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  1. 2012 Apr 04

    How Bo Pelini can Break the Four-Loss Curse


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Chris Labenz

    There’s no question that Bo Pelini has had a positive influence on Nebraska football since taking over prior to the 2008 season.

    Since his hiring, Pelini has led the Huskers to four nine-win seasons, making Nebraska one of only seven teams to win at least nine games during that period.

    Digging further into Pelini’s record, you'll find that Nebraska has also lost four games each year, usually falling against ranked opponents.

    2011: 9-4 (5-3 Big 10) 1-3 vs. Top 25 (Best win: No. 11 Michigan State)
    2010: 10-4 (6-3 Big 12) 2-2 vs. Top 25 (Best win @ No. 13 Oklahoma St.)
    2009: 10-4 (6-3 Big 12) 0-3 vs. Top 25 (Best win @ Missouri)
    2008: 9-4 (5-3 Big 12) 0-4 vs. Top 25 (Best win: Clemson)

    How does Nebraska break this “Four Loss Curse” in 2012? There’s no simple response to this question, and it’s likely caused the Husker head coach to put in some late hours trying to solve the riddle.

    Despite the many reasons for Nebraska’s struggles, all discussed ad nauseum in newspapers and on message boards, let’s examine some specific components of Pelini’s team that must be fixed in order for the Big Red to overcome potential roadblocks set.

    While obvious, it’s critical that Taylor Martinez make strides in the passing game for the Husker offense to put up points against quality opponents.

    In the four games Nebraska played against AP Top 25 teams last year, the Huskers were only able to put up 17.8 points per game, 12 below their season average.

    A big reason for this meager output was that Martinez struggled mightily when throwing the ball against ranked teams, averaging a pedestrian 123 yards passing per game.

    This was partially due to Tim Beck allowing (and trusting) T-Mart to throw the ball only 18 times per game, of which No. 3 completed only half on average. In those same games, the then-sophomore signal-caller threw just three touchdowns to six interceptions.

    Since these teams were able to force Beck’s offense to be so one-dimensional, the Nebraska rushing attack struggled to consistently move the ball against eight-man fronts that could play with reckless abandon knowing there was such a limited threat through the air.

    It’s clear Pelini and Beck want the offense’s main course to be the rushing attack, but success demands a more balanced passing game as a side dish.

    If this can't happen, Big Red opponents will continue to feast on the Husker offense, constantly asking head chef Tim Beck for more helpings of Rex Burkhead draw plays and Martinez read-options smothered in three and outs and field goals.

    In that same vein, wide receivers coach Ross Fisher has a lot of work to do this summer in terms of developing the current group of Husker pass-catchers.

    While a good portion of of the blame for Nebraska’s passing woes falls on the shoulders of Martinez, he didn’t always get the best assistance from his receivers in 2011.

    Catching Martinez-thrown balls half the time produced a mind-numbing three touchdown catches. The leading receiver was Kenny Bell, who was good for 35 yards per game.

    These numbers have to improve noticeably in 2012 if Beck’s group is to average more than 18 points against their best competition.

    While Martinez doesn’t throw the prettiest or most catchable ball, Husker receivers have to help him out by eliminating the high number of frustrating drops and hauling in those throws even when they are catchable, but not on target.

    While improving the passing game will be a tremendous challenge, Beck and Fisher won’t be lacking the talent to do so. Along with Bell, Nebraska has assembled perhaps its most talented group of receivers in team history.

    Sophomore Jamal Turner has elite athletic ability and we should see his route running and pass-catching technique develop in only his second year as a full-time wideout.

    Quincy Enunwa is a wrecking ball out wide when he’s asked to run block, and has enough speed and size to be a solid weapon over the middle, giving Martinez a safety valve when things get hectic around or in the pocket.

    Tim Marlowe was reliable in 2011, if not spectacular at times. While it’s unlikely they'll make a huge impact in 2012, redshirt freshman Taariq Allen and incoming freshman Jordan Westerkamp have the skills to be All-Big Ten receivers once they have a total understanding of Beck’s system.

    I expect the first group to be on a short leash this year. If the drops and errors pile up, don’t be shocked if Bo tells Beck to throw Allen and Westerkamp into the fire.

    On the other side of the ball, Pelini must remold his Blackshirts if he wants to achieve the sort of success he became accustomed to while he was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and LSU.

    Nebraska allowed a disastrous 173 rushing yards per game (3.8 yards per carry) against Top 25 opposition last year.

    In these same games, the Huskers gave up 11 rushing touchdowns, five more than the Big Red offense produced.

    Opposing quarterbacks had a field day through the air against the Blackshirts in these four games throwing for 188 yards per game and averaging a shocking 9 yards per attempt.

    Nebraska’s secondary, one year removed from being considered the best in the nation, gave up six touchdowns and only grabbed two interceptions against these teams.

    While Bo Pelini is considered by many to be one of the brightest defensive minds in football, the former All-Conference safety was unable to brainstorm ways to stop opponents on a week-to-week basis.

    Carl Pelini’s departure is potentially good news for Pelini’s stress level and for Nebraska’s defense as a good friend of the head man taking his brother’s spot in John Papuchis.

    The two go back several years to when Bo was making the calls in Baton Rouge, and there is definitely a level of trust between the two fiery coaches which will aid Pelini in handing off the reigns.

    New secondary coach Terry Joseph will have to learn Pelini’s famed pattern-matching scheme on the fly as he works to rebuild the confidence of a back seven who looked confused and out of place all too often in 2011.

    If this new-look coaching staff can get back to basics and teach the Huskers to play fast, smart, and mistake free (all characteristics of Pelini’s best defenses), then Nebraska should get the stops it needs to win close games in 2012 and break the Four-Loss Curse.

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    Tags: bo pelini, tim beck, taylor martinez, quincy enunwa, jamal turner, taariq allen, jordan westerkamp, kenny bell, rex burkhead, carl pelini, terry joseph, john papuchis

  2. 2012 Mar 30

    Which Coaches Will Pack the Most Punch in 2012? - Defense


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    We had a look at which offensive coaches would impact Nebraska the most in 2012. Let's examine the defense and the head man himself:

    Rick Kaczenski – Defensive Line: Not since the days of Ndamukong has Nebraska been able to apply consistent pressure on opposing offenses with only a four-man rush.

    Unless the defensive philosophy changes, the front four needs to step up and wreak more havoc and in 2012, and they’ll need to do it with arguably less talent than last year.

    All-American Jared Crick is gone and so is senior-to-be Josh Williams. Ends Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah and tackle Baker Steinkuhler will need to come up big to match, and even excel beyond last year’s production.

    If Kaczenski can find a way to use senior Eric Martin’s raw aggression, the entire defense will benefit.

    Ross Els – Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator: The rush is on to make the herculean effort of replacing Lavonte David. Nebraska has experience in the form of a trio of seniors in Will Compton, Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley.

    Two intriguing prospects in JUCO transfer Zaire Anderson and redshirt freshman David Santos are ready for duty, so hopefully they can find ways to adapt and improve.

    Where Els can make a true impact is on special teams and recruiting, two areas that have taken a hit lately. You don’t need to look further than last year’s debacle in Ann Arbor to see how important special teams can be.

    Nebraska’s kicking game is strong thanks to the foot of Bret Maher, but the coverage and return game needs to improve in a hurry. A new scheme to get Abdullah’s spark back must be in the cards to ensure that the new touchback rules don't nullify him.

    Recruiting is an area where the Huskers need to circle the wagons and start bringing in more prospects early on. The strategy of casting a nationwide net backfired in a big way last year. It’s up to Els' organizational skills to get the Huskers back in five star living rooms.

    Terry Joseph – Secondary: With Alfonzo Dennard gone, young corners Andrew Green and Ciante Evans must improve in a hurry. Incoming JUCO transfer Mohammad Seisay may be able to start right away.

    Austin Cassidy departs, but the safety position could be one of strength thanks to Daimion Stafford’s return. PJ Smith, Harvey Jackson, Corey Cooper appear ready to make waves as well.

    Joseph seems to be a good fit thus far and is certainly enthusiastic about leading Nebraska’s back four, but it’s a normally-proud group that’s licking its wounds from last season. The former Volunteer appears to be the guy to whip the secondary into shape early on.

    John Papuchis – Defensive Coordinator: With Carl Pelini gone, will JP and Bo be able to coexist? Will he actually have control over the defense, and If he does, what ideas and schemes does he have in store?

    A good recruiter with seemingly-high coaching acumen, Papuchis speaks of having a fire in his belly for building a dominant defense. That's good, because as evident from last year, defense is a sticking point for achieving success in the bruising, brawling Big Ten.

    If Papuchis can seamlessly take over and inject both refreshing ideas and youthful enthusiasm, a Pelini/Papuchis combination could be the cure for what’s ailed the Blackshirts. If not, expect another nine-win season.

    Bo Pelini – Head Coach: This is now Pelini’s team in every sense. He has his own system in place and a refined, experience staff that he’s hand-picked.

    While his coaches, new and familiar to Husker fans, will largely determine the success on the field, Bo’s impact lies in the perception of the entire program.

    Many Huskers fans expect some hardware soon as in this season, and likely did last season. Pelini needs to find a way to elevate the program Big Ten Year Two.

    If Nebraska’s able to win the Legends division, things will be hunky dory. If not, the program stands on rocky footing. Bo has the cards, now he needs to play them.

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    Tags: rick kaczenski, ross els, terry joseph, john papuchis, bo pelini

  3. 2012 Mar 22

    Husker Heartbeat (3/22/12): Safety Smith's Playing Time, Pelini Too Optimistic?, and Remaining Candidates for Roundball


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Safety PJ Smith has bigger things to worry about than playing time

    - Should Pelini and the Cornhuskers tone down their expectations for 2012?

    - Reviewing Big Red beasts: Daimion Stafford

    - A good number of candidates remain in Nebraska's sights for a new men's basketball coach

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    Tags: pj smith, bo pelini, daimion stafford, basketball search

  4. 2012 Mar 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The 2012 Numbers Game


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Chris Labenz

    Statistics don’t always tell the whole story of why a team wins or loses, but the old adage remains true – the numbers don’t lie.

    During the course of the 2011 season, Nebraska struggled in key areas, and statistics help underline why Bo Pelini’s squad failed to capture the Big Ten Title.

    Let’s have a look at the areas where Nebraska must improve in order to have any hope of getting to Indianapolis for a chance at the conference crown this season.


    - Scoring Offense: 29.2 points per game (fourth in the Big Ten); Wisconsin led the conference in scoring with 44.1 points per game.

    - Completion Percentage: 56 percent (seventh in the Big Ten)

    - Yards per attempt (passing): 7.2 yards (sixth in the Big Ten)

    - Passing touchdowns: 13 (ninth in the Big Ten)

    - Passing yards/game: 162.7 (tenth in the Big Ten)

    “Long” Plays from Scrimmage:

    - Total plays where 10-plus yards were gained - 162 (seventh in Big Ten)

    - Total plays where 20-plus yards were gained - 51 (sixth in Big Ten)

    What the Numbers Say -

    During Tim Beck’s first season as the Huskers’ offensive coordinator, Nebraska showed flashes of quick strike ability.

    The Huskers also continued to lack consistency against the Big Ten big dogs when it came to sustaining drives and converting on crucial third downs.

    The Taylor Martinez-led passing game went stagnant far too often, allowing opposing defenses to play eight or nine defenders close to the line of scrimmage. This boxed Rex Burkhead in, and removed the threat of Martinez's big runs, perhaps his best asset.

    If the Huskers can’t find ways to be more effective in competing passes, especially downfield the offense will again struggle.

    To make matters worse, athletic defenses that can keep Martinez’s running threat in check, and force Beck into making risky calls on third and long will have a field day.

    Nebraska has the talent at wide receiver to complement a solid running game, but only if No. 3 becomes a true dual-threat quarterback on a weekly basis.


    Passing Defense:

    - Yards per attempt allowed - 6.9 yards (seventh in the Big Ten)

    - "Long" pass plays (20-plus yards) allowed - 38 (ninth in the Big Ten)

    Rushing Defense:

    - Yards per carry allowed - 4.00 (seventh in Big Ten)

    - Rushing yards allowed per game - 158.46 (eighth in Big Ten)

    Other Key Defensive Stats:

    - Opponent’s third down conversion percentage - 40.21 percent (sixth in Big Ten)

    - Tackles for loss per game - 4.31 (last in Big Ten)

    - Opponent’s red zone conversion percentage - 69.23% (eleventh in the Big Ten)

    What the Numbers Say –

    Again, the stats mirror what Husker fans witnessed. Nebraska allowed opponents to easily move the ball on the ground, giving up four yards per carry. This led to easily-converted third downs.

    Since opponents had confidence in being able to run right at the Husker defensive line, deep passing lanes opened up against an inexperienced secondary that had little confidence due to poor run support

    On third down, the Blackshirts were forced to gamble in hopes of making a big play since they struggled against both the run and pass, leading to broken assignments and far too many easy conversions.

    This problem only became amplified in the red zone, where opponents could essentially pick and choose how to score. Because of this overall uncertainty, neither Bo nor Carl Pelini could draw up many blitzes and expose the Husker back seven, thus leading to such a small number of tackles for loss.

    Other Notable Statistics:

    - Turnover margin: On defense, Nebraska forced 18 turnovers, including eight fumbles and ten interceptions. On offense, the Huskers lost 11 fumbles and threw eight interceptions, for a total of 19 turnovers lost.

    Nebraska’s -1 turnover margin was good for ninth in the Big Ten. If the Huskers want a legitimate shot at winning the conference, they must win the turnover battle and stop opponents from gaining momentum as seen against Wisconsin, Michigan and South Carolina in 2011.

    - Penalties per game: Nebraska committed an average of 6.6 penalties per game in 2011 (ninth in the Big Ten). The Huskers have been known to draw a handful of yellow flags per game during Pelini’s tenure, and this trend continued in the Huskers’ first year of Big Ten play.

    While there weren't many sideline outbursts, this didn’t stop Nebraska from making costly mental errors, stalling offensive drives, and allowing opponents an extra down which they often turned into six points.

    Overall, the Huskers obviously have several areas that demand improvement entering 2012. If they can turn the passing game into a legitimate threat across the field, and shore up the defensive line, the Huskers can easily top last season’s results.

    However, to return to elite status, Nebraska must learn to focus by limiting turnovers and penalties, which is the tell-tale sign of a disciplined and well-coached football team.

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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, tim beck, bo pelini

  5. 2012 Mar 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Spring Practice Opening Press Conference Notes


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    - Bo Pelini announced that he will be opening up Pro Day and first day of practice to media.

    - Pelini is anxious to start spring football, saying, “I like the potential of what we have coming back on defense.”

    - He also added, “I like the leadership, I like the potential.”

    - When asked about Taylor Martinez: “We watch a lot of film and watch all the things from last year. Last year, he was putting in a new offense.

    There were a lot of new things for him to learn. You put a quarterback in the type of system we run, he had a lot of things on his plate and had to learn what to do. Now it’s refining that.”

    - The status of Jamal Turner was brought up. Pelini said he knows they can move Turner to quarterback if needed to take a few snaps, but that he feels good about the quarterback position as it stands right now.

    - Pelini believes Brion Carnes will have an important spring. He also believes he will bring a lot of competition to the table. “He’s going to be fun to watch.”

    - He would not comment on defensive backs coach Terry Joseph, but did offer up one thing: “He’s about as perfect a fit as you can have.”

    - When it comes to replacing Lavonte David, David Santos and Alonzo Whaley will get the first shot.

    - On Rex Burkhead: “He’s his toughest critic. I think he’s anxious.”

    - Pelini believes the team is ready for spring football: “I like the attitude. I think our guys are hungry. I think they understand that this spring practice is important.”

    - “You have to be ready to live it, and that’s a challenge to do it day in and day out,” Pelini said.

    - On his coaching style: “Every coach is different. Everybody has a different personality. I’m different than JP, I’m different than Tim (Beck). You have to coach within your personality. You have to play to your strengths and continue to work on your weaknesses.”

    “I don’t want to surround myself with a bunch of people who are going to tell me I’m right all the time, because I’m not right all the time,” Pelini said about his staff.

    - Pelini confirmed that Khiry Cooper is no longer with the team and that the decision was Cooper’s. He is set to graduate in May. Pelini also made it clear that the door is open if he ever wants to come back.

    - Jake Cotton, Chase Rome, and Todd Peat, Jr. will most likely miss all of spring practice.

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    Tags: spring practice, bo pelini, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, jamal turner, brion carnes, terry joseph, lavonte david, david santos, alonzo whaley, john papuchis, tim beck, khiry cooper, jake cotton, chase rome, todd peat

  6. 2012 Mar 07

    Husker Heartbeat (3/07/12): Abdullah and Green's Future, Pelini says No to Yes and Williams Released


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green will be getting plenty of opportunities to hone their skills to help Burkhead in 2012

    - Bo Pelini isn't interested in being surrounded by "yes men"

    - Taylor Martinez is looking forward to taking the next step in his collegiate career

    - Nebraska's anxious to see if Big Red bonding pays off

    - The Kansas City Chiefs release former Husker Demorrio Williams

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    Tags: ameer abdullah, aaron green, bo pelini, taylor martinez, demorrio williams

  7. 2012 Mar 05

    Husker Heartbeat 3/5/12: Carnes' Development, Frazier's Recruitment and Back to the Future for Pelini's D


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Brion Carnes' development must be one of the top priorities of the spring

    - Mom often comes into play when it comes to recruiting. Ask Tommie Frazier.

    - Pelini expects his defense to jump back into college football's top ranks in 2012

    - Erstad's club goes 2-1 in the DQ classic following a pummeling of Big Ten brother Minnesota

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    Tags: brion carnes, tommie frazier, bo pelini, baseball

  8. 2012 Mar 02

    Husker Heartbeat 3/2: David in the Second, DBs for New Coach and Bo Says the Funniest Things


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Lavonte David's NFL Combine performance may net him major bucks via a second round selection

    - Nebraska's secondary has plenty of talent waiting for their new coach

    - Defensive end Cameron Meredith sees a world of possibilities on and off the field

    - Bo Pelini's most comical lines on record

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    Tags: lavonte david, bo pelini, cam meredith

  9. 2012 Mar 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Tennessee's Terry Joseph to Join Pelini's Staff (UPDATED: 3:12 PM CST)


    By HuskerLocker

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    Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com has reportedly learned that Tennessee defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph will be joining Bo Pelini’s defensive staff.

    Considering the swiftness of the hire, it’s likely that a contract will be signed within the next few days.

    Terry, 37, previously worked under Pelini during the head coach’s days as defensive coordinator at LSU and spent three seasons under current Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley at Louisiana Tech.

    Much like the departed Corey Raymond, Terry has strong ties to the Louisiana recruiting circuit.

    Joseph is also the cousin of former Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback Mickey Joseph.


    Video: September post-practice interview with Joseph

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    Tags: bo pelini, terry joseph

  10. 2012 Feb 08

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. FWAA's Kevin McGuire


    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the biggest and brightest minds in college football as a part of Audible Audibles.

    This week, Kevin McGuire, writer for College Football Examiner, host of the Two-Minute Warning Podcast and Radio Show, and member of the Football Writers Association of America joins the show.

    Topics include:

    - The Anti-Offseason Crew
    - McGuire's advice to visiting coaches
    - Rex Burkhead's place in the Big Ten
    - Bo Pelini's tenure at Nebraska
    - Jim Delany's four-team playoff proposal
    - Trimming down National Signing Day
    - An early signing period

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

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    Tags: rex burkhead, bo pelini, jim delany, playoff, recruiting

  11. 2012 Feb 06

    Husker Heartbeat 2/6: Sadler Helping Osborne, Pelini Awaits Smoothness and Shields Waits One More Year


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Sadler could be making Tom Osborne's decision to retain or fire much easier

    - Pelini looking forward to smoother road ahead

    - Former Husker Will Shields waiting at least one more year to enter the NFL Hall of Fame

    - Four new Husker linebackers fit Pelini's aggressive mold

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    Tags: doc sadler, bo pelini, will shields

  12. 2012 Feb 05

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Knee-Jerk Reactions (2/5)


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Still feeling the sting of Peat’s decision to go to Stanford. Yeeowch.

    - JINX ALERT: Sure would be cool if Prince Amukamara got a Super Bowl ring during his rookie year.

    - Anyone else intrigued at how Crick’ll perform at the NFL Combine?

    - Anyone else think he’ll dominate?

    - The cause of Bo Pelini’s car accident: A Nickelback/ Justin Bieber collaboration.

    - If you haven’t, vote for Rex Burkhead to win the 2012 Rare Disease Award for his work with Team Jack

    - Selling Spring Game tickets on National Signing Day’s a fine marketing strategy. Kudos to whomever thought that up.

    - Just put Suh and Slauson in an octagon and let’s settle this whole thing.

    - Zac Taylor’s coaching career continues to take off with his new gig with the Dolphins. Wouldn’t surprise to see him back in the FBS ranks as an assistant within the next three years.

    - Not sure who’s more excited about Nebraska baseball beginning: Erstad or the fans.

    - Of course, when you’re playing in one of the worst teams based on RPI, you’d be excited as a first-year coach with his staff, too.

    - If you tell yourself that NU men’s basketball plays on a court that was flooded, then dried using handheld hairdryers, their record looks impressive.

    - Despite the recent losses, Nebraska wrestling’s at home in the Big Ten.

    - It’s time for Bill Belichick to regenerate his powers. Another Lombardi Trophy must be sacrificed so that he doesn’t turn on the children.

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    Tags: recruiting, ndamukong suh, baseball, basketball, jared crick, bo pelini, spring game, darin erstad

  13. 2012 Feb 03

    Husker Heartbeat 2/3: Bo on Amukamara, Zaire Anderson to Play Soon and Crick an NFL Lab Rat


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Pelini makes his thoughts known on Prince Amukamara and Super Bowl XLVI

    - Don't expect to wait to see JUCO linebacker recruit Zaire Anderson on the field

    - The Senior Bowl did nothing to hurt Lavonte David's draft stock

    - Connie Yori's Squad tops No. 15 Purdue in triple overtime thriller

    - Former Husker Jared Crick is the NFL's latest lab rat

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    Tags: prince amukamara, super bowl, bo pelini, basketball, jared crick, zaire anderson, lavonte david

  14. 2012 Feb 02

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL RECRUITING: The Speed Bumps Plaguing Pelini's Road to Success


    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Following the festitivies of National Letter of Intent signing Day, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini was involved in a car accident. The coach is okay, but the car wasn’t as fortunate. In some ways, this mirrors the Cornhuskers’ 2012 recruiting cycle.

    Nebraska came into the 2012 recruiting class with a limited number of scholarships. Due to poor roster management (such as mass redshirts in 2008), the Huskers found themselves with only 18 scholarships to give following attrition and graduation. This forced the staff to be selective with their offers.

    In some aspects, this helps force one vast improvement over earlier Bo Pelini classes. The 2008 class was filled with players who didn’t contribute, and used redshirt years to compound the problem.

    While there were certainly questionable offers to recruits, Pelini did have to recover a class during a coaching transition. Of course, the coach didn’t even start on the job until mid-January after LSU won the national championship, putting himself at an additional month’s disadvantage.

    As a general rule, I try not to look too much at recruiting rankings. There is far too much speculation. Notice how one major site has Nebraska right around the top 25 (third in the Big Ten), while another has the Huskers at No. 50 (seventh in the conference). That’s a huge swing. Who’s right, who’s wrong and why the large discrepancy?

    A better indicator is taking a look at who offered a recruit. If big schools like Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, and Southern California offer recruits, it generally is assumed they are an excellent recruit. Many times, the recruiting services will raise a prospect’s ranking after schools with strong reputations show interest, or even after they commit to one of said institutions.

    In the 2008 class, Nebraska signed two prospects with no offers from any FBS school. Two had offers from only one other BCS school, and another two had only two BCS conference offers. Other highly-regarded players either never qualified or contributed, and the best player in the class, Baker Steinkuhler, has been playing out of position on the defensive line.

    This continued in 2009 with two recruits having no other FBS offers, one having no other BCS conference offers and three with only one BCS offer (one of these being starting quarterback Taylor Martinez). Five commitments had only two BCS offers (two of these being defensive back Dejon Gomes and wide receiver Brandon Kinnie). Out of those 11 commitments, only three contributed heavily.

    Recruiting pundits were expressing serious concerns about Nebraska’s recruiting effort under Pelini at this point. While they didn’t expect Pelini’s staff to win huge recruiting battles against the likes of Nick Saban and Alabama, the Huskers should’ve been winning at least some battles against other non-elite programs, and not extending offers to so many questionable candidates.

    2010 improved vastly in this regard, however. Only three recruits lacked BCS offers with one holding a single BCS offer. 2011 featured four recruits with only one. While Nebraska’s offers to potential “diamonds in the rough” have been greatly reduced, there are still some concerning aspects to how Nebraska approached to the 2012 recruiting season.

    First, Nebraska’s usage of official visits must be called into question. Each program is allotted 56 official visits per season. Through mid-January, Nebraska only used 39, 32 of those were provided to prospects who hadn’t already committed. Over the first three home games, Nebraska only hosted three official visits.

    Defensive Tackle Aaron Curry signing his Letter of Intent

    Pelini commented during yesterday’s press conference on the difficulty of getting recruits into Lincoln for a football game on Saturdays taking into account high school games on Friday night. This is certainly an issue, but the Nebraska staff must do a better job getting on prospects early and working around potential scheduling road blocks.

    Furthermore, the Big Ten announces all of its night games early and Nebraska had three great opportunities to get official visitors in for one. They failed to utilize the first two opportunities against Chattanooga and Fresno State.

    The second concern regards the staff still not understanding players’ true stances, nor appropriate back-up plans. Pelini’s staff was so reliant on gaining the commitment of five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat that when he surprised pundits and even the coaching staff themselves by committing to Stanford, there was no Plan B, only silence.

    Peat’s decision left Nebraska’s small class with only 17 of its 18 potential slots filled and with only two offensive tackles brought in over the course of two recruiting cycles (Paul Thurston and Tyler Moore). That simply won’t cut it at such a critical position. Recruiting efforts should ensure that a solid back-up plan is in place in the event of a surprise like Peat’s decision.

    The Huskers also missed on key linebacker and defensive back targets down the stretch. Pelini revealed that both Leroy Alexander and Alonzo Moore will be starting in the defensive backfield. Still, the lack of a true safety in the 2012 class and misses on key targets at the position forces Nebraska to convert athletes and current running back Braylon Heard into defensive backs.

    Finally, looking at the depth chart, Nebraska will have serious needs at tight end, offensive tackle, linebacker and defensive back in 2013. The Huskers badly needed a second tight end this year, and desperately needed another legitimate offensive tackle. The key misses, lack of back-up plans and inability to address certain areas of long-term needs make the class of 2012 an overall disappointment.

    Nebraska has improved its recruiting in terms of better offers and not reaching on questionable athletes. However, there are still areas where significant improvement is needed. A year-round focus on recruiting combined with better usage and coordination of official visits, and solid back-up plans to absolutely ensure depth at positions of need will be critical if the Huskers want to have a far better 2013 Signing Day.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: bo pelini, recruiting

  15. 2012 Feb 02

    Husker Heartbeat 2/2: Pelini in Car Wreck, Heard to CB? and Vote for Superman


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Bo Pelini was involved in a car accident; Coach reported fine, car not so lucky

    - Braylon Heard may be making the switch to cornerback

    - Pelini still has a smile on his face despite not landing Andrus Peat

    - Vote for Rex Burkhead as one of four finalists for the 2012 Rare Disease Champion Award

    - Spring Game tickets are available now

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    Tags: bo pelini, braylon heard, rex burkhead, spring game

  16. 2012 Jan 26

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mid-Day Mailbag (1/26)


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Bo's defense seems to rely on a shutdown corner for it to work at its best, why do you think we haven't recruited it more this year and/or do you think we have the talent at that position to be successful? – Matt Hanson

    Shutdown corners are a great thing for Pelini to have at his disposal, but they’re not essential. What’s more important is that the interior defensive linemen can occupy their men allowing for havoc at the point of attack. If Pelini’s cornerbacks can simply stick to their men like glue, this creates opportunities for coverage sacks or interceptions…in theory.

    At this point, the only guy that sticks out with the ability to be your standard “lockdown” guy is incoming JUCO transfer Mohammed Seisay. I doubt we see the output of Amukamara or Dennard, but he should be more than serviceable. Pelini knows how to pick his JUCOs.

    In terms of recruiting these guys, Nebraska has. It's just that others have done a far better job. If the Huskers grab Devian Shelton and Raymond Ford on Signing Day, that'll be a step in the right direction.

    Could Martinez actually be transplanted or are we stuck with him for the long haul? – Dan Gibson

    Despite the severe skeptics, Martinez can be jimmied from the starting spot under center. I felt the same way as those who don’t believe me now not that long ago. When Carnes was inserted as little as he was in 2011, that said, “Taylor’s the captain of this ship.”

    The thing is, Pelini wants to win, not lose four games every year. Have a look back and see why Armstrong (and maybe now Fuller?) have a legit shot: Recruiting Shows Martinez’s Spot Far From Safe

    With Greg Schiano headed to Tampa Bay, will Nebraska be able to get Devin Fuller and Quanzell Lambert? – Corey Demmings

    Like many things in recruiting, this gets a great big “maybe.” As of now, Lambert’s coach has confirmed he’s still a commit. Even if he does switch, Iowa appears to have the inside track as they were believed to be at the No. 2 spot when he selected Rutgers.

    Fuller’s more likely, but far from a lock. His commitment to the Scarlet Knights seemed like a sure thing a few hours ago. He may select Nebraska, but I can also see him getting talked down off the ledge and staying close to home. Honestly, if I were Fuller, I’d push my decision back to Signing Day and think.

    Who’s been the staff’s best recruiter this year? – Toby Adams

    John Garrison, bar none. He was incredibly meticulous and hard-working as an intern, so it doesn’t shock me that he’s a guy that may very well end up with new recruiting coordinator duties. Combine his recruiting prowess with his ability to help cobble together an overall effective offensive line and you’ve got an impressive hire.

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    Tags: bo pelini, devin fuller, quanzell lambert, mohammed seisay, taylor martinez, brion carnes, tommy armstrong, john garrison

  17. 2012 Jan 20

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 1/20 - Countdown to Signing Day


    By HuskerLocker

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    Explore the Archives

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring questions and topics submitted ONLY by you, the Husker Locker fan base:

    - Who will replace Lavonte David?
    - Is it Doc Sadler's time to go?
    - Was the Indiana victory big for the program or Sadler?
    - The panel's recruiting strategies
    - Was 2011 an anomaly for Bo Pelini's defense?

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or a message to any of us on Twitter.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:
    Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: lavonte david, doc sadler, basketball, recruiting, bo pelini, podcast, podcasts

  18. 2012 Jan 16

    Husker Heartbeat 1/16: Solich to be Honored?, Plus-One Player Penalty and Turnovers Rob Bo


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Tom Osborne feels it's finally time to officially honor former player and head coach Frank Solich

    - Osborne also warns that players could take a hit with a Plus-One system

    - A Top 25 ballot for the offseason

    - Turnovers have been a big part of why Pelini's gained losses and not wins

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    Tags: frank solich, tom osborne, bo pelini

  19. 2012 Jan 11

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. Michael Felder of In The Bleachers


    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the biggest and brightest minds in college football with the site's newest feature: Audible Audibles.

    This week, former North Carolina safety Michael Felder, one of the top dogs of In The Bleachers steps up to verbally thrown down.

    Topics include:

    - Felder's take on Nebraska
    - How the Huskers pull closer to the likes of Alabama
    - In-season versus offseason recruiting visits
    - The best and worst aspects of a Pelini-coached defense
    - What it'll take for someone to knock the SEC off their throne
    - What the 2012 NFL Draft has in store for Jared Crick, Alfonzo Dennard and Lavonte David
    - And more!

    Finally, the hard-hitting Heel goes Three and Out. Will Felder answer the three questions given or call an audible and will he dodge the curve ball thrown his way?

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Follow Michael on Twitter: @InTheBleachers
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    Tags: recruiting, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, jared crick, nfl draft

  20. 2012 Jan 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Nick Saban and Bo Pelini Remain Worlds Apart


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Folks in Husker land watched the BCS National Championship last night with probable disgust. Alabama, a team many say didn’t deserve to be there, shut out the LSU Tigers 21-0 with a defense that could yell bark off a tree and an offense that had no penalties, suffered only one sack, and was efficient throughout the night.

    While most fans of the Big Red were annoyed at their team not being able to win a game that way, what they should have been doing was seething in jealousy over what Nick Saban has.

    The fact is, what Saban does is something that any school could very easily do, including Nebraska.

    Bo Pelini and Saban preach to us the process of becoming winners, and there is no doubt that there is a process that has some parallels no matter where you go. However, that’s where the similarities start and end between Nebraska and Alabama.

    Saban has his detractors, but he fights through them with results. There are a few things that make him great that has either missed or not addressed since he became the head coach of Alabama.

    This includes things like:

    An Athletic Department That Demands Excellence: When you become the head coach of a SEC school with the history of the Crimson Tide, excellence is demanded from you in every aspect. You absolutely must compete every year for the division and conference championships. Anything less is considered a failure in the eyes of the media, fans, and your superiors.

    This is not true at Nebraska. Nine wins continue to be enough for some, but that standard earned the Cornhuskers the No. 24 spot in both polls today. Does anyone truly consider that successful? Not in Tuscaloosa. There is no reason it should be the case in Lincoln, either.

    Coaching and Player Development: When Saban first won a title at LSU in 2003, his offensive coordinator was current Florida State head coach Jimbo Fishere. His defensive play-caller was none other than Will Muschamp, the man who was revered at Auburn and Texas before landing at Florida.

    Saban does have a masterful defensive system, one that Muschamp and Kirby Smart have studied and ran well. However, Saban lets his people coach and make their own decisions, especially on offense.

    He admitted that offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, who is leaving to become the head coach at Colorado State, had the entire gameplan centered around a quarterback (AJ McCarron) who he trusted. Saban felt McCarron could manage the game and move the ball down the field against a Tiger defense that was staunch against the run, but occasionally shaky against the pass.

    Considering that Carl Pelini just left for his own head job at Florida Atlantic, it’s not fair to do the coaching tree comparisons quite yet. On the other hand, how much confidence has Bo shown in either Shawn Watson or Tim Beck? Both coaches have shown the ability to sit on two-score leads instead of getting aggressive with their attacks.

    On several occasions, Bo has either not shown the ability to prod his offensive coordinator or has ordered them to rein in the playbook. This frame of mind has cost Pelini victories the last few years, including this season’s Capital One Bowl. Sometimes getting out of your own way or helping your assistants get out of theirs the best thing you can do.

    Player development has been an advantage that all SEC schools have had over everyone else, so it’s really not fair to compare Pelini and Saban there. Oversigning and massive roster attrition is essentially a pass that SEC commissioner Mike Slive has given his coaches without considering the perception of national media.

    Not that they would hear it, considering the southern press’ indelible love of football drowns out most anything else anyone says. This is not to say that Bo shouldn’t take a look at Saban’s nonstop recruiting efforts, though.

    Every member of every class Saban has signed since 2000 has a national championship ring. His staff works non-stop, all year, until National Signing Day to get the best players on that campus and secure their commitments.

    Imagine if Alabama’s head man wouldn’t focus on things until the end of the Auburn game or have less than 30 official visits take place over the course of the regular season. Mal Moore, the Tide’s athletic director, wouldn’t tolerate that and neither would the fans.

    The environment around Saban demands that even right after his second national title in three years, he’d better get right to work on the next one. That is part of the process that drives him. Nebraska fans can only dream that the same environment existed in Lincoln to essentially force Bo to become that same brand of coach.

    Nebraska’s athletic department has paid the bills thanks to the football program and winning conference titles. Fans scoop up national championship swag years after any conference title’s shirts stop printing. There is no reason that the same demands made of Saban shouldn’t be made of Pelini.

    Alabama’s head man makes $4.2 Million, Pelini just a shade under $3 million. They are both the most respected men in their state, and their every move and word is put under a microscope.

    The coach that embraces those ideas most is the one who hoisted a crystal football in the Bayou following a de facto home game for his opponent. The one that fought them saw his team give another lead away in Orlando over a week ago.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: nick saban, alabama, bo pelini

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