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  1. 2012 Jan 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Behind the Scenes at the Capital One Bowl

    4,484 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Matt Repchak is one of the Capital One Bowl’s star offensive linemen as the Assistant Director of Marketing Communications and Digital Media. The less you hear about him, the better he’s doing his job as he’s behind the scenes doing everything he can to make sure things go off without a hitch.

    Nebraska’s tilt with South Carolina’s nearly a week old, but planning for the event’s 2013 edition is about to get underway as Repchak reports for conditioning on Monday.

    That’s when he and his colleagues begin shuffling through surveys sent back from the universities and representatives in regards to whether or not he and the other staffers paved the way for success. They’ll then take every note and criticism into consideration as they look to the future.

    Since joining Florida Citrus Sports, the organization that oversees the Capital One and Champs Sports Bowls in 2005, he’s been astounded by how the event has evolved. “The bowl game that we just put on compared to the one we put on in my first year, it’s unrecognizable.”

    The Capital One Bowl has implemented large “fanfests”, started having teams unload at one end of the stadium before walking into it, offering VIP climate-controlled tent next to the stadium and a $200 ticket for those who want to experience the game in field-level suite surroundings. The luncheon events are one thing that have expanded the most and introduced perhaps one of the most enjoyed pre-game events - The Capital One Minute Challenge.

    “The thing that made it awesome for me was when we did Rock Band last year with Michigan State and Alabama, it was one player that people knew and then two or three were backups or guys that just didn’t get much time. The main players stayed in the front row and laughed it off. Nebraska sent their captains up to play these games. South Carolina sent up Kenny Miles and Melvin Ingram, an All-American. Both teams clearly bought into it and were having fun.”

    During this event, members of both Nebraska and South Carolina faced off in events such as cup stacking and Oreo sliding/eating. The Cornhuskers took this year’s competition and Yoshi Hardrick proudly wore the trophy – a Flavor Flav-style clock necklace.



    As he dashed around one of the events specifically set up for kids, Repchak was yanked aside by a co-worker to go on one of the rides. It was here that he had his only interaction with a Cornhusker player. He admits he’s rather embarrassed with how it went down.

    “I was waiting in line and I was chatting a little bit with a Nebraska player in front of me. He was asking me questions about their Best Buy gift card and one of the events, just regular small talk. Eight hours later, I’m sitting at my computer doing something totally unrelated and it hit me I was talking to Taylor Martinez the whole time,” he said.

    The day of the game, Repchak isn't afforded much time to watch the entire game. That went double this year as he’s the friendly face behind the Capital One Bowl’s Twitter account that thousands have been interacting with before, during and after the game. He did get to hear about the highlights, one of those being the infamous Jeffery-Dennard ejection.

    When asked if this sort of behavior has a negative effect, Repchak pointed out that his organization was more concerned with how everything looked, operated and if the fans were having a good time. What about the fight? “What’s actually happening on the field is actually entertainment for us and that point,” he said with a laugh. “That’s the furthest cry from anything we need to be concerned about. It’s such an isolated incident. It’s two players, so it’s hard to look poorly on either team.”

    The idea of an escalated event didn’t seem to faze him much, either. “Say they got into some bare-knuckle brawl out on the middle of the field. We could set up an octagon and let them fight it out. It still doesn’t reflect poorly on the team because it’s two players that’ll be gone,” he said referencing Jeffery’s entry into the NFL and Dennard’s end of eligibility as a player. Repchak also pointed out that the two players going at it were perhaps the duo that would least likely be picked to do so pre-game.



    He received a tweet from a South Carolina fan commenting on how Jeffery’s one of the few people on his Twitter timeline that quotes Bible verses. Dennard’s well-known for ending several evenings by dipping into the same book before counting sheep. “It’s just one heated moment in a game, they both got a little carried away, it is what it is.”

    A few Cornhusker fans had the opportunity to chat with Repchak and a distinct impression stuck. “I had a couple of brief interactions with some Nebraska fans before, during or right after events. They were awesome. Press box side was the Nebraska sideline and it was loud. They lived up to their reputation of being Nebraska fans, being passionate, great people and appreciative of the whole experience.”

    For now, it’s back to the grind for Repchak. He’ll eventually be part of making sure 100-150 members of the Capital One Bowl’s committee are properly trained before their road trips and will still be tweeting away. You can never start too early. After all, there’s only roughly 360 days until next year’s bowl.

    Follow Matt/The Capital One Bowl on Twitter: @CapitalOneBowl
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    Tags: capital one bowl, alfonzo dennard, taylor martinez

  2. 2012 Jan 04

    Husker Heartbeat 1/4: Pelini Future Debate Sparked, Two New Commits and Sadler Shocked

    5,297 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - The Capital One Bowl loss is already sparking intense debate about Pelini's effectiveness

    - Nebraska gains the commitments of defensive end Avery Moss and linebacker Jared Afalava at last night's Semper Fi All-American Bowl

    - Figuring out how to begin replacing Lavonte David is one of the questions at the top of the football staff's list

    - Moments of success aren't enough for the returning Nebraska offensive personnel

    - Ohio State crushes men's Nebrasketball; Sadler still shocked by the outcome

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    Tags: capital one bowl, bo pelini, jared afalava, avery moss, lavonte david, basketball, doc sadler

  3. 2012 Jan 03

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against South Carolina

    2,776 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    30-13 - a score Nebraska fans were neither expecting nor hoping for. Well, maybe fans hoped the score was flipped in the Big Red's favor. Unfortunately, the Huskers landed on the bad end, recording their second consecutive bowl loss. The game was filled with plenty of game-changing moments. Fans were asked to keep an eye on five very important areas. How did they fare in the season finale?

    1. Connor Shaw Was Contained…For a While

    South Carolina’s quarterback saw the ground more than he was probably expecting yesterday. At times, it appeared as if the Blackshirts had the Gamecock offense more than figured out. At others, it was Wisconsin and Michigan all over again.

    The Blackshirts of the Michigan State game made various appearances during the game. It wasn’t consistent, but it was clear Shaw was getting tired of being run around. Had the Huskers been able to keep it up, Shaw could have been worn down.

    2. The Rex Burkhead Show (With a Supporting Cast)

    Everyone saw this coming a mile away including the Gamecocks, The Rex Burkhead Show made another appearance yesterday. However, Burkhead is a player than can break blocks and find holes where there are none, so this wasn't much of an issue. When it seemed impossible for him to run, he broke free. The month-long break was clearly good for his legs.

    Interestingly, Nebraska's offense wasn't a one man act this time. Thankfully, he had a supporting cast that did what they could when they could. Ameer Abdullah scored a touchdown, for instance. That more players were seeing the ball was a positive note for Tim Beck and his play calling. Again, this might not have been much but it was something worth noting.

    However, Abdullah also proved why the ball is often handed solely to Burkhead – he fumbled the ball on the Gamecocks' eight-yard line. Abdullah shouldn’t be vilified for one fumble, but this one was a momentum changer. Fans can expect to see Burkhead in an even bigger role come 2012, making sure his young backups learn to hold on to the ball.

    3. The Results of Team Preparation

    It turns out that “team preparation” wasn’t what should have been the biggest thing to watch for with the Huskers. No, it was “team discipline.” Calling this Nebraska team unprepared would be inaccurate. This team was prepared. You could see it in those several glimmering moments of hope. You saw the groundwork laid that resulted in Kenny Bell’s 30-yard touchdown catch. Unfortunately, you also saw the lack of discipline in the reaction to the following blocked PAT.

    More often than not, players were in it for themselves. The things they were coached to do went out the window. Emotions were worn on sleeves and frustration got the better of many. It overshadowed every bit of preparation the Huskers had. You can watch as much game film as you want, but without attention to discipline, none of it matters.

    The blame cannot rest fully on the players. While they did make mistakes, their lack of composure reflected their head coach who stood on the sidelines yelling at referees. This is a passionate team and fans know that. However, it’s time to start finding balance.

    4. Lavonte David’s Finest Hour

    As was said post-game, “Lavonte David is a freak.” He really is. David had a stellar game against South Carolina. Don’t agree? You might have missed it between every blown coverage and poorly read South Carolina offense. David held up his end of the deal by being where he needed to be, as always.

    If anything, he solidified himself as a desirable early-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. For his size, David is a tough player. When the going got tough, he kept playing. He was also the player to offer words of wisdom and comfort cornerback Alfonzo Dennard after he was ejected from the game. David is truly a special player through and through.

    It may not have been Nebraska’s finest hour, but it surely was one of David’s.

    5. Lack of Confidence by Taylor Martinez

    Taylor Martinez’s confidence level has been a rollercoaster this season to say the least. He has had extreme highs (Ohio State and Northwestern) along with severe lows (Wisconsin and Michigan). How he handles adversity has been a crapshoot each and every game of his career. Yesterday’s performance has been added to the extreme lows for the sophomore quarterback.

    Martinez is now a veteran. He has been the starting quarterback for two years. There are no more excuses in 2012. He has the talent. The confidence needs to be there, too. Here’s hoping Brion Carnes and incoming recruit Tommy Armstrong can provide some stiff competition in the offseason. Martinez feeds off of that competition. With enough coaching, the low-confidence days of 2010 and 2011 could be a distant memory. It’s time for him to be the CEO of the huddle.

    It really has been a wild ride. The SEC once again dominated the Big Ten. Nebraska must be feeling right at home among their conference brothers. The Capital One Bowl didn’t end as fans had hoped and it is sending the team into a long offseason with a bitter taste in their mouths…again. How will it ultimately affect the program? Husker fans have plenty of time to wait and see.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: capital one bowl, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, kenny bell, bo pelini

  4. 2012 Jan 03

    Husker Heartbeat 1/3: Pelini's Reflection, a Hellacious Hail Mary and the Devaney's Makeover

    2,131 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Shatel: Talented Huskers reflect their coach

    - The Gamecocks made big plays when it counted and took advantage of Husker miscues to win the Capital One Bowl

    - Another roller coaster season ends spiraling downwards

    - The Huskers shake their heads in regards to the Hail Mary that eventually led to their downfall

    - The Devaney Center's getting a huge makeover

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    Tags: capital one bowl, bo pelini, south carolina, devaney center, volleyball

  5. 2012 Jan 02

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch for Against South Carolina

    1,800 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensenn

    What a wild ride it has been. It's hard to believe that Nebraska’s season comes to an end today. Before it does, the Huskers have the potential to set up the off-season on a strong note. A win could positively affect recruiting and make life a little easier going into spring ball. What will it take for Nebraska to seal up a win against South Carolina?

    1. Contain Connor Shaw

    South Carolina's quarterback is going to provide a big challenge for the Nebraska defense. A dual-threat athlete, the Huskers will need to contain Shaw early and force him to put the ball in the air. His confidence will also be an obstacle for the Nebraska defense as the quarterback has settled in nicely to his role after Stephen Garcia was removed from the team.

    The Cornhuskers will have their hands full with Shaw, so look for the defensive line to put pressure on him to throw. While a good passer, his legs are of bigger concern. If Nebraska can force the ball in the air, Alfonzo Dennard can take care of the rest.

    Dennard will be matched up against Gamecock star wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who Shaw is guaranteed to be looking to frequently. If the Huskers can force this situation, Dennard should have no issue shutting Jeffrey down like he did Iowa's Marvin McNutt. A lot will rest on the back of the defensive line. If the Blackshirts of the Michigan State game can show up by kickoff, things will be looking up.

    2. Rex Burkhead, Rex Burkhead, Rex Burkhead (with a cameo of the younger backs)

    Here’s hoping Burkhead got plenty of rest over the last month, because his legs are going to be put to the test today. With South Carolina's outstanding secondary, trusting quarterback Taylor Martinez to throw often is a poor gameplan. The ball will be in Burkhead's hands more often than not and the junior I-Back will need to power through.

    Nebraska's offensive line will be relied on heavily to help Burkhead be successful. Yoshi Hardrick and Marcel Jones have both had stellar games and less than perfect ones, but they will need to be as close to perfect as possible against the Gamecocks. Holding blocks will be imperative, as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will do anything he can to get to Martinez and Burkhead.

    However, running Burkhead into the ground isn't ideal, so expect to see brief appearances by the younger running backs. Their time with the ball will be short-lived, but enough to rest Burkhead before pounding the ball into the USC defensive line even more.

    3. The Results of Team Preparation

    Head coach Bo Pelini promised Husker fans in yesterday's pep rally that they would be proud of what they see on the field today. Hopefully the coach is right, as expectations are high. The Huskers have had a full week to prepare in Orlando, taking yesterday off to rest up before the big game. Practices were reported as "good," but no one will know for sure until it is seen on the field.

    Nebraska was unprepared for Northwestern. A loss that should not have happened, the Huskers learned a great deal by what happens when preparation is not there. It has been an interesting month with coaching changes, but fans should expect to see a focused Pelini-led team. Anything less and South Carolina will take advantage of the holes while running away with the game.

    4. Lavonte David's Finest Hour

    Lavonte David is walking into today's game with 122 tackles, an impressive feat for a linebacker that is being touted as a potential early-round draft pick. For David, the Capital One Bowl is a final chance to prove his value before the NFL Combine. A strong showing and David does nothing but improve his stock for the 2012 NFL Draft.

    South Carolina will try to take advantage of David's weak side and keep him from moving around the field quite as much, but he’s tough to contain. Expect to see David helping to stop the strong South Carolina receivers when necessary, while also holding down the defensive line when possible. David might be dead tired by the end of this game, but he won't show it.

    5. Confidence by Taylor Martinez

    Martinez needs a Michigan State-style performance today, not a Michigan repeat. This will require confidence, as well as support from his team. He’s has had a rough season, but when confidence is there, good things do happen.

    He needs to execute like he never has before. The Gamecock secondary will put even more pressure on his passing, which has potential for problems. If Martinez can keep a level head, he should be able to overcome many problems. It's ultimately about focus. How he handles the pressure will be very telling.

    Will the 2011 season end on a good or bad note for Nebraska? We’ll know soon enough.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: capital one bowl, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, yoshi hardrick, marcel jones, connor shaw, alshon jeffery, bo pelini, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard

  6. 2012 Jan 02

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Capital One Bowl Game Day Thoughts

    2,035 views

    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:

    What's your confidence level heading into the Capital One Bowl?

    Brian: About the same as I have had the last half of the season. While the defense has gotten better, there is still too much inconsistency in the offense in both playcalling and execution for me to have any peace of mind that Nebraska will be going into this game with all guns blazing. Add on the rust of not seeing live action in over a month, and there is enough to worry about.

    Erin: It could be higher, but I always have faith in the Huskers. I believe this team has what it takes to win. I've felt that way all season, in fact. I genuinely believe that with a different game plan, Nebraska could have beat Wisconsin and Michigan (I'm choosing to ignore Northwestern though because they definitely could have - and should have - beat the Wildcats).

    The talent has always been there. We saw telling moments against Ohio State and Michigan State that proved this. Again, I'm always confident the Huskers could win. As long as they have confidence in themselves and Tim Beck provides a stellar game plan, my confidence is there.

    James: Marginal. It's pretty similar to how it has been all season - which Nebraska team shows up? If it's the team that dominated Michigan State, it could be an impressive win for the Huskers. If it's the team that got beaten by Northwestern, it could be another ugly SEC beatdown of a B1G team.

    I picked South Carolina in my bowl pick'ems, I unfortunately have to stick to that prediction. I think the issue will actually be Nebraska's offense, they won't score enough points to get it done against a strong SEC defense.

    Brandon: I’m cautiously optimistic about Nebraska’s chances. I think they can hang with South Carolina and considering the athletes they have and the final stretch of the regular season for the Cornhuskers, that’s impressive. You’ve got a number of factors playing into this game, but one of the biggest ones has to be last year’s Holiday Bowl.

    There’s been a number of reports coming out of practices about how focused the team is. Normally I’d brush this off as lip service, but I truly believe that following the Northwester-esque efforts given last season against Washington, these guys want to smack a quality SEC opponent in the mouth. I’m skeptical about the defense’s ability to contain Connor Shaw, but if Lavonte David’s his spy all game, No. 4 will have an easier time dealing with him than Dennard Robinson, for example.

    How much of an impact do you think a win or loss will have on the offseason?

    Brian: A win will get this team to that 10-win plateau that people should measure success in a season upon. 10 wins now is the new “nine-win season” that several Husker fans have fallen in love with. There are too many games now (this makes 13 for Nebraska in 2011) to say that nine wins is the standard. 10, even 11 wins should be the standard. However, that’s another argument for another time.

    A loss, on the other hand, will have people throwing out a lot of worry and questions during the winter months into the summer. It will have the stench of last year’s failed ending with the Big 12 title game and the Holiday Bowl debacle.

    If Nebraska plays well and loses, that will be one thing. If the Huskers stink up Orlando on Monday, there will be questions that need to be asked about the core group of leaders on this team.

    Erin: I don't know if a loss would be devastating, but it wouldn't be exactly how we would want to start 2012. A win would really motivate this team and may even seal the deal for some recruits that are still on the fence. Let's call it like it is: Nebraska needs to win, for a lot of reasons. Every fan, player, and coach has their own.

    James: A win over a solid SEC team would be a nice indicator of where Nebraska is going into 2012. Given that last season ended with a meltdown prior to and during the bowl game, repeating that performance with Bo looking for jobs and an underwhelming recruiting class would give Husker fans plenty to worry about heading into 2012. This is even more true thanks losing the three-headed monster of Crick, David and Dennard on defense.

    Brandon: We saw how much of an impact a bowl loss can have last season post-Washington, but I don’t feel that was because of the loss itself, but rather how the game was lost. Regardless, you’ve got to think that since they fell short of even competing for the Big Ten Championship, Pelini and the Huskers consider this an opportunity to prove they belong. Wins against the SEC are something that every Big Ten team wants to put on their resume.

    What's your take on Nebraska's latest hire, former Iowa defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski?

    Brian: Is “meh” a grade? It’s not like Nebraska did horribly here, but I don’t see how Kaz is such a great hire. Granted, he came from an inter-divisional team and, for all intents and purposes, our new “rival” in the Big Ten. However, it’s not like Rick has torn it up in the coaching ranks.

    Yes, he had Adrian Clayborn, however like Bo/Carl had Ndamukong Suh, you need to be consistently pulling talent into the program and creating great players to be considered a solid hire. There were better people out there (Ron Zook and Larry Johnson Jr. to name a couple), but Kaczenski is not a slouch by any means. Now, if he can recruit Florida like he did for Iowa, then my feelings about him improve for sure.

    Erin: I don't think it was a bad hire. In fact, it's definitely going to create some animosity for the Iowa-Nebraska rivalry. Really no better way to get that started then stealing a coach.

    As for the actual hire, Coach Kaz is going to balance out the lack of experience on the defensive side of the coaching staff. I am not implying Papuchis isn't good at what he does, but he's only 33. Coach Kaz will be able to provide additional support and knowledge from his previous experience. That alone makes him a good hire. Plus, I think he'll be stellar with our defensive line.

    James: I like the hire, he's known as a good teacher, a decent recruiter, and has solid connections to Nebraska strength coach James Dobson. Dobson has done great things here, and his endorsement is enough for me. I hope he can really hit the recruiting trail, for all of the success Nebraska's defensive linemen have had under Pelini, it's shocking that they haven't landed young recruit after recruit.

    Brandon: I’m taking a wait-and-see approach, but I like everything I’ve heard thus far. Allegedly, Kaz weeds out slackers, has solid recruiting connections, is very technique-oriented and is a blue-collar guy which fits Bo’s mentality to the letter. He seems to have a fair amount of energy, too. See his comments regarding finally being able to sport Nebraska as a “brand name” for evidence of that.

    Have a prediction, both gameplan and score for the Capital One Bowl?

    Brian: The offense will go as Taylor goes, per usual. You of course will see a steady diet of Rex and option/zone read. Knowing how good South Carolina has been against the run, they will load up, daring Martinez to beat them with his arm.

    While there will be some success, I fear that Nebraska will not do enough good things to score much. The defense will make plays and it will be close, but I just do not see the offense being consistent enough to pull this one out.

    South Carolina 17 Nebraska 13

    Erin: My score prediction has been 24-21. I said that weeks ago and I'm sticking with it. It'll be a close game no matter what.

    As for game plan, I'm really hoping Beck has drawn up a lot of run plays, utilizing more than just Rex Burkhead. Burkhead can be the anchor, but let's get guys like Ameer Abdullah going and catch South Carolina off guard. Quick passes on slants would be ideal.

    Bring the Gamecock defense up with those quick slants, then throw a bomb to Kenny Bell down the field. Basically, I'm predicting a lot of quick plays that will have the South Carolina defense all over the place. I believe that is the key to winning.

    James: South Carolina 24-21. I think the defense will play lights out, but will be burned by a key big play breakdown, as well as timely quarterback runs to keep the chains moving for USC. The Huskers will keep it closely with a big play or two on defense and special teams to set the offense up.

    This could easily go the other way if Nebraska shows up. That said, don't you get the feeling Steve Spurrier is looking to extract some revenge for the 1996 Fiesta Bowl? If it goes badly early, I see the Old Ball Coach pouring it on.

    Brandon: On offense, keep the ball on the ground heading north-south as much as possible. South Carolina has struggled with the option all year, so there’s little doubt in my mind that they’ve been hitting the books hard on defending it. Given that there’s opportunity to gash the middle of their defensive line, take the opportunity. If Nebraska’s going to pass, short to intermediate gains need to be the goal. Don’t test that Gamecock secondary much.

    Defensively, while the Blackshirts don’t have to worry about Marcus Lattimore, they need to keep South Carolina’s running game in check. More importantly, they need to put doubt in Connor Shaw’s head about pulling the ball down and running. Alfonzo Dennard looks to be on Alshon Jeffery all day which is going to force Shaw to look for other talented receivers. Going against some questionable talent in Nebraska’s secondary, I expect Bo to run the nickel for most of the game.

    Score prediction: Whoever wins, they’ll do it by a score of 27-23

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @huskerlocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson

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    Tags: capital one bowl, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez

  7. 2012 Jan 02

    Husker Heartbeat 1/2: Beck's Ultimate Challenge, A Must Win for Bo and an End to the Hype

    611 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - The Gamecock defense gives offensive coordinator Tim Beck his stiffest challenge yet at his new position

    - Nebraska looks to smack the SEC in the mouth, not just for itself, but its new conference

    Shatel: A must win game for Bo?

    - Enough hype, let's just play some football

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    Tags: capital one bowl, tim beck, bo pelini

  8. 2011 Dec 31

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 12/31 - 2012 Capital One Bowl Pre-Game Edition

    1,587 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Explore the Archives

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    On the docket:

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

    - The Tom Osborne Effect
    - Offensive and defensive coordinators
    - The focal point of recruiting for the 2011-2012 cycle
    - Bowl games to watch
    - Twittergate
    - The crew from Half Cocked stop by to give the Gamecock perspective of the Capital One Bowl

    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.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Erin: @helloerinmarie

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

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    Tags: tom osborne, bowl games, twitter, capital one bowl, podcast, podcasts

  9. 2011 Dec 30

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: What You Need to Know About the South Carolina Gamecocks

    2,181 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    On Monday, Nebraska will make bowl appearance No. 48, facing the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Capital One Bowl. This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams, but the first post-season match-up. The Huskers hold a 3-0 edge over the Gamecocks going into the game slated for a 1:00 PM EST kickoff on ESPN.

    To help Nebraska fans get to know more about their opponent, David Cloninger of GamecockCentral.com answered a few questions that have been on the minds of many.

    What does Nebraska have to do to keep freshman phenom defensive end Jadeveon Clowney out of the backfield?

    Have left tackle Yoshi Hardrick and right tackle Marcel Jones hold their blocks. Clowney’s greatest gift is his ridiculously quick first step and ability to run past undersized tackles, but as was proven time and time again against the SEC, Clowney can be kept off the quarterback by pushing him out of his rushing lane and giving the QB time to step up in the pocket.

    SEC officials were very hesitant to call holding on any team this year, something that Clowney felt frustrated by, but then he realized he had to get past it anyway. He’ll switch from left to right and Jones and Hardrick will have another obstacle – if they do block Clowney, they may be freeing up All-American Melvin Ingram and Devin Taylor to attack.

    There's talk of SC's interior defensive line being a weakness. Is this an area Nebraska can exploit with Rex Burkhead?

    Tackle Travian Robertson is as big and as much of a playmaker as they come, but freshman tackle Kelcy Quarles is still learning and has often been bulldozed by opposing centers. If teams ran a wedge at the middle of USC’s line, Robertson would hold his own but Quarles often couldn’t hold on and was pushed down. Mike Caputo should be able to target No. 99, and as long as Burkhead sees where Robertson is lined up and can go to the opposite, he could have a big day.

    How can Nebraska nullify the Gamecock's excellent secondary?

    Quick passes. The Gamecocks, due to playing in a 4-2-5 set, play off the receivers and a quick-strike artist, such as East Carolina’s Dominique Davis or Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, can carve that apart. Taylor Martinez has to be wary of lurking spur Antonio Allen, a big-play producer, but cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and C.C. Whitlock are usually playing boundaries and at least eight yards off the receivers. Running slants to get Allen in motion and then throwing to the other guy would be a plan, since linebackers Shaq Wilson and Reginald Bowens are known more for run-stuffing than intercepting passes.

    The last time Cornhusker fans saw Steve Spurrier, it was 1996. What's changed about the Old Ball Coach since then?

    His approach to the game. Spurrier arrived at South Carolina promising great things, and he has delivered (for a program that has wallowed in mediocrity since its inception, at least). It just took him far longer than he had planned. He boasted of having his best team yet and one capable of challenging for the SEC championship in 2007, only to see a 6-1 start fizzle into five straight losses and no bowl game.

    Since then, Spurrier has continued to learn that he can’t depend on snapping up every five-star recruit due to his name like he did at Florida, because there simply aren’t that many in South Carolina and much more in-depth recruiting profiles are needed. He could be stubborn when he had the horses he did at Florida, but that’s not the case here.

    Spurrier has quit screaming so much and started coaching more; he’s surrounded himself with similar coaches as assistants, who can go get the best players in South Carolina; and he has not yielded to the Gamecocks’ sorry football history by continuing to get better. He feels this is his best team, in talent and attitude, and it is. That he doesn’t have to brag about it shows how far he’s come.

    Tell us a bit about Connor Shaw settling into the quarterback spot after Stephen Garcia was removed from the team.

    Shaw was given the start in the season-opener but was quickly forgotten after a 17-0 deficit. Then Garcia came riding in to save the day. Shaw understood that he hadn’t played that well, but then when Garcia was playing lousy from then on, Shaw wasn’t even an option. That was really the first time that Shaw was especially frustrated, and his attitude slightly dropped, but then Garcia was awful against Auburn and Shaw was given the start against Kentucky.

    Since then, Shaw has improved game-by-game, and there’s no question that it helped him to know he was the guy no matter what when Garcia finally ran out of chances. From not being trusted to pass to becoming a very capable thrower, Shaw mixes the run and the pass well and is starting to become a baiting quarterback – just when a team thinks he’s going to option run, he drops back and heaves a 50-yard touchdown strike, such as he did to Bruce Ellington against Clemson.

    How much is the loss of running back Marcus Lattimore going to affect SC's game plan?

    No question that it was a tremendous blow, but the injury happened in USC’s seventh game. While some fretted that the season was over, since Shaw had not yet become a capable passer, the Gamecocks believed they could rise. Brandon Wilds came off the bench to collect three 100-yard games, and when he sprained his ankle early against Clemson, career backup Kenny Miles entered and rushed for 71 yards.

    Miles will start against Nebraska, with Wilds behind him, and Shaw can run as well. Lattimore’s talents are missed, but put it this way; not having him to hand off to opened more possibilities of how to run the ball, and all have worked thus far.

    There's been talk of Alshon Jeffery not being 100 percent. Have you heard anything to this effect and how do you see the match up between he and Alfonzo Dennard?

    Jeffery broke his left hand in the first half against Clemson, but returned after halftime and caught a touchdown with it. He has been lightly practicing as the hand has healed (he had surgery to repair a broken bone on the top of his hand) and reported to practice on Thursday with no extra bandage or wrap under his glove.

    He’ll be fine, and he’ll be able to catch, but the question is as it has been throughout the season – can the Gamecocks get the ball to him? Having Dennard cover him won’t be ideal for Shaw to even attempt to do the best option with Jeffery – throw it high and let him go get it.

    How do you think SC tries to nullify Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David?

    Can a team nullify a player with 122 tackles? David is simply all over the field. The best option seems to be running sweeps with Shaw and perhaps speed receivers like Damiere Byrd and Ace Sanders away from David’s weak side position, or else perhaps break out the Emory and Henry formation used earlier this year and force him to adjust before the snap.

    USC’s fullback blocking is suspect, and to try to send someone like Dalton Wilson in there to put a body on David probably wouldn’t work. Shaw has shown great improvement in drawing the blitz into him, ducking under one and throwing, so perhaps that will be an option.

    Has there been a consistent Achilles' Heel for South Carolina this season? I.E., When "X" happens, the Gamecocks unravel?

    The team hasn’t really unraveled due to it, but the kick return units have been disastrous all year (and really for several years). That’s covering and returning. The Gamecocks simply can’t get a long return on kickoffs or punts, and their coverage on opposing returners hasn’t been any prize, either. They haven’t lost a game strictly due to it, but it’s agonizing to the offensive staff when the Gamecocks have to start every possession inside their own 20.

    Which team has the most to gain and which has the most to lose?

    I think South Carolina, on both counts. Win this one and South Carolina completes the greatest season in program history and sets up for next year. Lose this one, and it’s the same as the past few years. Sure, it was great to beat Clemson (a huge accomplishment in the state), but losing the bowl game leaves a bad taste throughout the offseason.

    This year, with two assistant coaches already leaving, whispers of more potentially being on the list for other positions at other schools and an NCAA hearing in February, a bowl loss would bring back the old phrase – Same Ol’ USC.

    What do you see the keys to victory being for both Nebraska and South Carolina?

    Nebraska – Stop the run and force Shaw to win with his arm. Stick Dennard on Jeffery and make Shaw win by throwing to his other receivers. Have Martinez throw short passes to get the Gamecocks’ defense drawn in, then bomb over them for an early touchdown and grind out the game with the run.

    South Carolina – Get a push right away with the offensive line, as it did against Clemson. Knock Nebraska back on its heels and get Miles, Wilds and Shaw running free. Don’t force the ball to Jeffery, but use the other receivers who have perhaps been unaccounted for – Nick Jones, D.L. Moore, Sanders, Ellington, Byrd.

    On defense, have Ingram, Gilmore, Taylor, Clowney et al. bum-rush Martinez from the start and put him on his back. If the Gamecocks can get him feeling pressure right away, get ahead on the scoreboard and force him to win with his arm, they can get their secondary and its big-play potential involved.

    David Cloninger is a full-time staff writer for GamecockCentral. He covers Gamecock football, men’s basketball, baseball and recruiting.

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    Tags: capital one bowl, south carolina, alfonzo dennard, rex burkhead, taylor martinez, yoshi hardrick, marcel jones, steve spurrier

  10. 2011 Dec 30

    Husker Heartbeat 12/30: Bowl Game Swagger, Ankrah's Mentality and Is Doc Done?

    1,848 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Nebraska's got swagger for the Capital One Bowl when it comes to their bread and butter - running the ball

    - A talk with former Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini helped defensive end Jason Ankrah set himself straight mentally

    - Men's Nebrasketball supporters appear to be abandoning the Doc Sadler ship early into the 2011 season

    - The Lady Huskers, however, are determined to continue grounding the opposition into dust

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    Tags: capital one bowl, jason ankrah, basketball, doc sadler

  11. 2011 Dec 29

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Capital One Bowl Can Help Make or Break 2012

    2,152 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    The Nebraska football team is already taking in the sunny skies, seventy-degree temperatures and learning firsthand that Orlando isn't a bad place to be in December. While it’s easy to get swept away by all the Sunshine State has to offer, Bo Pelini says he has these Huskers focused on the task at hand: winning the Capital One Bowl.

    It's a January matchup between one of the Big Ten’s best against a rising star from the top conference in football. In this case, the SEC representative is coached by a familiar foe. In other words, it’s the perfect opportunity for Nebraska to get a quality win.

    Lurking in swampy surroundings, behind the high-powered media focus and the pageantry of the bowl events, a true prize for the Cornhuskers awaits: the prize of momentum. An impressive win positions Nebraska as the co-favorite to win the Legends division along with Michigan and vaults them into national title talk for 2012.

    Perhaps most importantly, a win over the Gamecocks would bring good vibrations to the program for the next seven months. If you don’t believe a bowl game can create a lasting effect, think back no further than the 2010 Holiday Bowl: a muddy, maligned mess of a game that hung a cloud over the Big Red throughout the offseason and into the inaugural Big Ten slate.

    Ask the Old Ball Coach on the opposing sideline what a win could do for South Carolina as they attempt to notch an eleventh win for the first time in school history, not to mention position themselves firmly near the top of the conference pecking order, a goal all too familiar to Nebraska fans.

    Let’s not forget that Florida is fertile recruiting ground and National Signing Day is roughly a month away. Big Red has cast a long reel this recruiting season, and is in on a number of high profile recruits waiting until all-star games and Faxing Day itself to announce where they’ll play. Nebraska will likely fill half of their recruiting spots for their unusually small class all in the next month. An impressive showing sends a signal that the program is back on the rise.

    While the Huskers aren’t among the nation’s elite again yet, the idea of hopping aboard a winning program ready to return to its former full glory is an intriguing proposition to many recruits. A bowl victory could be far more than a much-needed feather in Nebraska’s 2011 cap. The necessary nudge that lands one or two more big fish is something else a bowl win provides.

    One needn’t explain how important a couple of freakish athletes are: just roll some highlights from the decorated careers of Ndamukong Suh, and most recently Lavonte David. There’s an overall feeling that Nebraska is on a razor-thin edge from returning to elite status. With one or two small breaks, this bowl game could provide the motivation for the program to take the next step in 2012. This is assuming the Huskers walk away winners, of course.

    If they lose, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s hard to imagine the letdown last year’s Holiday Bowl provided. The rematch with Washington was rendered lifeless as soon as it was scheduled. To find empirical data on the damage a bowl can do, let’s venture back to 2006.

    The Huskers found themselves in a familiar spot. Back in a January bowl, this time the Cotton, against a strong SEC opponent in Auburn. Former head coach Bill Callahan appeared to be turning the corner in his third season as Nebraska’s head man.

    A few bad decisions and perhaps the worst fake punt attempt in Cornhusker history officially branded the season as a mixed bag. Callahan didn’t add the exclamation point to a year that may have been pivotal to his career. Instead, Nebraska tenuously stepped into 2007 still not sure if it belonged with the big boys and, well, you were there.

    Is Bo Pelini’s job on the line? Not when you look at his performance over the past four years. What’s missing from Pelini’s resume is the signature wins, those milestones that could elevate him to the level of Bob Stoops and Les Miles. The Capital One bowl is easy to overlook because there isn’t anything tangible on the line.

    Ten wins in a season is nice, but a nine-win year is more than survivable. A preseason ranking boost is great, but means nothing come the season opener. However, these sleepy bowl games, the ones that can creep up on player and fan alike, are often the ones that count most.

    They instill confidence and dampen negativity, pick up the beat of spring and fall camp and cultivate championships down the line. They are the seeds of revival. One of those wins will be the one Pelini needs to start chiseling his head coaching credentials in stone, and that Nebraska needs to finally take that big step forward. A loss means more rumblings, more questions, more waiting for a team growing restless in the rebuilding phase to step up.

    Surely there are some hoping Nebraska wins, but secretly believe that it doesn’t matter much if they lose. That warm, comfortable feeling can melt into complacency, the kind of feeling easily found in states bordering Nebraska, but not in Big Red country…yet. It’s a feeling that should be avoided at all costs. The Huskers still sit perilously between reestablishing elite status and becoming the next Iowa.

    Any game that can create positive or negative energy extending towards next season is a game worth pulling out all the stops for, not just because it’s the last game of the year. The next contest Nebraska must win is not a September 29 date with the Wisconsin Badgers, but their upcoming bout with the Gamecocks.

    Everyone across the program, from coaches to fans, knows from experience that sometimes it’s the games not taken as seriously that matter most in the end. Pat Fitzgerald and Paul Rhodes can tell Husker fans all they need to know about that.

    Follow Ryan on Twitter: @DigitalRyan
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    Tags: capital one bowl, ndamukong suh, lavonte david, bo pelini, steve spurrier

  12. 2011 Dec 28

    Husker Heartbeat 12/28: Pelini Addresses Rumors, OL Out Versus SC and Practice Tidbits

    3,137 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Bo Pelini says he's "not out looking around" at other job options

    - Absent for the past three games, guard Andrew Rodriguez will not be playing in the Capital One Bowl

    - South Carolina's familiar offensive schemes doesn't mean the Blackshirts' workload will be any lighter

    - Nebraska maintains that recent coaching role shifts aren't impacting preparation for the upcoming bowl game

    - In fact, Pelini was encouraged by the Huskers' first day of practice in Orlando

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    Tags: bo pelini, south carolina, capital one bowl, andrew rodriguez, john papuchis, rick kaczenski

  13. 2011 Dec 28

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Husker Nation's Top Five Moments of 2011

    1,510 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    While the Capital One Bowl has yet to be played, 2011’s coming to a close. After polling the masses, five instances stood out as Husker Nation’s top moments from the past season:

    Andrew Weldon (@kungfusquirrel): Standing in the rain and watching Lavonte David save the entire season with one unbelievable strip. I was worried the crowd wasn't going to come back after halftime and we were witnessing the start of another 2007, but they did (even the west balcony!) and on the resulting score I think every person there believed we could win.

    Jason Wacker (@Jason_Wacker): Getting to watch pure athletes in (Alfonzo) Dennard & (Lavonte) David week in and week out. Unreal.

    Brock Minert (@brockminert): Seeing Ron Brown lead the prayer before the PSU game. Surreal moment.

    Steven Wu (@wulegit2quit): Brett Maher's solid season. Kickers choked all year, but he remained steady, and he'll win games for us going forward.

    Mike Zimmerman (@mike_zim): Rex exhausted on the ground vs. Michigan State, takes a play off and comes in next play for a play action TD pass.

    As a special "plus-one", props go out to Ben Darling (@BenDarling_) for spotting a heady decision by senior safety Austin Cassidy:



    Didn’t see it? Ben made sure we were covered:



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    Tags: capital one bowl, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, ron brown, penn state, brett maher

  14. 2011 Dec 27

    Husker Heartbeat 12/27: Painting Orlando Red, Whaley Making Noise and Nebraska vs. Wisky For the First Time the Second Time

    972 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - The Huskers turn their focus to the Capital One Bowl as they touch down in Orlando

    - They have a busy week awaiting them

    - Linebacker Alonzo Whaley is finally filling into the role that Nebraska coaches anticipated upon his arrival

    - Deva Vu: Doc Sadler's bunchtakes on Wisconsin in Nebraska's inaugural Big Ten tilt

    - Women's Nebrasketball inches up to No. 23 in the latest AP poll

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    Tags: capital one bowl, alonzo whaley, basketball

  15. 2011 Dec 26

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: A Splash of Citrus Circa 1991

    1,826 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    This postseason, the Huskers travel to Orlando, Florida to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. It marks the appearance No. 20 in a Sunshine State bowl game for Nebraska, with the Huskers' record standing at nine wins and ten losses in such contests.

    While the vast majority of the Floridian appearances were in Nebraska’s former perennial destination, the Orange Bowl, the Huskers began Bo Pelini’s official tenure as the Big Red’s head man with a trip to the Gator Bowl. A win over fellow new head coach Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers was the result.

    While this is Nebraska’s first trip to the “Capital One Bowl,” the Huskers have played in this game before when it was simply known by the stadium name, the Florida Citrus Bowl (Capital One began its naming sponsorship in 2001). The No. 19 Cornhuskers took on No. 2 Georgia Tech on January 1, 1991.

    The Huskers were 9-2, having lost to No. 1 Colorado, while the Yellow Jackets were 10-0-1. As the nation’s only unbeaten team, Georgia Tech was playing with a goal of coaxing pollsters into crowning them national champions. This was a remarkable climb for a team that had started the season unranked.

    The 1991 Huskers entered the Citrus Bowl after having lost two of their previous three games, including losses to Colorado, the season’s Big Eight Champion, and rival Oklahoma. Despite this, Tom Osborne's Cornhuskers were named the favorite against the Yellow Jackets.

    Osborne led the Huskers against an all-star coaching staff for Georgia Tech including head coach Bobby Ross, offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen (most recently Maryland's head coach of ten years) and defensive coordinator George O’Leary (head coach at Central Florida).

    Nebraska’s role of the superior team didn’t last long. Yellow Jacket quarterback Shawn Jones slipped out of the backfield on a play-action pass, scrambled for 46 yards and set up an easy score on the game’s opening drive.

    Even more impressive was Georgia Tech’s defense. George O’Leary brought pressure early and often, not allowing Nebraska quarterback Mike Grant any room to operate. The Huskers didn’t record a first down until late in the first quarter. Nebraska ended the quarter fortunate to be trailing only 7-0 after giving up two 40-plus yard plays.

    The Big Red’s luck didn’t last into the second quarter. On Nebraska’s first play of the period, I-Back Scott Baldwin fumbled on the Huskers’ 22-yard line. Two plays later, Georgia Tech extended the lead to 14-0. David suddenly felt like he could beat Goliath, and on the Yellow Jackets’ next drive, they scored again taking a seemingly overwhelming 21-0 lead.

    Unwilling to go down without a fight, Osborne put in backup quarterback Tom Haase, who completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Johnny Mitchell. A short time later, new I-back Derek Brown rushed for a 50-yard touchdown and closed the gap to 21-14. The Nebraska Blackshirts flexed their muscle and forced a punt, but the ball was muffed by multiple Husker players, allowing Tech to recover and close the opening half with a 37-yard field goal.

    The Huskers went to the locker room down 24-14, but stormed back onto the field with a purpose. Fate was against the Huskers though, as an eventual field goal try was blocked. Georgia Tech mounted a drive that swung momentum in their favor, converting key third downs and finally scoring to put the Huskers in a 17-point hole.

    Nebraska’s Haase didn’t concede the game, firing a 21-yard touchdown strike to his other tight end, William Washington, bringing the Huskers back within 10. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets dominated the fourth quarter, piling on two more touchdowns to defeat Nebraska 45-21.

    The Cornhuskers were held to 127 yards rushing, over 200 yards below their season average. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech had a record-setting day on offense, scoring the most points of any Nebraska bowl opponent.

    Yellow Jacket quarterback Shawn Jones finished 16 of 23 for 277 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 41 yards and a touchdown. Running back William Bell finished with 126 yards (one yard shy of the Huskers’ entire output for the day) and three touchdowns.

    Georgia Tech went on to split the national championship with Colorado, taking the Coaches Poll. They were the only undefeated team in college football’s 1991 season, finishing with an 11-0-1 record.

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    Tags: capital one bowl, citrus bowl, tom osborne, blackshirts

  16. 2011 Dec 24

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mucho Hooch-O - Holiday Hooch in the House

    738 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The thirteenth edition of Mucho Hooch-O, an audio blog by Husker Locker's own Greg "Hooch" Mehochko, features a regular cornucopia of content.

    - The Capital One Bowl
    - Matt Barkley's lavish announcement
    - Rex Burkhead's possible return
    - Jared Crick's absence/NFL placement

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Follow Greg a.k.a. Hooch on Twitter: @thehooch36
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    Tags: capital one bowl, matt barkley, rex burkhead, jared crick

  17. 2011 Dec 22

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. Elika Sadeghi of Eleven Warriors

    1,484 views

    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, Elika Sadeghi, a contributing writer of one of the elite Ohio State athletics web sites Eleven Warriors stops by.

    Topics include:

    - Sadeghi's take on Nebraska
    - Capital One Bowl intrigue
    - The NCAA's verdict on Ohio State
    - NCAA punishment reform
    - The Gator Bowl featuring Ohio State vs. Florida
    - And more!

    Finally, the bewitching Buckeye goes Three and Out. Will Sadeghi answer the three questions given or call an audible?

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



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    Tags: huskers, capital one bowl, ohio state, gator bowl, florida, urban meyer, ncaa

  18. 2011 Dec 21

    Calling All Husker Fans to the Orlando Science Center!

    776 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska fans, come show your pride!

    Wear your best Nebraska gear, print out the voucher provided here and come to the Orlando Science Center between now and January 2. You'll get a free children's ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket if you're wearing any Husker attire (shirts, hats, socks, or painted face).

    Your admission will give you access to four floors of exciting hands-on exhibits, amazing giant screen films and engaging live programs. During your day at the Science Center, here is just a sample of what you can look forward to:

    - Come face to face with a T-Rex at DinoDigs
    - Create your own weather forecast at our WFTV Severe Weather Center 9 exhibit
    - Feed a live alligator at Nature Works*
    - And much more!

    For prices, directions and more information, visit osc.org or call 407-514-2000

    *Animal feedings at scheduled times, see osc.org for specific times

    Tags: capital one bowl

  19. 2011 Dec 18

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - First Day of Bowl Season Edition

    1,170 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Ranking yesterday’s bowls in order of awesomeness: 1.) New Orleans Bowl (ULL vs. SDSU), 2.) Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Ohio vs. Utah State), 3.) New Mexico Bowl (Temple vs. Wyoming).

    - They were all true college football and each better than the last.

    - The situation with Mike Caputo’s alleged DUI seems sketchy. Expecting him to play the Capital One Bowl.

    - Eric Martin and Colin McDermott are questionable. McDermott hasn’t ever seen the field and he’s a junior, though.
    .
    - The longer a defensive coordinator is not named, the sickness gets worse.

    - Here’s hoping Andrew Rodriguez is able to suit up for the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska’s going to need depth to smash heads with a very talented defensive line to open up holes for Burkhead.

    - Unfortunately, Nebraska quarterback commit Tommy Armstrong didn’t win the state championship. A couple of mischievous squirrels decided to steal the show, though: http://yfrog.com/n9xjysz.

    - For those who watched and are wondering, the fan wearing a Miami Hurricanes cap was holding up a 1965 copy of Sports Illustrated with Frank Solich on the cover behind the victorious coach. Why it had nothing to do with the 2001 Rose Bowl, I have no idea.

    - Louisiana-Lafayette’s strength coach got his head busted open, but remained on the sidelines and chilled. Is it any wonder why I enjoy Ragin’ Cajun football?

    - Seriously, if you can catch a replay of the New Orleans or Potato Bowl, do so.

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    Tags: mike caputo, capital one bowl, eric martin, colin mcdermott, andrew rodriguez, tommy armstrong, frank solich

  20. 2011 Dec 17

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Bowl Season Week One Thoughts

    1,509 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week in the world of college football all season long.

    This week:

    How big of an impact will a win or a loss in the Capital One Bowl have for Nebraska?

    Erin: A win is extremely important. I believe the impact would be great and would really get momentum going before signing day. Morale has been a bit low as of late, so a win would aid that. It would keep the excitement high for 2012.

    It would also help erase the painful memory of the last bowl game.

    Greg: You're looking at a game against a quality SEC opponent. Win and you take a big leap forward. Lose and welcome to the No. 20-30 ranking.

    James: I think the biggest impact will be on the message boards in the off-season. Another loss would put a Husker Nation in a sour mood as the Huskers would finish with another late-season collapse losing three of their last five games. A win would help show Nebraska's trajectory is at least near stable, and would be a nice finish over a good SEC school.

    Regardless, the most important things this month for the staff to be working on isn't this game, it's recruiting to fill the voids and build depth on this thin roster. The recruiting class is going to be small, and other schools seem to be picking off the best talent.

    Brandon: This is a huge game in terms of momentum for both the remainder of the recruiting cycle and heading into prep for 2012. Last year, Nebraska fizzled at the end of last season and went 2-2 in November this year. A win gives the Cornhuskers 10 victories with one over a top ten SEC team during a time of confusion among the Big Red program.

    There’s no defensive coordinator named, Bo’s busy on the recruiting trail so communication’s been minimal and honestly the Twitter ban’s probably the best thing that could’ve happened. Nebraska needs to stay focused or they will lose to South Carolina just as they did to Washington last year.

    What one player do you feel will make the game for Nebraska against South Carolina?

    Erin: I'd say it will be a combination of Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez. With South Carolina's secondary being so strong, the running game will have to be just as efficient. Taylor will have to play very smart and stay calm. I also hope Rex has gotten a lot of rest because his legs will be put to heavy use. To win, the ball can't go in the air much.

    Greg: In all three phases, I think it will be the same playmakers we have relied on all season, Rex Burkhead, Lavonte David, and Brett Maher. Many will say Dennard, but I think David has the ability to disrupt the quarterback and cause an errant throw.

    James: On one hand, I'm tempted to say Lavonte David in containing the Gamecocks' running game. I ultimately have to go with Mike Caputo, who may be sitting out the game due to an arrest for an alleged DUI.

    Nebraska clearly doesn't have another center. Perhaps the only weakness of the South Carolina defense is their middle/interior run defense. Nebraska was probably relying on pounding the rock with a fresh Rex Burkhead. Without Caputo, the offense is going to greatly struggle.

    Brandon: The easy answer here is Burkhead and he’ll get his carries, but I’ll go with Brett Maher. You’ve got two teams that are pretty evenly matched and in that situation it comes down to turnovers and special teams. Maher’s money with kicking duties and fortunately Nebraska hasn’t given the ball away unless it was via Martinez. Maher may be the guy with the winning points.

    Do you see a similar postseason letdown as last year's Holiday Bowl or will the team be more focused?

    Erin: No. Not at all. I don't even want to think or talk about last year. This team knows what is at stake so it won't happen.

    That's that.

    Greg: I think that despite the off-the-field issues and continued rumors about Bo's interest in coaching elsewhere, that this team will be focused and ready for the game. If they aren't focused, it will get ugly in a hurry.

    James: The team will CERTAINLY be more focused. The change in bowl locale (hello Florida!), the prestige of the bowl, the fact that it's against a fast and tough SEC opponent, how could this team not be jacked to play in this game?

    If there is any issue with motivation, the coaching staff only has itself to blame. Husker fans should be furious if Nebraska comes out flat in this contest. Outside of the BCS, it doesn't get any bigger than the Capital One Bowl.

    Brandon: The potential’s there. With Mike Caputo, Eric Martin and Colin McDermott all in the paper, plus players clearly not taking the initial Twitter ban warning seriously, it makes me think this ship is floating wherever the tide takes it.

    Fortunately, the big names will continue to make plays because, to quote Herm Edwards, "they play to win the game." Burkhead will show up and likely won’t stop playing unless he takes a bullet to the buttocks Gump-style. Even that’s might not slow him down.

    The game’s going to speak loudly about the amount of respect the current staff is getting and how much control they have over the team as a whole. Carl’s departure isn’t going to affect much, but 60 minutes of extremely focused football is necessary to prevent another SEC Capital One Bowl win.

    What bowl game are you looking forward to the most besides the Capital One Bowl?

    Erin: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State, honestly. I think the match-up is interesting and the Cowboys will win. I'm not going to start the whole "Okie State should be in the title game" debate again, but I think this game will be telling in a lot of ways.

    Greg: Wisconsin-Oregon

    James: Impossible to pick just one - I think the Orange Bowl will actually be fun this year with Clemson and West Virginia. The BCS Title game will hopefully feature some offense this time around, and maybe even a touchdown (gasp).

    The Kraft Fight Hunger bowl should be a fascinating match up of coachless 6-6 Illinois versus 6-7 UCLA. Really stoked about the Fiesta Bowl showdown between Weeden and Luck, as well as the Rose Bowl matchup of the Badgers and Ducks. Finally, the TicketCity Bowl should be fun in seeing Houston's offense against Penn State's defense.

    It's bowl season, I lovingly consume each of the 35 games, knowing it will be a long nine-month college football hibernation before the 2012 season.

    Brandon: The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl between Florida International and Marshall. I’ve be touting this game for a long time and get plenty of crazy looks as a result. Ever since I started watching, it’s been a very entertaining game regardless of the participants. Florida International plays hard-nosed ball under Mario Cristobal and Marshall’s as schizophrenic as any football team in America year in and year out.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:
    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Greg: @thehooch36
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @JamesStevenson

    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: The Official Husker Locker Facebook Page

    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, brett maher, mike caputo, capital one bowl, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard

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