, but I don't know that we've faced as many as they can put out there. They do a good job protecting (Garrett Gilbert) and the quarterback makes good decisions. It'll be a good challenge for our secondary.” Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini on Texas' passing game

Notes:

*Head coach Bo Pelini hinted there would be “personnel changes” on NU's kickoff coverage unit after the Huskers gave up several long kick returns to KSU's William Powell last week.

*What might surprise some Nebraska fans was the Brothers Pelini's praise for quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Both Bo and Carl were impressed with Gilbert's accuracy and command in the pocket – somewhat rare for a classic dropback passer.

“They don’t run this quarterback as much,” Bo Pelini said, “but I know one thing - he is capable of running. He showed that on film. We have to be prepared for anything.”

Sophomore safety P.J. Smith wasn't quite as impressed.

“That's the quarterback, huh?” Smith said when asked about Gilbert by name. “He's a quarterback, I don't know. He throws a lot of short passes...and at times, he just throws the ball deep, just up for grabs.”

*Mike McNeill has seen Texas' secondary already – in practice. Every day.

“A lot of speed, they play a lot of cover one, even cover zero, which obviously takes a lot of skill,” McNeill said of UT. “It takes a lot in the back-end to do that. That's what our guys do, so we've seen it a lot. We haven't seen it the past five weeks from our opponents, but going against our own defense, we see it all the time-a lot of press coverage, stuff like that.”

*Both Carl Pelini and Bo Pelini said there's a chance that when NU runs a nickel package, both LaVonte David and Compton could be on the field at the same time.

*NU is planning its biggest recruiting weekend in years, inviting several prospects in to take in the gameday atmosphere and tour the grounds, usually with a guardian or parent.

“We always seem to get a number of recruits at this time of year, and it just so happened that Texas fell on this date,” Bo Pelini said. “You start getting into October when high school seasons are well into play and then before the playoffs start, this is the time of year when coaches are a little more comfortable with their players going to take visits.”

Next Practice: Tuesday

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Tags: texas game, shawn watson, jeremiah sirles, practice report, bo pelini, carl pelini, will compton, mike mcneill

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