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  1. 2012 Mar 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Spring Practice Position Primer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Quarterback: Without Tommy Armstrong in camp, Martinez has no threat to his starting spot. He’s showed tremendous athletic potential last spring.

    If Carnes continues to improve athletically, and the mental aspect of the game can be reinforced, while the gap between he and Martinez isn’t likely to shrink that much, a legitimate backup candidate could be crowned.

    Running back: Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green start on equal footing heading into Saturday and could very well end up where they started following April’s spring game.

    Thanks to Abdullah’s edge in experience during actual FBS play, one has to think he has a leg up on Green. His fumbling problems may level the playing field, however.

    Wide receiver: Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Tim Marlowe and Jamal Turner will all have the opportunity to solidify their starting roles.

    With the departure of Khiry Cooper, look for Taariq Allen, who followed wide receivers coach Rich Fisher from Weston, Massachusetts, to vie for the fifth spot. KC Hyland and Tyler Evans are two other talents with an opportunity to shine.

    Tight End: Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed aren’t going anywhere, but David Sutton and Eddie Ridder have the opportunity to showcase their potential.

    Offensive Line: Departed center Mike Caputo’s replacement could come from a number of candidates including Cole Pensick, Nick Ash and Ryan Klachko. Pensick and Ash may have seniority, but Klachko sticks out as the prospect with a higher ceiling.

    Brandon Thompson, Andrew Rodriguez, Mike Moudy and Ryne Reeves look to be the favorites to hold down the guard spots. Rodriguez’s attitude has reportedly been lackadaisical, but Moudy and Reeves have the tenacity to step up should he slack off.

    Sirles and Qvale will start out spring at the tackle spots with Tyler Moore giving them all they can handle in an attempt to take one of their spots. Zach Sterup is a likely backup candidate with Givens Price needing a strong spring to assert himself as a legitimate threat for playing time.

    Defensive Line: Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah, Eric Martin and Joseph Cater have the end positions on lockdown barring injury. Donovan Vestal and Walker Ashburn need huge springs to hold off the incoming Avery Moss and Greg McMullen come the fall.

    The interior’s been decimated by injury with Chase Rome and Todd Peat, Jr. now out for the entirety of spring ball. Once Kevin Williams and Thad Randle return from injury, they’ll be plugged in next to Baker Steinkuhler in an attempt to hone their abilities, and find a suitable replacement for Rome’s spring absence.

    Having a deeper interior for rotation’s sake won’t hurt heading into Big Ten play. Jay Guy and newly-placed Tobi Okuyemi will have the opportunity to show that their work ethic has improved.

    Linebackers: Will Compton has the MIKE slot on lockdown while Sean Fisher will spend most of his time trying to cement the BUCK slot by the end of spring. Max Pirman could find himself trying to work into rotation behind him.

    Pelini mentioned to look for David Santos and Alonzo Whaley to work at the WILL position to begin the essentially-impossible task of taking over for Lavonte David. Don’t be surprised to see Santos win that battle by mid-April.

    Defensive back: Mohammed Seisay will be one of the most-watched players on the entire team this spring. Not only will he be wearing the departed David’s No. 4, but he looks to lock down the title of Nebraska’s elite cornerback.

    Andrew Green, Cinate Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and recently-switched Braylon Heard will likely get the opportunity to lock down the opposite end.

    Safety: Daimion Stafford, Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith are the likely candidates to lock down starting role. Osborne’s recent concussion issues may cause Pelini and company to take things slow with him.

    Kicker/Punter: Brett Maher is light years ahead of Mauro Bondi, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Boca Raton native can narrow the gap in the slightest.

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    Tags: spring practice, taylor martinez, brion carnes, ameer abdullah, aaron green, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, tim marlowe, jamal turner, taariq allen, ben cotton, kyler reed, cole pensick, nick ash, ryan klachko, brandon thompson, andrew rodriguez, mike moudy, ryne reeves, cameron meredith, eric martin, chase rome, todd peat, baker steinkuhler, will compton, david santos, mohammed seisay, brett maher

  2. 2011 Dec 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: A Day in the Life of Husker Football Video


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    After arriving at the North Stadium security desk just before 2 PM on the Wednesday prior to Nebraska’s game against Michigan, I was instructed to head to the second floor to meet Mike Nobler, the football video coordinator for the Cornhuskers’ football team. He greeted me with a warning that there would be a lot of commotion on the way to his office.

    Team meetings were just about to start and bodies crowded the narrow hallway outside of the players’ lounge. “They all hang out in there before meetings,” Nobler said as we passed by the windows. He was right, as nearly every player on the Big Red’s roster seemed to be packed into the lounge.

    Nebraska’s football video office is just down the hall from the lounge, so it’s in the middle of the action. Visitors are frequent, but as meeting times grew closer, the quieter our surroundings became. Today’s preparation had officially begun.

    2:00 PM: With players in meetings, the video staff had about an hour to prepare for practice. The staff, led by Nobler, consists of one assistant and eight students. Tate Guillotte is Nobler’s assistant from LSU. The eight students are Britton Hess, Evin Hale, Matt Haron, Andrew Jensen, Anthony Madl, Mike McGuire, Brandon Baratta and Dan Rudolph.

    It was clear from the moment I arrived that this group is very dedicated. There was an almost eerie feeling as I sat knowing all of the players were currently watching film that Nobler and his staff prepared. I wondered what would happen if something went wrong.

    “It’s hard to describe, but the stress level is the most challenging,” Nobler said. “Right now, we’re getting ready to play Michigan. Every one of these meeting rooms is filled with 10 to 20 guys who are watching video of Michigan, getting ready to play them. If something happens right now and the video network goes down, we don’t have video. So now we can’t prepare for Michigan.”

    2:35 PM: After chatting with Nobler about his job at Nebraska, I had the chance to listen as the video students prepared for practice. I quickly learned that the most undesirable job at practice is to be on “Music Duty.” After expressing that this actually sounded pretty fun, everyone quickly chimed in with disagreement. To please an entire football team is nearly impossible, as the students have learned.

    No one on the team likes classic rock and head coach Bo Pelini does not like any music that contains screaming. Quarterback Taylor Martinez and the offensive line like country music with the exception of offensive tackle Yoshi Hardrick. Wide receiver Kenny Bell and running backs coach Ron Brown like old school music (Brown being especially fond of Motown). The defense prefers to work in silence.

    It turns out that Music Duty isn’t so fun after all.

    3:00 PM: As Nobler walked me through game film preparation, the crew wrapped up their pre-practice checks. The temperature had dropped since I arrived, and the wind picked up significantly. It's conditions like these that present the highest safety risk, as highlighted by the tragedy involving Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan who lost his life due to a collapsed lift.

    Nobler told me that both he and Pelini are very careful with weather conditions. In fact, Pelini and his staff are known to watch the skies and ask the video crew’s head man if practice needs to be moved inside. In addition to this attention to safety, Nobler assures that all proper precautions are taken to ensure an accident never happens.

    “We totally revamped the way we do things,” Nobler said. “I think it hit all of us hard because it could have been any of us. We used the exact same lifts. So this offseason, we just put in permanent towers.”

    At this point, most of the video students had already headed out to practice, but Nobler reminds the last few remaining to take a jacket. He also mentioned to me how much he trusts all of them to complete their assignments as we headed outside. “I trust them completely to get the shots we need.”

    3:15 PM: Before heading to practice, Nobler walked me through the players’ meeting rooms. As we passed through the theaters, he told me which ones he knew for fact would still have projectors on. He was right about every single one. After checking out the room’s stadium seating, I asked how some players could fit in their seats. “I really don’t know,” Nobler said.

    3:40 PM: Nobler and I headed to the Hawks Championship Center (“The Hawks”) as practice began in earnest. Having been in The Hawks before, I had never noticed the walkways that ran along the sides high enough up to film. We continued on to where a group of his students already had the cameras rolling.

    They explained how they knew when and where to point the cameras before showing me the equipment at their disposal and how it all worked. As I studied the day’s schedule, I asked how they knew exactly when everything was going to happen. “A lot of practice,” Nobler said.

    4:10 PM: Having spent enough time inside the warmth of The Hawks, we stepped outside to see what kind of a day the Nebraska offense was having. While inside, no music was heard, but after stepping outside, it was louder than I expected. So loud in fact, it made speaking to those around me difficult.

    The most fascinating thing to watch was Nobler’s students knowing exactly when to start and stop the music. It's all based on hand motions from offensive coordinator Tim Beck. When he waves, the music stops. Another wave signals for the tunes to blare again. When offered to try my hand at reading Beck’s signals, I declined. Official appreciation of this task’s difficulty had set in.

    4:35 PM: “If I’m cold, you must be freezing,” junior tight end Ben Cotton said as he noticed me.

    He was right. I wasn't dressed warm enough to be outside, and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Nobler quickly received notice that the offense would be moving inside during the next break. This may sound like an easy transition, but it’s an incredibly difficult task for the video crew to accomplish.

    In less than ten minutes, they would need to pack all equipment, get down from the towers, move inside and set back up. If not done quickly and efficiently, key pieces of practice may be missed. I watched as Nobler and the students moved rapidly. When they realized one student would not be able to make it in time, Nobler sprang into action to ensure everything went off without a hitch.

    4:50 PM: Back inside, Nobler began collecting film from each of the students. While his crew would remain to finish filming, Nobler would need to begin cutting the tape. With practice ending between 5:30 and 5:45, coaches would be expecting film by 6:30 at the latest. This demands that Nobler and his staff continue to work swiftly.

    5:05 PM: We returned to the football video offices where Nobler began downloading the film and cutting it. He showed me the steps he takes and what goes into preparing it for XOS Digital. What impressed me the most was that Nebraska has its own server that hosts the software only for the coaches. In fact, there are specific computers that restrict video access to the coaches as well.

    The difference between now and five years ago is that coaches can watch film at home with the help of a program called “Hudl.” Regardless of if a player or coach is at a computer, holding an iPad, or even an iPhone, they can watch film.

    “Nebraska has been on the forefront of technology on any level, college or pro,” Nobler said. “Nebraska is usually cutting edge. We were one of the first to go from film to VHS tape. We were one of the first to go digital. We were the first, us and Colorado, to shoot coaches’ video in HD.”

    5:15 PM: Nobler believed I was ready to dive in and cut film myself. He demonstrated the process a few times before turning the reins over to me. I was in charge of cutting some of the special teams film. As I watched kicker Brett Maher get into position, I marked the spot. After beginning to cut film to Nobler’s specifications, it truly hit me how much work goes into preparing film for Nebraska’s football team. Frankly, I was floored.

    5:30 PM: Practice was ending and it was time for me to head out so that Nobler and his staff could wrap up their work for the day, as the coaches would be expecting their film soon. After goodbyes were exchanged, I headed for the North Stadium entrance.

    Replaying the day in my head, I realized how much I now appreciated just how much work goes into prepare film for a football team. Often forgotten, this group is the unsung heroes of game preparation. Without them, Pelini and his staff would not be equipped nearly as well as they are now.

    I can only hope I didn’t mess Maher’s film up too much.

    Follow Nebraska Football Video on Twitter: @NEB_FB_VIDEO

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    Tags: mike nobler, nebraska video, bo pelini, ben cotton

  3. 2011 Oct 26

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things the Huskers Must Do To Be Big Ten Champs - No. 4


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Ryan Donohue

    - Find Leaders and Make Followers

    Alfonzo Dennard made waves when he said some teammates were taking plays off during the Wisconsin debacle. If there is leadership, you won’t see players going through the motions.

    You see more discipline, camaraderie and intense competition. All of this benefits the overall performance of a team.

    Leaders are vocal, but bust heads when they need to. It’s unfortunate that coaches only have so much influence, but it’s true. If they can’t get through to a player, the only immediate option is the bench.

    If there isn’t enough depth, that’s not even a choice. Players can coach teammates in a different way. It’s not necessarily a senior’s responsibility to focus on helping others, but true leaders do just that as upperclassmen.

    Yes, NU has a small senior class, but they and a number of special underclassmen can provide a blueprint for how others should carry themselves.

    Rex Burkhead is becoming more vocal. He’s the anchor of the offense. Who will join him? How about offensive veterans like Mike Caputo or Ben Cotton? How about Will Compton or Austin Cassidy on defense?

    It’s always concerning when players are off doing their own thing – The “Me First” approach. Players that serve as leaders exist to eliminate this behavior and instill the team-first mentality to all.

    Try as they might, this isn't something coaches can do alone. Nebraska badly needs this component if they hope to compete for, and win, a conference crown this year or any other.

    Follow Ryan on Twitter: @DigitalRyan
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    Tags: alfonzo dennard, rex burkhead, austin cassidy, mike caputo, ben cotton

  4. 2011 Jun 08

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: 10 Players Who Will Make or Break New Cornhusker Offense – No. 10


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Basic elements of Tim Beck’s new offense were unveiled in April to the Cornhuskers’ adoring public. What Beck’s plans are past page one is anyone’s guess. One thing that isn’t difficult to predict is the talent with which he will try to get the Big Red Machine rolling. If these ten pieces of the puzzle don’t fall into place, the wheels may fall off of Beck’s invention.

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    No. 10: Ben Cotton

    Cotton has the size (6’6” 255 pounds) to be a valuable asset as Nebraska transitions into their new conference, but his presence has been lacking over the past two seasons. His career at Nebraska has resulted in only eight catches for 77 yards and one touchdown. Either Cotton has been misused to a disgusting degree or he’s incapable of making an impact.

    As he started 13 of 14 games last season, the latter is a far less acceptable explanation. With John Garrison coaching the tight ends, Cotton’s going to have every opportunity to show off how ferocious he can be blocking for his running backs. The x-factor is just how much Garrison can get out of Cotton in terms of properly catching.

    As passing coordinator for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2007, Beck used tight end Derek Fine efficiently enough for him to end the season with 46 catches for 394 yards (8.57 YPC) and four touchdowns. If Cotton is used in this fashion, he’ll be a player that teams must account for on second/third and medium/short situations.

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    Tags: ben cotton

  5. 2011 Mar 21

    50 HUSKERS TO KNOW: No. 18


    By HuskerLocker

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    The 50 Huskers to Know returns for the 2011 spring season! We count down the players you absolutely have to watch heading into spring football, culminating with No. 1 during NU's spring break.

    The spring list, remember, is about players who are currently in the program, with an emphasis on redshirt freshmen and sophomores who might not have played much yet; in the fall, you'll see a list with more projected starters and incoming contributing recruits.

    Not included on this list is wide receiver Khiry Cooper, who spends the spring with the Husker baseball team.

    No. 18 Tight end Ben Cotton

    Now a junior, this 6-foot-6, 250-pounder always brings two things to every practice and game: Energy and toughness. A natural vocal leader who knows how to motivate and cut the tension when necessary, Cotton is NU's best blocking tight end since at least J.B. Phillips, and perhaps heading back to Aaron Golliday. He can blast guys on kick-out blocks – as he did in the 2010 Missouri game – or prevent a defensive end/linebacker from turning the corner. He'll play a pivotal blocking role in NU's new offense.

    As a receiver, Cotton is better than his meager numbers might suggest. He's a good short-yardage target with above-average running ability for a guy of his size. He's not Kyler Reed, but he may get a bigger role in Tim Beck's new attack. Either way, he's a keeper and a leader in the locker room.

    No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21, No. 20, No. 19

    Tags: 50 huskers to know spring 2011, ben cotton

  6. 2011 Feb 01

    Husker Heartbeat 2/1: Cheap Shots, Big Ten and the Black Mamba Ripple Effect


    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *The Wiz of Odds holds this competition for the cheapest shots of the year. Two of them happened to Huskers - tight end Ben Cotton (in the A&M game) and running back Rex Burkhead (in the Iowa State game). Vote for either one here.

    *The Ten Best Recruiting Classes of the Decade, as judged by Dr. Saturday.

    *Nebraska will get a hard look from another linebacker prospect: Kent Turene, who decommitted from USC weeks ago.

    *NU won't have a ton of returning starters when it heads to the Big Ten. But it's likely to have the most individual stars - at least for the first five games.

    *Is David Santos one of the steals of the 2011 recruiting class?

    *Just remember - Urban Meyer is retired.

    *Oregon steals one out from under USC nose: The Black Mamba? Does this mean the Trojans head back to Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green? You bet.

    *The Iowa 13 has been released from the hospital. One of them is Omaha Central product Shaun Prater.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, rex burkhead, ben cotton, big ten, urban meyer, more kiffin, iowa, recruiting

  7. 2011 Jan 17

    YEAR IN REVIEW: OL Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Sam takes a long look at one of NU's most-criticized position groups, the offensive line. Is it earned for Barney Cotton? Yes and no. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass

    Tags: report card, year in review, ricky henry, keith williams, mike caputo, jeremiah sirles, dj jones, andrew rodriguez, ben cotton, yoshi hardrick, barney cotton

  8. 2010 Nov 23

    Practice Report 11/22: Diminishing Returns on Offense


    By HuskerLocker

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    After he addressed many of the problems that occurred on Nebraska's sideline in Saturday night's loss to Texas A&M, NU head coach Bo Pelini looked at an equally-pressing concern on the field: The rapid disappearance of the Huskers' offense in the last two games.

    Nebraska mustered just 20 points against a Kansas team that hadn't given up less than 28 during the Big 12 season, and just six points to a Texas A&M squad that surrendered 30 points and more than 400 yards to Baylor the week before.

    What's wrong?

    “We left some plays out on the field,” Pelini said. “We left some situations out on the field. We need to play better and execute better more consistently.”

    Pretty vague stuff. And the remedy?

    “You play with confidence and you play fast,” Pelini said.

    After practice Monday, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson honed in on a more specific problem as NU prepares for Friday's game vs. Colorado.

    “You've got Taylor (Martinez) down and that's a big part of us,” Watson said. “Taylor's a big part of a run game, obviously...when that happens, it takes away a big chunk of you, so you've just got to find other creative ways to do your business.”

    The redshirt freshman quarterback didn't practice Monday because of a sprained right ankle and a stubbed left toe, housed in a walking boot. Both injuries occurred on the same play, as NU center Mike Caputo accidentally stepped on the ankle and the foot at the same time.

    Watson didn't know if Martinez would practice Tuesday; in his absence, sophomore Cody Green took snaps with the first team, while redshirt freshman walk-on Ron Kellogg III worked with the second team. Senior Zac Lee, recovering from a variety of injuries concerning his right arm, was throwing more Monday than he had in recent weeks, and could be ready to play Friday.

    Martinez's initial ankle injury, incurred in the first half of the Missouri game, has considerably slowed him down and Nebraska's running game along with it.

    Prior to the injury, NU averaged 295 yards per game and 6.77 yards per carry.

    After it – even with a hobbled Martinez in the lineup at times – the Huskers' averages drop to 214 and 4.57.

    NU gained 142 rushing yards vs. A&M Saturday on 37 carries. Take away two second-half runs of 33 and 31 yards, and the Huskers rushed 35 times for just 78 yards.

    Despite good field position throughout the first half, Nebraska made nothing of it with Green, who threw for 65 yards and one interception, at the helm.

    “(Green) can manage some of the same things in the run game,” Watson said. “It's just not the same impact that you would get out of Taylor.”

    As Green's relative lack of production has shown.

    “He continuing to grow,” Watson said. “There's nothing wrong with Cody.”

    A&M further complicated matters by running an aggressive, blitzing 3-4 scheme that didn't allow NU to run trick plays, Watson said.

    “We tried to keep it simple and fast for our guys,” Watson said. “Trick plays? It depends if you can manage the pressure. If you can manage the pressure, then yeah. You're talking about blitz. And that's the hard thing. In my opinion, no.”

    The Huskers also struggled to get off plays in times, having to burn several timeouts because the play clock was winding down. Crowd noise at Kyle Field messed up communication in the huddle.

    Asked if he'd consider coming down from the press box – as he did for a whole chunk of 2009 – Watson said no.

    “I would never do that,” he said.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a two-hour practice inside the Hawks Championship Center in shirts and shorts

    Coach Quote: ""It's been a good match up. I think both programs and states have taken (to it), because of the relationship, being side by side. The things that happened in the 90's with Coach Mac (Bill McCartney), and Colorado's resurgence on the national scene. It's a very significant game and it's been a very spirited rivalry for about 20 years, and probably beyond than that, I just haven't happened to be a part of it in that time during my coaching career. It has been a great rivalry and that's what happens when change happens." Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on the NU-CU rivalry.

    Player Quote: “I don't think there's anything wrong with us. We were moving the ball well on those drives and we just ended up shooting ourselves in the foot with those penalties, with missed assignments, stuff like. Our attitude isn't any different on offense. It just comes down to that attitude to finishing drives.” Tight end Ben Cotton on offensive woes

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: cu game, practice report, shawn watson, ben cotton, bo pelini, taylor martinez, cody green

  9. 2010 Nov 01

    Practice Report 11/2: Martinez, Dennard Held Out


    By HuskerLocker

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    Two of Nebraska's best players – quarterback Taylor Martinez and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard – are “day-to-day” after missing NU Monday practice for entirely different kinds of injuries.

    Martinez sustained an ankle sprain Saturday in the second quarter of the Huskers' 31-17 win over Missouri, head coach Bo Pelini told reporters Monday. Pelini initially called it a “bone bruise,” but revised his injury report after getting more information.

    Pelini said Martinez should practice Tuesday. Zac Lee and Cody Green split reps with the first-team offense in Martinez's absence. Lee replaced Martinez in the Texas and Missouri games.

    “There hasn't been a week where I've let up in my preparation because of the situation,” Lee said.

    Dennard is recovering from a concussion sustained in an accidental hit with teammate Courtney Osborne. Team doctors must OK Dennard's return to the field. Generally, concussed players take a battery of tests throughout the week and emerge symptom-free.

    True freshman Ciante Evans replaced Dennard and “did a great job,” Pelini said.

    “He really rose to the occasion and made some plays out there,” he said.

    Evans consistently covered his receivers despite frequently being tested downfield, but his best play may have been in run support; he stuffed Missouri quarterback 6-foot-5, 240-pound Blaine Gabbert on a third-down-and-goal play. Mizzou had to settle for a field goal.

    “He's not afraid to stick his nose in there,” secondary coach Marvin Sanders said. “You're not looking for your corners to be the Ronnie Lotts of the world, but if they're willing to stick their nose in there, they've got a chance.”

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a shorter, 90-minute practice outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    What’s New: Martinez and Dennard were held out of practice.

    Coach Quote: "The light's been on. I said this earlier in the year: There are five or six guys that I was comfortable with in playing...I had total confidence in them. Through the course of the season these guys earned their opportunities and this past game they've taken advantage of it. It's been happening all year" Secondary coach Marvin Sanders on the progression of Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne

    Player Quote: “With all the tradition that Coach Osborne and Coach Devaney built here, the running football, the smashmouth football, for a running back to get an accolade like that, it's amazing We're proud to be a part of it and for him and what he was capable of doing.” Tight end Ben Cotton on Roy Helu's school rushing record


    *Nebraska will have to explore pay-per-view one more time for the Nov. 13 game vs. Kansas. The contest was not picked up by any network. A traditional 1:00 p.m. start could be an option.

    *Roy Helu was named Big 12 Player of the Week.

    *Cotton said he knows several of the Iowa State players and routinely keeps in touch with ISU senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, who played at Ames High School as a senior when Cotton was a sophomore.

    Barney Cotton coached in Ames for three years as ISU's offensive coordinator.

    “It was a good experience,” Ben Cotton said of living in Ames. “They love their football just like we do here. We've got our work cut out for us.”

    *Sanders said Evans may be the first guy to replace Dennard, but Anthony West could get a look, too. Dejon Gomes and Eric Hagg can play the spot in a pinch. Anthony Blue is out for the season with his second torn ACL.

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Tags: practice report, isu game, taylor martinez, alfonso dennard, ciante evans, marvin sanders, ben cotton, zac lee

  10. 2010 Sep 28

    Non-Conference Report Card - WR/TE


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's a group of players who have been up or down depending on how many touches they've been getting. Who grades out the highest? Find out with a 30-day free trial to Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: report card, niles paul, brandon kinnie, khiry cooper, tim marlowe, will henry, curenski gilleylen, ben cotton, kyler reed

  11. 2010 Aug 29

    50 HUSKERS TO KNOW: No. 19


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our 50 Huskers to Know series returns for the fall, as we count down the key players on Nebraska’s 2010 team. Check back throughout fall camp for the countdown, and scroll to the bottom for links to the whole list.

    No. 19 Ben Cotton, 6-6, 255, TE, So.

    The tight end is back at Nebraska as a viable, consistent weapon, and although NU’s receiving corps have improved to the point where Cotton may not be a huge pass-catching target, the Huskers will still look to the big guy around the goal line and in playaction situations. Plus - Cotton is as physical a blocker as Nebraska’s had at the position since J.B. Phillips in 2007. Husker coaches like what he brings to the table.

    Beyond that, a quick glance around practice shows that Cotton is a leader, too, despite still being an underclassman. Look for him to expand that role as the years continue. For 2010, we prescribe around 15 catches, perhaps a touchdown, and a nice average to boot.

    See all of the Huskers: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21, No. 20

    Tags: 50 huskers to know fall 2010, ben cotton

  12. 2010 Aug 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Cotton Coming to Harvest


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    He talks quickly and confidently, rarely breaking stride or dimming his smile as he hits up teammates with a joke or a jab. Occasionally, to anyone or no one, he busts out the line of a random song in a goofy, mock-falsetto that makes the mundane job of holding a water cooler a little more livable.

    Then Nebraska tight end Ben Cotton gets down in a three-point stance and slams into teammate Dreu Young in a blocking drill that pits brute against brute in a test of strength, balance and sheer want-to. Position coach Ron Brown’s barking instructions halts and the battle is over. A stalemate.

    Cotton’s grin comes right back.

    The favorite to win NU’s tight end job, the sophomore makes a point of loving this. He plays for a top ten team. His brother, Jake, is at the other end of the field in the chute with the rest of the freshmen defensive tackles. His dad, Barney, coaches the offensive linemen 20 yards away, and occasionally, in tandem drills, they work together, two giant guys, both Huskers, sharing something that seemed unlikely three years ago.

    “It was always a dream of mine,” Ben Cotton said. “I wanted to play for him at some level.”

    Which is why, before his junior season at Ames (Iowa) High School, Ben committed to play at Iowa State, where Barney served as offensive coordinator. After coaching at four different spots 1989-2003 - including the one year at Nebraska - Barney finally seemed settled at ISU, which hoped in 2006 to contend for the Big 12 North title after back-to-back 7-5 seasons.

    A brutal conference schedule (that mirrors the 2010 slate) derailed the season. The Cyclones fired head coach Dan McCartney. Barney, too. Ben committed to Louisville during the summer of 2007. And Barney chose volunteer at Ben’s high school.

    “I’ll look up to him for the rest of my life for making that decision,” Ben said. “It helped me a lot as a football player. It was a great time just for me and him to get to know each other.”

    Suddenly, Barney was around more often in 2007, a change from his life as a college assistant when, Ben said “they don’t take one second off.” Ames struggled in Ben’s senior season, but he appreciated his dad’s teaching.

    “I’ve always believed in everything he taught,” Ben said “Just simple things. Being relentless. Working hard. That’s the kind of player I want to be. Hard worker, a guy who will never quit, a guy who will tough it out through anything.”

    Meanwhile - chaos at Nebraska in 2007. You know the story.

    Goodbye, Steve Pederson, hello Tom Osborne; goodbye Bill Callahan, hello Bo Pelini. And hello Barney Cotton, who coached with Pelini at Nebraska in 2003.

    When Barney got the NU job, Ben was actually on a plane to take his official visit to Louisville. An ice storm hit Des Moines. Ben’s flight was delayed. And Bo offered Ben to play at Nebraska.

    “God works in mysterious ways,” Ben said.

    And here is Ben Cotton now, drawing raves from offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who compares the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder to some of his pupils at Colorado, which turned out some of nation’s best tight ends during Watson’s tenure there.

    “Ben can run, he can catch, he can block, he can do everything,” Watson said. “And he’s developed into a really good player. We wanted to clear the way for him.”

    Starter Mike McNeill moved to slot receiver. Ben takes little for granted - there’s plenty of depth, including Young and Kyler Reed, behind him - but he is going to enjoy it. Yes, even a brutally hot fall camp.

    “There’s no point fighting each other,” Ben said. “That’ll never get the best out of you. But if you keep guys upbeat, keep supporting each other, keep competing with each other, we’ll get better.”

    Is that mindset a chip off dad’s block?

    “I was more of a pain in the ass when I played,” Barney said, laughing. “He’s got a different personality. Hopefully people would say I played hard, which he does. But I wasn’t probably quite as positive.”

    Tags: fall camp, football, ben cotton, barney cotton, shawn watson, jake cotton

  13. 2010 Aug 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 8/10


    By HuskerLocker

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    The giant cargo doors to the Hawks Championship Center were shut tight Tuesday afternoon. The Nebraska football team turned on the air conditioning inside the giant facility, and the Huskers practiced indoor after surviving 100-degree temperatures on Monday.

    Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told reporters the adjustment was needed for Nebraska to conduct a second “high-intensity” practice after Monday.

    “When you go outside, and it’s that hot, it’s just hard,” Watson said. “After a while, the human body just wears down. We want practices that are high intensity practices where we’re able to execute for the duration of practice. We came in because we wanted to get our practices more crisp.”

    NU didn’t change a thing in its routine, Watson said. He didn’t offer a prediction for where Wednesday’s fully-padded workout might take place, since the heat is not likely to subside in Lincoln until the weekend.

    Nor did Watson betray much about the quarterback race that remains in its early stages.

    “The last two days have been really competitive,” Watson said.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced inside the Hawks Championship Center for 2½ hours. NU donned the helmets and shoulder pads, and will wear the leg pads on Wednesday.

    What’s New: Practicing indoors. It wasn’t exactly cool inside the Hawks Center, but the conditions were significantly better than Monday’s scorcher. Also, guard Nick Ash appears to be the 105th player on Nebraska’s roster. Ash appeared Tuesday in a helmet and jersey.

    Coach Quote: He’s in China…I don’t put the fire hose out there for him to drink out of, I just give him the garden hose so he can get his feet under him. - Shawn Watson on freshman quarterback Brion Carnes It can’t be easy trying to evaluate three quarterbacks while bringing along a freshman, too.

    Player Quote: “All of the cornerbacks throughout the day, I’ll ask them ‘What am I supposed to do in this certain defense?’ Throughout the day, they tell me. At practice, I ask them all the time. They’re always helping me. Everybody has my back. They know I’m new, so they help me out every chance they can.” - Defensive back Antonio Bell It could be a good fit for Bell, who was never destined to be much of a run blocker at wide receiver.


    *Left tackle Jermarcus Hardrick was held out of practice Tuesday. Hardrick was struggling with cramps and heat on Monday. Bo Pelini will address the issue further after practice Wednesday.

    *Guard Keith Williams was held out of practice and is expected back Wednesday.

    *One reason senior Mike McNeill was moved to his “adjuster” role was to make way for sophomore Ben Cotton, whom Watson compared to tight ends he coached at Colorado, which includes one of the best in Big 12 history, Daniel Graham.

    “Ben can run, he can catch, he can block, he can do everything,” Watson said. “And he’s developed into a really good player. We wanted to clear the way for him.”

    *It’s hard to miss freshman guard Andrew Rodriguez - at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, he’s one of the largest players on the team - but his athleticism and nimble feet draw equal attention in drills.

    Although Rodriguez has “a lot of technique work to do,” Watson said, the OC added that “he’s got size and strength that a lot of freshmen don’t have.”

    “He’s been very impressive just in his skillset,” Watson said.

    Next Practice: Wednesday afternoon, as the Huskers will be able to practice in full pads for the first time.

    Tags: football, fall camp, shawn watson, brion carnes, yoshi hardrick, andrew rodriguez, alfonzo dennard, ben cotton, antonio bell, nick ash, keith williams

  14. 2010 Apr 20



    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Tight End

    Spring Summary: Still loaded, even with Mike McNeill’s half-move to wide receiver. Nebraska finally has a stable of impressive blockers in sophomore Ben Cotton, junior Ryan Hill, senior Dreu Young and walk-on Mychael McClure. McNeill remains a threat when he lines up there, and sophomore Kyler Reed is a more assertive, experienced player - retaining all of the talent he’s flashed since his arrival at NU. Walk-on Brent Wells could be a nice player down the road, too.

    Big Mover: Reed. With injuries to Cotton and Young in camp, Reed got a ton of repetitions with the first team. He took advantage of them, and should be a better pass-receiver in 2010.

    More to Prove: J.T. Kerr, a redshirt freshman. Kerr came to NU to be a combo blocker-short yardage pass catcher, but we’ve yet to see the kind of expected progress.

    Wild Card: Hill, who will line up at fullback some, but can also be a nice pass-catching option down by the goal line. Nice player.

    Freshmen to Add: Chase Harper from junior college. Much will be expected from Harper, who appears to be the most physically gifted tight end NU’s had since Matt Herian.

    Injuries: Young will battle chronic back issues for the rest of his career. Cotton missed a good chunk of practice, but some of that was precautionary. Cotton is a tough kid and a leader.

    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Get healthy, stay healthy, and stay on track. And wait for Harper.

    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, ben cotton, dreu young, chase harper, brent wells, mychael mcclure, ryan hill

  15. 2010 Feb 28

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 36


    By HuskerLocker

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    TE Ben Cotton 6-6, 250, So.

    Quickly developing into the “hoss” tight end with pass-catching capabilities, Cotton is a useful tool in Nebraska’s offense. A key blocker in the Huskers’ jumbo sets, Cotton is physical and nasty at the line of scrimmage - he engages with leverage instead of chicken-fighting or messing with subtle positioning - and is improving as a pass receiver. He won’t catch a ton of passes with Mike McNeill and recruit Chase Harper being added to the mix.

    More importantly, he’s becoming a sixth offensive lineman out there, with the attitude and intelligence to complement the role. Cotton provides a big target and is a steady reliable force in the offense.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, ben cotton

  16. 2010 Jan 11

    50 Huskers in Review: Nos. 35-31


    By HuskerLocker

    In the summer and fall, Husker Locker created its “50 Huskers to Know” list for the 2009 season. We now review our list by examining production, injuries and depth chart position.

    We’ll present these in five-player increments. Here we go!

    No. 35 Ben Cotton/Kyler Reed: Their production doesn’t necessarily jump out at you, but their potential to be big contributors does. Nebraska tried hard - really hard - to get Reed the ball once or twice a game before his injury vs. Baylor, but it didn’t always work out. Cotton, meanwhile, was a key cog in Nebraska’s offense after the Baylor game, as the second or third tight end of those “heavy” sets offensive coordinator Shawn Watson reverted. Also caught a touchdown vs. Colorado. Both are keepers, and should creep up this list in 2010.

    No. 34 Blake Lawrence: Retired from the game after lingering concussion problems; served as a student coach for the last half of the season. He’ll be making millions doing something else in a few years, we’re certain. Good kid.

    No. 33 Baker Steinkuhler: Managed to make it through the season without any significant back problems and without speaking once to a reporter. Had a nice season as Jared Crick’s occasional backup. Although he’s slated to play beside Crick in 2010, we doubt that happens - it’s hard to see two 6-foot-6 guys on the interior of the defensive line - and Steinkuhler might still move to offense, where his dad, Dean, did so much damage. At the end of the day - we think he’s a decent defensive lineman, and potentially an elite offensive guard.

    No. 32 Rex Burkhead: Served as a backup to Roy Helu through the non-conference season, flashing some potential. Looked like Nebraska’s best offensive player, in some respects, vs. Missouri. Then - boom! - broken foot. If Burkhead doesn’t get hurt, NU probably beats Iowa State and gets a BCS bowl berth. When Burkhead returned, he made an immediate impact in wins over Kansas State and Colorado, and dominated from the Wildcat formation in the Holiday Bowl. He is likely a co-starter along with Helu heading into 2010. He’ll leap forward on this list dramatically.

    No. 31 Sean Fisher: Didn’t flash quite like linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said he would. Fisher actually looked best on special teams; at linebacker, he made a handful of big tackles, but mostly played too high and a step behind the ball carrier. He’ll have to battle to stay on the field once Eric Martin and LaVonte David pick up the defense.

    Tags: 50 huskers in review, rex burkhead, sean fisher, blake lawrence, baker steinkuhler, kyler reed, ben cotton

  17. 2009 Apr 18

    SPRING GAME: Red Team Standouts


    By HuskerLocker

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    After the Red's 31-17 win over the White, here's seven Huskers who impressed us on the red team:

    Ben Cotton, tight end: Cotton had an adventuresome day. He missed an assignment on the Red’s first drive that led to a three-and-out and had a false start penalty. But Cotton also proved to be an excellent pass catcher, hauling in four passes for yards and a touchdown. This kid has so much all-around potential it’s scary. And NU’s got him for four years.

    "Ben made several good catches," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "He executed a route to detail and caught a touchdown pass."

    Zac Lee, quarterback: He didn’t get much help from his offensive line for the first quarter or so, but once he got a little time, he made a few nifty plays, including a sweet little jump pass on a screen to Quentin Castille. His best throw of the day was his first touchdown, a 21-yarder to Marcus Mendoza in which he floated a ball over the head of Will Compton, who was sleeping in two-deep coverage. Lee wasn’t eye-popping. But he was solid.

    Alfonzo Dennard, cornerback: Dennard looks like one of NU’s two kickoff returners, and he did a better-than average job at cornerback. Dennard had especially good coverage on Antonio Bell a couple times. And Bell’s going to be a stud. He also had a nice tackle on Stephen Osbourne in the second half.

    Marcus Mendoza, wide receiver: A little guy like that, not afraid to go over the middle? We’ll take it. Mendoza made one terrific catch in the first half and nearly made another, had Lee thrown a better ball. We’ll like this kid out of the slot a couple times a game. Lee does, too, apparently.

    Cameron Meredith, defensive end: Not a lot of tackles, but some serious push on the pass rush. Meredith is more physical than I expected he’d be.

    "He's had a good spring," defensive ends coach John Papuchis said. "He's giving great effort."

    P.J. Smith, safety: Smith was much like Will Compton on the white team. He made a few mistakes, but he was active and around the ball a lot. Five tackles in the game.

    Collins Okafor, running back: Okafor reportedly has work to do to move up the depth chart. But he looked very good on Saturday, especially on a 33-yard touchdown run. Okafor has natural running talent. He changes direction and accelerates well. He has to improve vision, though.

    "He did a really nice job," Watson said

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    Tags: 2009 spring game, springtime with bo, collins okafor, pj smith, cameron meredith, marcus mendoza, alfonzo dennard, zac lee, ben cotton

  18. 2009 Mar 08

    LP Position Spotlight: Talent Aplenty at TE


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Find out which two redshirt freshmen could make a splash at the position. Analysis you're only going to get with the Locker Pass! Wow your friends!

    Tags: football, mike mcneill, dreu young, kyler reed, ben cotton, ryan hill, position spotlight

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