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  1. 2011 Apr 08

    Husker Heartbeat 4/8: Big Red/Big Ten Weekend Buffet


    By HuskerLocker

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    *The Nebraska linebackers are building bonds in prep for the Big Ten where bigger, sturdier defenses are needed.

    *Michigan's hockey team is on the cusp of a national title after upsetting the believed-to-be-unstoppable North Dakota.

    *Another installment of Prince Amukamara's NFL Draft diary.

    *Anthony Blue just wants to see the field in some way - any way - after suffering a second severe knee injury last year.

    *Ohio State's true freshman QB, Braxton Miller, seems to be settling in as spring practice progresses.

    *The Penn State quarterback race is heating up with Rob Bolden taking a more vocal role with the offense.

    *An Auburn gymnast weaves Cam Newton's Heisman Trophy pose in her routine...during a meet at Alabama.

    *TCU got its Rose Bowl rings. They're fairly gaudy and ridiculous. In two years' time, we're sure, you'll see a few on EBay or Craigslist. They always land there.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big ten, spring football 2011, will compton, anthony blue

  2. 2011 Jan 28

    YEAR IN REVIEW: CB Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Samuel McKewon breaks down the cornerback play in 2010...and the highest grade just might surprise you. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: year in review, report card, alfonzo dennard, prince amukamara, ciante evans, anthony west, anthony blue, lazarri middleton, dijon washington, charles jackson, jase dean, antonio bell

  3. 2010 Aug 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 8/11


    By HuskerLocker

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    The lauded depth on Nebraska’s 2010 offensive line got a little thinner Wednesday, as head coach Bo Pelini confirmed after practice that senior Mike Smith broke his leg in practice Tuesday and would miss the season.

    “It’s pretty clean break,” Pelini said. “He’ll recover fully.”

    Pelini declined to say which leg. Offensive line coach Barney Cotton said Smith snapped it on a play in practice.

    “Guys kind of fall into each other,” Cotton said. “Turned out to be a more severe injury than maybe you would have thought looking at it.”

    Smith had started for two years at left tackle, but served as a “swing” player this fall. At 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, Smith had struggled with nagging injuries that diminished his play at tackle.

    But it’s still a blow to NU’s overall experience and versatility on the offensive line.

    “It’s one less guy,” Pelini said. “But we still have great competition.”

    Pelini said Smith could petition for a sixth year of eligibility, but “it’s up to him.”

    “I anticipate he’d want to come back for another year,” Pelini said.

    Nebraska spent its first day in pads - and its second straight day overall - practicing inside the Hawks Championship Center with the air conditioning turned on as temperatures again soared near the triple digits outside. Although Pelini lauded his team Monday for battling through the heat, he sensed, too, that the Huskers were getting “worn down.”

    “It’s pretty ridiculous out there,” Pelini said. “You beat your team down if you’re out there too much.”

    Left tackle Yoshi Hardrick, who struggled with heat exhaustion Monday, was held out again Wednesday. Pelini said Hardrick should return Thursday.

    “He’s feeling good,” Pelini said. “There’s no issues.”

    Through five practices, Pelini said the NU quarterback race is “about even” between Zac Lee, Cody Green and Taylor Martinez.

    “This could go on for a long time,” Pelini said. “I know you guys don’t want to hear that, but that’s the facts.”

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced again inside the Hawks Championship Center with temperatures outside hovering around 100 degrees.

    What’s New: Full Pads! Players have been hitting pretty hard for two days now. On Wednesday, perhaps, they got to wrap up a little more. Also, left guard Keith Williams returned to practiced after missing two days. Left tackle Yoshi Hardrick did not. Lingenfelter replaced Smith on the 105-man roster.

    Coach Quote: “It’s better protection. I don’t really like when it’s no pads because our guys don’t like it. You’re banging each other’s shoulder. We still get a lot done without pads, but it’s back to real football again.” - Head coach Bo Pelini on practicing in full pads.

    Player Quote: “It’s not something I was forced to do. I could have backed out at any time. It was a little something that I think helped me, and it’ll benefit me in the future. There was never a time where I felt overwhelmed.” - NU wide receiver Khiry Cooper on playing baseball during the summer while participating in the full summer conditioning program Cooper drove two hours to Junction City during the week ten times this summer.


    *Junior cornerback Anthony Blue was not in pads today.

    *Sophomore defensive end Josh Williams physically looks like a different player from his arrival in 2008. Different, in fact, from 2009, when nagging injuries often kept Williams on the stationary spinner bike.

    “It gives him a lot more confidence that he can carry out and do the techniques we ask him to do,” ends coach John Papuchis said. “In all ways, he’s really changed.”

    *Sophomore Brandon Thompson and Lingenfelter were seen snapping the ball to former Nebraska quarterback and current Husker intern Joe Ganz after practice to perhaps find a No. 3 center.

    *Cole Pensick is currently the No. 2 center despite moving to the position in the spring. Having just 20 practices under his belt at center, Pensick has progressed quickly, said Cotton.

    “He’s way ahead of where he was in the spring,” Cotton said.

    The biggest item on Pensick’s summer to-do list?

    “Getting the ball off on time,” Cotton said. “So far, we’re getting off on a good cadence.”

    Next Practice: Thursday. At long last, defensive coordinator Carl Pelini will speak and his interviews are usually among the best.

    Tags: fall camp, football, practice report, bo pelini, mike smith, barney cotton, cole pensick, khiry cooper, yoshi hardrick, luke lingenfelter, brandon thompson, anthony blue

  4. 2010 Aug 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: 7 'Prove It' Players on Defense


    By HuskerLocker

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    The Blackshirts don’t have many questions, and thus fewer players have less to prove. But we still pinpointed a few, with an emphasis on a certain position in between the defensive line and secondary.

    Cornerback Anthony Blue: He’s more than two years removed from a serious knee injury. It’s time for Blue, as fast as any corner on the team, to trust his knee and get more aggressive in Bo Pelini’s scheme.

    Linebacker Sean Fisher: He’s more athletic than fans realize and plenty sharp about his assignments, but Fisher needs to sit in the hole better, take on blockers, get lower and attack the ball carriers. He’s better sideline-to-sideline right now than he is in the box.

    Linebacker Eric Martin: This exciting, physical player is deadly in an isolated spot, but to play consistently he’ll have to refine his technique and better read his keys at the position.

    Defensive tackle Terrence Moore: This tank of a nose tackle needs to produce, big time, in 2010. He’s a better fit for that nose role than lanky Baker Steinkuhler, and if Moore is healthy - and ready to do some damage against the run, Nebraska’s defensive line actually can be better than last year’s bunch. Because Moore is a good pass rusher.

    Strong safety P.J. Smith: By all accounts, Smith is expected to roll right into Larry Asante’s old role without much of a hiccup. But Smith also had to bring that “enforcer” aspect that Asante was known for in 2009. The secondary needs a thumper; Smith is the biggest, best candidate.

    Free safety Rickey Thenarse: Count on him to make his share of big plays for the Blackshirts. Now he needs to eliminate the mental errors that open the door for the opponent. Last time around for this senior.

    Linebacker Alonzo Whaley: The sophomore made a big move in spring and is poised to challenge Fisher for playing time. Whaley arguably has the most athleticism of any Husker ‘backer; it’s about nailing down the finer points of the defense and staying in position.

    See also: 8 Prove It Players on Offense

    Check Out Our Full Big 12 Preview: Big 12 Coaches, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Offensive Lines, Defensive Lines, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Commentary, 12 Best Players, Ten Overrated Players, Ten Underrated Players

    Tags: football, fall camp, sean fisher, anthony blue, eric martin, terrence moore, pj smith, rickey thenarse, alonzo whaley

  5. 2010 Feb 19

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 50


    By HuskerLocker

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    DB Anthony Blue 5-10, 185
    DB Andrew Green 6-0, 175
    DB Dijon Washington 6-0, 175

    One junior and two redshirt freshmen vying for time in a crowded, talented defensive backfield. They’ll find some time; ho much depends on a variety of factors.

    Blue, who shredded his knee two springs ago, will be as close to full speed as he’s ever been. He told us last fall that the physical portion of his game had mostly returned - now it was a matter of mentally trusting his knee to perform. Blue appears fine on deeper routes; it’s the shorter routes that involve more pressing and quicker cuts that he must work on. Needs: To trust his knee to hold up.

    We identified Green last summer as a near-perfect fit for Nebraska match-zone defense - he’s skilled at breaking on the ball and large enough to fight slot receivers on the inside - but NU wisely redshirted a player who ultimately wasn’t needed. How much Green plays could depend, in part, on whether coaches move Eric Hagg to free safety, thus opening up that nickel spot for Green to compete with Rickey Thenarse and others. If Hagg sticks, Green may be the “dollar” back, or simply back up one of the two starting cornerbacks. His development over the next year is important, for he’s a likely starter in 2011. Needs: To continue the seasoning process.

    Washington, to us, is reminiscent of current Husker Anthony West. West might have been better served moving to safety years ago, but was needed at corner - where he performed quite well at times last year - for depth reasons. Washington has the frame and skills to be a smaller, run-support-oriented safety, but Bo Pelini appears to like taller guys at that position, hence the recruitment of Corey Cooper. Washington is a bit slight, but wiry. At times last fall, he appeared to be the best freshman defensive back. At times, we’ve heard, he wasn’t. Needs: To continue the seasoning process.

    Want All 50 Huskers? Join Husker Locker for free!

    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, anthony blue, dijon washington, andrew green

  6. 2009 Nov 12

    NU's Music Man


    By HuskerLocker

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    It's Thursday night, and the busiest guy on the Nebraska football team is cornerback Anthony Blue.

    He's got 50 iPods in front of him – each from a different Cornhusker player. They've entrusted Blue with a key part of their gameday ritual: The music playlist. By Friday, when the team either departs for the airport or heads to the local team hotel, Blue has uploaded a personal mix for each from his vast library of tunes, which he's sure is the largest on the team.

    Blue, a sophomore art major, wants to do it. Along with loving “all forms of art” - especially music and drawing - he grew up a computer whiz in graphic design, although he's considering switching his emphasis – perhaps to advertising – for “what I'm going to do for a career.”

    “I was telling (cornerback) Dejon Gomes that everybody on the team can play basketball,” Blue said. “I could probably fix someone's computer. Just growing up around computers, it came along with it.”

    Whereas kids of a certain age used to clip player photos out of magazines and paste them on the wall, Blue liked to design text and graphics around photos on the computer. Along the way, he picked up music, and now routinely keeps a mix of the newest songs in just about every genre.

    Other than Blue himself, sophomore Curenski Gilleylen, Blue said, has the biggest, most varied playlist.

    “Everything,” Blue said. “Country, R&B, neo-soul, gospel. His tastes are wide.”

    Blue has physically recovered from a devastating knee injury that kept him out last season. He returned to special teams units in the Missouri game, and was on the field for a blitz call in Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma.

    “The progress has been huge,” Blue said. “I feel great on deep ball. I still need more work on short routes. Slants. Stops.”

    Tags: anthony blue

  7. 2009 Jul 14

    10 "Prove It" Huskers for 2009


    By HuskerLocker

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    A couple of them will have a chip on their shoulder. A couple more are being thrown into the fire. Others see the sands of time running out on their NU career.

    The ten Husker football players who arguably have the most to prove in 2009 are on the list for various reasons. And each one of them could have standout seasons. Here's our take on the guys NU fans will be watching come fall:

    Senior wide receiver Menelik Holt: You can’t create a more prototypically sized receiver – 6-foot-4, 220 pounds – but Holt hasn’t been the heir apparent to Maurice Purify that many expected him to be. At least not yet. His hands haven’t been the problem – sans a fumble at Iowa State – but Holt doesn’t easily get open, and hasn’t much been sent on those deep routes that were previously reserved for Nate Swift. Holt had an average spring camp, and needs to turn up the voltage in the fall.

    Senior wide receiver Chris Brooks: Does “Brooksie,” as some call him, finally make good on his lauded high school potential? Time to find out. He had a solid spring, but receivers coach Ted Gilmore has typically been reluctant to play him. He won’t have much choice in 2009; Brooks should be the team’s No. 3 or No. 4 option, at worst. He’s well-liked, and seems to have the right attitude, and no lingering frustration over his lack of playing time.

    Senior linebacker Phillip Dillard: Just two years ago, Dillard was seen as the answer to Nebraska’s flailing, failing linebacking corps, specifically the suddenly-average Corey McKeon. Today, Dillard tries to fight out of the doghouse after plummeting to the bottom of the depth chart in spring practice. If healthy, and at the proper weight, Dillard is probably an upgrade over Colton Koehler, who started over the last half of 2008. But he’s got to earn the trust of position coach Mike Ekeler and head coach Bo Pelini, and that should take the balance of fall camp.

    Senior defensive end Barry Turner: We’re not questioning Turner’s previous production; he’s been a solid rush end at Nebraska. But he does have to fully recover from a nasty break in 2008 in order to give the Huskers that speed rusher they were lacking last year. With Ndamukong Suh attracting more double teams this year, Turner will have his shots at the quarterback. As the spring game showed, his first step is still there. But can he get around the Big 12’s best tackles? That remains to be seen.

    Junior cornerback Prince Amukamara: He’s fast, he’s got huge hands and, by every account, dude can practically jump out of the gym. Now it’s time for Amukamara, a “hot one play, cold the next” cover corner last year, to make the leap that position coach Marvin Sanders knows he can. Sanders revamped his coaching installation this spring, beginning with basics and core principles, in an effort to get all of his defensive backs on the same page. When the light goes all the way on for Amukamara, he could be one of the Big 12’s best. Question is: Does it happen?

    Junior quarterback Zac Lee: For it’s worth, we think Lee’s up to the considerable challenge in front of him, which is to sustain the success of 2008 with a tougher schedule, new receivers and a talented true freshman (Cody Green) waiting in the wings. Joe Ganz got to spend the first month in the cozy confines of Memorial Stadium; Lee gets no such luxury, with two vicious road games at Virginia Tech and Missouri on an ESPN Thursday night. The kid’s got to be sharp, fast. And the final exam – games at Kansas and Colorado – will determine the Big 12 North title. Lee has a lot of pressure to bear on that No. 5 jersey.

    Redshirt freshman linebacker Sean Fisher: Really, all of the linebackers have something to prove, but Fisher is a perfect microcosm of the position in the fall of 2009: Lots of talent, little experience. Fisher has been the best of the young studs so far, settling into a BUCK linebacker spot nicely in spring camp and looking decent, in the spring game. The first month of the football season, he’ll face all kinds of different offenses - pro-style, spread, whatever Virginia Tech decides to trot out – and he’ll have to keep head above water in all instances. Fisher has earned the spotlight thus far. But his mistakes, should he make them, will be the most quickly exposed, too.

    Sophomore cornerback Anthony Blue: He had the ugliest of ugly knee injuries – the dreaded MCL tear – and he’s just now rounding back into game shape and trusting his leg to do what it once did so easily. Before his injury, Blue was slated as a starting cornerback. Now, he might be the No. 5 guy on the board. Another talent, Willie Amos, never really came back from his devastating tear. Neither did wingback/cornerback Isaiah Fluellen. Husker fans don’t want to go down this road again.

    Junior guard Ricky Henry: Nearly every Nebraska offensive and defensive lineman have professed an admiration for this kid. Mostly because his motor is on Autobahn speed most of the time, and he loves battling in the trenches with a zeal some haven’t seen since the Milt Tenopir days. That’s fine with us, of course, but, to paraphrase position coach Barney Cotton, it might be good if Henry turned it down a notch every so often, and realized there is such a thing as a holding penalty. If Henry can learn the offense, and be more than a toughman, Nebraska’s running game may be in even better shape.

    Senior safety Rickey Thenarse: It would help if Thenarse would get a break on the health front, but he’s still a guy who was healthy enough last year in the Gator Bowl, only to get outplayed and replaced by Matt O’Hanlon. Thenarse is a special teams dynamo, and he’s pretty good in run coverage. But he still tends to get turned around in pass coverage. Does that finally end in 2009?

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    Tags: zac lee, phillip dillard, menelik holt, chris brooks, barry turner, prince amukamara, sean fisher, anthony blue, ricky henry, rickey thenarse

  8. 2009 Mar 06

    LP Spring Position Spotlight: Who Gets The Hot Corner?


    By SMcKewon

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    This stacked position will feature terrific battles all spring. Who has the advantage? Locker Pass can tell you! Sign up today!

    Tags: locker pass, position spotlight, anthony west, anthony blue, prince amukamara, lance thorell, dejon gomes, eric hagg

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