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  1. 2012 Mar 11

    NEBRASKA SPRING FOOTBALL: Spring Superstars of 2012


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Chris Labenz

    Every spring in Nebraska, flowers start to bloom, the weather changes by the hour, students long for a break, and a few previously unheralded Husker football players make headlines, only to disappear when fall begins.

    Let’s take a look at five such players, who will spark interest and draw outlandish predictions due to their dazzling ability, only to find themselves buried on the depth chart come August.

    Wide receiver Taariq Allen – Allen was a surprise addition to the 2010 Nebraska recruiting class, deciding to head west despite residing from Weston, Massachusetts, a state the Huskers rarely looks at for future talent.

    Allen showcased an impressive skillset during his days at Rivers School, running precise routes, exhibiting solid speed, and attacking passes with strong hands for a high school receiver.

    While his competition was average at best, the future Husker was still able to garner offers from Boston College and Wisconsin. Last year, No. 7 spent time studying the intricacies of Tim Beck’s offense, adding muscle, and learning the tricks of the trade from veterans like Brandon Kinnie.

    Now that Kinnie is gone and Allen has another offseason under his belt, the rangy redshirt freshman will have a chance to push for playing time this spring.

    Wide receiver is a position for which practices usually include heavy rotation, even more so in Spring drills. Allen will get plenty of opportunities to show off his good hands and skillful route running, but will likely end up third on the depth chart come fall with Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Quincy Enunwa, and Tim Marlowe all returning.

    All this before considering the arrival of incoming freshman Jordan Westerkamp, one of last cycle’s most highly-coveted receivers.

    Quarterback Tyson Broekemeier – As a recruit, Broekemeier turned down lower level offers to follow his brother to Nebraska with the dream of one day shining in front of 85,000 red-clan fans.

    Now that he’s recovered from a knee injury, the Aurora native will make headlines over the next month by showing off his ability to do what Taylor Martinez has been unable to – consistently and accurately find receivers downfield.

    He completed over 71 percent of his passes as a senior at Aurora High School, and impressively threw 31 touchdowns to only three interceptions. He was able to put up over 600 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, as well.

    While he does not possess the speed of Martinez, or the quickness and elusiveness of Brion Carnes, Broekemeier has more than enough mobility to make a few defenders miss in and out of the pocket.

    However, no matter how well he plays, it won’t make one lick difference unless Pelini and Beck are willing to swallow the tough pill of benching a two-year starter and injuries pile up. Even then, he'd have to beat out Rex Burkhead.

    Defensive Tackle Jay Guy – The robust Texan was a defining piece of Nebraska’s 2010 recruiting class, providing key depth and ability to the defensive tackle position after the Huskers were able to sway Guy away from over 30 other big-time BCS suitors.

    Coming into his freshman season, the All-Texas tackle carried a good deal of unnecessary weight, and like most freshmen linemen, he needed to add solid muscle mass.

    Despite his status as an unfinished product, Guy ended up taking snaps last year due to the abundance of injuries Nebraska experienced at defensive tackle. With Chase Rome and Todd Peat out this spring, the sophomore wrecking ball will get his shot to line up next to Baker Steinkuhler and take on the first team offense.

    However, Rome will almost certainly knock him back on the depth chart in the fall with Kevin Williams pushing him for backup minutes as well. Expect Guy to be a key contributor for the Huskers, but not in 2012.

    Cornerback Braylon Heard – Heard made plays from the running back position last year that made fans realize why he was so highly sought after upon graduating from Cardinal Mooney High School.

    What is forgotten is that Heard was perhaps even more distinguished as a high school cornerback. He even drew serious interest from the in-state Buckeyes to play on the scarlet and gray's defense.

    While Heard likely would’ve ended up being a reliable ball-carrier for Nebraska, Pelini correctly recognized that No. 5’s talents can best be used at cornerback, as Heard possessing more raw natural ability than any other returning player.

    The Ohio prep star will make waves this Spring, but it’ll take at least a redshirt year for him to fully understand the defense, let alone gain the trust of both Bo and new secondary coach Terry Joseph.

    Fullback Mike Marrow – Marrow, a transfer from Eastern Michigan (and Alabama prior), comes into this spring carrying high hopes from the Husker faithful, fans who have always loved a stout fullback to shred winded defenses in the fourth quarter.

    Nebraska graduate assistant Vince Marrow’s son has the size to be the ‘big-back’ Pelini and Beck have expressed interest in finding, it’ll be tough for him to see serious minutes this fall with so many returning playmakers.

    Marrow will get looks at both third and short and goal line situations, but as we’ve seen, when the moment of truth arrives, Bo turns to Rex Burkhead.

    Additionally, Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah will be tough competition for the bruising runner, especially in Beck’s spread-based system where the ability to make people miss in open space is mandatory.

    Follow Chris on Twitter: @chris_labenz
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    Tags: sprince practice, taariq allen, tyson broekemeier, jay guy, mike marrow, braylon heard

  2. 2012 Mar 09

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mucho Hooch-O - Who's at Second...Behind Rex?


    By HuskerLocker

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    The fifteenth edition of Mucho Hooch-O, an audio blog by Husker Locker's own Greg "Hooch" Mehochko examines one of the biggest questions that may not be answered until the fall. Who's Nebraska's No. 2 running back?

    Topics on the docket:

    - Redshirt remorse
    - How will Mike Marrow affect the race?
    - The hybrid that is Imani Cross
    - The Husker backfield's favorite superheroes

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Follow Greg a.k.a. Hooch on Twitter: @thehooch36
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    Tags: rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, aaron green, mike marrow, imani cross

  3. 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

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: bo pelini, braylon heard, rex burkhead, spring game

  4. 2011 Nov 14

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    Fans were unsure of what to expect as last Saturday's kickoff drew nearer. At the final whistle, a 17-14 victory was more than sweet, as Nebraska handed Penn State their first conference loss of the season. It was still bitter though, as fans witnessed a program struggling to move past one of the biggest scandals in college athletics.

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin/An Absent Rob Bolden

    Penn State often starts sophomore Rob Bolden against opponents. Bolden never saw the field as junior Matt McGloin took the reins of the Nittany Lions’ offense. However, Bolden’s lack of time under center is a mystery, as he is easily the better runner of the two.

    The logic here must have been that McGloin is a better decision-maker and would be able to handle a situation like the 17-0 deficit Penn State found itself staring at.

    Nebraska fans were told to look for the junior starting first, with Bolden coming in as a backup, a reverse from what Penn State usually does. However, enough pressure from the defense (and efficient scoring by the Husker offense) kept McGloin in the game.

    It was oddly reminiscent of Nebraska’s trip to Wisconsin, except this time, it was Penn State trying to keep up. Big passes taught McGloin a fast lesson about not throwing anywhere near Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Had he continued, Dennard would have had a pick or two.

    The Nebraska defense still showed weaknesses, but the improvement is there. Penn State’s refusal to remove McGloin was proof enough of that.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    There were not a lot of adjustments to be made. However, when the Husker wide receivers were dropping passes, offensive coordinator Tim Beck started calling more plays for I-Back Rex Burkhead.

    When he wasn’t finding room to run, it was back to the air. This kept Penn State’s defense moving constantly, and it was clear the Nittany Lions were worn out by the fourth quarter.

    Once again, Beck showed that he is able of calling a crisp, near-perfect game. Improving his play-calling consistency is going to be vital for the first-year offensive coordinator. If he can find a rhythm, this offense is primed to be unstoppable.

    3. Game Management by Taylor Martinez

    Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez is on a campaign to silence all those who have doubted him. When given a solid playbook from Beck, the Californian quarterback becomes next to unstoppable. Quick passes are clearly his strong suit. His throwing form may be bizarre, but it’s working. Why fix what’s not broke?

    It’s clear that Martinez is growing up. His leadership skills are becoming stronger with each game as are his game management skills. As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, Martinez made Husker fans nervous by snapping the ball with one or two seconds left.

    However, fans are seeing that this is what he intends to do, instead of the confusion of years past. Martinez is shaping into a quarterback that, while still frustrating at times, knows how to make the offense produce. For a sophomore, that’s a huge step.

    4. The Lack of Young Running Backs

    Head Coach Bo Pelini should have considered keeping a redshirt on one of his three talented true freshman backs. At this point in the season, it is clear that the young guys are not going to be making too many appearances.

    Whether it is a lack of confidence in them, or too much in Burkhead, Beck and Pelini have made up their mind as to who will see the field and who will not.

    Fans can continue to wish for use of the three young backs, but it’s doubtful this will happen. With Burkhead back at ‘Superman’ status and another 100-yard game, the workhorse will handle the remainder of the season.

    It doesn’t hurt that Burkhead and Martinez clearly get along very well. Fans should expect to see a similar game plan to Penn State’s against Michigan and Iowa, with Martinez and Burkhead running the ship.

    Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard are just going to have to wait.

    5. Team Composure

    Bo Pelini didn’t think the game in Happy Valley should have been played in the first place. The team was surprised by the amount of security they were surrounded by. National media was camped outside of Joe Paterno’s house in State College. The day was poised to be a spectacle.

    However, Nebraska did exactly what they needed to do – Stand united. The Huskers weren’t just united with one another, but also held a friendly hand out to Penn State.

    Players from both sidelines earned a great deal of respect for one another last Saturday. For what is intended to be Nebraska’s great “cross-division rivalry,” it appears Nebraska and Penn State players, coaches, and fans look forward to playing each other perhaps more than anyone else.

    From the pre-game prayer on the 50-yard line to the shaking of hands at the end, Nebraska and Penn State showed a great deal of respect for one another. It was a proud moment for Husker fans. It showed that no amount of media frenzy would faze this group of young men.

    Overall, fans saw a game full of promise for Nebraska. It was a proud day for Husker Nation, who wanted to see nothing more that a clean, fair game.

    A note to Bo Pelini: Don’t think that the fans didn’t notice you wearing red, even when athletic director Tom Osborne told fans not too. That red jacket said a lot more than many may have noticed – It was a salute to Husker fans everywhere.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, matt mcgloin, rob bolden, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, tim beck, bo pelini

  5. 2011 Nov 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The score was near-expected. The atmosphere was exactly as expected and yes, it was surreal.

    - The mid-field prayer may be one of the highlights of the entire college football season.

    - If Taylor Martinez can learn how to draw that much attention and provide a pitch off the option like that every time, no one will complain.

    - Someone clearly changed out Rex Burkhead’s batteries. Another game, another 100 yards.

    - When Martinez and Rex switched positions, did it look like they just got curious about what the other’s day was like to you, too?

    - Due to what we’ve been told regarding receivers’ performance habits, Jamal Turner will clearly be starting against Michigan…right?

    - Kinda thinking that a redshirt should’ve been kept on Aaron Green or Braylon Heard.

    - Two offensive guards traveled and went the distance. Bravo Mr. Choi and Mr. Long.

    - That wasn’t a fumble.

    - Will Compton has taken his game up a notch and none too soon.

    - Alfonzo Dennard continues to look better every week. That guy’s gonna make some coin in The League.

    - Take a look at every FBS team around the country and thank your lucky stars for Brett Maher again.

    - An amazing press conference by Bo Pelini. As Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples said, it’s required viewing.

    - Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia.

    Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces
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    Tags: penn state, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, jamal turner, aaron green, braylon heard, spencer long, seung hoon choi, will compton, alfonzo dennard, brett maher, bo pelini, andy staples, outback bowl, georgia

  6. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    It’s hard to believe that the scandal at Penn State broke only one week ago today. With the firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno, Penn State’s football program has been in a state of severe disarray.

    Discussions of forfeiting today's game cropped up. As game day grew closer, it was apparent that the show must go on. Nebraska walks into a situation this morning that no team has experienced before. What will the Cornhuskers need to be prepared for?

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden

    For the second week in a row, Nebraska faces a dual quarterback rotation featuring junior Matt McGloin and sophomore Rob Bolden.

    Penn State has made a living off of starting Bolden first with McGloin coming in later. However, Husker fans should be looking for the upperclassman to start against Nebraska today. Why the switch-up?

    The Nittany Lions' best decision-maker when passing is McGloin. While running is not his strong suit, he can pick apart a team’s secondary. With Nebraska’s defensive backs struggling, this presents an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to get ahead early. Don’t expect to see Bolden on the sidelines too much, though.

    With Nebraska’s inability to stop the run against Northwestern, Penn State likely will have an opportunity to run through some big holes. The front seven Blackshirts are going to have to play lights-out to guarantee Bolden goes nowhere.

    Husker fans should expect to see a much tougher defense against Penn State, though. If the defense plays to the level that they did against Michigan State, Nebraska fans should know this: That was Bo Pelini’s defense, not Carl’s.

    Depending on today’s plays, it will be quickly apparent who was in charge the last week. For the sake of this game, the Nebraska faithful better hope it’s Bo.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is a stubborn man. He’s said as much. When a play isn’t working, Beck has a tendency to call the play again hoping for a different result.

    In some cases, he works with a limited playbook as he did against Northwestern. By the end of the first half, I-Back Rex Burkhead had far more carries than he should have, yet the offense kept running similar plays.

    Beck needs to be able to adjust against Penn State. If running the ball isn’t working, it’s time to let Martinez throw quick passes to Brandon Kinnie. If the fast strikes stop working, go back to the ground game.

    The ability to adjust will be a key factor yet again. It’s been a rollercoaster ride with Beck so far. It is time he starts to level things out.

    3. Taylor Martinez’s Game Management

    Martinez played one of the best games of his career against Northwestern, if not the absolute best. Unfortunately, a poor defensive showing and a loss overshadowed it.

    The positive is that he silenced many critics one pass after another. Proving he could keep a level head, Martinez made a campaign for a comeback. Had the defense held up their end of the deal, the sophomore quarterback could have pulled it off, too.

    Against Penn State, Martinez needs to mirror his game management skills from the Northwestern game. Staying stable and keeping a level head against a defense that will be gunning for him yet again is vital.

    He needs to be a leader once more and is poised to be just that. If he can block out the pressure of this game, Martinez can build on his successes against Northwestern.

    4. The Use of Young Running Backs

    Hopefully Rex Burkhead got a lot of rest over the last week, because he will be carrying a big load over the next two away games.

    With both Penn State and Michigan to face, Burkhead’s strength, speed, and leadership will all be tested. However, it is not crucial to run him ragged. Beck should take advantage of his three young running backs at times.

    All three are capable of making big plays and a few extra rotations will not kill the offense. In fact, a little extra resting time for Burkhead might give him the ability to produce bigger numbers.

    While Superman will never say he’s tired, Beck needs to understand he can’t run his workhorse to death. Nebraska has the depth. Using it would not be a bad idea.

    5. Team Composure

    It has been nothing short of an interesting week for Nebraska. As Penn State’s world crumbled, Husker players and coaches have tried to tune everything out.

    While Pelini was quick to say his team was not going to focus on the issues at State College at all, it would be ludicrous to believe the team has absolutely no idea what they’re walking into. It is clear from their Twitter statuses alone that they know.

    Security is heightened and Tom Osborne has asked fans not to wear red. The environment will be surreal, to say the least. This is a time for Nebraska to stand together as a team like no other. When kickoff comes, we will watch as a group of young men attempt to battle intense media frenzy by playing football.

    The outcome of this game will be a telling one as Nebraska needs to win to keeps its chances at a Big Ten Championship alive. A loss would practically guarantee that a trip to Indianapolis will not happen.

    The Huskers need to find it within themselves to win a game in front of many who are not necessarily watching for the right reasons.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, matt mcgloin, robert bolden, tim beck, bo pelini, carl pelini, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, brandon kinnie, tom osborne

  7. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Penn State Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

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    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    Do you think Tim Beck will open the playbook up more against Penn State?

    Brian: I could tell say yes and, “Man, we could be looking for Jamal Turner's breakout day, and Aaron Green and Ameer and Braylon and yeah!”

    However, every time that it seems inevitable for this to happen, this offense goes into a shell and plays more conservative than necessary. Again, I could say that it will happen, but until I see it, I won't believe it.

    Erin: I really hope so. The game plan against Northwestern was very disappointing. Whatever Tim Beck does, his playbook needs to resemble what he used against Washington and Michigan State. No stubbornness today, either.

    No. I think Bo and Tim will end up keeping the gameplan conservative. Penn State doesn't have elite talent, and Nebraska should be able to defend them similarly to how they defended Michigan State.

    This will starve the Nittany Lions of points, and Nebraska will look for opportunities to strike. The biggest thing Bo doesn't want the offense to do is make a mistake that will give the Penn State free points.

    As the game progresses, you'll see the playbook open up as Beck understands the scheme, and as Nebraska tries to take control in the second half. This will be Michigan State Part Deux.

    Ryan: No, I think the play-calling will stay conservative. With what is sure to be a rowdy, deafening crowd, the Huskers will keep it mostly the ground and call a pass play here and there to mix it up. I imagine a grind-it-out game in which the Huskers bleed the clock and the Nittany Lions in the process.

    Brandon: I doubt it. That’s unfortunate, too, because while Penn State hasn’t played the most difficult schedule, they are stopping teams from putting up points.

    While the Nittany Lions have the No. 3 scoring defense is likely a by-product of their softer schedule, it’s still a big indicator of what they can do against a team that’s not firing on all cylinders.

    Perhaps what’s most concerning is that if Nebraska doesn’t utilize more formations that have proven effective in the past, specifically the Diamond, I don’t think they win this game.

    PSU limits their opposition to less than 112 yards per game on the ground and 170 through the air. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve picked off 14 passes this season and are ranked No. 3 in pass efficiency defense.

    Beck needs to keep with the short/intermediate passing game with Taylor and spread out Penn State’s defenders or it’s going to likely be a long day.

    We saw the defense take a conservative approach, risking Northwestern’s wide receivers getting space against the Blackshirt defensive backs which obviously worked. How do you feel the defense should shift for Penn State’s attack?

    Brian: Penn State can run very well which is helpful as the defensive line, as mangled up as it seems to be, is much more serviceable than a secondary that has been torched time and time again. Even if the Lincoln Journal Star tells me that they have been solid.

    Ciante Evans and Lance Thorell could be better. Let's hope they play out of their minds, because to beat Penn State, you have to dare Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden to throw on you.

    Erin: Today's defense will be Bo's again. It will be similar to what we saw against Michigan State, you can count on that. The defense doesn't need to shift, as much as the coaching does.

    There is talent on that side of the ball and we've seen it. With proper guidance, they should be able to contain Penn State.

    James: Nebraska will play it's typical cover 2 scheme. They will stay conservative, block the deep routes, and not allow the receivers to beat them.

    You'll see more of the four-standing-defensive-linemen look that we used against Michigan State, and you'll also see the offensive line attacking the quarterback.

    Expect David/Compton to be the run support guys. Nebraska should be able to keep Penn State from executing long drives for scores.

    Ryan: The defense needs to tighten up in the middle as Northwestern gashed Nebraska between the tackles and Penn State will attempt the same thing.

    A strong middle presence with eight or nine guys in the box is the appropriate shift as Penn State does not do well through the air and will rely on Silas Redd to pound the rock.

    Brandon: Penn State’s offense isn’t anything to write home about, but it can be effective against a defense in disarray.

    Running back Silas Redd is averaging over 111 yards per game, so if Lavonte David and Daimion Stafford can’t help support the run defense, that’s going to be an area of major concern.

    Honestly, a better approach may be to sell out to stop Redd and focus on forcing PSU’s quarterbacks to make mistakes. Matt McGloin is no Dan Persa, only competing passes at a 55 percent clip.

    He can make throws if he isn’t facing pressure, and if the secondary can’t keep wide receiver Derick Moye under wraps, that spells trouble.

    The good news is that McGloin is about as mobile as Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins. If Baker Steinkuhler can mirror his performance from last week while Cameron Meredith and Eric Martin are released off the edge, Nebraska’s got a good chance to fluster PSU’s signal-callers.

    Do you feel that the Nittany Lions will be distracted by the massive scandal?

    Brian: Oh...maybe? They will be distracted, but at the same time they will be galvanized to play well for Paterno and themselves.

    The game can go one of two ways very early: Either Nebraska jumps on top of them and puts them into a submission move or Penn State gets the momentum and rides it for 3-plus hours as State College forgets about what has been and will be happening.

    Erin: Yes, I do. Everyone keeps making these comments about how they will be more fired up, which I could not disagree with more. I can only imagine how our team, let alone entire state, would be feeling if something like this happened to us.

    Penn State will be shaken. It's not a big shock. These are young men who are trying desperately to brave a major storm they had nothing to do with. You can't tell me for a second it won't affect them.

    James: They can't help but be distracted, but as we've seen earlier this season with Mike Stoops' termination at Arizona, sometimes the team can rally and "win one for the gipper."

    This is an 8-1 team, at home on senior day, wanting to win for their coach and move within a game of securing their berth in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. I think Penn State comes to play, and wins in spite of the scandal.

    Ryan: Absolutely, but not in the way some think. They will band together and use an "us vs. the world" mentality in this game. I think the scandal may improve their performance on the field.

    Brandon: I can’t see how they won’t be. At the same time, it’s Senior Day and these guys love Joe Paterno. They want to go out and win one for him if nothing else. Whether this will affect them negatively or not is the big question mark.

    This scenario appears to be black and white. Either Penn State rallies behind the JoePa banner and overwhelms Nebraska or the Huskers get to McGloin/Bolden early, stuff Redd and the Nittany Lion balloon deflates.

    At this point, Rex Burkhead has to be hurting averaging around 25 carries per game over the past four games. Will this finally be the game where he can get some rest?

    Brian: Refer to the first question for what I think about this. We have ponies in the stable that are begging to be released, yet for some reason Tim Beck and Bo Pelini think that a Rex Burkhead at 60 to 75 percent at best is better then a 100 percent Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, or Aaron Green.

    If we refuse to use these young guys, it’s a wasted season for at least Aaron and Braylon who could've used redshirts. Ameer has been used well on kick returns, but Aaron and Braylon seem lost in the shuffle.

    Erin: Sorry, but Rex's resting week was against Northwestern. We made a mistake playing him too much. He will be too valuable against Penn State and Michigan.

    Here's hoping he healed up over the last week because we'll need him. Can the three freshman rotate in too? Sure, they can. Rex will still carry the heaviest load.

    James: If it wasn't apparent last week, Bo and/or Beck don't trust the three-headed freshman I-Back monster. Burkhead was supposed to get rest last week, and he's the most "power" back of any of the I-Backs on the roster.

    I don't really expect to see him get much of a rest. It sure would be nice to see Aaron Green out there though. How will we know how good our new I-Backs are if we don't give them a chance to shine during actual game time?

    Ryan: Not at all. Rex goes for 25-30 as Nebraska knows they must rely on Ol' Dependable No. 22 in a tough road contest. Rex gets no rest at all.

    Brandon: I’d love to say yes, but with the insistence that we’ve seen to get Rex the ball, I don’t see it happening. If Burkhead keeps racking up as many carries as he has been, that's a horrible decision.

    He’s not just tired, he’s hurt and the more he grinds out, the more damaged he’s going to be and the less effective he’s going to be running down the stretch.

    There’s absolutely no reason Abdullah, Green and Heard shouldn’t be seeing significant time. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong and Rex gets an opportunity to give himself a rest while coaching the young guns from the sidelines. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson
    Ryan: @digitalryan

    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: penn state, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, tim beck, bo pelini, matt mcgloin, robert bolden, rex burkhead, ciante evans, lance thorell, lavonte david, will compton, daimion stafford, dan persa, kirk cousins, cam meredith, eric martin

  8. 2011 Nov 10

    Husker Heartbeat 11/10: T-Magic's Passing Fancy, Burkhead Under Close Watch and a Key Husker Returns


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Quarterback Taylor Martinez happily spreads the ball around in Tim Beck's attack strategy

    - Husker coaches are keeping a close eye on I-Back Rex Burkhead

    - Meanwhile, they tell the freshman backs to remain patient

    - NU's volleyball team will likely have Lauren Cook back on the court this weekend

    - Former Husker wrestler Josh Ihnen is setting his sights on an All-American honor

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, lauren cook, josh ihnen

  9. 2011 Nov 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Evolution of The Nebraska Way


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Fans toss the term around like crumpled pieces of paper that eventually find their way to the bottom of a wastebasket. A constant reminder that how things are done at the University of Nebraska are carried out differently or are unique to our state and school.

    Included are: How to treat players, the media, those who to cheer for and how to adhere to it. This is “The Nebraska Way.”

    Somewhere along the line, one very important aspect was lost: How to win using The Nebraska Way. Saturday’s 28-25 loss to a Northwestern team that had far inferior talent than the Big Red (at least on paper) was a glaring example of the issues this team has. The more maddening, almost incomprehensible, other issue is the acceptance of performances like this.

    Some Nebraska fans say that a national championship wasn’t a realistic goal with this team, which is fair. However, with the loss to Northwestern, we made sure that two years are still relevant to Cornhusker football history:

    1999: The last time Nebraska fans bought conference championship shirts. In San Antonio, the Huskers took care of the Texas Longhorns and earned a Fiesta Bowl appearance.

    2002: The last time Husker fans paid for tickets to a BCS bowl game. Even though that team was arguably undeserving of appearing in the national championship game, Nebraska was in the national spotlight.

    The Nebraska Way includes excellence in player recruitment and development. Where has this gone? Ask yourself that as you see Ciante Evans whiff on defending a slant route resulting in an 81-yard touchdown scamper by the visiting team.

    Ask this again as Lance Thorell is torched time after time, and wonder why players such as Corey Cooper, Courtney Osborne, or Stanley Jean-Baptiste sit on the sidelines. Using your depth to maximize your attack on offense, this is The Nebraska Way.

    Where has this commitment gone? It seems a fair question to ponder as Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner, Braylon Heard and Aaron Green sit on the sideline as an obviously hurting Rex Burkhead gets bulldozed into a line that provided no daylight. Why is Tyler Moore not logging minutes as Yoshi Hardrick plays on a busted wheel?

    The Nebraska Way also includes taking every game seriously and to strategize accordingly. To be out-schemed, out-coached, and embarrassed on your home turf by a team that quite honestly had no business being on the same field with Nebraska is simply appalling.

    Don’t discredit Northwestern entirely, though. Pat Fitzgerald realized that Nebraska was to be had, kept his foot on the gas pedal and did what Mike Krzyzewski‘s Duke basketball teams are famous for: Running plays that work until the other team proves they can stop them.

    There were bright spots for Nebraska, of course. Taylor Martinez’s passing was a pleasant surprise, as was the play of defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler. However, there are no truly great performances in losses.

    That’s a shame, because the quarterback that several call a liability (author included) was an asset last Saturday, and his performance will be nothing but a random statistic as time rolls on.

    There should be rage over this loss. The defeat in Madison brought screaming, berating, and other rants to sports talk radio, message boards, and social media outlets. However, the tepid, melancholy response to this past weekend’s results is wide-spread.

    This, my friends and enemies, is the scariest thing of all. A sign that after years of expecting conference titles, bowl games played in January and double-digit win totals every season, the Nebraska Cornhusker fan base has come to a point where we’re alright with it.

    Much like we’re alright with a Blackshirt “tradition” that has gone from 11 black practice jerseys hanging in lockers two weeks before the season opener to 20 being handed out come Halloween.

    There was much talk about a Big Ten title in July and early August. That has changed to hoping the Capital One Bowl still is interested in a team that may get one more loss in the next three weeks. However, the feel good crowd will point out that if 2011 ends with nine wins, that result was good enough for Tom Osborne.

    Tom Osborne would have made this 2011 squad realize that there cannot be a single game taken lightly. Even against a team with their sights set on the Pinstripe or TicketCity Bowl. Coach Osborne would have also taken ownership of what happened in front of 85,000-plus first and foremost.

    Then there’s the matter of several students demanding better or even more seating from Osborne that couldn’t make a 2:30 PM kickoff or be bothered to stay around with ten minutes to go as their team needed them.

    How will the Take Back Game Day movement address that little matter? Can’t be beat? Won’t be beat? Do they know if their team was beat in the first place?

    Finally, Osborne would have realized the issues with this team over the last two years. The inability to stop dual-threat quarterbacks, an offensive line and play calling that can easily be liabilities, and the steadfast refusal to start playmakers who, while young, still give Nebraska the best chance of winning.

    There’s no reason to hold anything back in November. Teams that win constantly put the best 11 out on the field. Does anyone think the 1995 national championship season happens if Ahman Green is held back at all?

    Imagine that happening now and you see the frustration some have with Turner, Ameer, Braylon and SJB among others riding the pine.

    Welcome to the new Nebraska Way where losing games that should be afterthoughts are tolerable. Where handing out 20 Blackshirts eight games into a season, three or four losses, and a late December bowl game is considered a successful campaign. Where wins are a team effort, but losses are under-addressed, excuses are made and promptly accepted.

    For the foreseeable future, get used to your surroundings, Husker fans. Take in the atmosphere, and accept it for better or worse.

    Do you feel that The Nebraska Way has been watered down? Discuss it in the new and improved forums: Husker Locker Forums

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: the nebraska way, bcs, ciante evans, lance thorell, corey cooper, courtney osborne, blackshirts, capital one bowl, tom osborne, ahman green, stanley jeanbaptiste, ameer abdullah, jamal turner, braylon heard, aaron green, rex burkhead, tyler moore, yoshi hardrick, northwestern, pat fitzgerald, taylor martinez, baker steinkuhler

  10. 2011 Nov 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Northwestern


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Coming off an emotional win, Nebraska looks to improve and continue their path to the Big Ten Championship Game. While Northwestern is not looking like much of an threat to Nebraska, there are still things fans need to be on the lookout for.

    1. Stopping Dan Persa/Kain Colter

    Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa will be a good test for Nebraska’s defense. While it has been argued that Persa is not what he used to be pre-injury, he will still be a challenge for a Cornhusker defense that struggles against a mobile quarterback. If Persa is back to 100 percent, he will test Nebraska in preparation for a much more mobile quarterback like Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

    What fans need to be on the lookout for against Persa is how the Nebraska front seven responds to Northwestern’s rushing offense. Right now, the Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in total offense. This will put the defense in a tough spot to make big plays. If the defensive linemen can continue playing like Blackshirts, Northwestern should not be a big issue.

    2. A Standout Secondary

    The Nebraska secondary looked stellar against Michigan State last Saturday. It was clear that senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back to his old self, while the rest of the secondary stepped up big. It was an all-around shining moment for a struggling defensive backfield.

    However, the secondary has shown too many weaknesses at this point to assume it will be easy to control Northwestern’s pass game. The Wildcats’ passing offense is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten with an average of 244 yards per game. Persa also has a 75 percent completion rate, 1,251 yards through the air and only three interceptions coming into today.

    Fans will be looking for the Cornhuskers to play to the level they did last week. It will be interesting to see if the secondary can continue to earn their Blackshirts, or if Michigan State was a one-hit wonder thanks to Kirk Cousins’ immobility.

    3. Clock Management

    Nebraska has really stepped up in the last couple of games and taken control of the play clock. While having the ball more than their opponents, the Cornhuskers have been developing long drives that not only wear down the clock, but also typically result in points. This is a big step forward for a Nebraska offense that struggled to keep the ball for too long in 2010.

    Today, the Cornhuskers need to continue that pattern of smart clock control. Long drives will keep the ball away from Northwestern and Persa. If Nebraska can continue its good habits when in possession of the ball, the score shouldn’t even be close.

    4. Less Pressure on Rex Burkhead

    While Nebraska fans would love to see a huge game from the junior I-Back, this would be a good week to let the workhorse rest. Coming off of cramps during the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game, Burkhead needs to save his legs for the upcoming weeks. Games against Penn State and Michigan will require him to make a lot of big plays; a game against Northwestern does not.

    Keep an eye out for the younger running backs to get more playing time and experience this week. Between Aaron Green, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard, Burkhead can take a break this week and let the freshman handle some of the load. Will he still be in most of the game?

    Most likely, but don’t expect every ball to be handed to him. Every game matters to Bo Pelini, but this one matters a little less when looking at the big picture as far as Burkhead’s concerned.

    5. An Active and Involved Crowd

    Memorial Stadium was rocking against Michigan State last Saturday. Will the same Cornhusker fans show up against Northwestern? While the more hyped games, such as Ohio State and Michigan State, have brought an electric atmosphere to Memorial Stadium, it will be important to note how the crowds react to Northwestern.

    If the game is a blowout, the crowd should still be involved. While Memorial Stadium is arguably classier than Camp Randall, there is something to be said about Wisconsin’s constant fan involvement. If Nebraska fans can replicate the excitement from Michigan State, it will be a big factor.

    The Big Ten is full of tradition. Nebraska has theirs, but one thing that has been talked about all season for improvement is fan involvement. It has been improving greatly over the last couple of games, but it will be interesting to see how the fans treat this game. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little experience for a team that is about to step into an unfriendly Happy Valley next week.

    Ultimately, Northwestern shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Nebraska. The game will provide some good growing opportunities, while also allowing some areas of the team to rest. It will be a fun game to watch, as the battle of the “NUs” takes place. Fans are guaranteed that.

    What are you watching for as the Huskers take on Northwestern? Tell us all about it in our new forums: Husker Locker Forums

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: northwestern, dan persa, kain colter, rex burkhead, wisconsin, camp randall, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard

  11. 2011 Oct 23

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Minnesota


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By James Stevenson

    The Cornhuskers disposed of Minnesota with little drama as Nebraska dominated not only the field at TCF Bank Stadium, but also the stands. The Big Red didn’t face a challenge from the worst team in the Big Ten in their 41-14 win, but there were still multiple efforts which stood above the rest and deserve recognition.

    Offensive MVP: The rout was on when redshirt freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell took a pitch on a reverse, then navigated down the sideline with perfect balance and speed for an 82-yard touchdown run. The scoring scamper was the longest touchdown run for a freshman in school history, and was Nebraska’s longest run since 2004. Bell also snagged four passes for 25 yards.

    Defensive MVP: Aside from leading the team with six tackles, senior safety Austin Cassidy made the biggest play of the day for the defense-that-is-yet-to-receive-their-Blackshirts. When Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray fumbled at his own 20-yard line, Cassidy, in his attempt to recover the ball, accidentally kicked it nine yards to the Gopher 11-yard line before scooping it up and returning it for a defensive score.

    Special Teams MVP: After looking at everything, from kickoffs, to field goals, to returners to that made tackles, there wasn’t a standout performance on special teams Saturday. Honorable mention to Brett Maher for scoring 10 points on two field goals and four PATs, but hard to give him the award after a rough day with his punting duties and missing a 52-yard kick in the third quarter.

    Minnesota MVP: MarQueis Gray accounted for 189 of the Gophers’ 254 yards of offense. He threw for 122 yards, and his 67 yards on the ground included a 30-yard rush and a touchdown.

    Workhorse: Despite being banged up during the bye week, junior I-back Rex Burkhead was still the workhorse for the Husker ground game. His fourth time breaking the century mark this season, Burkhead gained 117 yards on 23 carries and rushed for a touchdown,

    12th Man: An announced crowd of 49,187 consisted of an estimated 25-30,000 Nebraska fans. Early in the game, the “Go Big Red” chants drowned out the Minnesota marching band. Husker fans neutralized the road advantage, creating more of a high school or scrimmage atmosphere.

    Missing in Action: After the game, senior offensive tackle Jermarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick joked about several Husker players who found themselves stuck in a Minneapolis elevator on Friday.

    That’s one plausible explanation as to why junior tight end Kyler Reed didn’t see the field on Saturday. One of Nebraska’s most dangerous deep threats, he was sorely missed when the Husker wide receiver corps dropped multiple deep passes from quarterback Taylor Martinez.

    The Cornhuskers will need all of its offensive weapons against a salty Michigan State defense coming off of a historic win against Wisconsin.

    Welcome Back: After not playing in nearly a month due to a leg infection, true freshman I-back Braylon Heard helped run out the clock, averaging six yards a carry on seven totes of the football with a long of 22 yards.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: kenny bell, austin cassidy, brett maher, marqueis gray, rex burkhead, yoshi hardrick, kyler reed, braylon heard

  12. 2011 Oct 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Minnesota Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    What does Nebraska need to work on versus Minnesota both offensively and defensively?

    Brian: Offensively, the Cornhuskers need to do what they have done so far. Let the line earn their ribeyes and stuffed baked potatoes on this one.

    Defensively, get better in base formations and find out if SJB is what the other side of the secondary needs.

    Erin: Offensively, Nebraska just needs to work on playing consistent football. If the offense can replicate the second half of the Ohio State game for an entire game, they will be a force to be reckoned with. For me, it's not about improving the talent or play ability, it's about improving the consistency.

    On the defense, it's going to be all about the secondary. I'm aware Jared Crick is out, but our line will be just fine. Guys like Terrence Moore and Chase Rome will fill the void nicely. The secondary is where the improvement needs to be focused.

    With Stanley Jean-Baptiste's new role at cornerback, it will be crucial for the secondary to rotate players around and find the right fit. Minnesota shouldn't give the defense too much of a struggle, so the secondary needs to take this as an opportunity to grow.

    Greg: Create turnovers on defense. This game gives the Huskers the opportunity to dominate, and they need to do more than just claim a moral victory on defense. From the offense, let's see a perfect game from the offensive line. If they are solid, the offense will have a good day.

    James: Offensively, the biggest opportunity for Nebraska is to continue working on its passing game. Getting Taylor more comfortable in the pocket, going through his progression, and hitting his dump off man will be critical for offensive success against Michigan State and Penn State's strong defenses.

    Defensively, containing and sacking Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray will be the main thing I'm looking for. Nebraska's defensive line hasn't always done the best job in contain against quarterbacks like Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

    Furthermore, both the defensive line and linebackers have missed plenty of tackles either in the backfield, or after the quarterback has taken off. Limiting those mistakes will be important with perhaps the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the country still on the schedule in Michigan's Denard Robinson.

    Brandon: On offense, the Cornhuskers need to work on their rhythm and basic fundamentals. Starting with ball-handling and crisp blocking to effective short and long-range passes, Tim Beck needs to call a game that gets these guys clicking heading into next week.

    On defense, the obvious answer is finding a replacement for Crick whether it’s a lone individual or by committee. What’s more important is strengthening the defensive line as a whole. Nebraska’s going to be facing some punishing rushing attacks including Michigan State’s next week. They need to find a way to at least slow opponents' ground games down.

    Another obvious statement is the secondary, but not just getting Stanley Jean-Baptiste live game action. It would be advisable to work other safeties in as this is going to be the final game on the schedule where Carl and Bo can experiment.

    Will the number of Taylor Martinez's passes outnumber Rex Burkhead's carries?

    Brian: It should, but at the same time, the number of carries by Green/Abdullah/Heard should out number Rex's. Keep Burkhead healthy for the upcoming stretch.

    Erin: I hope not. I have my fingers crossed that it is a nice balance. The ball should only go in the air when it needs to.

    Greg: The only way that happens is if Rex has a massive first half and Bo opts to spell his legs in the second half. Otherwise, all running backs should have a field day.

    James: Yes. From the coach and player comments during the bye week, Rex was pretty nicked and bruised up from being Nebraska's workhorse. The Huskers will need him against stiffer competition, and will utilize the three freshman running backs to carry some of the load and gain experience.

    To further lock this in, Minnesota has one of the worst passing defenses in the conference and country. If there was ever a time to give Taylor Martinez additional reps in the passing game in live game action, this is it.

    Nebraska will need balance against the better defenses they have yet to play, and its borderline criminal how few touches Jamal Turner and Kyler Reed have been getting.

    Brandon: Honestly, I believe so. Minnesota’s a poor football team and if there’s any defense for Taylor to practice his passing against, it’s the Golden Gophers'. I’d look for every range of pass from short out routes to heaves over the Minnesota secondary to Kyler Reed.

    This is also a game where Rex can afford to get some rest. You’ll see him out there, but it’s hard to think that Abdullah, Green and Heard won’t see time, especially if Heard is fully recovered.

    What are three things that Nebraska needs to have seen as a result of this game?


    1.) 400-plus yards rushing. Let the big dogs on the line eat.

    2.) Memorial Stadium North. Revive the memories of Notre Dame Stadium in 2000.

    3.) A good ol' behind the woodshed stomping. Minnesota is not good at all. There’s no reason that past the first 10 minutes of action that this game should be close. These are the games before the Callahan era that we’d just look at them and say “My decent is better than your better."

    Nebraska needs to put their foot on the Gophers' throats, run them out of the building, and get that swagger back before Michigan State comes to down. Put something in Sparty’s head.


    1.) An offensive showing similar to the one against Ohio State. Can the Huskers keep improving? This week will show us.

    2.) A powerful defense. Our defense has been lacking its luster and spark. Someone like Lavonte David has to be tired of it. Can he get the team fired up for good? Let's hope so.

    3.) A big win. I don't think anyone wants to see this game be a close one.

    Greg: I'll let Erin tackle these in her "5 Things to Look for" column.


    1.) Nebraska needs to see Brion Carnes get plenty of playing time in the fourth quarter. He's still just an ankle injury away from being the starter, and he needs more playing experience. This also means Nebraska needs to put Minnesota away early.

    2.) The defense beginning to gel by holding Minnesota to their season average of points, or less. Minnesota benefits from the return of a healthy Gray, but has been averaging 18 points a game thus far. Nebraska is averaging giving up 21. I'd like to see the Huskers hold a team UNDER their season average. This Minnesota team scoring in the high 20s would concern me.

    3.) A set rotation on defense. It's been a merry-go-round in the defensive backfield. Daimion Stafford has played safety and corner, Eric Martin's been at linebacker and defensive end, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste is now playing cornerback.

    Nebraska needs some stability on the defensive roster to help this unit come together and trust each other. The loss of Crick probably hurts this though, as Nebraska will now be tinkering with a defensive line that hadn't blown anyone away even with Crick.


    1.) Confidence on Defense: There needs to be a sense that there is improvement no matter how small. Some momentum will do this unit a world of good. That said, if Minnesota covers the spread, that should be considered a red flag.

    2.) An Effective Passing Game…From Two Quarterbacks: There’s absolutely no reason that Brion Carnes should be on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of this game. There’s no logic in having Martinez under center if Nebraska leads by 35, especially when Carnes needs live action badly if No. 3 goes down.

    3.) Jean-Baptiste Solidify Himself: This could be filed under No. 1, but there needs to be a solid No. 2 opposite Dennard. Even if SJB can be the primary cornerback in a rotation, it would be a step up from the current status quo.

    What is your prediction for Nebraska's final record including any post-season play?

    Brian: If this team can get to 9-3, it’s a successful season. After all we have seen, unless something changes, running the table isn't realistic. There will be one, maybe two losses somewhere down the line.

    Erin: Nebraska will go 9-3, and will be in Indianapolis facing Wisconsin again. I'd even say Nebraska has a post-New Years bowl game to look forward to such as the Capital One Bowl on January 2nd.

    I would be willing to change my overall record depending on whether or not the defense can find its swagger. If they can ignite that spark, our team could be lethal. Until I see that, I'll stand by 9-3.

    Greg: I don't think this team, the way it stands now, is a one-loss team. If they were to face Wisconsin again in Indianapolis, I don't see where enough improvement has been made to beat the badgers. 11-2 with a bowl win.

    James: 10-3 - Without some improvement defensively, I think Nebraska splits the Michigan games, and drops one more to the trio of Northwestern/Iowa/Penn State. They miss the inaugural Big Ten Championship, but a nice trip to the Gator Bowl and a surprising win over an SEC team like Florida is just what the Huskers will need to finish out the season.


    At this point, Michigan State appears to be a toss-up, but the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Edwin Baker along with a stout defense doesn’t bode well.

    Northwestern’s Dan Persa is hobbled and the Wildcats’ leading rusher is out. Michigan’s Denard Robinson will be difficult to be kept in check, but if he can be forced to pass, Nebraska has a solid chance. Penn State’s best weapon is Beaver Stadium and Iowa…well, is Iowa.

    I think the Cornhuskers drop two of those games. If I had to guess, I’d say Michigan State and Michigan simply due to Sparty’s defense and Robinson’s speed. That puts Nebraska at 9-3, but missing out on the Big Ten Championship Game which we may be seeing a preview of this evening with Wisconsin at Michigan State.

    Expect Nebraska to go to the Gator Bowl to face Georgia ending on a 9 or 10-win note.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: stanley jean baptiste, alfonzo dennard, jared crick, terrence moore, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, austin cassidy, jamal turner, kyler reed

  13. 2011 Sep 27

    Husker Heartbeat 9/27: OL is Badger Ready, Cooper is Displeased and Level-Headed Huskers


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    - Nebraska's offensive line is ready to take on the Badgers' size and strength

    - Corey Cooper's as displeased with his performance in Laramie as many fans are

    - Q&A with true freshman running back Braylon Heard

    - The Huskers try to stay level-headed despite the hype of the upcoming weekend

    - Nebraska's defense should be at full strength versus Wisconsin

    - Football instincts help Corey Cooper and Daimion Stafford learn the Pelini brothers' schemes quickly

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    Tags: corey cooper, braylon heard, daimion stafford

  14. 2011 Sep 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Laramie, Wyoming - It's a Trap!


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    This pesky offense. This upsetting defense.

    Somewhere in the midst of a 51-38 victory, the Nebraska football team showed the ability to not only weather a storm, but to put their foot down and play a quarter of football that can separate themselves from any team in the nation. However, they also showed that there is not only room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but also a need to cultivate the maturity to close out a football game.

    The offense was beyond outstading for most of the day. Taylor Martinez, Braylon Heard, Aaron Green, Kenny Bell, there were athletes making plays that needed to be made. Quincy Enunwa made some big blocks, and the much maligned offensive line had their best game of the season by far. Even without a Brandon Kinnie and Jamal Turner, playmakers were everywhere.

    The defense is Nebraska’s current liability. 274 yards of passing and a greater amount of yardage per play (6.2 vs. 6.1 for Nebraska) kept Washington in the game. Huskies head coach Steve Sarkasian had his team ready for a knockout punch early and often. The Nebraska defense's back seven were reeling for most of the game.

    There will be days where the offense bails out the defense (Stillwater last year, anyone?), but for two games in a row, there hasn’t been a knockout punch delivered by this team. After being on top 44-17 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game, both sides of the ball went into a protective shell.

    Even Bo Pelini admitted that the calls on defense were a little lax in the post game presser. Pelini let the front four go after the quarterback, which is fine since Sarkasian and quarterback Keith Price were in four-wide sets. However, with the kind of day that Andrew Green and others in the secondary were having, that turned out to be a bad call.

    This secondary is young, but at the same time, they shouldn’t be having the same issues game after game. Giving the benefit of the doubt thanks to Alfonzo Dennard’s absence is like putting a small bandage on a huge wound. When Dennard returns, he can’t cover the whole field.

    Ciante Evans and Andrew Green have to be playmakers. Daimion Stafford, P.J. Smith, Austin Cassidy, all have room for improvement. It’s not time to call out secondary coach Corey Raymond, but when Fonzie returns, there will be no more excuses for this bad play.

    Nebraska did come away with a somewhat convincing win over a BCS school that should do some damage in the Pac-12 conference (it may be the Pac-16 by the time you read this). Wisconsin looked alright against a team they should have throttled, as did Michigan. Ohio State and Michigan State? Not so much.

    However, there is a game in Lariamie under a starry Wyoming night sky against a Cowboy squad that will fill the house and have fans ready. They've been ready for a long time, too. This is the ultimate trap game for Nebraska; between a revenge game and the Big Ten opener against a potential new arch-rival.

    It’s been said before that this team isn’t good enough to hit auto-pilot yet. The 2011 season has to truly be addressed on a week-by-week basis. Before Nebraska can win in Madison, or against the team from Columbus, there’s a tilt against a Mountain West team that won’t be scared of the Big Red at all.

    Get better, take care of Wyoming, and then worry about Russell Wilson.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: taylor martinez, braylon heard, aaron green, kenny bell, brandon kinnie, jamal turner, quincy enunwa, bo pelini, andrew green, keith price, steve sarkisian, ciante evans, daimion stafford, pj smith, austin cassidy, corey raymond, alfonzo dennard

  15. 2011 Sep 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Fresno State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - For those of you making Tim Beck/Shawn Watson comparisons, knock it off. Watson would’ve had Martinez throwing slant routes across the middle and handing the ball off to Burkhead in the second half as Nebraska either won by a point or lost.

    - Martinez clearly had his software from OSU 2010 reloaded at halftime, though.

    - Ameer Abdullah: So fast that he can cramp up at the opponent's 45 yard line and still can't be caught.

    - 41 tackles by Will Compton, Lavonte David and Daimion Stafford sounds impressive. Not so much when noted that none caused Fresno State to lose yardage.

    - Anxiously waiting for someone to argue why Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Kyler Reed shouldn’t be Nebraska’s main receivers. Kinnie’s close, but he’s battling his quarterback’s mechanics.

    - Guessing no Heard or Green was because of shift in offensive philosophy in the second half.

    - Derek Carr is much more talented than his brother and was good prep for Dan Persa/Northwestern.

    - Fresno gained almost five yards per rush. Forget Wisky for a moment and remember Washington’s Chris Polk.

    - Brett Maher nailed a 57-yarder in warm-ups. Was somewhat disappointed he didn’t kick that 62-yarder. Also wondering if Alex Henery wasn’t.

    - Burkhead leaping over a goal line pile only lends more credence to his "Superman" nickname. That and his Kryptonian birth certificate.

    - A 33-percent third down conversion rate doesn’t speak well about the entire offensive staff.

    - On the next episode of Ghost Hunters: Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith.

    - Daimion Stafford's going to be absolutely beastly once he hits midseason form.

    - Filed under “Kinda Funny”: Memorial Stadium erupting in cheers for Bo Pelini chewing a ref out.

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    Tags: tim beck, shawn watson, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez, will compton, lavonte david, daimion stafford, jamal turner, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, kyler reed, brandon kinnie, braylon heard, aaron green, derek carr, chris polk, brett maher, alex henery, rex burkhead, p, j, smith, courtey osborne, bo pelini

  16. 2011 Sep 09

    The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 9/9: Barking at the Bulldog Brigade


    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring ONLY questions asked by you, the Husker Locker fan base.

    - Potential offensive worries moving forward
    - Which offensive style will eventually reign supreme
    - How does Nebraska cram Daimion Stafford onto the field?
    - Thoughts on coach Pelini stripping the redshirts of all three true freshman running backs
    - Can Nebraska afford to stop playing FCS teams?
    - Fresno State predictions

    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.

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    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
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    Tags: daimion stafford, bo pelini, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, fcs, fresno state, podcast, podcasts

  17. 2011 Sep 08

    Husker Heartbeat 9/8: True Freshman Talks Tough, Redshirts Burned and The New Big Ten Murderer's Row


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - True freshman offensive lineman Tyler Moore has set some high standards

    - Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa won't be overlooked

    - No running back redshirts? Don't worry, be happy

    - Daimion Stafford is preparing to show the college football world that he's no one-hit wonder

    - Will the Huskers' weak non-conference schedule hurt them down the line?

    - Nebraska basketball will face sixteen postseason teams

    - A packed Coliseum is part of Nebraska volleyball tradition

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: tyler moore, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, basketball, volleyball

  18. 2011 Mar 07

    Husker Monday Takes: Spring in Bo's Step


    By HuskerLocker

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    Six takes as spring football – believe it – awaits. We even added a seventh because we're a little ticked off about something:

    ***Smart move on Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s part to have a pre-spring presser Tuesday. No doubt the wags and hacks will want to rehash the recent past – and Bo will want no part of it – but it reduces the potential crush of questions 12 seconds after Bo walked off the practice field Saturday.

    It's even smarter to have Tim Beck join the party. Beck nailed his first radio interview and is probably certain to do the same in front of the whole pack. He owns the most scrutinized job in the state – politicians and magnates around here toil in obscurity by comparison, unfortunately – because NU fans like to think they know their offense. Judging by emails and message boards posts – I’m inclined to agree. Thirty years of Tom Osborne’s master class will do the trick.

    Beck has a big job ahead of him, so it’s not about concrete answers right yet, but the impression, the tone, the vision.

    It starts with Taylor Martinez. He didn’t make my 10 “Prove-It” player list for spring football, but he’s the guy who has the most to gain from Beck’s promotion. And the most to lose.

    ***Pay attention to the defensive line dilemma spring.

    Nebraska has the best interior quartet in the country in Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler, Thad Randle and Terrence Moore. Throw in promising freshmen in Chase Rome, Jay Guy and Jake Cotton. Seven guys for two spots. Crick and Steinkuhler obviously will start, but the depth is impressive.

    Defensive end is considerably thinner after starter Cameron Meredith, who had shoulder surgery in early January. At the very least, he’s likely to be limited in camp. That leaves a glut of unproven guys – junior Josh Williams, sophomore Jason Ankrah, a couple walk-ons, three redshirt freshmen – vying to fill Pierre Allen’s shoes.

    Remember defensive coordinator Carl Pelini's praise of Allen’s consistent bull rush? Et tu...who?

    Crick has the quickness to play on the end and moving him out there almost guarantees he’ll get a 1-on-1 matchup. I’m still not sold that a tackle alone can shut down Crick. If the Huskers built on that “spinner” look for next year – where Meredith becomes a linebacker and Crick shifts out to end, it'd be a nice switch-up defense.

    ***This potential transfer of former Alabama fullback Mike Marrow to NU would be nice, but adding his father, Vince, to the Husker staff as an offensive graduate assistant is better. It's not every day – hell, practically any day - you pick up an eight-year NFL player who coached in NFL Europe and at Toledo. As a GA, Marrow can work with the tight ends in practice, giving NU, in effect, an extra high-level coach for specific position.

    And while Vince Marrow can't recruit off campus, he's worked enough camps in recent years that his contacts and experience will make valuable inroads into Big Ten country and Florida. Bo and Beck have their share already, but Marrow is fresh from the scene. Bo made a shrewd move here.

    The kid, Mike Marrow, appears to be a rumbler, a forward-leaning Brahma bull who knows his role. But the bigger news of last week was Braylon Heard announcing (again) he had the test score necessary to enroll at NU. I like Heard more than Ameer Abdullah or Aaron Green – he gets downhill fast, squares those shoulders and dares somebody to take him down – and the Youngstown native creates even more competition for a backfield that needs it. It'd be good if Rex Burkhead evolved into a guy who catches 25-30 passes, carries the ball only 150 times or so, and stays fresh for the stretch run - that meaty trio of games at Penn State, at Michigan and vs. Iowa – when young guns start to hit the wall.

    ***I've been as tough as anyone on Nebraska baseball coach Mike Anderson – his offenses haven't produced in two years, he loses series to mediocre Big 12 teams and he makes curious excuses at the wrong times - but a series win over No. 5 UCLA could be the break the embattled manager needs. Every game went extra innings. NU won the last two games of three, culminating in an 11-inning, 5-4 win when Bryan Peters hit his first career homer. The Huskers pitched their guts out all weekend, especially the relievers who took the ball with the game on the line for three, four, five innings at a time. Senior Casey Hauptman did it twice on Friday and Sunday.

    ***Journalists and message board commandos spill whole bottles of Internet ink over the morbid history of Nebraska men's basketball. It's a coal-black comedy, most of it, with a dash of Moe's watch-paint-dry offense, a splash of Danny Nee's tie, a pinch of Barry's play cards and a couple tablespoons of The Shim Shams.

    The weight of history can be immense. You can't erase all the mistakes in one season or one game. But you can start to write a new chapter. NU and Doc Sadler had a perfectly good chance Saturday night at Colorado. Rap all you want about bad breaks or whatever. A spot inside the Big Dance bubble was for the taking in Boulder.

    67-57 Buffaloes. Just another footnote of futility.

    The Huskers only needed to play their brand of basketball. And they didn't. They. Did. Not. Quick shots, bad passes, shaky defense. Fifteen turnovers. And that's just what we could hear through the radio. Watching it might have made the few diehards left in this state do something to their TVs. And they already had to buy a new one after the Holiday Bowl.

    On message boards, Doc has already been filleted for his seemingly dubious choices to play guard Ray Gallegos for extended minutes and insert little-used center Christopher Niemann into the game while trailing 42-41 in the second half.

    The Gallegos minutes I get; the sophomore is a good on-ball defender and played extended minutes in losses to Kansas and Kansas State - teams with athletes just as quick as Colorado's . Doc knew Gallegos wouldn't force bad shots, either. That gamble ultimately paid off; CU stars Alec Burks and Cory Higgins played OK, but fell shot of their per-game scoring averages.

    But the German Sub was a decision that I suspect Doc would like back. Yes, the three big men in his regular rotation were gassed. But Niemann was frigid; he hadn't played in a month. Colorado only had a 6-2 run while he was in the game, but it was enough, and it came right at a time when the Buffaloes appeared most vulnerable.


    Through no fault of Niemann's, he may be a name those few Husker true hoopsters remember for years to come. If it is, too bad, because Nebraska's 19-11 Tourney resume is ultimately defined by three losses to 100+ RPI teams – Davidson, Texas Tech and Iowa State – all of whom scorched the nets with 3-pointers against the Huskers' leaky perimeter defense. In Big 12 games, NU is last in 3-point percentage defense. Opponents made nearly 40 percent of their long-range shots.

    Generally, that's a gamble Doc Sadler's always been willing to take in this league – NU's never been better than fourth, and eighth or worse in three other seasons. How will that strategy play in the Big Ten.

    ***Now get this: Nebraska still isn't out of it for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth. Yes, still. The Huskers need to win at least two in Kansas City. That second victory would be over No. 1 seed Kansas. If NU does that, and owns wins over six of the league's top seven teams, we could be having a very different conversation Friday morning. Especially if Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College flame out early in the ACC Tournament.

    Chew on it for a second: NU would have 21 wins, two of them over two of the top eight teams in the country. Which other bubble team could claim that? If a Tourney profile is one part statistics and one part narrative, Nebraska's story still has a chance to look better than you think. Win three games in the Big 12, and the story gets even better.

    Beating KU in Kansas City is, of course, a pretty remarkable assumption. Nebraska's done it once in 20 years, a 87-83 win in 1991 that Roy Williams is still whining about.

    Then again, history doesn't just appear, does it? It's written. Usually by one side. NU can still be on it in 2011.

    ***What the hell does the media know? How about I make this prediction: Come this week, when the press releases its All-Big 12 teams, reporters will think more highly of Husker point guard Lance Jeter than the league coaches did, placing him on the third team behind Iowa State's Diante Garrett. Huh? Since when did three league wins look better than seven?

    Maybe those coaches missed the time when Garrett had a chance to beat NU in Lincoln and Jeter stripped him of the ball, sprinted the length of the court, got fouled just before time expired and made the game-winning free throw.

    The per game averages for both players during their two matchups:

    Jeter: 18.5 ppg, 6 apg, 8 rpg and 3.5 spg
    Garrett: 17.5 ppg, 6 apg, 4 rpg, .5 spg

    Draw your conclusions.

    Of course Garrett's season numbers look better. He played seven more minutes per game in an offense that scored seven more points per game. What's that mean? It's like pretending a 80-yard screen pass is the same as a deep post thrown on a rope. They're not remotely similar.

    You'd think coaches would know that. You'd think they'd well, you know, think. You'd think.

    Tags: husker monday takes, bo pelini, tim beck, taylor martinez, mike marrow, vince marrow, rex burkhead, braylon heard, lance jeter, baseball, mens hoops, doc sadler, ray gallegos

  19. 2011 Mar 01

    Podcast 3/1: Heard Gets the Score


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: recruiting, podcasts, braylon heard, mens hoops

  20. 2011 Jan 14

    Podcast 1/14: Legends and Leaders - For Now


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, big ten, braylon heard, mens hoops, womens hoops, wrestling

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