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  1. 2011 Oct 29

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Michigan State Gameday Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    This week:

    If Nebraska wins today’s game, who will be the MVP and why?

    Brian: The Defense. They are being called upon to do something that they haven’t done this year: shut down the pass. SJB and Fonzie need big games, but the supporting cast needs to be just as big. Offensively, the ‘skers can score. I don’t know if they will score enough, but they can put points up.

    Erin: This is a tough question because it really could go any direction. It could go to Taylor Martinez for leading the team and making sure he didn't hold on to the ball most of the game.

    However, if Martinez is passing the ball off, it's likely going to Rex Burkhead, so it could be argued for him to have MVP, especially with a couple of touchdowns. At the same time, we can't forget the defense and Lavonte David could really bring that group together. He would be deserving then.

    So I'll sum it up: If Nebraska wins today's game, one of three people will be MVP - Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, or Lavonte David.

    Greg: When Nebraska wins, there will be an MVP on both sides of the ball. On defense, it will be Dennard. The Spartans will have to throw the ball since their rushing game is anemic. This will be the game where Fonzie puts his stamp on his senior year.

    On offense, it will a player who earns MVP because of his leadership and character. Respect MSU's front seven, maybe even eight at times, and know that the Huskers will likely be put in a position to throw the ball more than usual. Look for a big game from Brandon Kinnie.

    James: Taylor Martinez. In order for Nebraska to win, T-Magic is going to have to play smart, manage the game, and complete high-percentage throws (swings, screens etc) in order to keep the chains moving. If Taylor can keep the chains moving and get Nebraska enough points to win against a salty defense, he will have done his job.

    This will come down to him making good decisions, throwing well, attracting attention from MSU's defenders (and freeing up threats like Jamal Turner and Rex Burkhead), while also hitting some long balls to Kenny Bell and Kyler Reed.

    Brandon: This goes one of two ways. Both Burkhead and Martinez are going to earn Co-MVP honors or whoever successfully operates trickeration will obviously be given the nod. Rex and Taylor are who defenses are going to key in on and take the chance of letting talented, but young players burn them knowing that they’ll likely make mistakes.

    Honestly, I can’t say what or even if Tim Beck will pull any rabbits out of his hat, but this game means too much for anything less than the kitchen sink to be thrown at Michigan State.

    If Nebraska loses today’s game, how should the Cornhuskers regroup/handle the rest of the season?

    Brian: They need to keep going with the season, but realize that it’s now an audition for who wants to start for 2012. Two games back in the division with the tiebreaker out of hand is almost impossible to overcome (especially with MSU’s schedule).

    Even though there are bowl implications, there’s nothing the Huskers can do but try to win out and hope. When it comes to the point that Nebraska is eliminated from division title hopes, then you start to find out what you have/need for 2012. No time like the present to figure that out.

    Erin: I will just say these words over and over to myself while praying to the Gods of football that Michigan State loses to Iowa: "We just have to take each game one at a time. It doesn't matter if we lose this game. Michigan State might lose to someone else. This doesn't have to be a key game for us." - Taylor Martinez

    As for the team, they need to do what we do every week after a game, win or lose: Practice, get better, and win. Yes, Michigan State could lose to someone else. If we happen to lose to them, it's not time to give up. It's time to work harder and be ready.

    Greg: Can't get discouraged. Play every game like they're playing for the Big Ten championship. The chips might fall into place where they still might.

    James: As I outlined in my piece on Wednesday, the season, in terms of winning the Legends Division and reaching the conference championship game, will effectively be over.

    Nebraska should look to get the youth as many reps as possible. We should still try to win the games, of course, but it would effectively be a chance for Nebraska to start building for 2012, and maybe even more importantly for 2013. Maybe the coaches could even hit the road recruiting a bit more during the week to try and shore up some of the deficiencies.

    Brandon: The most beneficial thing would be to give Brion Carnes a 50/50 split in both practice and game situations. Taylor’s the starter and that’s fine, but if he struggles against Nebraska’s remaining opponents, Carnes should be given an equal opportunity to shine. If he beats out Martinez for the starting spot, well, that’s the game of football. If you can’t get the job done, the guy behind you will.

    Starting a youth movement would seem to be the next logical step, but so many starters are already young that it’s basically already happened. 75 percent of the running back depth chart is composed of true freshmen. Nebraska’s got Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa stepping up at receiver. I’d definitely focus on getting Tyler Moore extensive minutes.

    With Crick done and Randle likely out for at least a while, you’re going to see guys like Chase Rome and Jay Guy get more time. It’d be silly to burn linebacker Davis Santos’ redshirt at this point which is something I feel should’ve happened earlier in the year. The secondary’s as green as it can get. Simply put: Work towards 2012.

    If you could add one player from last year’s defensive back seven, who would it be and why?

    Brian: Dejon Gomes. The corners are good, but he was the difference maker in the secondary. Blitzing, coverage, knowledge, etc. You’re seeing it now with him playing in the NFL. Matt O’Hanlon is a close second. He had the physical game and always seemed avoid getting stuck in a bad spot.

    Erin: Prince Amukamara. He had an island and people didn't like to be on it. The secondary misses and needs him.

    Greg: He wasn't a first round draft pick by chance. PRINCE PRINCE PRINCE!

    James: Eric Hagg - in the "Peso" role, he was a gigantic asset. Hagg could cover tight ends, receivers, slot men, running backs, you name it. He also was killer in run defense.

    You'd have to think that if Nebraska still had him, the defense would be a good step stronger than where they are right now, from both the personnel and schematic viewpoints. That said, it'd be hard not to want Prince Amukamara back as well, Nebraska's second cornerback is a guy who played wide-receiver five weeks ago.

    Brandon: The sexy pick is Amukamara, but I’d honestly take Eric Hagg. Amukamara’s a first rounder and would solidify the spot opposite Dennard, but Hagg’s versatility in the defensive backfield would allow him to be moved around and expecting an instant impact wouldn’t be far-fetched.

    How do you feel about Nebraska’s chances going into this game?

    Brian: I would feel a lot better if we had all hands on deck. No Crick or Randle worry me up front on defense to make sure the run game for MSU is non-existent. Nebraska may have to blitz in this game, which is something that Bo doesn't like to do much of.

    Offensively, it’s the same story: Put yourself in good situations and try to find match ups to exploit. Get the ball to the playmakers and help Taylor realize he doesn’t have to do it all.

    Erin: I feel good. I think Sparty is overrated. Everyone is acting like they beat Wisconsin in this huge beat-down when they won in a last minute pass play. I'm happy for Michigan State, but come on, they're not suddenly LSU. Nebraska has just as good of a chance at beating them as they did a month ago. One game for Sparty doesn't change anything.

    If you want to get technical, this is a very familiar situation for Nebraska. Last year the Huskers faced a Missouri team that had come of a huge 36-27 win over No. 1 Oklahoma. The Tigers walked into Memorial Stadium with their heads held high, only to have Roy Helu Jr. going completely crazy, helping rake up a 24-0 score by the end of the first half.

    The game ended 31-17 and the Huskers walked away with the win. Different conference, different team, but the scenario is awfully similar.

    Greg: I'm a healthy blend of confident and cautiously optimistic. Win this game and Nebraska's probably back in the top ten. Lose this game and they're out of the top 15. My confidence levels are in the 80 percent range. GO BIG RED!

    James: I honestly don't know what to think. Nebraska is certainly capable of winning this game if they show up, and show up for four quarters (instead of the typical two we seem to be getting from this bunch). I also don't know what Michigan State team will appear on Tom Osborne Field, they aren't great on the road, and they may be out of juice after the last three weeks.

    If the Michigan State team from last week shows up, and Nebraska from the second half of Wisconsin/first half of Ohio State is on the field, we'll get blown out. I think the answer will be somewhere in the middle, and as such, I expect a close game. Right now, I'm expecting a Spartan win, though.

    Brandon: Nebraska can beat Michigan State, but they absolutely cannot afford another Ohio State scenario. If this turns into a battle of struggling offenses, I’d prefer that over a shootout as Cousins is a far more refined passer. Nebraska would have to lean on Burkhead as Taylor’s a coin flip when it comes to completions unless he checks down to No. 22.

    MSU loves to blitz and if I was scheming against Martinez, I’d try to rattle his cage all day long until he proved to me he could exploit the gaps in coverage. This is where Rex comes in. If he can battle against Wisconsin, he can do so against the Spartans. Beck has a lot of tools at his disposal, but it’s going to come down to crisp execution, and I cannot emphasize this enough, winning the turnover battle.

    Will Nebraska win? Honestly, everything I’ve seen thus far causes me to say no, but knowing what the Cornhuskers are capable of tells me that they can win.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36
    James: @jamesstevenson
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, brandon kinnie, kenny bell, kyler reed, bo pelini, prince amukamara, dejon gomes, eric hagg, brion carnes

  2. 2011 Oct 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Pelini Needs to Put Cornhuskers Back in Black


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Since Bo Pelini arrived at Nebraska, he’s taken a different approach to the tradition of handing out the dark practice jerseys affectionately known as the “Blackshirts.” For decades, these garments have been worn by the starting 11 on the defensive side of the ball, but under Pelini’s watch, even the best of the bunch have to earn the right to wear them. This year, that strategy needs to be tweaked.

    Using Pelini’s current method, it’s easy to see why no Cornhusker defender has worn black in practice yet. A unit that gives up 351 yards and over 27 points per game doesn’t strike fear into the heart of any opposing offense. While the head coach’s strategy has been effective and admired by many up to this point, the current handling of the Blackshirts’ presentation is doing more harm than good.

    Every Nebraska defender knows what those jerseys represent. In years past, players admitted having held back tears of pride and joy upon seeing them hang in their locker. At this point, given the struggles that the Cornhuskers have faced five games into the season, players under the watchful eyes of the Pelini brothers and their assistants have to be wondering if any defender will dress in black this year.

    This might not be at the forefront of their minds, but to suggest that ownership of the coveted Blackshirts isn’t at least on a subconscious level is absurd. Coming off a disappointing start to Nebraska’s Big Ten conference debut and a return to fall camp levels of preparation, the black jerseys need to make an appearance before the Cornhuskers take the field on Saturday to face Ohio State.

    While some players may feel undeserving, the original reasoning behind the tradition is simple - if you started Nebraska’s first game at a defensive position, you wore black in practice. If you couldn’t hold onto your starting spot due to poor performance or another player stepping up, then you would have to work even harder to regain what you’d lost. The offense that Pelini’s team employs in 2011 employs a throwback style. It’s time to go back to the Blackshirts’ traditional method of distribution.

    It’s easy for fans to point to the secondary’s struggles and claim that they certainly don’t deserve to wear the renowned attire of defenses past. However, with the loss of players like Eric Hagg, DeJon Gomes and Prince Amukamara, expecting the 2011 secondary to not skip a beat is simply unreasonable. If Pelini is going to start from scratch and open competition for all starting roles, taking a page from his predecessors may be the morale boost his currently-maligned defensive unit needs to regain lost confidence.

    Nebraska’s head coach has made it quite clear that no one player is bigger than the team. Not Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, Jared Crick, Lavonte David or even Alfonzo Dennard. By the same token, no coach on Nebraska’s staff is bigger than what has been a Cornhusker tradition since 1964.

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    Tags: blackshirts, bo pelini, taylor martinez, red burkhead, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, eric hagg, dejon gomes, prince amukamara

  3. 2011 Sep 28

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Five Keys To Beating Wisconsin


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brett Baker

    5. Forget the Hype: Yes, it's Nebraska’s first conference game as a member of the Big Ten. Yes, the game is going to be televised nationwide in primetime, and yes, ESPN College Gameday will be in Madison. None of that matters without the win to go with it. It all has to be tuned out.

    If last Monday's press conference is any indication then Bo Pelini is already well on his way to instilling this mindset. He’s making sure the team knows that this is just the next game on the schedule. Which of course it is and isn't.

    4. Take the Crowd Out: Husker Nation is going to represent in Madison but the Badger fans aren't just going to roll over and let the corn replace the cheese. That means that Camp Randall Stadium is going to be the loud, crazy and hostile environment that's it's known to be.

    The defense needs to get Wisconsin off the field on third down. Too many times already this year they have let the opposing team off the hook on third down, and that can't happen Saturday night. Keep the Badgers’ offense on the sideline for extended runs and sap the energy out of their fans.

    3. Get in Russell Wilson's Face: The Wisconsin football department generously lists the Badgers quarterback at 5'11". It’s a firm guess that's about an inch and a half taller than the NC State transfer signal caller actually is. That said, he's still pretty dang good.

    The Nebraska defenders would do well to get in his passing lanes early and often while keeping their hands up, going full bore, and closing his field of view. That's no magic potion for victory, but it's a start.

    2. The Defensive Backs' Best Game to Date: The secondary has to grow up and fast. The great thing about Nebraska's defense over the past few seasons was the ability of so many to do so much. Unfortunately, Prince Amukamara, DeJon Gomes and Eric Hagg have all moved on taking their abilities and corporate knowledge with them.

    If there was going to be a game where the Pelini brothers needed "it" to click for Green, Evans, Blatchford, Thorell and company, this is that game. The physical ability and mental preparation that has brought the Blackshirts back to prominence in years prior needs to emerge. It's time to put it all together and slow down what has been a very impressive offensive unit.

    1. Ground and Pound: The one area where Wisconsin can probably be exploited is along their defensive line. After toiling at more than seven thousand feet about sea level last weekend, Madison's modest 832 feet above sea level should be a breeze for the Huskers’ offensive line.

    In an ideal scenario, the offense enters the original "three yards and a cloud of dust" conference with that mindset. Four yards per snap wouldn’t be too shabby, either. Nebraska should lean on Wisconsin’s defensive front for three quarters and not let up. Wear the Badgers down and take advantage of them when the situation presents itself.

    What this game is going to boil down to is playing mistake-free football and imposing will. The question is, are the Huskers able to do that?

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas
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    Tags: russell wilson, prince amukamara, dejon gomes, eric hagg, andrew green, ciante evans, justin blatchford, lance thorell

  4. 2011 Mar 02

    Podcast 3/2: Prince Blazes at Combine


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, nfl combine, mens hoops, prince amukamara, womens hoops, baseball, dejon gomes, eric hagg

  5. 2011 Mar 01

    Husker Heartbeat 3/1: Mixed NFL Combine Results


    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.

    *A minor calf injury keeps Pierre Allen out of the NFL Combine while Ricky Henry and Keith Williams struggle as well.

    This morning, Prince Amukamara ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the Combine while DeJon Gomes ran a 4.48 and Eric Hagg ran a 4.68.

    *Ahman Green will play in the CFL with Montreal.

    *Elmo - former Nebraska secondary coach Phil Elmassian - heads back to Purdue. Good for him. NU can roast his DBs now.

    *Denard Robinson makes Jeopardy!

    *And now a picture of Gene Chizik feeding bottled milk to a calf draped in a Cam Newton jersey.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, pierre allen, roy helu, prince amukamara, ricky henry, keith williams, eric hagg, dejon gomes

  6. 2011 Feb 28

    Husker Heartbeat 2/28: Spring FB Creeping Closer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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.

    *Will Bo reconsider more than just his take on the Husker offense? That and more in the Husker Monday Takes.

    *LJS Sipple chats Mike Ekeler, the new Indiana defensive coordinator who concurs that Big Ten offenses are much different than Big 12 offenses.

    *As for Big Ten offenses, BRN takes a nifty look at how the 2010 NU offense and 2007 Kansas offense would have stacked up in the league rankings.

    *ESPN offers a Big Ten spring football primer. The Nebraska writeup:

    New vision on offense: Nebraska likely will have a championship-level defense in 2011, but will the offense bounce back from a poor finish to last season? Tim Beck is the man pegged to get things back on track. Coach Bo Pelini promoted Beck to offensive coordinator, and Beck will begin to implement his vision for the unit this spring. Nebraska figures to stick with the spread, but what version Beck wants to use remains to be seen.

    The quarterbacks: Taylor Martinez stiff-armed the transfer rumors, and in January said he looked forward "getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back." The big question: Will he also get his job back as Nebraska's starting quarterback? Martinez can help himself with a strong spring, but Cody Green also is in the mix and things could get very interesting if Bubba Starling decides to stick with football rather than pursue a pro baseball career.

    New faces on staff: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired three new assistants: Corey Raymond (secondary), Ross Els (linebackers) and Rich Fisher (receivers). Raymond takes over a talented group that must replace three standout players, including cornerback Prince Amukamara. It'll be interesting to watch Fisher, who most recently coached in high school and also served as a golf teacher, as he transitions back to big-time football.

    *Prince Amukamara makes his case for being a top ten prospect at the NFL Combine.

    “Who's your best friend?” asked former Nebraska safety Eric Hagg, who snuck into the media area.

    Amukamara looked at his longtime pal, smiled and replied: “My best friend is Eric Hagg.”

    Playing practical jokes and having fun with teammates is usually Amukamara's trademark.

    “He's just naturally a funny person. That's what God gave him,” Hagg said. “Everybody thinks he's funny. He lights up the room.”

    Amukamara, while remaining very businesslike in many of his answers Sunday, slipped in a couple of witty remarks to the amused media contingent.

    Asked if he follows mock drafts or draft projections, Amukamara replied: “I'm not someone who Googles themselves.”

    He was later asked if he expects to have an immediate impact in the pros. “That is my plan,” he answered. “I'm definitely not trying to redshirt in the NFL.”

    It's good to see Prince - and Hagg, for that matter - haven't changed much.

    *Meanwhile, Roy Helu's huge day the Combine puts him the "riser" category according to Sports Illustrated.

    *Nebraska holds its first Junior Day for recruiting. Considering NU is looking at a class of 13-15 next year - unless some major defections occur - this was a small, intimate gathering of players.

    *Bo gives a pep talk to the NU men's tennis team - read that again - which helps the Huskers beat Wisconsin on the road.

    *Tom Shatel likes the sports city Omaha has become in late February.

    *After a rather crushing loss to Iowa State Saturday, Husker Hoops Central - where the Descartes and Foucaults of the NU hoops program go to discuss the state of the program - asked a very salient question: What do you expect from Nebraska's program? Some of the answers are excellent.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big ten, bo pelini, tim beck, mens hoops, ljs sipple, tom shatel, prince amukamara, roy helu, eric hagg, recruiting

  7. 2011 Jan 24

    YEAR IN REVIEW: S Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our report card for the Nebraska safeties and their position coach, Marvin Sanders. Eric Hagg A Stellar season for the senior Peso, who won Team MVP from his teammates. Terrific, good-natured...

    Tags: year in review, report card, eric hagg, dejon gomes, courtney osborne, austin cassidy, pj smith, rickey thenarse, marvin sanders

  8. 2011 Jan 24

    Husker Heartbeat 1/24: Zac, Niles and Hagg


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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.

    *Zac Lee talks about the 2011 season, the injury he sustained in the Missouri game and why he didn't play much during the year.

    Pretty safe, smart answers from Lee - what we've come to expect from him.

    *Husker Eric Hagg now headed to the Senior Bowl, too.

    *The LJS breaks down the remaining targets on Nebraska's recruiting radar.

    *Updated recruiting rankings from the three major services.

    *LJS Sip writes about Bo's full plate right now and all the trips he's been making on planes. That's a subtle reminder that, apparently, Bo needs a private plane. Sip also writes about Saturday's big basketball game vs. Texas A&M:

    "Why won't Nebraska-Texas A&M be televised? It's basically because NU partner FSN is prohibited contractually from showing games during ABC-ESPN's 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (CST) broadcast window on Saturdays. "We determined it's not worth it to have to get our fans to the game that late," said Marc Boehm, NU executive associate athletic director.

    Wise move."

    Two thoughts here:

    *Why isn't worth it to bring fans to a game late?
    *Why is it a wise move?

    Really late night games can be a lot of fun - especially in the arena. For the magnitude of the game, NU should have considered an 8 p.m. start and moved the women's basketball game to earlier in the day.

    *Niles Paul busts his tail to get ready for the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.

    *Stafon Johnson received the unanimous support of USC coaches and players for 16 months after his near-death in a weight training accident. So, naturally, an ambulance chaser got him to file a personal injury lawsuit against the school.

    *Mack Brown calls his QB race "wide open."

    Tags: husker heartbeat, zac lee, niles paul, eric hagg, steve sipple, texas, mens hoops

  9. 2011 Jan 10

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Defensive Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Here's our season report card for Nebraska's offense. Stay tuned for position-specific report cards, available via a 30-day free trial with Husker Locker Pass!

    Two key things to remember about the report card:

    *Grades take into account all players at a given position.

    *Greater weight was given to “big games” and the performances in them.

    Defensive Line: B

    Final combined stats: 20 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, 38 QB hurries, three forced fumbles

    NU's front four – Pierre Allen, Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler and Cameron Meredith – was still among the best in college football, and arguably the finest group in the Big 12. The quartet generated decent heat on the quarterback during certain points of the season. At other times, they disappeared, or needed help from Bo Pelini's blitzes Against the run, they missed Ndamukong Suh's ability to shuck offensive linemen and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. A solid year – but not 2009.

    Crick heated up toward the end of the season, having his best game in the Big 12 Championship vs. Oklahoma. But he struggled in the Holiday Bowl. He still needs to improve as a run stuffer. As a pass rusher, the Brothers Pelini need to cut him loose more often to make big plays, instead of insisting on collapsing the pocket methodically.

    Allen played hard all year, anchored against the run, and did a fine job of collapsing the pocket from his end position. He was perhaps Carl Pelini's favorite player on the line because he executed his job so well and played through one painful injury after another. Nevertheless, Allen wasn't an elite pass rusher off the edge. It's been awhile since NU had one.

    Steinkuhler shot out of a cannon to start the year, then wore down as the season progressed, becoming less and less effective. He'll be back and more seasoned in 2011. A DUI arrest in December shouldn't be an ongoing issue.

    Meredith became a versatile chess piece for the Brothers Pelini, playing some “spinner” outside linebacker in some rush formations. A better pass rusher than Allen, Meredith will more of an impact next season. His best days are still ahead of him.

    Terrence Moore spelled Steinkuhler more often in late 2010 and started for him in the Holiday Bowl. The light finally seems to have blinked on Moore, a very good interior pass rusher. Thad Randle played inside for Crick on occasion; he held his own, but buckled a bit against the run. Josh Williams and Jason Ankrah need to get better this offseason; one of them will likely have a starting job next season.

    Linebacker: A

    Final combined stats: 17 tackles for loss, six sacks, 10 pass breakups, 7 QB hurries

    Is there another grade to give Lavonte David, the man responsible for most of that stats, plus a school-record 152 tackles? The kid had four weeks to learn one of the most complex defenses in college football, surpassed Will Compton on the depth chart before Compton's injury, then had to play practically every snap, all year, against a bevy of no-huddle, speedy offense. And do it with a smile.

    David is some kid, really. He saved NU's bacon against the run, improved in his pass coverage, and was unquestionably the Huskers' best blitzer. Along with being our defensive MVP, he earns his position an A grade. He played arguably his finest games in two losses – Texas A&M and the Big 12 Championship – when he strafed and chased and hit all over the place. The odds-on favorite for the Butkus next year still has weight to gain and room to grow, too. Part Terrell Farley, part Barrett Ruud, David was a thrilling player to watch in 2010.

    After suffering a broken foot, Compton starting playing midway through the season, and while he's good – he's no David. Compton thinks when David reacts. If Compton can ever stay healthy and turn the corner on trusting his instincts, he'll be a key cog in the wheel next year, as playing in the Big Ten will require NU to use more than one linebacker.

    Alonzo Whaley played in goal-line situations as a run stopper. He needs another spring learning the defense. The physically and “want-to” is there, though.

    Eric Martin flew around for half the season before moving to defensive end. He has all the ability David has – plus size – but he often put himself in bad spots to make tackles. He's a bit like Rickey Thenarse in that way.

    Sean Fisher got hurt before the year. Where will he play in 2011? Hard to say.

    Secondary: A-

    Combined stats: 19 interceptions, 4 defensive TDs 36 pass breakups, four sacks, 7 tackles for loss

    We grade on a curve around here, but NU's stellar pass defense still gets an A- from us. Simply spectacular for most of the season against the pass, the Huskers' safeties struggled at times making tackles – Texas, Oklahoma, Washington, Part 2 – on the second level, which led to big plays. But that was more than offset by the slew of big plays from the country's most talented secondary.

    Prince Amukamara enjoyed a Darrelle Revis-type season, rebuffing almost every challenge that came his way except a few plays against Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. He's the nation's best corner.

    Alfonzo Dennard – cocky, physical, competitive – is pretty darn close. Dennard was nails at the beginning of the year, like glue on receivers. He was outplaying Amukamara, in fact. He slowed down a bit during the middle of the season, suffered a concussion in the Missouri game, missed the Iowa State contest – and immediately came back with a big play in the Kansas game. He was our MVP for the Holiday Bowl, too.

    Eric Hagg was valuable in all kinds of ways – as a linebacker, as a safety, as a corner – and his absence next year will be sorely felt. His athleticism allowed him to matchup with all kinds of players.

    Our favorite player, Houdini Gomes, wore down a bit as the season closed, but he's still one of NU's best pure playmakers in recent memory. Smart in coverage, ahead of the game, tough for his size – Gomes has a place in the NFL.

    At safety, P.J. Smith and Rickey Thenarse played the first half of the season, while Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy essentially played the second half. NU sacrificed pass coverage for better tackling, and while that worked well in wins over Missouri and Colorado, it hurt in the Big 12 Championship. We'd like to see Smith back in the lineup to start 2011; his hook and benching seemed a little premature.

    Ciante Evans spelled Dennard for a game or two and filled in well. He reminds us of Ralph Brown. He'll be just fine next year.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays, Offensive Report Card

    Tags: year in review, prince amukamara, alfonzo dennard, eric hagg, dejon gomes, courtney osborne, pj smith, rickey thenarse, austin cassidy, ciante evans

  10. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 5 Best Special Teams Plays


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    He gave us a pretty amazing ride, Alex Henery.

    The most accurate kicker in NCAA history was a self-taught tactician possessing ice-cold blood and a giant foot. We remember some of his best moments here – along with a couple of big returns and Adi's perfect day.

    The five best special teams plays of year:

    Boom-boom: Henery's best field goal of the year was a 53-yarder in the Big 12 Championship. He blasted the ball through the Cowboys' Stadium uprights with 10-15 yards to spare. A shame he never got that shot to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Henery finished 5-5 in Cowboys Stadium. He'll be back. Heck – maybe with the Cowboys.

    Henery in a Hurry: On 4th-and-8 from his own 22-yard line, Henery rolled out for a rugby kick and saw a big hole in Oklahoma State's punt return setup. So he took off for the first down, made it, and ran 27 yards before he was tackled. The play helped set up NU's first touchdown of the game.

    Adi is nails: On a day when Nebraska really needed it, Adi Kunalic delivered seven consecutive touchbacks against Missouri in a 31-17 win. The Tigers' dangerous kickoff return game never got a chance.

    A Hero in Hagg: The strangest – and possibly most spectacular – play of the year occurred at the end of the Nebraska-Texas game, as safety Eric Hagg, picked up a punt – kicked out of a field goal formation by the Longhorns – and raced 85 yards for a touchdown. Hagg wove his way through UT's traffic, got a couple key blocks and zoomed to the house for the score.

    Paul's Point and Martin's Mash: After enduring the worst game of his career vs. Texas, Niles Paul went to Stillwater needed to make a play. He did, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. On the play, Eric Martin knocked out an Oklahoma State player with a high – but in our view legal – hit. He was subsequently suspended for it.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, eric hagg, alex henery, niles paul, adi kunalic

  11. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 10 Best Defensive Plays


    By HuskerLocker

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    So many excellent plays to choose from on Nebraska's stellar, suffocating defense and just ten spots to fill.

    It's never easy narrowing down the best of the best with Bo Pelini's crew, but here's our effort to recap the finest defensive plays of the 2010 season. There's no real order – except awesomeness.

    Houdini Special: NU defensive back Dejon Gomes marked his Husker career with spectacular plays on the ball, and his strip of Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey in the season-opener was among his finest plays. Rainey seemed a sure bet to score a touchdown when Gomes popped the ball out at the Nebraska 1-yard line. The Huskers recovered and saved a touchdown.

    Whaley to the Rescue: In a tighter-than-expected 17-3 win over South Dakota State, NU sophomore linebacker Alonzo Whaley made a huge goal-line play on SDSU's first quarter drive to Husker 1. On fourth down, Jackrabbit running back Kyle Minett took a Wildcat snap and veered hard to his left. Whaley met him at the line of scrimmage, drove him back and pounded him to the turf. It was the best play by any NU linebacker all season – including every terrific play by Lavonte David.

    Pick Six, Part 1: Textbook play from Gomes, who baited Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle into throwing a short curl route. Gomes stepped in front of the pass, snatched it in stride and coasted in for a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.

    Pick Six, Part 2: On Idaho's next possession, NU's pass rush flushed Enderle from the pocket, where the North Platte native wildly flung a pass toward the sideline. Thenarse, sprinting, lunged in front, kept his balance and bolted home for 47-yard interception return for a score.

    Pick Six, Part 3: The best play of them all from cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who slipped around Washington wide receiver Devin Aguilar to intercept Jake Locker and return the pick 31 yards for a score. The play essentially slammed the door on the Huskies' hopes of a comeback. Dennard played freakishly well for the first half of the season; not quite as good after suffering a concussion in the Missouri game.

    Pick Six, Part 4: Safety Austin Cassidy stepped in front of a bad pass from Iowa State's Austen Arnaud and wove his way through traffic for a 29-yard touchdown. Cassidy flashed his running skills on this particularly; dipping and darting his way to the end zone. The play gave NU a 17-10 lead over the game Cyclones.

    The Kid Makes a Play: Subbing for Dennard, true freshman Ciante Evans – all 5-foot-11, 185 pounds of him – stuffed and flipped over Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert right at the goal line on third down, forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal. Evans got low while Gabbert stayed high like a giant car high-ended on a low curb. It was some play for a true freshman.

    Lockdown Lavonte: On Kansas State's opening drive, the Wildcats had a 4th-and-2 from the Husker 25. Bill Snyder rolled the dice - calling a quarterback keeper, complete with a jet sweep fake – and tried to fool the Huskers. But JUCO linebacker Lavonte David – in just his fifth career start – had none of it, tracking the play beautifully and knocking out KSU QB Carson Coffman one yard short of the first down. The air went out of the Cats' cause with that single play.

    Crick's Monster Sack: In the Big 12 Championship game, Jared Crick fought off an Oklahoma lineman trying to yank him to the ground to make a big sack on OU's Landry Jones. It was Crick's “Suh Moment” of the 2010 season and he got a torn jersey for the effort.

    Freak: The most athletic defensive play of 2010 comes courtesy of Eric Hagg, who made a deflection in the Washington game that rivaled any Major League centerfielder climbing a wall to save a home run. UW quarterback Jake Locker had perfectly lofted a pass to a UW receiver running a deep corner route when Hagg elevated...and elevated...and just kept elevating to deflect the pass away. Hagg made more important and noteworthy plays in 2010 – but none was better than that one.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, eric hagg, jared crick, lavonte david, ciante evans, dejon gomes, alonzo whaley, alfonzo dennard, austin cassidy

  12. 2011 Jan 03

    YEAR IN REVIEW: Highlights and Lowlights


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our big season-in-review commentary is yet to come at the end of the week. For now, we bring you the superlatives of the 2010 season. Highlights and lowlights. Enjoy. We'll have lots of year in review content this week:

    Offensive MVP: Quarterback Taylor Martinez. The numbers don't lie: When Martinez was healthy, he was T-Magic, and so was NU's offense. After he got hurt, he was T-Muggle, and the Huskers lost three of their last four with him starting the games and taking the majority of the snaps. As dynamic a runner at the quarterback position as any in Husker history, Martinez's acceleration and instincts killer slower, less disciplined defenses. But when defenses slowed down his zone read game and forced him to throw downfield in the Big 12 Championship and Washington games, he really struggled. Still, it's hard to argue that he's not the most “valuable” player on NU's offense in 2010. He clearly was. Should he have been? That's a different question. Runners-up: Rex Burkhead, Roy Helu.

    Defensive MVP: Linebacker Lavonte David. He stepped into a nearly impossible position: Starting his first major college football game just four weeks after he began practicing with Husker coaches watching. And yet David, a junior, did just that – spectacularly, setting the team's single-season tackle record. David's instincts in stopping the run were a major reason why NU could afford to have what amounted to six defensive backs on the field for most of the game. He struggled in pass coverage during a 20-13 loss to Texas, but improved as the season wore on. Linebacker could have been a disaster after injuries to Sean Fisher and Will Compton. David erased all those concerns. It was some feat. Runners-up: Prince Amukamara, Jared Crick, Eric Hagg

    Special Teams MVP: Kicker Alex Henery. It's not everyday that a kicker is the team's most popular player, as Henery was on Senior Day when the Memorial Stadium crowd cheered loudest for his introduction. It's not every day a kicker truly earns that distinction. But Henery – with his talent and his humility – really did.

    Best Individual Offensive Performance: Taylor Martinez, Oklahoma State. He accounted for 425 total yards and five touchdowns, and Nebraska needed every last ounce of both. On a day when the Blackshirts' tackling and coverage took a day off, Martinez bailed out the Huskers with one big play after another, especially in the passing department, as he threw for a career-high 311 yards. Martinez had a chance to go in the tank after OSU took its first lead late in the first half. But he answered instead with a two-minute touchdown drive. It was the moment when Martinez seemed capable of anything.

    Best Individual Defensive Performance: Eric Hagg, Washington. He didn't make a ton of plays in the game, but he made the two that counted – a perfectly timed interception in two-deep coverage, and a spectacular deflection of a sure completion in the second half (Hagg was beaten on this same play in the Holiday Bowl). It's one of the best defensive plays of the year in all of college football.

    Best Coaching Decision: Bo Pelini's daring call to replace both safeties, Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith, with Austin Cassidy. It was a wholesale switch right before NU's biggest game to that point: Missouri. Until the Holiday Bowl, Cassidy and Osborne played really well, tackling with force and nabbing key interceptions in the Iowa State game and the Big 12 Championship, respectively. It was a classic Bo move: Shift on the fly, and commit accordingly.

    Worst Coaching Decision: After Nebraska closed to 20-13 in the Texas game, Bo, with the full force of the Memorial Stadium crowd on his side, chose to try an onside kick despite having two timeouts to call and three minutes remaining. UT recovered deep in Husker territory, the air was sucked out of the crowd, and the defense never had a chance to pin Texas deep. An onside kick – even with Alex Henery booting it – is one of the lowest-percentage plays in college football.

    Best Win: 31-17 over Missouri. Nebraska pounced all over the previously-undefeated Tigers with a 24-point first quarter, then frustrated Mizzou's pass-happy defense with a “spinner” defense that included using walk-on Kevin Thomsen and two new starters at safety in Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne. NU adjusted to Martinez's injury by managing the game with quarterback Zac Lee. Helu set the single-game school rushing record with 307 yards. Simply put, the Huskers' best game from an execution and coaching perspective.

    Worst Loss: 9-6 to Texas A&M. Nebraska played worse vs. Washington. The loss to Texas and Oklahoma were more painful. But the Huskers – especially head coach Bo Pelini – lost control that nutty night in College Station, and we're not sure NU ever really recovered from the feeling of persecution and poor execution that night. Pelini melted down on the sideline, upbraiding referees and Martinez on national TV. The officials screwed the Huskers on a late-hit penalty that set up A&M's game-winning field goal, but we can't help but think Bo's management of the game contributed to that bad call.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights

    Tags: year in review, taylor martinez, lavonte david, eric hagg, alex henery, bo pelini, texas am game, holiday bowl, missouri game

  13. 2010 Dec 28

    HOLIDAY BOWL: Five NU Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Five Nebraska players to watch in the Holiday Bowl:

    Running back Rex Burkhead:
    Clark Kent off the field, Burkhead is finally blossoming into that “Superman” character on the field. He'll get 20 touches – rushing and receiving – in San Diego, possibly taking over that feature back role from Roy Helu one game early.

    Linebacker Lavonte David: He'll be asked to make a lot of plays in the box against quarterback Jake Locker's designed runs and running back Chris Polk, who has NFL written all over him. Washington will try to use three wide receivers to spread out NU's Peso defense, then attack a five-or-six-man front, with David being the focal point. You'd like to think the Huskers' most pleasant surprise is up to the challenge.

    Peso Eric Hagg: Washington tried to test him in the first game, and came up completely empty. Watch for the Huskies to try to take Hagg deep on slot go routes and wheel routes, much like Oklahoma did. Hagg has the athleticism to adjust.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: T-Magic no longer is a brand new act wowing and confusing packed houses on the road. Defenses have figured out a few of his tricks. Washington will have a plan to slow him down – which means Martinez will have to adjust. He's had a whole season to learn and grow in the role. The Huskies are hardly a difficult defense to face, but Martinez needs a strong performance for his own momentum heading into the offseason.

    Defensive end Cameron Meredith: Look for Nebraska's defensive coaches to get creative with the sophomore in San Diego. Playing relatively close to his home, Meredith is due for a breakout game. He's the next great Husker defensive tackle and his biggest strength is versatility.

    Tags: holiday bowl, taylor martinez, eric hagg, rex burkhead, cameron meredith, lavonte david

  14. 2010 Dec 21

    Husker Heartbeat 12/21: Ek's Departure, Prince and Hagg and the $8 Million Miss


    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.

    *Mike Ekeler learned a lot at Nebraska, but he decided to move to Indiana because it was time for a change, LJS Sipple writes.

    *Eric Hagg and Prince Amukamara loved competing with and against each other for four seasons at Nebraska.

    *Sorry girls, Jake Locker's taken.

    *After a long book plug for the OWH's Big Red Rivals, Tom Shatel settles in for some sports takes.

    *Football stands in the way of justice at Auburn. Well, of course it does.

    *Tennessee football players got the VIP treatment in Knoxville.

    *The $8 million miss.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, mike ekeler, steve sipple, tom shatel, eric hagg, prince amukamara, boise state

  15. 2010 Dec 15

    NU/NFL Draft Rumblings


    By HuskerLocker

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    Out the corner of his eye – or perhaps in the back of his mind – of course Prince Amukamara has to pay a little attention. The AP and Sports Illustrated first-team All-American knows that several NFL Draft scouting services – whether you put stock into them or not – have the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder listed as a certain first-round pick.

    CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com tabs Amukamara as its No. 1 overall prospect. Mel Kiper has Amukamara at fifth on his latest Big Board. NFLDraftDog.com puts him at No. 6. ESPN's Scouts, Inc. ranks him No. 8.

    Pick any “guru” you wish, and the Prince is coming up with a healthy chunk of change. Presuming a work stoppage doesn't gum up the negotiation process.

    “I still hear people say where I'm projected of going,” the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year said Wednesday. “But I am not focused on it.”

    There's a Holiday Bowl still to play. Finals to finish. And, once the January hits, training to begin.

    He has an invite to the Jan. 29 Senior Bowl - the ESPN-televised, post-grad pony show that NFL scouts prefer to attend - as do several other Huskers, according to Amukamara: Roy Helu, Mike McNeill, Keith Williams and Niles Paul.

    Amukamara is the highest-ranked the of 12 or so NU seniors who could have a shot at the NFL in 2011 – or short of that, the UFL. NFLDraftScout ranks ten Huskers in its top 250 prospects – guys likely to be taken in the seven rounds of the April draft:

    Wide receiver Niles Paul (No. 56)
    Wide receiver/tight end Mike McNeill (No. 73)
    Defensive end Pierre Allen (No. 88)
    Running back Roy Helu (No. 109)
    Kicker Alex Henery (No. 151 and the No. 1 kicker)
    Safety Eric Hagg (No. 202)
    Guard Keith Williams (No. 210)
    Guard Ricky Henry (No. 239)
    Safety Dejon Gomes (No. 247)

    Out of the bunch, Hagg and Henery could be the most intriguing prospects.

    Hagg, a hybrid linebacker/safety in Nebraska's Peso defense, has a long, slender build – 6-2, 210 - that most resembles a wide receiver. He covers well enough to play defensive back but tackles running backs and wide receivers aggressively, too. Defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders has said more than once that if he was building a defense, he'd begin with Hagg.

    He just may not fit easily into a NFL position.

    “I think it kinda hinders me but it can help me at the same time,” Hagg said.

    NU's Team MVP said he has “no clue” where he might land in the Draft, or which teams would be interested. He said he'd talk to Husker defensive coaches in the upcoming weeks to figure it out.

    “It can give you anxiety attacks so I try not to think about it,” said Hagg, who admitted he takes a look at projections every now and then.

    Henery appeared unconcerned about his draft slot. Scheduled to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, he's a dual kicker/punter prospect with a 60-yard leg and uncanny accuracy.

    “They love him,” head coach Bo Pelini said of NFL scout

    He's almost too good; the few kickers taken in the upper rounds of the draft rarely turn out to be the best, although the Oakland Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski – a former first-rounder - remains one of Al Davis' better picks during the last 15 years. Most teams prefer to try out a glut of kickers, find the right free agent fit, and ride that guy until he gets a case of the shanks.

    “I won't worry about that process until after the bowl game,” Henery said with his usual calm. “I'll push it all until after the end of the year and not wonder 'What if?' It'll take care of itself.”

    Tags: nfl draft, prince amukamara, niles paul, mike mcneill, pierre allen, roy helu, alex henery, eric hagg, keith williams, ricky henry, dejon gomes

  16. 2010 Dec 15

    Podcast 12/15: All-American Boys


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: prince amukamara, alex henery, jared crick, lavonte david, eric hagg

  17. 2010 Dec 11

    Helu, Henery, Hagg Nab Husker Honors


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska's football team handed out its own awards Saturday at a banquet in Lincoln, with Roy Helu winning Offensive MVP, LaVonte David winning Defensive MVP, Alex Henery winning Special teams MVP and, in a bit of an upset, Eric Hagg winning overall Team MVP.

    The 2010 captains were Helu, Henery, Pierre Allen and Prince Amukamara.

    Henery won the Guy Chamberlain Award, presented annually to the Husker senior who exhibits the qualities of Nebraska All-American Guy Chamberlin. Safety Rickey Thenarse won the coveted Tom Novak award, presented to a Husker player who's had "had a successful Cornhusker career while overcoming odds and adversity."

    The full list of awards:

    Full List of Award Winners:
    2010 Team Captains— Roy Helu Jr. (Offensive), Prince Amukamara (Defensive), Pierre Allen (Defensive), Alex Henery (Special Teams)

    Team MVP – Eric Hagg
    Special Teams MVP – Alex Henery
    Offensive MVP – Roy Helu Jr.
    Defensive MVP – Lavonte David
    Guy Chamberlin Trophy- Alex Henery
    Tom Novak Trophy – Rickey Thenarse
    Fischer Native Son Award –Niles Paul
    Walk-on MVP – Joe Broekemeier
    Lifter of the Year – Rex Burkhead
    Character Award – Rex Burkhead, Eric Hagg, Thomas Grove
    Pat Clare Award – Ricky Henry
    Bobby Reynolds Award – Adi Kunalic
    Scout Team Offensive MVP – Kenny Bell, Yusef Wade
    Scout Team Defensive MVP – Colin McDermott
    Burnell Student Manager Scholarships – Tanner Dunbar and Paul Belz

    Get terrific deals for the Holiday Bowl!

    Tags: alex henery, roy helu, eric hagg, prince amukamara, pierre allen

  18. 2010 Dec 03

    BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: Five NU Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

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    Five NU players to watch in the Big 12 Championship:

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: Count on him playing Saturday, and I think he'll start. Is that a good idea? Only his performance will tell. My take is Martinez at 80 percent isn't as effective as Cody Green at 100 percent because Martinez doesn't have his speed and he doesn't have good enough passing mechanics to make accurate throws while injured. If he's close to 100 percent, though – and that ankle is healed enough that Martinez only needs a shot to numb his severely stubbed toe – he's the right guy to run the Huskers' offense.

    Quarterback Cody Green: If Martinez falters, it's the Green Team. What does he have to do? Make throws on third down and not fumble. He's been pretty good on the first count. Not so consistent on the second one. His performance in the Colorado game earned an extra measure of Bo Pelini's trust, however, and that counts for something.

    Running back Rex Burkhead: Nebraska's go-to guy in the Wildcat and on passing downs. He'll be called upon to pick up Oklahoma's various, effective blitzes and fulfilling that role may be more important than anything he does with his feet. I'd be surprised if the Wildcat is terribly effective against OU, whether Martinez or Green is the quarterback.

    Defensive tackle Jared Crick: He was an absolute terror in the OU game last year, mauling the Sooners' line and making life hell for Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones all night. His quick-twitch speed off the ball will help the Huskers against the no-huddle; Crick can effectively penetrate to break up some of those OU power plays.

    Peso Eric Hagg: He'll be busy Saturday. Busier than usual, I suspect. Because OU uses so many different formations and temps in its offense, Hagg will have do a little bit of everything. Play inside the box. Tackle in space. Cover Ryan Broyles in the slot. His versatility will come in quite handy.

    Tags: big 12 championship, taylor martinez, cody green, rex burkhead, jared crick, eric hagg

  19. 2010 Dec 02

    Alex Gets His Due!


    By HuskerLocker

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    Finally, Nebraska kicker Alex Henery - poised to become the most accurate kicker in college football history - was acknowledged as the best kicker in the Big 12 Thursday by 20 sportswriters who cover the league and submitted their votes to the Associated Press.

    Henery made 15 of 16 field goals this year. He didn't miss an extra point. His other career stats:

    *He's made 89.2% of his career field goal attempts (66-of-74). The NCAA record is 87.8% by Florida’s Bobby Raymond.

    *He's made 77.4% of his career field goals from 40 yards or longer (24-of-31). The NCAA career record is 72.1% by Georgia’s Billy Bennet.

    *He's made 97.7% of his career field goals from inside 40 yards (42-of-43). The NCAA career record is 97.0% by Florida’s Bobby Raymond.

    *He's tied for the NCAA record with six career games with at least four field goals.

    *He's made 256 of his 265 career kicks (extra points and field goals), a 96.6% accuracy rate. The NCAA FBS career record is 94.9% set by Missouri’s Jeff Wolfert.

    (Huskers Gameday compiled this list here.)

    Despite those numbers, Henery was not a Groza finalist, nor did he make the Big 12 Coaches' first team. Both of those spots went to Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey, who only made 22-of-26 field goals this year.

    Other Huskers also making the AP's first-team All-Big 12 squad were: Cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and guard Ricky Henry.

    NU and OSU led the way with six players each on the first teams. Wednesday, the AP announced that Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez and David were named Big 12 Offensive and Defensive Newcomers of the Year.

    See also: All-Time NU-OU Team

    Tags: alex henery, big 12, lavonte david, prince amukamara, jared crick, taylor martinez, eric hagg, ricky henry

  20. 2010 Nov 30

    Huskers Clean Up in Big 12 Awards


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Even if the Big 12 office seems primed to slight the Nebraska football team at every turn, the league coaches Tuesday more than took care of the Cornhuskers – with the noted exception of kicker/punter Alex Henery - with the release of the All-Big 12 awards.

    Six Huskers made the All-Big 12 first team: Defensive end Pierre Allen, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and offensive guard Ricky Henry. Five Huskers – including Henery – landed on the second team. Six more were named to the honorable-mention squad.

    In a nod to his sheer dominance - without the usual statistics to back it up - Amukamara won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year despite not catching an interception this year. Opposing teams only dared throw toward him 45 times this year, completing just seven passes. Amukamara had 13 pass break-ups, too. He's only the second cornerback to win the award – Kansas State's Terrence Newman won in 2002 – and the third Husker overall after defensive end Grant Wistrom (who won in 1996 and 1997) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (who won in 2009).

    Amukamara beat preseason favorite, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who finished the season leading the Big 12 in sacks.

    David won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. David finished with 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and 10 pass break-ups. Quarterback Taylor Martinez won Offensive Freshman of the Year despite missing the equivalent of two league games. Martinez amassed 2,409 yards in just 297 plays.

    On the Big 12's second team, Henery was named both the punter and the kicker. OSU's Dan Bailey beat Henery for Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team kicker despite Henery having a better field-goal percentage for the season and his career. Henery is poised to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Running back Roy Helu, defensive end Cameron Meredith, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, and wide receiver/kick returner Niles Paul joined Henery on the second team.

    Huskers named to the honorable-mention bunch were: Running back Rex Burkhead, center Mike Caputo, defensive back Dejon Gomes, Martinez, defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler and offensive lineman Keith Williams.

    Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy won Coach of the Year, while OSU receiver Justin Blackmon unsurprisingly won Offensive Player of the Year. Colorado's Nate Solder won Offensive Lineman of the Year while Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal won Defensive Lineman of the Year.

    Every Big 12 team was represented on the first or second team except Kansas, which had a scant three players named honorable mention.

    Tags: big 12, prince amukamara, lavonte david, taylor martinez, ricky henry, pierre allen, jared crick, alex henery, dejon gomes, alfonzo dennard, keith williams, mike caputo, rex burkhead, eric hagg, roy helu, niles paul

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