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  1. 2009 Apr 27

    As The (Cody) Glenn Turns


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It's one of the questions on the tongues of just about every Husker fan since mid-November: Why was NU linebacker Cody Glenn suspended by head coach Bo Pelini for the rest of the season.

    So you'd figure, when Glenn was asked the question by the Washington Post after he was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, he wouldn't be so confused by it as to accidentally indict himself for committing a minor, but still very real, NCAA violation by claiming he was shelved for ticket scalping.

    But that's what Glenn is now claiming when he spoke to NU compliance officer Gary Bargen after, earlier in the day, Bargen told the Lincoln Journal-Star that if Glenn had scalped tickets, it was news to him.

    Bargen said he reached Glenn by telephone Monday - the same morning the Washington Post story, with the quote “I got caught up selling some tickets that I wasn’t supposed to be doing," appeared - and said Glenn told him he hadn't sold any tickets, and apparently found the phone interview "very difficult to understand." Glenn also gave an interview to a Redskins team Web site and provided the same "scalping tickets" explanation for the suspension. He must have been confused by that interview, as well.

    Since Glenn gave the interview to the Post, he has not returned phone calls, nor did he appear for a scheduled interview on the Omaha radio talk show "Unsportsmanlike Conduct."

    Bargen told the LJS that Glenn would come in Tuesday to further clarify the matter.

    We'll see what tomorrow brings.

    UPDATE: Talked to Gary Bargen out of NU's compliance office. Bargen said he met personally with Glenn Tuesday morning and concluded that Glenn hadn't scalped any tickets, and hadn't committed any NCAA violation.

    "As to why he said that, you'd have to ask him," Bargen said. Ditto for why the Redskins are publicly saying Glenn scalped tickets.

    Ased whether Glenn clarified why he might have been confused in his phone interview with the Washington Post, Bargen said "it was one of those deals where a bunch of reporters were around a speakerphone and Cody was on his cell phone."

    The NCAA has not contacted NU regarding the issue, Bargen said, but compliance has a file ready to provide the governing body if it should.

    "Ticket scalping may be called a minor violation, but it's a pretty big deal," Bargen said. "That's why we addressed this so quickly."

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    Tags: cody glenn, nfl draft

  2. 2009 Apr 26

    The Death Rattle of the Callahan Era


    By HuskerLocker

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    If you had any doubt – the slightest bit, doubt the size of a single fish egg – about the utter failure of the Bill Callahan era at Nebraska, this weekend should have washed it away like the tide drags abandoned crab shells out to sea.

    In 2009 NFL Draft, only three members Callahan’s vaunted recruiting classes were selected. Three. San Jose State had that many. New Mexico and Abliene Christian had two. And no Huskers higher than midway through the fifth round. You might have to go back to the 1969 NFL Draft to find such a meager NU class, although the 2008 bunch is right in there.

    And the first of the 2009 picks – linebacker Cody Glenn – was stuck at fourth-string running back for much of the 2007 season, his career resurrected only by Callahan’s firing and the hiring of head coach Bo Pelini and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, who gave Glenn a good enough crash course to eeld his skills to one of the more difficult positions on the defense.

    Meanwhile, Callahan’s preferred back, Marlon Lucky, didn’t even get to be Mr. Irrelevant.

    Maybe If Callahan hadn’t wasted Lucky’s first year on campus. Or burned Zach Potter’s redshirt. Or buried Joe Ganz underneath the depth chart rubble, only to be forced into giving him a shot when he was the only one left standing.

    If only.

    Does that mean Potter, Lucky, Ganz or others won’t play in the NFL? Of course not. There are some advantages, in fact, to becoming a priority free agent instead of a draft pick, and NFL teams sometimes use late-round draft picks on projects who flame out two weeks into training camp. NU has a number of players good enough for the NFL. They need the right fit and the right attitude, but they’ll get their chance.

    What the 2009 class means is that Callahan’s pitch - which revolved around his NFL experience, around his ability to recognize talent, recruit it with fierce diligence and organization and turn it into a professional product – was akin to oceanfront property in Grand Island. His “talent” was more upside than finished product, and he and his staff didn’t take enough pains to finish it. Often, they rushed the talent into service before they were ready and snatched a crucial redshirt year away from guys like Glenn, Niles Paul and Prince Amukamara.

    Now - had Callahan landed that gilded, magic quarterback he always pined for, like Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, I don’t doubt he would have produced, consequences be damned, the kind of player Freeman became: A big, sturdy stiff with enough intelligence and arm strength to con some poor NFL franchise, like the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers, into drafting him.

    Ron Prince ran Kansas State into the ground that way, protecting “his” QB to the point where, when KSU’s offensive line seemingly refused to block for Freeman, or Freeman temporarily lost his faculties, Prince pulled Freeman from the Nebraska game. Freeman sat on the bench, staring into dead space, while Ganz pounded the Wildcats’ defense with the zone read. Freeman walks away from Manhattan with a fat contract. Prince got his old job back at Virginia. KSU fans, meanwhile, must curse their twin presence for the next decade; that’s how quickly they ruined what Bill Snyder had built.

    Callahan, forced to work with the chopped ham of Zac Taylor and Ganz, who often performed like the delectable pieces of Spanish jamon, didn’t get the Princely opportunity to sacrifice a whole team for one man.

    But he did make sure Lucky got rushed through the system, Potter received dubious coaching from a recruiting mercenary, Andre Jones disappeared into the ether and Matt Slauson, who was selected this year, wasted 2007 at his “Chipotle” weight, far above where he belonged.

    You may counter: Isn’t Ndamukong Suh headed for a first-day pick in 2010? Sure. Did Callahan recruit him? Yep. Callahan also left behind guys like Keith Williams, Mike McNeill, Eric Hagg, Roy Helu and Jacob Hickman. I forsee all of them being drafted in the next two years.

    But Callahan hardly developed those guys. Indeed, Suh was backsliding in his last year under Kevin Cosgrove. Their draft positions will be small credit to Callahan recruiting them, and large credit to Pelini, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson (who, to be fair, is a Callahan disciple) and position coaches developing them.

    Finally, coaches told Nebraska players why they were doing something. Coaches corrected mistakes on the field, instead of in a film session. Finally, players were treated like the kids they still remain, instead of cogs in a wheel. Finally, they developed the down-in, down-out technique that makes good NFL players.

    You know, it’s interesting. ESPN’s Tim Griffin reviewed the NFL Draft picks of each Big 12 team since the inception of the league and NU, unbelievably, remains on top in terms of number of players drafted (59 in all), and the relative quality of those players. Although Oklahoma and Texas have dominated the Big 12 over the last seven years, Nebraska is close to both programs when it comes to players selected in the first three rounds of the draft.

    It’s now been two years since any Husker was picked in the first four rounds.

    Since Callahan took over in 2004, just one of his scholarship recruits, Brandon Jackson, was drafted in the top three rounds. And Jackson left NU after his junior season in 2006, with the legitimate concern that, if he returned, he would have been buried on the depth chart like he had been the beginning of that year, when he was fourth. Behind a guy named Cody Glenn. Who, one year later, was fourth on the depth chart.

    You figure it out.

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    Tags: nfl draft, bill callahan, marlon lucky, lydon murtha, josh freeman, zach potter, joe ganz, bo pelini, cody glenn

  3. 2009 Apr 26

    NFL DRAFT: Glenn First of Three Huskers Taken


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    He played all of nine games at linebacker, and he spent the last month of his career at Nebraska serving a suspension.

    And yet, NU's Cody Glenn flashed enough potential in that short time span to become the first Cornhusker selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. Glenn went in the fifth round, with the 158th pick to Washington. There - he'll join, aside from highly paid and highly productive London Fletcher - one of the most undistinguished linebacker corps in the league.

    Overall, Nebraska had three players drafted by NFL teams. Offensive guard Matt Slauson was picked up by the New York Jets in the sixth round with the 193rd overall pick. Moribund Detroit selected tackle Lydon Murtha with the 228th pick in the seventh round.

    Glenn is a 6-foot, 244 pounder who spent three years at running back, where he briefly ascended to the top the depth chart midway through the 2006 season before getting hurt on a two-yard touchdown run at Texas A&M. Glenn played sparingly in 2007, relegated by head coach Bill Callahan to fourth string behind Marlon Lucky, Roy Helu and Quentin Castille.

    Glenn approached head coach Bo Pelini about switching positions before spring practice in 2008. He moved to weakside linebacker and picked up the position well enough to play nine games and make 51 tackles.

    Two days after a 45-35 win over Kansas, Pelini suspended Glenn indefinitely for a violation of team rules. It turned out to be for the rest of the season. Local reports never determined the reason for Glenn suspension - Glenn told the Washington Post "I got caught up selling some tickets that I wasn't supposed to be doing." - but he remained on the team roster and appeared, with other graduated seniors, at a charity basketball game and on the sidelines Red/White Spring Game.

    Glenn was tabbed by many analysts as a priority free agent.

    The 6-4, 315-pound Slauson, meanwhile, will reunite with former NU head coach Bill Callahan, the Jets’ offensive line and associate head coach. It was Callahan who offered Slauson the chance at a scholarship out of an Air Force preparatory school when Colorado wouldn’t take the plunge.

    At 6-7, 306, Murtha wowed scouts with impressive physical test scores at NFL Combine, which helped calm fears about an up-and-down career at Nebraska that included two nagging injuries. His new team, the Lions, are sorely in need of a solid offensive line to protect No. 1 overall pick, Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is destined to start the first game for Detroit next fall.

    Potential draftees Zach Potter, Marlon Lucky, Joe Ganz, Nate Swift and others were not selected.

    Ganz signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay, which drafted Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman with its first-round selection. Ganz twice outdueled Freeman in NU wins in 2007 and 2008. Potter signed a free agent contract with the Jets, while Lucky signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Swift signed with Denver and Todd Peterson signed with Jacksonville.

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    Tags: nfl draft, cody glenn, matt slauson, lydon murtha

  4. 2009 Apr 24

    Assessing NU's NFL Draft Prospects


    By HuskerLocker

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    The NFL Draft is set to begin Saturday in New York at 2 p.m.; the first two rounds should take the long day’s journey into late night, while Sunday brings rounds 3-7.

    While a number of Huskers could be selected in the Draft, none are expected to land on that first day; it could be argued that tackle Lydon Murtha or defensive end Zach Potter stand a rare outside chance of it, be we doubt it. But NU should be well-represented on day two, with as many as five or six players getting drafted, and several more finding free agent contracts, if the chips fall the right way.

    Here’s where we at Husker Locker see the former Nebraska players fitting in over the weekend:

    Position rankings, in order, are by NFLDraftScout, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated (out of a 6.0 scale)

    Offensive tackle Lydon Murtha: 6-7, 309 4.78 40-yard
    Ranked: No. 19, No. 14, and 3.39 (“fence player”)
    Round Projection: 4th-7th

    Our take: Murtha missed the equivalent of a whole season of football, and maybe more, to injuries and illnesses. For a tackle, he plays a little high in the running game, and is better chipping a defender and going to the next level than he is clearing out a single guy. Murtha’s draft workouts, especially at the NFL Combine, were terrific, showing off the athleticism and speed that made him a solid pass blocker at NU. It’s a tackle-heavy draft, which may cause Murtha slide into the middle part of day two. We think, by the end of the fourth round, he’ll be gone.

    Defensive end Zach Potter: 6-7, 280, 4.79
    Ranked: No. 15, No. 27, 3.39 (“fence player)
    Round Projection: 3rd-7th

    Our take: Potter is an intriguing prospect that could, one day, become a pretty good offensive tackle if he so wished. Potter’s biggest advantage – and in some ways a slight disadvantage – is his height, which helps him bat down passes and become a general backside nuisance for smallish quarterbacks. That height, though, could make it hard for him to play inside at a defensive tackle position in a 4-3 defense. Potter is plenty tough and technically sound against the run. He’s not a great pass rusher, but if he can keep contain, he collapses a pocket pretty well. We also imagine Potter interviewed well; he’s a natural leader with a good sense of humor, and he’d fit well in an NFL locker room. We think Potter may drop below Murtha, but the fourth or fifth round is a pretty good guess.

    Running back Marlon Lucky: 6-0, 215, 4.52
    Ranked: No. 26, No. 18, 3.34 (“fence player”)
    Round Projection: 6th-7th

    Our take: If used correctly, Lucky could make some NFL team pretty happy. He’s an NFL third-down back from the minute he enters the league, and arguably the most gifted pass-catching running back in the draft. Lucky makes tough catches, runs well in the open field, and generally doesn’t fumble in the open field, either. Lucky is also a polished enough pass-blocker to stay in for protection. Where Lucky struggles is the carry-for-carry grind that is running the football. He doesn’t attack holes, and in the NFL, you need to. He doesn’t break a lot of tackles. He can seem indifferent, as well, to his play on the field. He can get little, nagging injuries, too, like toe problems or chronic headaches. Lucky’s a bit too fine-tuned, sometimes. But when he’s plugged in, he’s pretty good, and we think a team could nab him as early at the fifth round, if the fit is right. Or he could go undrafted.

    Offensive guard Matt Slauson: 6-6, 313, 5.14
    Ranked: No. 19, No. 10, 3.21 (“practice squad”)
    Round Projection: 6th-free agent

    Our take: Whether or not Slauson gets drafted, we predict he’ll make a team’s final roster come fall, because he’s burly, aggressive and not afraid to mix it up. He can move earth on a short-yardage play, if nothing else, and had the versatility to fit in at guard or tackle. He’s not the fastest guard and probably isn’t your first pick to pull, but Slauson can fill in capably should a starter get hurt. The free agent route may suit Slauson better, for then he can pick his team.

    Quarterback Joe Ganz: 6-0, 212, 4.84
    Ranked: No. 44, No. 23, 2.80 (“free agent”)
    Round Projection: Free Agent

    Our take: Ganz doesn’t have a lot of the physical tools you’d like in an NFL QB, but he knows how the play the position, and for a short guy with only a decent arm, he makes quite a few big plays. Excellent leader, learns and knows the offense, rarely audibles into the wrong plays, and has a sixth sense when he’s scrambling outside the pocket. Ganz occasionally makes bad decisions when rolling to his right, and needs to find a rhythm early in the game, or he struggles. He could fit as a third quarterback somewhere. We think he’s better than Zac Taylor, though, for what it’s worth.

    Linebacker Cody Glenn: 6-0, 244, 4.78
    Ranked: No. 34, No. 27, 3.30 (“practice squad”)
    Round Projection: 7th-Free Agent

    Our take: Had Glenn been a linebacker under Bo Pelini for four years, he would possess the seasoning and smarts he’ll need to overcome his average speed and lack of height in the NFL. But Glenn only got one year, and that was cut short by injuries and a still-mysterious suspension. He’s a natural playmaker who instinctively plays the run pretty well, especially on outside edge plays. Decent pursuer of the ball. Likes playing defense. Glenn remains raw and unpolished, and will need to prove himself, for at least one year, on special teams.

    Receiver Nate Swift: 6-2, 203, 4.64
    Ranked: No. 62, No. 46, 3.10 (“free agent”)
    Round Projection: Free Agent

    Our take: With a couple years of learning some crafty moves on how to get open, Swift could become a decent NFL receiver, because he’s excellent after the catch and pretty comfortable making the tough grab, too. Swift runs solid routes and blocks well. His weakness is simple: As a slot receiver – and that’s what he’ll have to be in the NFL it’s all about slipping into space and getting open. Can Swift beat an NFL cornerback or linebacker doing that?

    Tags: nfl draft, lydon murtha, zach potter, joe ganz, nate swift, cody glenn, matt slauson

  5. 2009 Feb 10

    Back In Good Graces?


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    We all recall Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn being suspended from the Nebraska football program three days after this triumphant pose in the Kansas game; the suspension turned out to span the rest of his senior season when he never returned for the Gator Bowl.

    Apparently, all is well, as Glenn was playing in a charity basketball game over the weekend with former NU football players. Glenn was definitely wearing the Huskers' adidas gear.

    The KHAS report out of Hastings doesn't mention asking Glenn why he was suspended, and there is no video of it in the report.

    Tags: cody glenn

  6. 2009 Jan 13

    Guess Who's Playing in an All-Star Game?


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Cody Glenn. The Nebraska linebacker who was essentially thrown off NU's team for unspecified reasons with two games left in the season will play in the Texas vs. The Nation game on Jan. 31. He'll be joined there by defensive end Zach Potter and offensive tackle Lydon Murtha.

    In the East-West Shrine game, Nebraska will have running back Marlon Lucky and offensive guard Matt Slauson participating.

    See also: New NU hoops arena gets delayed

    Tags: cody glenn, zach potter, marlon lucky

  7. 2008 Dec 20

    Cody Glenn Update


    By SMcKewon

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    Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn wasn't listed among NU's roster in the Gator Bowl media guide handed out a couple days ago.

    Safe to say he will not be making the trip to Jacksonville.

    Tags: cody glenn, gator bowl

  8. 2008 Nov 24

    Bo on Ganz, Gilmore, Glenn and OU


    By SMcKewon

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    (Above: Pelini)

    Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini gave the nod to Oklahoma over Texas in his latest coaches’ voting ballot, the coach disclosed during Monday’s Big 12 Teleconference.

    The Sooners are still No. 3 behind the No. 2 Longhorns in the overall BCS Standings thanks to computer rankings. Should OU beat Oklahoma State on Saturday, that could possibly change.

    “I’ve played Oklahoma,” Pelini said. “I haven’t played Texas…you have vote to based on what you’ve seen.”

    Oklahoma beat Nebraska 62-28 on Nov. 1 and defeated Texas Tech 65-21 Saturday night. Pelini said he “caught most of that game,” which played a part in his vote.

    Pelini touched on other topics during his Big 12 chat:

    *Joe Ganz practiced Sunday, is 100% and has “no issues.”

    *Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn remains indefinitely suspended. Could he return for a bowl game “You never know,” Pelini said. “That’s why it’s indefinite.”

    *Wyoming has not yet sought permission from Pelini to interview recruiting coordinator Ted Gilmore for its head coaching job. Pelini said he’d “hate to lose Ted” but “if it betters his career, I’m all for it.”

    *A New Year’s Day bowl game would be important to NU, but the focus is Colorado. “The better bowl game you go to, obviously it’s better for us, it’s better for the kids, but it’s out of our control,” Pelini said.

    Is Colorado Buffaloed?

    Tags: colorado week, cody glenn, joe ganz, ted gilmore

  9. 2008 Nov 12

    Bo Talks Blackshirts, Glenn


    By SMcKewon

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    It was the “right time” for 11 Nebraska defenders to start wearing the Blackshirts, NU head coach Bo Pelini said Wednesday in his first comments about his decision.

    “You go for a feel for how they’ve been preparing,” Pelini said. “Thought it was time.”

    Pelini said the Blackshirt honor is a “day-to-day” thing and that there “might not be ten next week.”

    “You earn it,” he said. “You gotta earn to keep it.”

    Pelini said only ten had been handed out thus far, not the 11 defensive coordinator Carl Pelini mentioned Tuesday night. Bo Pelini may have been not counting middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, who has not played in two weeks.

    Dillard will again not play Saturday at Kansas State. Because weakside linebacker Cody Glenn has been idefinitely suspended, Pelini was asked whether NU would have to shift to a dime package to compensate for their losses.

    “Depends on what they come out in,” Pelini said. “We feel OK. We’re really similar to the packages we carried (against Kansas) except that we’re not going to see as much four wides.”

    When asked whether Glenn could return to the team this year, Pelini said “I issued my statement on Cody. I’m done talking about that.”

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    Tags: cody glenn, blackshirts, bolosophy

  10. 2008 Nov 11

    The Blackshirts Are Back!


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Tyler Wortman called it “the best thing that’s ever happened in my life.”

    The senior Nebraska middle linebacker was one of 11 NU defenders to receive Blackshirts Tuesday before practice as the Cornhuskers prepare for Kansas State Saturday. Yes, 10 games into the season head coach Bo Pelini actually handed out the practice jerseys meant to honor Nebraska’s best defenders.

    “I’m shocked,” Wortman said. “I don’t even how to describe it. It’s such an honor to be part of something like this. All the coaches were walking up to us and congratulating us.”

    The current Blackshirts are: Wortman, middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, defensive ends Zach Potter, Pierre Allen and Clayton Sievers, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Ty Steinkuhler, and defensive backs Armando Murillo, Anthony West, Eric Hagg and Larry Asante.

    Just 11, and it’s not solely based on starters, as backup Sievers and Hagg, who’ s not officially No. 1 on the depth chart, both got them, while safeties Matt O’Hanlon and/or Rickey Thenarse did not. Weakside linebacker Cody Glenn was indefinitely suspended Tuesday by head coach Bo Pelini.

    “The coaches told us the number is 11,” Allen said.

    Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said the staff decided in a Sunday meeting following NU’s 45-35 win over Kansas to hand out the Blackshirts on Tuesday.

    “We thought the physical nature of the play on Saturday, the great effort our guys made running sideline to sideline, we felt like that was a performance where they earned the Blackshirts,” Pelini said. “So we put them in their lockers today and when they came out of meetings, they were waiting for them.”

    Carl Pelini called NU’s following practice “the best of the year.”

    “There was a certain level of excitement there and a certain level of our guys feeling a sense of achievement.”

    Bo Pelini doesn’t talk after Tuesday practices, and he did not mention the Blackshirts in his Tuesday press conference.

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    Tags: blackshirts, kansas state week, cody glenn

  11. 2008 Oct 25

    Good Enough to Beat Baylor - What About OU?


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska was fresh off a 32-20 win over Baylor, the kind of victory the Cornhuskers couldn’t have dreamed of in 2007, the kind of victory former head coach Bill Callahan did not have once – zip, zero, nada - in his career at NU: A second half comeback.
    And what was the prevailing emotion in post-game interviews?

    Angst. Discontent. Frustration. OK, so receiver Nate Swift, that smart unassuming kid, had a smile as wide as the Nile on his face after breaking the record for career interceptions. He had a right to be buoyant.

    Everybody else seemed a little ticked off, almost like Nebraska’s players and coaches half expected to drop 50 on the Bears and hold their awesomely talented quarterback, Robert Griffin, to bubkis.

    Was it a misunderstanding of Baylor’s talent level? Doubtful. Was an impending game against Oklahoma the source of concern? Getting warmer.

    It was more like this: As the Huskers gain confidence, their expectations grow. The right kind of arrogance sets in. A win like this is viewed as messy instead of gritty, even though, in truth, it was a little bit of both. Chalking up almost 500 yards isn’t as acceptable when you botch yet another fourth-and-short, fumble near the goal line and give up five plays longer than 30 yards – two of which went for Baylor touchdowns.

    “This keeps us humble,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “You have this kind of output, and there’s so much we can get better at, so much we can get better at. We can even better than what we are. That’s what drives the kids and drives the staff. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit today.”

    The story wasn’t any different for the defense, which overran Griffin and BU running back Jay Finley at times, lost contain on other plays, and put a clown suit on itself for Griffin’s 47-yard touchdown, when the defensive line bunched closely together and Griffin simply ran around them and through an unsuspecting secondary virtually untouched.

    Indeed, Husker defenders were so juiced up to start the game that they seemed off some of their keys. Once again, a spread offense turned NU into a flurry of signals and last-second alignments. Nebraska’s defensive line seemed to roll with the punches OK, and the secondary improved as the game progressed, but can the Huskers afford a 15-minute concentration lapse in Norman against the Sooners’ pinball machine of an offense?

    “It’s not doing much for my blood pressure,” NU head coach Bo Pelini said. “Ultimately, we just need to fix the things that are hurting us. We need to make people beat us, we can't beat ourselves and at times we do that. That's just something we have to keep working on and keep trying to grow as a football team."

    That leads to another question: Can Nebraska’s ball-control offense keep this up?

    As porous as OU’s defense is – and the Sooners aren’t any good on defense right now, this is an immutable truth –it’s not going to just let quarterback Joe Ganz calmly flip four-yarders to his tight ends and receivers and first down, and hustle for some nifty third-down conversions. Baylor surprised NU today by using its young, backup corners to press NU’s receivers, faking blitzes and generally daring Ganz to beat them with the deep ball.

    He did, finally in the second half, with a 53-yarder to Nate Swift. But it took a long time. The Bears pointed the way for the Sooners to do the same. And since OU can stop the run a little bit – emphasis on a little – Nebraska will have to find other dissection points. Or Ganz will have to throw the deep ball.

    Are we getting ahead of ourselves, thinking about Norman? Are you kidding? Not when OU drops 55 in one half on Kansas State, and could have dropped 50 more had it chose to do so. Not when the Big 12 North title –with the perfect storm of effort and playmaking – is within the Huskers’ reach. Baylor was no speed bump, but NU’s sloppy execution late in the fourth quarter sure spoke to Sooner fever.

    “It’s Oklahoma-Nebraska,” Cody Glenn said. “You gotta love that. It works in our favor, because we love to play a team like that’s going to line up and run the ball and play our kind of football, which is physical, hard-nosed, smashmouth football. We love that. We’re tired of playing all these spread teams, these soft teams that like to spread it out.

    Yeah, but OU dropped 55, Cody. In a half.

    “Fifty-five, heh, hopefully they don’t score that next week,” Glenn said. “We should have something for them.”

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Tags: nebraska baylor, oklahoma, cody glenn, joe ganz

  12. 2008 Oct 21

    Got Yo Back, Says Bo


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Bo Pelini had just taken the job at Nebraska, and one of his first messages to the team, NU linebacker Cody Glenn, remains one of his most important.

    “First meeting, he said, ‘I’ve always got your back,’” Glenn said.

    Most coaches say it, some mean it, and fewer take the time to show it. It was an issue on which former head coach Bill Callahan would often waffle until he rained on quarterback Joe Ganz’s seven-touchdown game and Zac Taylor’s Big 12 Player of the Year award with some “it’s the system” soliloquy on the Big 12 Coaches teleconference.

    So maybe some Cornhusker players didn’t get the full measure of Pelini’s words until after a 52-17 loss to the Missouri. After the game had ended, Pelini took the blame in the locker room and did the same in front of the cameras.

    “I just said what I believed,” Pelini said. “When it’s good, it’s them, it’s theirs. But when they don’t perform well, it should fall on me.”

    Any players who hadn’t been converted to The Pelini Way – and Glenn said there were a few – were believers after that public display of self-responsibility. His angry demeanor that night seemed to be the mark of fury, but time has revealed it to mean a lot more to the players.

    “I think we had 90, 95 percent buy in before that,” Glenn said, “but there were still people lingering that hadn’t quite bought in yet. We got those guys now. As a whole, as a team, everybody’s bought in. Everybody’s clicking. Everybody’s on the same page.”

    So much so that Glenn couldn’t pick out one practice over the course of the last two weeks that was better than the others.

    “All of them were really good,” Glenn said. “Usually your team take the identity of your head coach, and a lot of people are starting to take that.”

    In recent weeks, Pelini had described it as a “us against the world” mentality, at least when it came to road games. Glenn used another analogy.

    “It could be war now, tomorrow, anytime, he’s going to war with us, anytime.”

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    Tags: bo pelini, cody glenn, it, s the system, the missouri moment

  13. 2008 Oct 17

    Five Keys to Iowa State


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Rarely has the middle of a football season felt so much like the beginning.

    Nebraska’s football team is halfway through its regular season schedule. Any illusions of a Cinderella run to the Big 12 North title have disappeared. The Cornhuskers are 3-3 overall, 0-2 in the league, and looking square at six, seven or eight wins in 2008. Anything less and this year was a bit of a bust. Anything more, and NU somehow managed to upset Oklahoma in Norman.

    The last half of this schedule is about winning, yes. But it’s more about how head coach Bo Pelini gets this team to grow as it wins and loses. A blowout loss to Missouri showed regression. An overtime loss to Texas Tech was a sign of Nebraska’s potential.

    Now to Iowa State, a team facing similar issues this year. The Cyclones are led by their own young coach, Gene Chizik, and they have the tools to beat NU on Saturday. Here are the keys that will decide it.

    Trenches:Nebraska’s offensive line finally began to find some rhythm against Texas Tech. Iowa State’s defensive line is arguably its best unit, consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks with heat and playing a big part in ISU leading the Big 12 with 17 takeaways.

    “They’re playing really good team defense,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “They pursue to the football and they get all over the ball. And they’re playing hard.”

    But the effort-based bunch is undersized, and not so great at stopping the run - tenth in the Big 12, in fact, just ahead of moribund Kansas State and Texas A&M.

    Will the Huskers take what the Cyclones give, like they did so wisely in Lubbock?

    Turnovers: ISU feasts on them, and leads the Big 12 with 17. Not so good for an NU team that hasn’t won the turnover battle in three weeks and has not, in fact, created a turnover in that same time.

    “It’s something that really jabs at me,” Pelini said in his Tuesday press conference. “It’s something we emphasize and it’s something the defenses I’ve been around have always hung their hat on.”

    It’s hard to create turnovers when you’re playing teams like Missouri and Texas Tech, whose offenses generally depend on the quarterback having a quick trigger and making rhythm throws to receivers. Still – if Oklahoma State – nobody’s idea of a superlative defense – could force Mizzou’s Chase Daniel into three interceptions, why couldn’t Nebraska get one over the last three games?

    Look, for a second, at the team speed on NU’s defense right now. Speed – flying around, swarming - is what causes interceptions and fumbles. Speed best delivers the unexpected element. Speed is the difference between being a half-second too late or right on time.

    Why do you think Pelini’s last NU defense, in 2003, caused so many turnovers? Well, just look at it. It had arguably the fastest player in the 2005 draft in cornerback Fabian Washington, two fast safeties in Daniel and Josh Bullocks, and, most importantly, Demorrio Williams. Williams was the key to Pelini’s defense, and, yes, that includes Barrett Ruud, who’s a better NFL linebacker now than Williams.

    Pelini used Williams like a mobile assault vehicle to create confusion and frustration for opposing offenses. Teams built their plans around making sure he was accounted for.

    The Huskers have a “Williams type” in Cody Glenn, but he’s been hurt for the majority of the last two two games. Pelini doesn’t like to make excuses, and Glenn is sometimes out of position, but he’s also The Guy, the playmaker, the x-factor.

    Back to the Base? After spending two weeks in the tropics of college football offenses, Nebraska’s defense returns to something a little more familiar: The basic shotgun zone-read attack. Similar in some ways to Texas, Iowa State seeks to establish the running game through quarterback Austen Arnaud’s ability to either give the ball to one of ISU’s three running backs, or take it himself.

    Arnaud isn’t the runner that now-departed quarterback Phillip Bates was, so ISU has been throwing more passes over the last several games.

    “Early in the year they were a little more base personnel, a couple of tight ends in the game,” Pelini said. “Now they are a little more spread out. How they choose to go at us, I don’t know yet. We have to be prepared to go at all of it.”

    If Phillip Dillard and Glenn are ready to go, look for them to play in a nickel package, or possibly be joined by Tyler Wortman in a base look. If Glenn can’t go, expect to see true freshman walk-on Matt Holt or sophomore Blake Lawrence.

    “They will have three receivers a majority of the game,” Lawrence said. “So they pose a threat in the passing game just for pure personnel. But out of that package they do a good job of blocking and setting up the run. So we have to be prepared at all times.”

    Jack Trice: As in Iowa State’s football stadium, which is a better home field advantage than most teams in Iowa State’s class (below-average BCS Conference schools) enjoy. Crowds in Ames are lively and loud, and they don’t have a fondness for Nebraska. While the Huskers have won 7 of the last 10 games there, the margin of victory is only 34.3-19.2. And that includes, as you know, some pretty awful ISU teams in the Jim Walden years.

    Just in case you thought NU was heading to Ames for a blowout.

    Jack Trice has a grass field, which means the surface is probably a little slower than FieldTurf. The stadium is also an unabashed wind tunnel because of its open end zones. In 2005, former ISU offensive coordinator and current NU offensive line coach Barney Cotton recalled, a tornado touched down near the stadium, forcing a two-hour delay of the game, which was played in the kind of winds you’d expect in the aftermath of the tornado.

    “All of the offenses scored only going one direction,” Cotton recalled. “Our defense scored going the other direction, otherwise it would have been a tie football game.”

    It’s not the kind of place you want to make a mistake like Abner Haynes did in the 1962 AFL Championship.

    Having coached there, Watson said he wasn’t worried, that he and quarterback Joe Ganz don’t mind throwing against the wind, which happens to be pretty common around Nebraska, if you didn’t know.

    “Bo asks me all the time ‘Which way you want to go?’” Watson said. “We don’t care. Just line up and go. Throw into it. Throw with it. That’s the way the game’s gonna be. We’re not real user-friendly around here.”

    Must-Win: NU guard Matt Slauson put it best when he said that, either way, the Iowa State game takes Nebraska off the .500 mark.

    If NU goes to 3-4, it has to try and steal a game against Kansas or Oklahoma to reach seven wins. If Nebraska goes to 4-3, it heads into next week’s game at Baylor with poise and confidence.

    If you’re merely gauging by Pelini’s comments, this was the best week of practice Nebraska’s had since fall camp. The question is…will it show up in the game?

    “That’s the key,” Pelini said Thursday night. “We’ve got to make sure we take the good things we did, make sure we get the things corrected we need corrected, so we can put it all together consistently on Saturday.”

    Tags: five keys, iowa state, nebraska, cody glenn, jack trice, bo pelini, shawn watson

  14. 2008 Oct 15

    Pelini: 'Progression is becoming who we are."


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska’s football team held its third strong practice of the week, head coach Bo Pelini said, and just might be defining its identity as it prepares for Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. game at Iowa State.

    “I like the way they come into practice,” Pelini said. “I like their attitude, I like their work ethic. Slowly but surely it’s becoming who are. It’s not like we have to go out there and prod them to practice hard. They come out here with the attitude to get better every day.

    “Progression is becoming who are. I just them now: We need that to continue. It’s setting an example for the younger guys, and eventually it becomes who you are as a program. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

    The 3-3 Cornhuskers conducted their two-hour workout inside Memorial Stadium Wednesday afternoon in full pads. Media is not allowed to watch practice, but Pelini’s comments echoed his brother Carl’s praises on Tuesday.

    NU continues to take a wait-and-see approach with linebackers Phillip Dillard and Cody Glenn, both of whom did not play at Texas Tech. Dillard looked very good, Pelini said, while Glenn still seemed a little gimpy on his injured ankle.

    “They’re getting closer to 100 percent,” he said.

    Tags: nebraska, huskers, bo pelini, iowa state, identity, cody glenn, phillip dillard

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