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Official Husker Locker Blog

2010 Nov 02

Practice Report 11/3: Compton Earns Blackshirt


By HuskerLocker

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Nebraska's football team has committed enough turnovers in its last two games vs. Iowa State to feed a small army - and fuel last year's dramatic 9-7 ISU upset.

“Thirteen,” sophomore tight end Kyler Reed said Tuesday. “That definitely has to be in the back of your mind.”

Five during a 35-7 win in Ames two years ago. And that crazy eight last year, courtesy of the Cyclones' penchant for attacking the ball – and Nebraska's occasional carelessness with the same.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with four or five red zone turnovers,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said.

Watson refused Tuesday to shy away from those ghastly numbers. NU addressed the issue head-on this week and reiterated the sermon with continued ball security drills in practice. After a sloppy performances in wins over Idaho and South Dakota State, coupled with myriad drops and fumbles in the 20-13 loss to Texas, the Huskers redoubled their efforts to prevent turnovers. Nebraska committed zero in a 31-17 win over Missouri.

“It's helping,” Reed said of the increased emphasis. “It's in our bloodstream. We're starting to get used to it, locking the ball right when you catch it.”

Iowa State ranks 9th nationally with a +9 turnover margin and 11th nationally with 20 turnovers gained – one behind Idaho and two behind Oklahoma State, previous Husker opponents. Nebraska is 38th in turnover margin.

ISU coach Paul Rhoads preaches an aggressive style of tackling, Watson said, that creates turnovers.

“They put their hats on the football, and they do a great job of stripping the football,” Watson said. “They're really active in their pursuit to the ball, and they do a great job of ripping and pulling and tugging.”

The 5-4 Cyclones couple that style with a bend-don't-break defensive scheme that, in theory, gives up yards but not points. It worked in wins over Texas and Texas Tech; not so much in massive losses to Utah and Oklahoma.

“You have to be patient,” Watson said. “You have to work your way down the field. When big plays present themselves – and they will – you have to take advantage of playaction.”

Particulars: Nebraska conducted a shorter, two-hour practice outside the Hawks Championship Center.

What’s New: Quarterback Taylor Martinez dressed for practice and participated in some of the drills, but not many of the contact drills according to senior wide receiver Niles Paul. Cornerback Alfonso Dennard did not practice, nor did defensive end Pierre Allen, defensive tackle Jay Guy and defensive back Joshua Mitchell.

Coach Quote: " They're not going to try and fool you a whole lot. They do give you a lot of different formations and whatnot. They just try to be physical at the point of attack, and they are patient in how they call the game. They eat up yardage, and they eat up clock. It's going to be a big challenge for us." Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini on Iowa State offense

Coach Quote II: "Anytime you have been together a long time, you complete things a bit more. Guys have a better understanding and respond a little bit with more ease. I think that was the case Saturday. It wasn't anything mind-boggling that we did. It was very similar conceptually, but our guys and coaches taught it well." Head coach Bo Pelini on the creativity of Nebraska's defense in the Missouri game

Player Quote: “All the rumors are false. I am not going anywhere. I love the team. I love the fans. This state has really taken me in.” Quarterback Cody Green, on whether he's dissatisfied with his backup role


*Nebraska has a new Blackshirt in linebacker Will Compton, who found the practice jersey hanging in his locker Tuesday afternoon. By Tuesday night it already had some flecks of red on it.

“I don't know if I deserve it quite yet,” Compton said. “As far as playing time on the field but I'm excited to have one finally.”

Compton, who out the season's first five games recovering from a broken foot, played only in goal-line situations vs. Missouri because of the Tigers' scheme. He still has not supplanted his replacement, LaVonte David, in the lineup; David is a clear favorite for Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

But Iowa State's downhill running game should force NU to respond with an extra linebacker on the field, Compton said.

“They run the ball a little bit more – especially in bigger personnel – than Missouri. They're closer to Oklahoma State. Not as much, but they do it. They came out and tried to do it to us last year, so who knows?”

*Safeties Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith still have their Blackshirts despite Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne replacing them in the Missouri game. Carl Pelini said he expects a good battle for playing time throughout the week, with the game reps going to the guys who practice best.

“They are trying to win their positions back,” Pelini said. “Maybe they will and then the other guys have to fight to get it back. That is what you want on a football team, competition. That is what depth gives you."

Next Practice: Wednesday

Tags: practice report, shawn watson, kyler reed, isu game, will compton, cody green, bo pelini, carl pelini

Comments (1)

Profile image for ryanj25

“It's helping,” Reed said of the increased emphasis. “It's in our bloodstream. We're starting to get used to it, locking the ball right when you catch it.”

We practiced ball security and learned to secure the ball after the catch in junior high football. why are these guys just learning mid-season, mid-college career to secure the ball?

– Nov 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

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