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  1. 2012 Feb 29

    Husker Heartbeat 2/29: Pelini on Filling Raymond's Spot, Frazier in CFB HOF and Dennard's Combine Results


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Pelini's in no hurry to fill the void that Corey Raymond left behind

    - Tommie Frazier has the opportunity to find himself as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Why isn't he already?

    - Alfonzo Dennard does his best to impress at the NFL Combine

    - Lady's Nebrasketball impresses the Big Ten coaches in their first year as a member of the conference

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    Tags: corey raymond, tommie frazier, alfonzo dennard, basketball

  2. 2012 Feb 28

    Husker Heartbeat 2/28: Raymond's Replacements, Another Commit and a Husker Makes First-Team All-Big Ten


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Corey Raymond makes LSU his fourth coaching stop in just over a year. Who replaces him?

    - Nebraska locks up their second commit of this cycle; Charles Jackson may be a Cornhusker after all

    - Some of spring football's most prominent storylines make their way to the forefront

    - Jordan Hooper named First-Team All-Big Ten

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    Tags: corey raymond, recruiting, jordan hooper

  3. 2012 Feb 28

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Raymond's Departure Leaves Fissure in Husker Program


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    There aren’t very many members of the Corey Raymond Fan Club across Husker Nation anymore, and understandably so. When an assistant coach calls your program the “Harvard of football,” fans likely assume he’s in it for the long haul.

    72 hours after saying this and claiming that he would not be taking the defensive backs coaching gig at LSU, Raymond is now a Tiger and Nebraska is left handicapped.

    His decision is understandable. He’ll be closer to family, coaching for his alma mater, won’t have to make nearly as many recruiting trips across the country and will be on the staff of a now-perennial national championship contender.

    Most Nebraska fans could usually appreciate that scenario. It would be like Alex Henery returning to Lincoln to help coach kickers. Unfortunately, statements made only a few days prior by Raymond causes his decision to leave a bitter taste in Husker Nation’s collective mouths.

    While many will be angry with Raymond for quite some time, it’s necessary to look to the immediate future. If Bo Pelini doesn’t fill the void in his coaching staff soon, it throws off Nebraska’s entire dynamic of the Husker secondary. This goes far beyond the likely flip of current Nebraska commit Tre'vell Dixon to LSU if and when he’s offered by the Tigers.

    Pelini not only has to find someone whose style fits his scheme, but who also must begin bonding with his new charges, and have his recruiting assignments determined to name a few initial chores.

    The importance of hiring someone who can make an immediate impact becomes even clearer when taking into account that spring practice is mere weeks away.

    The eventual hiring also gives Pelini an opportunity to display a long-term commitment to Nebraska football. Yes, it would be easy to simply promote a graduate assistant or intern and shuffle the staff around.

    Why take the easy route when one that may take slightly longer to travel could pay off handsomely? Another internal hire is duct tape over a rather substantial crack in Nebraska's foundation.

    Some suggestions for new hires that sprung up almost immediately following official word from Raymond were Mike Minter, Eric Warfield and a hodgepodge of shifting among the current staff.

    Minter’s an interesting suggestion. He currently serves as the special teams coach with fellow former Husker Turner Gill at Liberty University. However, he falls under the category of current Huskers defensive coordinator John Papuchis and former linebackers coach Mike Ekeler - plenty of potential, but lacking in experience.

    While Minter had a stellar NFL career, he’d be cutting his teeth at an FBS school with rather large expectations, ones which might grow with a Husker great teaching his former position group.

    Warfield is currently a student assistant at Nebraska, and while he enjoyed a longer NFL career than many, personal troubles plagued him during the mid-2000s.

    Recruiting against an inexperienced coach with recently-battled demons would be a welcomed challenge by any of Nebraska’s opposition for every recruit they covet.

    Another possibility is shifting linebackers coach Ross Els to defensive backs duty while promoting graduate assistant and former Husker linebacker T.J. Hollowell to take over Els’ current charges. Again, Pelini would run into a severe lack of experience with this decision.

    One of the best options, and one that would be a true fix rather than a stopgap, would be hiring a free agent coach such as former Illinois head man Ron Zook whose name surfaced when Pelini was searching for a new defensive coordinator.

    After losing Raymond’s recruiting acumen and connections, someone with a knack for the job like Zook could step in and likely pick up right where Raymond left off.

    He spent his collegiate career at Miami (OH) as a defensive back and coached the positions on five separate occasions at Murray State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida, and with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    slap a Co-Defensive Coordinator title on Zook, add his already significant knowledge of the Big Ten recruiting trail, and Pelini makes a bold statement to the Huskers’ new conference and the nation - He’s in Lincoln to stay and build a program that will dish out punishment.

    While speculation will run rampant until a new coach is named, every day that passes without a defensive backs coach does more damage to the Nebraska football program.

    The Dean of Raymond’s alleged “Harvard of football” must choose carefully, but swiftly. The future of his secondary’s progress, and perhaps the 2012 season, depends heavily on his choice.

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    Tags: corey raymond, mike minter, eric warfield, ron zook

  4. 2011 Dec 26

    Husker Heartbeat 12/26: Raymond's Recruiting Effects, Burkhead Bounces Back and Turner Presses Reboot


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Secondary coach Corey Raymond speaks softly, but carries a big stick when it comes to recruiting

    - Burkhead and the young backs are looking to explode out of the gate versus the Gamecocks thanks to the recent time off

    - Wide receiver Jamal Turner is looking for yet another rebound in what has been a life full of them

    - Some of the youngest Cornhuskers are making names for themselves on the football scout team

    - Nebrasketball finally meets the Big Ten and concern is already starting to rise

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    Tags: corey raymond, rex burkhead, jamal turner, basketball

  5. 2011 Oct 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Grading the Coaches After Week Five


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donahue

    Corey Raymond – Secondary

    After the season opener, it was tough to get a read on Coach Raymond’s new unit sans Alfonzo Dennard. Well, he’s back so it’s time to rip off the band-aid. The secondary is not good. Losing three players to the NFL doesn’t help, but there is a cavern between the performance of last year’s group and this outfit. Dennard is still getting his legs back but there is no one who can fill in the other corner spot with confidence.

    Ciante Evans has been fragile. Andrew Green has been horrendous. The Corey Cooper experiment was ill-conceived from the start. Every team left on the schedule knows to throw where Dennard is not, and that’s a lot of open field. With Bo Pelini holding full pad practices, here’s hoping someone steps up.

    As for the safeties, Austin Cassidy has been serviceable and Daimion Stafford is excellent against the run, but both starters and even reserves have had plenty of busted assignments in coverage. Clearly, a lot of this is coaching. Raymond needs to get his unit figured out in a hurry because it’s the weak link in the defense through five games.

    Grade: D

    Ross Els – Linebackers

    We are still waiting for not one, but two capable sidekicks for Lavonte David. The Peso formation is sorely missed and it appears Nebraska will move forward with a three linebacker base. The biggest problem with that is Nebraska has only one truly talented linebacker in David, and he can’t be everywhere at once. Will Compton would be the educated choice to help, but Compton hasn’t looked great in run support and still gets burned by shifty receivers on crossing routes.

    Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley don’t seem to be coming around and also look lost in coverage. What good is having three big bodies if opposing offenses can easily toss the ball around them? Going back to the Peso isn’t a possibility because there aren’t enough bodies in the secondary to run a permanent nickel, and a dime formation makes any Husker fan shudder. The common theme emerging here: it’s all on David until someone else steps up and consistently makes plays for this unit.

    Grade: C-

    John Papuchis – Special Teams/Defensive Line

    If you had said before the season began that special teams might actually be the strength of this team nearly halfway through, you’d likely have received many odd looks. Ameer Abdullah constantly puts the Husker offense in great field position and Brett Maher appears to have a booming leg and some real skill in all facets of the kicking game. Since the grades are harsh this week, let’s judge Papuchis only on special teams and leave the defensive line analysis for Carl. There needs something to be excited about and the special teams has looked the best.

    Grade: A-

    Carl Pelini – Defensive Coordinator

    After week one, Carl Pelini had apparently reloaded and possessed the most complete defensive unit in the Big Ten. Apparently, this is not the case. It’s hard to say what Coach Carl has at this point. This unit has lost its identity. Some point to the loss of Ndamukong Suh, but he left two years ago. What happened last year?

    There was a huge loss of secondary talent that hasn’t been replaced and has caused stress on the other levels of the defense. A shift in philosophy is also hurting the Blackshirts. This unit isn’t ready to play a base 4-3 defense, and perhaps not even nickel. Honestly, last year Nebraska played a dime defense against some pretty finesse offenses, and it worked every time. Now teams know they can smash the Huskers in the mouth and if that stops working they can air it out fairly easily.

    The Brothers Pelini need to do more than carry out full pad practices. They need to revisit their philosophy for stopping Big Ten offenses. The good news is Wisconsin was the best of the bunch, but the Spartans and Wolverines can be explosive and the Huskers will be staring down more embarrassing losses if they don’t get a handle on the Blackshirts’ identity. If they can, the talent is there and this unit can be more than competent.

    Grade: D

    Ron Brown – Running Backs

    Brown’s unit continues to come along and Rex Burkhead is looking the part of leader. Burkhead continues to make great plays and churn out hard-fought yards. Behind him, the young three-headed monster has been used effectively with each freshman tailback getting meaningful carries. Brown appears to have a solid group on his hands and while this unit needs to be relied on much more in big games, that’s no fault of Brown’s who appears to have done a fine job developing the talent he’s responsible for. Ohio State will be a great test for the running game, which should be featured more than ever.

    Grade: A-

    Barney Cotton/John Garrison – Offensive Line & Tight Ends

    A few weeks back, Nebraska fans didn’t have much of an idea how good the offensive line was going to be and how the Cotton/Garrison package would work out. While things are still murky, it’s clear that Nebraska has a young line that is going to make mistakes. The false starts and holding penalties are still plentiful. The inexperience is real and won’t get much better this season, although Seung Hoon Choi has been a great story.

    Still, the offensive line doesn’t seem to be the most troubling area on offense. This young line pushed Wisconsin off the ball on many running plays and looked capable against Washington and Wyoming. The potential for this line is great, but actual production will have a ceiling this year. There are too many fresh faces. As for the tight ends, they haven’t been featured enough.

    Kyler Reed is the best receiver on the team and still only makes brief cameos in each game. Ben Cotton needs to perform better with the opportunities he’s given. The dynamic duo at tight end needs to show up often during the conference slate.

    Grade: B-

    Rich Fisher – Wide Receivers

    There seems to be a youth movement emerging for Nebraska’s wide receivers. Quincy Enunwa seems destined to be a solid possession receiver by season’s end. Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell are both electrifying when they touch the ball. That’s a big when, however. This assumes the ball can be delivered properly and unfortunately, that rarely happens.

    The Husker wide receivers seem capable of making big plays if the ball gets in their hands. Route running has been sloppy at times and it took Brandon Kinnie awhile to shake the butterfingers, but this group seems to be doing all it can. Most importantly, they’ve all been open enough to get first downs. The ball has to come their way more accurately and on time, though. If that happens, this group could be above average and take real pressure off the rushing attack. Until then, it’s just average.

    Grade: C

    Tim Beck – Offensive Coordinator

    It's almost halfway into the season and Nebraska fans are still wondering what Tim Beck’s vision for the Nebraska offense is. It turns out he was serious about the option. He’s dialed back, but not eliminated the zone read. He’s placed more emphasis on stretching the field, but also fell into the same trap that Shawn Watson did - getting an itchy trigger finger when he feels a shootout is at hand and abandoning the run when it is working.

    He seems all in favor of an air-it-out passing attack that almost no part of the offense is properly equipped to run. The line still can’t pass protect very well. The receivers are not All-World and will not always be open. When they are, Taylor Martinez cannot find them. He panics, runs too early and too often while forcing the ball on his way to becoming a turnover machine.

    That isn’t all on Beck, but if he continues to build his offensive strategy around Martinez’s passing, the fallout will steadily become his problem. The Husker faithful have no patience for an offense that attempts to impose its will, changes things up haphazardly, and gets shell-shocked on a big stage. It’s been happening for four years now and Beck will have a short leash to change things.

    So far, he does not appear up to task. The Wisconsin debacle could be a great turning point so early in Beck’s coordinator career and if he rediscovers the run while slowly finding Martinez’s comfort zone in a limited passing attack, the offense could be more than serviceable. It will take incredible patience to achieve this. If Beck can’t do it, things could get ugly fast and even uglier than in years past as fans’ patience has run out.

    Grade: D-

    Bo Pelini – Head Coach

    Nothing went his way in Madison, but Pelini made the right move in immediately making a post-game apology to the Husker faithful for such a disappointing loss. One thing that unnerved fans about Bill Callahan was his stubbornness and inability to fault his own schemes. Pelini avoids this by simply being honest and sharing in the disappointment. He also seems resolute about fixing the problems.

    Whether or not a tougher approach by way of full pad practices will do the trick, fans can’t be sure. Pelini does seem to be trying. He knows this isn’t Year One and last Saturday was a Year One-style loss. What is most troubling is Pelini’s statement of disbelief regarding some of the mental errors the Huskers displayed against Wisconsin.

    He offered that perhaps some players weren’t taking to coaching. That is especially disturbing because these are almost all Pelini’s players and they have been schooled in the same system since they arrived in Lincoln.

    If they aren’t taking to the coaching, it appears to be a mental issue. These issues are the most deadly because they don’t fix easily. Think 2007 – that was a team stacked with talent from the neck down, but rotting from the neck up with lack of confidence in convoluted schemes and shaken from humiliating losses. Pelini can use one bad loss to recharge the team, but if there are more blowouts things will go off the track fast.

    Can Pelini get a handle on this team? Does he need to get more involved in the schemes or in the day-to-day processes? Does he treat this team like a 2008 squad that needed a serious overhaul laced with tongue-lashings or does he have confidence that current problems can be fixed and this squad is championship-caliber with only a few tweaks and adjustments?

    His decision on how to handle this troubling bunch of Huskers will be a turning point in his tenure as head coach.

    Grade: C-

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    Tags: corey raymond, ross els, john papuchis, carl pelini, ron brown, rich fisher, john garrison, barney cotton, tim beck, bo pelini

  6. 2011 Oct 05

    Husker Heartbeat 10/5: Martinez's Irate, Fall Camp Comes Twice and Suh Saves a Season


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Martinez is as mad as he's ever been and is preparing to bounce back

    - The Huskers hit practice like it's fall camp all over again

    - Nebraska defensive assistants Ross Els and Corey Raymond are feeling the heat as they work to mold inexperienced units

    - Coaches are still tinkering to find the right combination of players for the secondary

    - Ndamukong Suh helps rescue the season for a Detroit-area football team following the theft of their equipment

    - As the Red-White Series nears, Darin Erstad's baseball team is working hard

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    Tags: taylor martinez, ross els, corey raymond, ndamukong suh, darin erstad

  7. 2011 Sep 20

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


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    This pesky offense. This upsetting defense.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. 2011 Sep 18

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions – Washington


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - One of two things is a liability: Andrew Green or Corey Raymond’s coaching. Alfonzo Dennard will determine which.

    - On the other hand, it turns out Aaron Green is a baller. Braylon Heard, come on down!

    - That Rex guy’s pretty good, too.

    - Nebraska has approximately a 29 percent third down conversion rate over the past two games. However, they’ve scored 40-plus points in the first three contests of a season for the first time since 1995. Pass the Aleve.

    -It’s safe to say that Ameer Abdullah could score on any given return. When’s the last time that could be said about a Cornhusker? Maybe DeJuan Groce…maybe.

    - In health news, Taylor Martinez finally decides to stop shaving years off of his life by sliding.

    - Mathew May’s heads up play deserves an extra tip of the cap. That sort of play will win you games that you probably should lose.

    - Chris Polk ran for a ton of yardage and it came as no surprise. Not necessarily because the interior defensive line got worked over, but he’s a damn good back. The line issue may want to be resolved before the Huskers hit Madison in black, though.

    - Brett Maher shanks a punt, but redeems himself by making one of the better tackles of the afternoon.

    - Stafford and David are tackling machines, but again none were for a loss.

    - Seven times the Cornhuskers entered the red zone and seven times they scored. That’s a bingo.

    - Is this the first college football game in recent memory where a ref needs to be worried about getting fined by the FCC over an issue with the game clock?

    -The bottom line's three wins and no losses. It’d be a lie to say after being up 44-17 that the final score of the rubber match against Washington wasn’t disappointing, though.

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    Tags: alfonzo dennard, corey raymond, andrew green, aaron green, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, dejuan groce, taylor martinez, mathew may, brett maher, chris polk, daimion stafford, lavonte david

  9. 2011 Sep 16

    THE OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 9/16: Collaring The Huskies


    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

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

    - Secondary coaching (Marvin Sanders vs. Corey Raymond)
    - Wisconsin and Nebraska in the Top 10
    - How the BCS title game could play out between Oklahoma, the SEC and the Big Ten
    - Brandon Kinnie
    - Washington predictions

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

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36

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    Tags: marvin sanders, corey raymond, wisconsin, bcs, sec, oklahoma, big ten, brandon minnie, podcast, podcasts

  10. 2011 Sep 09

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Grading the Coaches After Week One


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    Bo Pelini – Head Coach

    The first game of 2011 is under Pelini's belt and the fourth-year coach appears more comfortable in the cockpit. He finally has his hand-picked staff running the offense and his brother has the defense on lockdown. It’s up to Bo to manage each game from a higher perspective so that he can worry more about overall strategy and less about strictly defensive tactics.

    He has to give more attention to the offense and help guide Beck in his first year. Pelini seemed more even-keeled last week although the win was never in doubt. He’ll need to keep his temper in check in the Big Ten to shed the reputation he’s earning as a hot head. If he can show himself to be more balanced head coach with a level head, he may be leading a championship team. There wasn’t much to go off of in week one, but all eyes will be on Pelini as he molds his squad in preparation for a feisty Fresno State team.

    Grade: B

    Tim Beck – Offensive Coordinator

    The new offensive mastermind has produced his first game for all to analyze. What’s Beck trying to say? Is Nebraska really transporting back to the late 1980s with an option-first ground game or is that a swerve to give future defenses less to analyze? Certainly the option is a component of Beck’s offense, but when does the zone read come into play?

    Beck spoke this past spring about having a multi-faceted offense like the 2007 Kansas Jayhawks. There wasn’t much multiplicity going on last week and since Beck is responsible for quarterbacks, let’s look at Taylor Martinez.

    Martinez still has a sick second gear, remains very impatient with his reads, and is liable to getting hurt again with his flailing running style. Brion Carnes looked just as uncomfortable as Martinez running the option. Beck may have something in the works, but we need more data.

    Grade: Incomplete

    Ron Brown – Running Backs

    One of the three freshman backs would be redshirted, right? Thanks to a major decision by the new running backs coach, all three will play. There’s a lot of excitement about the three-headed monster of Aaron Green, Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah, but how will Nebraska fans feel in four years?

    Pelini’s 2008 redshirting strategy seems to have pulled a 180 just three years later. Either Nebraska is at a better place in terms of depth or getting impatient for playmakers. Regardless, with Rex Burkhead in the backfield, Coach Brown can’t go wrong.

    Grade: B

    Rich Fisher – Wide Receivers

    Brandon Kinnie, the vocal leader of the receiving corps, didn’t seem in rhythm. Quincy Enunwa, a true sophomore who looked like a redshirt senior against UTC, may surprise this year.

    Fisher’s squad has potential if they can get the ball. Turner showed promise on several plays as he ran his routes well made a big gain on a broken play. There are playmakers waiting in the wings, but there needs to be two or three dependable options for Martinez to find.

    Grade: C+

    Barney Cotton/John Garrison – Offensive Line & Tight Ends

    It’s hard to get a feel for the Cotton/Garrison experiment. There’s nothing wrong with giving Cotton some helping hands to mold this young offensive line as obviously there’s work to be done. This line doesn’t appear to transition well from run-blocking to pass-blocking and are scrambling in the option game.

    The technique looked a little sloppy overall. The offensive line has been the Achilles’ heel of the Husker offense for so long that it seems silly to refer to it as “The Pipeline” at this point. Hopefully this group has stepped preparation up a notch for a less vanilla scheme. At least the Huskers’ tight ends can block well.

    Grade: D+

    Carl Pelini – Defensive Coordinator

    Kudos to Carl for retooling the defense so well after losing so many high-impact players to the NFL ranks. There might not be a drop in performance this year. The only question mark is at linebacker. As long as the defense can prove they can properly attack a heavy rushing offense – and they’ll get their chance on October 1 – they’re clearly the most complete unit in the conference.

    Grade: A-

    Ross Els – Linebackers

    Coach Els has the tough task of transitioning Nebraska’s linebacking corps away from a spread-based Big 12 to the run-heavy Big Ten style. He also has the challenge of finding three starting linebackers that mesh. Lavonte David is a rock star and will continue to shine.

    Sean Fisher has a lot of rust to knock off and Will Compton is beset by injury once again. Trevor Roach is intriguing in a 2008 Mathew May way. The Blackshirts will need to re-establish their identity as a run-stopping bunch and the linebackers will play a big part in that.

    Grade: C+

    John Papuchis – Special Teams/Defensive Line

    How about Brett Maher? The kid can kick and will help fill the void left by Alex Henery. The defensive line is stacked with depth. Jared Crick continues to dominate and Cameron Meredith showed he will be a beast out of the base end position. Baker Steinkuhler looks like the next Crick. Coach Papuchis has clearly built his own version of "The Pipeline" on defense and if last week showed Nebraska fans anything, it’s that the defensive line will be the backbone of the Blackshirts.

    Grade: A+

    Corey Raymond – Secondary

    Raymond shoulders a lot of expectation as he takes over a vaunted secondary that was ravaged by the NFL draft. Without his crown jewel Alfonzo Dennard, it’s hard to get a good read on Raymond’s revised unit. Ciante Evans seems capable as the No. 2 corner, but Andrew Green was shaky, giving up the day’s lone score. The safeties are sound, with Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy looking like a seasoned duo. Look for Daimion Stafford to push them all year long.

    Grade: B+

    James Dobson – Head Strength Coach

    Dobson technically isn't a game day coach, but players looked thicker, leaner and meaner in the opener. Everyone seemed to have packed on a little extra muscle since the last time we saw them while looking quick and agile. Kudos to Dobson for getting the Cornhuskers motivated in the gym during a long, cold winter.

    Grade: A

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    Tags: bo pelini, tim beck, rich fisher, barney cotton, john garrison, ron brown, john papuchis, carl pelini, ross els, corey raymond, james dobson

  11. 2011 Aug 09

    Husker Heartbeat 8/9: Pelini and Mr. Starling, Beck's Trudging Troops and Jamal's Juggling Positions


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Pelini and Bubba Starling's father dispute report

    - Tim Beck's troops are trudging on despite the pain

    - Jamal Turner is splitting time between QB and receiver

    - Corey Raymond will be keeping a close eye on calls made against his charges

    - Two Husker corners help make up the Big Ten's best

    - Big Ten preseason camp roundup

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

    Tags: bubba starling, tim beck, jamal turner, corey raymond

  12. 2011 May 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Importance of 2011 to Bo Pelini


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini commands a salary on par with many of his NFL peers. He has some of the finest facilities to recruit with and one of the best athletic and academic support staffs available. Believe it or not, it’s still possible that 2011 could be a season that makes or breaks the fourth-year coach’s career at Nebraska.

    With the departure of Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore, not only is the program Pelini’s to command, but it is filled with his hand-picked crew. The “dean” of the staff, aside from the head coach himself, is offensive line coach Barney Cotton who Pelini brought in with him as part of his initial 2008 campaign.
    The addition of Rich Fisher, John Garrison, Ross Els and Corey Raymond appears to be positive so far. While Els and Fisher’s work with their respective units won’t be on full display until fall, Raymond and Garrison look like the real deal.

    Garrison was a question mark after his hire due to Nebraska being his first coaching gig ever. The same work ethic that he used over the past three years as an intern is starting to show.
    Despite his inexperience, the former starting center for the Cornhuskers has been relentless on the recruiting trail while working with tight ends and assisting Barney Cotton.

    Corey Raymond stepped in for a resigning Marvin Sanders and the transition appears seamless. The Blackshirt secondary looks as salty as ever. Raymond came to Nebraska with plenty of praise regarding his recruiting ability. His skills will be on display as he tries to reel in coveted defensive tackle Eddie Goldman.

    The 2009 defense can arguably be called Pelini’s finest thanks in large part to the presence of the most decorated Cornhusker in school history, Ndamukong Suh. The young guns on that defense are now seasoned veterans and Nebraska has a defense that contains fiery leadership at all three levels.

    Jared Crick keeps the nastiness flowing along the front four.
    Lavonte David will likely try to break his own single season tackling record and Alfonzo Dennard looks to match or better the senior season of first round draft pick Prince Amukamara. Add in youthful talent across the board and Pelini’s got all of the ingredients for a defense that could surpass 2009’s intensity.

    As of this writing, Nebraska has only two commitments for the 2011-2012 recruiting cycle. While there aren’t as many scholarships to go around, that total needs to increase soon. New quarterbacks and defensive ends are needed in the worst way. After Dennard departs, the secondary will be talented but young. The Cornhuskers will also have to account for the loss of offensive linemen Jermarcus Hardrick and Marcel Jones.

    During the offseason, there was some scuttlebutt that Pelini was entertaining the vacant Miami Hurricanes job, but all rumors were put to bed with a big raise courtesy of Tom Osborne. With Pelini making millions per year he’ll likely stick around Lincoln, but that price tag comes with expectations.

    For that kind of dough, conference championships are expected not just division bragging rights.Luckily for Pelini, if Tim Beck’s new offense gets humming and his defense performs to its usual high standards, the likelihood of the Cornhuskers smelling roses in 2011 increases significantly.

    Finally, there’s a spotlight the size of the Midwest on the entire Nebraska football program and it’s not going away any time soon. The college football world wants to see how well Nebraska can adapt to life in the Big Ten. The curiosity of pundits and fans alike will rival a three-year-old’s .

    During the Colorado game last season, ABC literally had a split-screen set up watching Pelini’s reaction to potential unfavorable conditions for the Big Red following a controversial loss to Texas A&M and ensuing meltdown by Pelini.

    While there may not be a split-screen this season, any potential outbursts will be plastered across the Internet before you can blink and put at the top of the hour on Sportscenter. If there are any incidents like last year’s eruption at College Station, the fallout likely won’t be contained to the Nebraska sideline.

    2011 is a grand opportunity for both coach Pelini and the University of Nebraska. Whether it is a positive or a negative is up to Bo.

    Follow us on Twitter @HuskerLocker

    Tags: bo pelini, ross els, rich fisher, corey raymond, john garrison, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard

  13. 2011 Mar 12

    SPRING FOOTBALL: Camp Begins!


    By HuskerLocker

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    To Bo Pelini, “practice is practice” - even when the Nebraska head coach is breaking in four new assistant coaches.

    So while NU's first workout of spring camp Saturday had a few hiccups, “it was pretty smooth,” Pelini said.

    “A couple drills to start - it was little bit of a Chinese fire drill,” Pelini said. “But overall I thought it was a really good day. We got a lot of work done. The effort was great. I thought we hit the ground running.”

    Wide receivers coach Rich Fisher, co-offensive line coach John Garrison, linebackers coach Ross Els and secondary coach Corey Raymond have already been on campus for several weeks. Saturday, they along with new offensive graduate assistant Vince Morrow started working with players inside the Hawks Championship Center.

    Garrison and Els moved briskly among their position groups instructing players. Fisher initially seemed unsure where to start drills for his group, but settled on a sideline spot near midfield of the practice facility. He immediately instructed his receivers to sit on the ground and start catching passes. Raymond, in a skull cap and gray pullover, looked like a player, blending in among the defensive backs, occasionally pulling one aside for a pointer.

    In a sharp contrast to the more reserved Shawn Watson, new offensive coordinator Tim Beck was active, vocal and smiling, moving briskly among the quarterbacks, who were taking snaps from centers. A few times he took aside true freshman Jamal Turner for a quick instructional chat. Turner took virtually no snaps from under center in high school.

    Bo Pelini took his customary spot near midfield, surveying various stations with his arms crossed. Business as usual.

    “I would have pushed back spring practice if I didn't feel like we were on the same page,” he said.

    In their first three practices – including Monday and Wednesday of next week – the Huskers will undergo a “pretty aggressive install,” Pelini said, before sending players on spring break. NU coaches will use the 12-day break to review what's left to install, if anything, while giving players a much-needed rest from a fierce winter conditioning period.

    “Whatever they want to do,” Pelini said when asked how players would be allowed to spend spring break. “They know what's at stake...they have to do a little working out when they're at home.”

    Monday's practice is closed to the media.

    Notes: In addition to defensive end Cameron Meredith and left tackle Jeremiah Sirles, Pelini confirmed that sophomore guard Jesse Coffey and senior walk-on tight end/H-back Jay Martin would miss all of spring, too...Walk-on Mychael McClure will likely retire from football because of concussions, too...junior running back Lester Ward is working with the tight ends for spring.

    Tags: spring football 2011, rich fisher, corey raymond, ross els, john garrison, jamal turner, tim beck

  14. 2011 Mar 09

    Beck Gets Big Raise


    By HuskerLocker

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    Unsurprisingly, Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck got a huge raise as part of his recent promotion – but he won't be paid as much as former OC Shawn Watson.

    The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Beck would make $345,000 per year – or $30,000 less than Watson made in his final season at NU. Beck made $220,000 last year.

    Other new coaches' salaries: Defensive backs coach Corey Raymond will make $200,000, linebackers coach Ross Els will make $170,000, wide receivers coach Rich Fisher will make $160,000 and offensive line/tight ends coach John Garrison will make $140,000.

    Defensive line coach John Papuchis – who added recruiting coordinator to his duties – gets a raise to $200,000 as well. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini still makes $375,000 while Barney Cotton and Ron Brown will both make $220,000.

    See also: Beck's Boys

    Tags: spring football 2011, tim beck, shawn watson, rich fisher, corey raymond, ross els, john garrison

  15. 2011 Mar 09

    SPRING FOOTBALL: Presser Notes


    By HuskerLocker

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    Notes and thoughts from Nebraska's spring press conference:

    ***Taylor Martinez didn't appear at the presser. No surprise there. But offensive coordinator Tim Beck quickly praised the sophomore incumbent at quarterback for his work during winter conditioning.

    “He's been tremendous this offseason,” Beck said. “I've been very, very, very pleased with him. There's more confidence in him.”

    Why? Because Martinez is no longer behind the learning curve on Shawn Watson's West Coast Offense. In 2010, he was three spring practices behind Zac Lee in terms of knowledge and one behind Cody Green. Beck intimated that Martinez had to play catch-up and left him frustrated – even if it didn't prevent him from starting.

    This year Martinez – along with the rest of the quarterbacks – are starting from scratch.

    Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie – one of Martinez's closer friends on the team – said No. 3 has begun to lead the “break out” yell in the weight room. It's just yelling “1, 2, 3, Team!” but it's a start.

    He's going to have a slight advantage heading into spring camp.

    ***With Cameron Meredith out for spring rehabbing his shoulder, Carl Pelini mentioned four guys whom he's excited to see fill Pierre Allen's spot for the fall and Meredith's for the spring: Josh Williams, Jason Ankrah, Eric Martin and Kevin Thomsen. Guys he didn't mention: Redshirt freshmen Walker Ashburn, Tobi Okuyemi and Donovan Vestal.

    Look for Ankrah and Williams to get the longest looks, with Martin continuing to develop into the position – remember, he's never taken a redshirt year – and Thomsen serving as a backup.

    ***It's not that Collins Okafor, Lester Ward and Austin Jones won't have their chances to make an impression on Beck and new running backs coach Ron Brown and “stake their claim” this spring. They will. But Beck seemed more interested in the “three new guys” coming in the fall: Aaron Green, Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah.

    “All three of those guys possess something we don't have,” Beck said. “It's lot easier to call plays when a guy can go 90 yards on one play than to have me call 10 or 12 in a row.”

    Brown will help instill the tradition of what Beck calls “Running Back U.”

    “What better guy to teach about the legacy of the program, the toughness it takes, the integrity?” Beck said. “What better coach than Ron Brown?”

    Beck said he's not sure yet whether NU needs a “big back” to attack Big Ten defenses.

    ***Whereas NU used Peso personnel roughly 90 percent of the time last year – that included safeties Eric Hagg and Dejon Gomes as hybrid linebackers – Bo Pelini expected that number to go down in the Big Ten, where offenses feature a “more physical” running game.

    Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said he'll try to match up “the best 11” with a base personnel package first. Hagg and Gomes were part of that “best 11” last year; both have a chance to be picked in the upcoming NFL Draft. The “best 11” may include linebackers Will Compton and Sean Fisher this time, if consistent replacements aren't found for Gomes and Hagg. Carl Pelini said he had some players in mind for Hagg's spot; he didn't say which guys they were. LaVonte David, he said, is too good of a linebacker to be a candidate for that job.

    ***Speaking of David, Carl Pelini said the senior from Miami may benefit the most of all his defensive players from a spring practice. David didn't have one last year – although he drove up from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College a few times in 2010 to watch Mike Ekeler direct the linebackers – and still broke the school record for tackles.

    “His understanding of what we're doing will double from what it was in the fall,” Pelini said.

    Why? Because David is a “student of the game,” Pelini said, spending the the last few months breaking down tape on his play last year.

    “He's very analytical about it, watching his successes, watching his mistakes,” he said. “Getting a different view of how he could do things differently, how he could expand his vision. This offseason will be great for him.”

    ***Bo Pelini typically starts his opponent review later in the offseason. That's because conference foes generally carry over coaches and schemes from year to year. The Big Ten, obviously, is a new league for the Huskers, which equates to, essentially, 11 new opponents for 2011. (NU has played Washington twice in the calendar year).

    “I started early this year,” Bo said. “As we all did. You wonder why I haven't been available to talk to the media a lot? We have to do some work. Getting the coaches on the same page. Moving ahead philosophically.”

    Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said the coaching staff treated each new Big Ten team “as if we were playing them next week.”

    “Looked at their run game, their pass game,” Carl Pelini said. “We did that prior to putting our playbook together just to see if we could account for everything. There's nothing we haven't seen, but different teams have different emphases.”

    In general, the Brothers Pelini agreed, the Big Ten is “a more physical brand”of football with “more downhill running.”

    We asked if the offensive lines in the Big Ten are better than the ones in the Big 12. Carl Pelini scoffed. NU faced plenty of good offensive line in the Big 12 – Oklahoma and Colorado among them.

    Overall, the Big Ten is a bit more homogenous, the Brothers Pelini said.

    “You're still going to have to defend the quarterback stuff and the zone read,” Carl said. “You're still going to have to defend some pretty elaborate passing games. The physical nature of some teams – there's more of that.”

    ***There are a few distinct differences between former secondary coach Marvin Sanders and new coach Corey Raymond. Carl Pelini called Raymond “a technician.” Senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard raved about Raymond's teaching skills while lamenting the loss of Sanders, whom he saw as a “father figure.”

    Of Raymond, Dennard said: “He's terrific. He knows about his technique. He meets with us every other day and just go out there and help us with technique. Last year, Coach Sanders, he'll helped us out on technique but not like Coach Raymond.”

    Tags: spring football 2011, taylor martinez, tim beck, jason ankrah, josh williams, carl pelini, bo pelini, ron brown, corey raymond, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david

  16. 2011 Feb 19

    Bo Talks Staff, New Offense


    By HuskerLocker

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    A poor finish to the 2010 season gave Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini “a new sense of purpose” heading into NU's inaugural Big Ten season in 2011.

    “It reinvigorated me,” Pelini told the “Sports Nightly” radio program Friday night.

    Now, Pelini hopes to do the same to the Huskers' offense.

    In his first substantive comments about Nebraska's revamped coaching staff, Pelini said the four new assistants he hired – Rich Fisher, Ross Els, John Garrison and Corey Raymond – are “extremely intelligent football people and “guys I trust, guys I know” who can hit the ground running when spring football starts March 12.

    “In the end: Do they see things the way I see it?” Pelini said. “I know I got that in the staff that I hired...we're all on the same page. That's No. 1 in my book.”

    As for the NU offense, Pelini said to look for promoted coordinator Tim Beck to employ a “highly adjustable” yet slimmer playbook and more audibling – presumably from the sideline – as the Huskers turn the page on Shawn Watson – who officially landed a job as Louisville quarterbacks coach on Thursday.

    “It's not as much what we do, but how we do it, how we call it, how we get to things,” Pelini said. “We want to be a little more multiple than we were before and really cut down the playbook in such a way that we get good at something. And really utilize our players so they have deep understanding of what we're doing. Not just what we're doing – but why we're doing it. And therefore, we can make adjustments on the run, so we can attack. We want to attack people...it's going to take a lot of teaching.”

    Tags: football, coach search 2011, tim beck, ross els, corey raymond, john garrison, rich fisher

  17. 2011 Feb 18

    Husker Heartbeat 2/18: The New Guys, Hardball, and Hard Questions


    By HuskerLocker

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

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

    *Randy York explains why Ross Els and Corey Raymond are perfect fits for NU's defensive staff.

    *Former teammates and co-workers laud new Husker assistant John Garrison, both his attention to detail and work ethic.

    *Bubba Starling may have developed a strong relationship with former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, but he's OK with recent changes made. Starling also understands he will not redshirt, and he knew nearly one month ago that Marvin Sanders was leaving the program and Watson probably was, too. So Bo could tell Bubba about coaching changes, but not Charles Jackson?

    *Much of Nebraska baseball's new groove depends on volunteer hitting coach Darin Erstad, who brings a long, fruitful MLB career and a World Series title to the Husker clubhouse. OWH's Mitch Sherman - arguably the best college baseball writer in the country, for our money, writes:

    Ninth-year coach Mike Anderson, Erstad's hitting coach at NU in 1995, said he expects Erstad to instill some of the former star's habits in the Huskers.

    “The first I notice is his attention to detail,” Anderson said. “He's brought that to each of our kids and created a good focus. He's not only got an individual plan but a team plan. And probably one of the most important things is the relationship between player and coach.

    “They trust him. They know he's been through it. It's fun to sit back and watch.”

    *Meanwhile, Mike Anderson is on the warpath for the agent/advisor that's currently keeping freshman NU pitcher Logan Ehlers from taking the field.

    *Former Nebraska basketball standout Bruce Chubick - one of two Husker players ever to go to the NCAA Tournament in each of their playing years - wants one more game in a Husker uniform. And he doesn't like Texas.

    *Former Lincoln Southeast player Matt Hill - now a pretty good utility player for No. 2 Texas - comes home for what he calls a "business trip."

    *When an Iowa boy wrestler refused to take on a girl at the state tournament, it raised the obvious question: What of such close, physical competitions between boys and girls?

    Tags: husker heartbeat, ross els, corey raymond, john garrison, baseball, mens hoops, wrestling, logan ehlers

  18. 2011 Feb 17

    Podcast 2/17: Bo's New Crew


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, bo pelini, ross els, tim beck, corey raymond, john garrison, rich fisher

  19. 2011 Feb 16

    Bo Makes the Switch


    By HuskerLocker

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    In its own inimitable way, the transition for Nebraska's football coaching staff is finally complete. 

    Early Wednesday afternoon, from a golf course in California, NU head coach Bo Pelini confirmed to the Associated Press that he did indeed hire Ross Els, Corey Raymond and Rich Fisher as new NU assistants. Later, Nebraska Sports Marketing sent out an official release announcing those same hires - plus the promotion of John Garrison to co-offensive line/tight ends coach.  

    Former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson - who landed the Louisville quarterbacks job, according to Rivals.com - and wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore are no longer with the program. Pelini wouldn't tell the AP whether Watson and Gilmore quit, or were fired. The release didn't say, either. 

    The new, reorganized duties are as follows: 

    Tim Beck: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach

    Carl Pelini: Defensive coordinator

    Ron Brown: Running backs coach

    Rich Fisher: Wide receivers coach

    Barney Cotton: Offensive line coach/associate head coach

    John Garrison: Offensive line/tight ends coach

    John Papuchis: Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator/special teams

    Ross Els: Linebackers coach

    Corey Raymond: Secondary coach

    It is unknown whether Bo Pelini will hold a press conference prior to spring football to introduce the new hires. 

    Join Husker Locker today - it's free!

    Tags: coaching search 2011, tim beck, ron brown, ross els, corey raymond

  20. 2011 Feb 16

    Podcast 2/16: Well, They're in the Directory


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, coaching search 2011, rich fisher, ross els, corey raymond, womens hoops, mens hoops

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