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  1. 2012 Jan 18

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. ESPN College Football Live's Lyndsay Lee


    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the biggest and brightest minds in college football with the site's newest feature: Audible Audibles.

    This week, a Husker-centric show as ESPN College Football Live's own Lyndsay Lee checks in with some of the most outrageous statements ever made on AA.

    Topics include:

    - Lee's take on Nebraska
    - The aftershocks of Steve Sipple's Uni Chat-quake reach us
    - Crowd commentary
    - Is Burkhead for Heisman 2012 realistic?

    Finally, the Four Letters' Diva of Digital Discourse goes Three and Out. Will Lee answer the three questions given or call an audible?

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Follow Lyndsey on Twitter: @L__Lee
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    Tags: uniforms, black helmet, black uniforms, rex burkhead, heisman, espn

  2. 2011 Dec 04

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Championship Week


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - No one should suggest that Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin’s head was in the CUSA Championship Game. Feel kinda bad for Case Keenum if no one else.

    - LSU is the epitome of sportsmanship. What other team spots their opponent two scores before smashing their skulls in?

    - It was impressive how Oklahoma State took down Oklahoma with the subtlety and grace of a Viking raid.

    - If you told someone that the ACC Championship Game would be 10-10 at the half before one team outscores the other 28-0, they’d likely believe you. If you told them it would be Clemson instead of Virginia Tech, you’d likely be 100 dollars richer.

    - Despite the heart-breaking loss to Kansas State, Paul Rhodes is the best thing to happen to Iowa State since the Morrill Act of 1862.

    - Thought Wisconsin would get revenge on Michigan State. Didn’t think the score would be so close.

    - Badgers running back Montee Ball for Heisman

    - Baylor is 9-3? Clearly college football has ripped open time and space allowing the sport to be swallowed by a separate time rift in which Waco demands only the finest of athletic specimen.

    - Seriously, quarterback Robert Griffin III for Heisman (RG3 if you’re nasty)

    - Still lobbying for the MAC to get a BCS berth over the Big East. You know it’s the right thing to do.

    - Final Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback vs. South Carolina

    Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces
    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: houston, lsu, oklahoma state, clemson, virginia tech, kansas state, iowa state, paul rhodes, wisconsin, montee ball, heisman, baylor, robert griffin, south carolina

  3. 2011 Nov 04

    The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 11/4: Blackshirts Aplenty


    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:

    - The defense's performance against Michigan State
    - Who was actually calling the defense
    - Brion Carnes' ability to lead the offense should Martinez be injured
    - Could we see a QB transfer?
    - The handing out of 20 Blackshirts
    - What it will take for Rex Burkhead to garner Heisman consideration

    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
    James: @JamesStevenson

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:

    Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: michigan state, bo pelini, carl pelini, brion carnes, blackshirts, rex burkhead, heisman trophy, podcast, podcasts

  4. 2011 Jun 06

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Husker Heisman Hopefuls


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    It’s been nearly a decade since Nebraska saw its last Heisman Trophy winner. A team rich in talent, the Cornhuskers have an opportunity to send another representative to Times Square in 2011. With a new multi-faceted offense and an always stout defense, Nebraska offers five candidates from its ranks who could take home the coveted prize.

    5. WR Brandon Kinnie – He’s a long shot and it’ll take some monumental stats, but Kinnie could garner some major postseason honors if lady luck is on his side. Brandon looks to be a favorite for one of the starting receiver spots and it’s no secret that Tim Beck likes to employ the passing game. He showed some impressive speed for his size during the Red-White game as a returner. If he can top 1,000 yards receiving and shine in the return game, he might slip onto the ballot.

    4. DT Jared Crick – Many were shocked when All-Everything Ndamukong Suh came in fourth in the Heisman vote following the 2009 regular season. Crick has a chance to put a dent in the voting numbers much like his former running buddy, but like Kinnie his stats must be extremely impressive. If Crick gets support from his line, his intensity may propel him to the Heisman ceremony.

    3. RB Rex Burkhead – The Plano, Texas native is a Swiss army knife wearing a football uniform. He’s a punishing runner, throws for touchdown passes and likely makes julienne fries. Thanks to the spotlight that Nebraska will command due to their arrival in a brand new conference, Burkhead will get more publicity than ever before as the head of the Cornhusker rushing attack. Look for his unique combination of humility and ability to garner plenty of love from pundits.

    2. QB Taylor Martinez – At one point last season, T-Magic seemed as much of a shoe-in for an invite to New York as Denard Robinson did. The rest is history. If he can hold onto the starting job and scorch Nebraska's non-conference slate, the Heisman talk will begin again. Should Martinez lead Nebraska through a physical Big Ten conference and produce gaudy statistics like his Michigan counterpart can, the sophomore could make many preseason magazine writers look like geniuses.

    1. WR Jamal Turner – It may seem like a reach to place a true freshman at the top spot, but Turner is going to have more opportunities to amaze than any other Husker in 2011. He’ll handle his business at wide receiver, but also find himself taking snaps as a quarterback and get other touches in the running game. Turner’s ability on punt and kick returns is far and away the best that Nebraska has to offer. Thanks to extensive playing time and the ability to take advantage of it, Jamal Turner could make history as the first freshman to ever win the award.

    Follow Brandon on Twitter: @huskerlocker

    Tags: heisman, brandon kinnie, jared crick, rex burkhead, taylor martinez, jamal turner

  5. 2009 Dec 12

    So Close - But Not Quite


    By HuskerLocker

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    A dominating 2009 season – culminating in an unforgettable game in the Big 12 Championship – was enough to earn Ndamukong Suh the most points ever for an interior defensive tackle in the Heisman Trophy race.

    It just wasn't enough to win him the Heisman itself. Suh, instead, finished fourth, with 161 first-place votes and 815 points despite winning the Southwest Region in the balloting.

    The trophy, instead, went to Alabama's Mark Ingram – the third sophomore in a row to nab the title, and the first Crimson Tide player – who appeared on more of the 926 voters' ballots than Suh or any of the other finalists – Stanford's Toby Gerhart(2nd), Texas' Colt McCoy(3rd) and Florida's Tim Tebow(5th).

    Ingram, shaken and emotional in his short-but-poignant acceptance speech, won the closest race in Heisman history - 1,304 points to Gerhart's 1,276. McCoy surprisingly finished third - a likely sign that many voters had already filed their ballots before the Big 12 title game - with 203 first-place votes and 1,145 points. It now appears that Suh's 4.5 sacks of McCoy derailed an runaway victory for the Texas quarterback.

    The fourth-place finish is the highest for a defensive lineman since Washington's Steve Emtman in 1991. Pittburgh's Hugh Green finished second in 1980.

    Suh was accompanied to the ceremony by his parents, Michael and Bernadette, sister Ngum, head coach Bo Pelini, the entire NU defensive staff, and head strength coach James Dobson. Former Husker Heisman winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Eric Crouch also attended the ceremony. Rodgers briefly sat next to Suh during the ceremony.

    Even without the Heisman, Suh enjoyed an incredible haul of awards over the last week, becoming the most decorated defensive player in NU history. Suh won the Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski and Bednarik Awards. He was named to both the Walter Camp and AP All-American teams.

    Tags: ndamukong suh, heisman trophy

  6. 2009 Dec 11

    Commentary: In Suh, An American Tale


    By HuskerLocker

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    “We were all screaming. We couldn't believe what was happening...it was our miracle, you see, because he was crawling. Bronko Nagurski was crawling toward the goal line and they did everything they could to stop him. But nothing could stop him.”

    -“Hearts In Atlantis”

    Ndamukong Suh walked out of a low tunnel and into the night, fat raindrops slipping through crevices in the bleachers to a ramp underneath the bowels of Faurot Field, where 30 or so reporters leaned against weather-beaten metal rails, waiting for the man who'd just firmly put his name in the Heisman Trophy race.

    Nebraska had beaten Missouri 27-12, and Suh was the primary reason, having injured Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert on an extraordinary sack-and-strip, and later intercepted Gabbert in the fourth quarter to set up NU's go-ahead touchdown.

    It was late, almost midnight. And the air was cold - yet thick and humid from the downpour. Suh walked out, shirtless, and it is a sign of our weird, modern fear of intimacy that nobody chose to write about this striking image. Suh without pads, is enormous, his arms so dense and massive they recall elephant trunks. The rest of his torso is a barrel without three ounces of extra lard on it.

    For a man with fair-to-decent technique, it's this upper body, this gladiatorial build, that is the source of his greatness on the college level. He has been taught well, it's true. He is surrounded by smart, tough teammates on the defensive line. And football, these days, is coached by film rats, coffee junkies and guys so bleary-eyed and dedicated to their craft that they can't bother to get out of their sweatshirts for gameday. The Brothers Pelini have, in their tireless effort, engineering a fast, angry-looking sportscar fit for the Autobahn, and given No. 93 first crack at the wheel.

    But only God could scheme the strength of Suh. Football is still comprised of men – in college especially, where the romance of the sport hangs on despite ESPN's best efforts to kill it – who are preordained to physically dominate. On a misty night in Columbia, Suh was Leviathan, who found the conditions suitable for landfall. And he inflicted massive damage.

    As it turned out, he needed a t-shirt, and had to head to the team bus to get it. Nebraska fans lined up around the perimeter fence – and on the stadium ramos above the scene – catcalled “Suuuh”, as they often do.

    The best player in college football - who owns the 2009 Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik Trophies - didn't much notice. Like most of this season – indeed, like most of his play on the field – Suh just kept looking forward, driving ahead, kicking at the rhetorical palm branches laid in his path.

    Nebraska almost rode his coattails to an improbable Big 12 Championship. With Suh as the steam engine, the Huskers fought to within one second of beating Texas. On that stage, with the nation watching, with glitzy UT fans already planning for their weeks of hook'em, hookah and stargzaing in Pasadena, Suh humbled the proceedings. To the wise fan, Suh – not the game, not Colt McCoy, not the controversial ending – will be the lasting story of this NU season, and that night. The picture of his strength, and his refusal to celebrate those individual achievements in the moment, are rare by themselves, even rarer coupled together.

    Suh was a man who did his job, thanklessly, yet incredibly. We could learn something from it.

    Week after week, he would serve as spokesman of Nebraska's football team at press conferences. He'd arrive early, talk on the phone for an hour to out-of-town reporters, do the 20-minute roundtable, and then conduct one-on-one interviews, too. Often the same questions.

    And Suh's not a raconteur, either. He just isn't. Some would clamor for more emotion, humor, excitement. Suh, steadfastly, did not provide it. His head coach, Bo Pelini, would follow suit, underselling his best player – the best he's ever coached - at the behest, I suspect, of Suh.

    Though not an immigrant himself, Suh is son of two – dad Michael, from Cameroon, and mom Bernadette, from Jamaica – and that's where the humility, the sense of purpose, of monotonous, everyday focus – comes from. They sought an education and future in America, carved it out over many decades, and simply made it work. Ndamukong carries that spirit in his play.

    Every Heisman finalist has an American tale, of course, but Suh has an amazing one that will become, more and more, the success story of the 21st Century: That of the immigrant, and his/her children, forging their way in a country where too many of us have grown fat on our own culture, lazy when it comes to our own potential. We are too aware of our limitations, and equally too aware of others' successes. We define ourselves by our interior monologue – the movies we see, the mags we read, the music we like, the food we eat, the booze we drink, the stuff we consume – with Facebook lists and blog posts and Ipod chats and all the rest.

    Many immigrants define themselves by the fruits of their labor. By what they've done. And what they've produced. And how their children turn out.

    Football – hell, sports in general – still adheres to that mindset. Winning and losing is still about performance. Sports hold too great of a sway in our nation, but they do so almost unwittingly – it's not the fault of coaches and players that we're desperately caught in stasis, and seek to live vicariously through those who trudge out on a frigid afternoon, on frozen grass, to carry and throw and kick around a football and keep score as to who does it best.

    But even football has succumbed to the disease, as “specialists” are the order of the day in the pro game. You don't have one tight end who blocks and catches. You have three who do one thing well. You have third-down blitz specialists, third-down pass-catching specialists, dime corners, slot guys, bunch sets, guys to run inside and guys to run outside. You don't have “defensive tackles,” you have “techniques,” guys whose primary role is to, quite simply, to prevent a hole from forming in a line. Only brave men need apply for such jobs, of course, but still – the well-rounded player, especially in the trenches, often remains elusive.

    So there's a wonderful ignorance, in some sense, to that reality in Suh's playing style. He doesn't know what he can't do and hasn't been taught to keep his skills in check.

    Alabama's Terrence Cody, for example, is a big, fat, strong guy who plugs up the middle and occasionally make a big tackle behind the line of scrimmage. That's what he does. That's all he does. And he'll get paid handsomely in the NFL, for many years, to do that one thing.

    Suh makes plays defensive tackles aren't expected or required to make, plays Cody wouldn't dream or even think of making. The interceptions. The deft recognition of screen passes. The backside pursuit tackles downfield, which saved more than one first down this year. The chicken fights he'll occasionally engage in with quarterbacks, where he mirrors their moves and cages them in until a teammate arrives.

    In the NFL, you can almost bet, some dumb coach will try to drum those instincts out of Suh. In fact, Suh, now that he's reached the mountaintop of the college game, is likely to see some backlash. Between now and April, pundits and scouts will silently, and on rare occasion publicly, pick at his skills. You'll see a painful debate over whether Suh is a prototypical defensive tackle in a 4-3 or an end in the 3-4. You'll hear “he can't make those plays in the NFL.”

    And those conversations aren't useless, per se. But a wise coach will build a defense around Suh's unique talents, instead of trying to slam him into a certain mold.

    Sadly, NFL coaches aren't always so smart.

    Neither are Heisman voters.

    Suh probably isn't going to win the trophy Saturday night, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he should, because the award's inane tradition of honoring offensive players, meathead voters on the East Coast and the television side of ESPN going into full-blown-Mark Ingram-or-Toby Gerhart mode in the hours after the Big 12 title game.

    ESPN's writers, borne of the newspaper business, didn't take the bait, but once it became clear that Colt McCoy wasn't getting the vote, Ingram, a solid-but-unspectacular sophomore from Alabama, starting getting the push. (Lou Holtz curiously went from voting for McCoy on Sunday to picking Ingram by Wednesday.) Never mind that the obvious strength of the Tide is its defense, or that quarterback Greg McElroy, not Ingram, was the primary offensive difference-maker in wins over Auburn and Florida.

    That Suh reached New York is reward in itself. ESPN always produces one whale of a show, and Suh's story will get proper treatment. Recruits will watch. Husker Nation, for the first time since 2001, will be raptly attentive on a mid-December Saturday night. And head coach Bo Pelini, arguably the preeminent defensive mind in college football along with Nick Saban, will get a little face time, too.

    As will Suh's parents, and good for that. They are, like all parents, a huge part of the story. If you've met No. 93, you sense a respect and reserve about him. It makes that scene in the tunnel at Missouri all the more potent. Husker fans should won't forget this serious, focus-forward man. Teams tried to stop him. They tried everything. But they couldn't. He tackled with one arm. He pursued to the sideline. When thwarted at the line of scrimmage, he threw up his hands to bat the ball down. When they ran away from him, Suh tracked down them all the same. For two years, he was an inescapable, implacable enemy to opposing offenses.

    Like his parents' journey to America, Suh's rapid ascendance, and eventual domination, was, well, kind of like a miracle. Forged one incredible play at a time.

    Tags: ndamukong suh, heisman trophy, bo pelini

  7. 2009 Oct 13

    The Perfect Recruiting Poster


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    My wife, who is smarter than I am, often likes to say: “More than one thing can be true in a given situation.”

    In the sports world, a statement like that acts as a cherry bomb. Tunnel vision is the soup du jour. Columnists and commentators pose black and white choices to their readers, viewers and listeners. Nebraska’s offense, for example, cannot run and pass with equal commitment. It must be “about” something. It must be “defined.” Of course, it really doesn’t have to be, but we’re not belaboring the point in this space.

    Rather, we’re reflecting on the heavyweights of the industry descending on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh after his magnificent performance at Missouri. The national media, being the national media, waited for ESPN to visually confirm what we already know: That Suh is the rare, transformative player for his position. At least in college, he is.

    Post-Mizzou, the national pundits suddenly shot Suh to near the top of their Heisman polls. ESPN and Sports Illustrated showed up Tuesday, getting an hour each, it seemed. And that was on top of the typical media requirements Suh already has. He handles it like a quarterback would, which, for a defensive player – is quite rare.

    Of the Heisman, make no mistake: Pundits mean to promote Suh as a way of capturing readers who tire of seeing Tim Tebow (whose performance, thus far, simply doesn’t deserve the trophy) and Colt McCoy (ditto) occupying the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the Heisman race, and readers who won’t trust Jimmy Clausen as a frontrunner until he beats USC.

    Suh is meant as a novelty. A two-week pastime. Trust me. That’s the intent. That’s the national media, which, at this point, pretty much runs the Heisman by choosing who does and doesn’t get the most publicity.

    But Charles Woodson was a novelty. For many months. Except Michigan kept winning. And Woodson kept making big plays. Until he deservedly eclipsed Peyton Manning at the finish line.

    Suh can chart that same path. He’s that good, and his defense gives him enough chances to make headline plays. And the rest of the field – save Clausen, who controls his own destiny vs. USC – hasn’t done enough to warrant the medalist spot.

    Now here’s where my wife comes in: Nebraska can – and should - promote Suh without it being at the expense of the larger team goals: A Big 12 Championship and a BCS bowl bid. The circus doesn’t come around every day to Lincoln. It doesn’t come around most days. Bo Pelini and his crew can recruit their fannies off, and still not draw a talent like Suh in the next five years.

    “Everybody wants to just focus on Suh,” head coach Bo Pelini said. “That’s great. He’s earned that. But there’s a lot of guys around him who are playing well, too…I know everybody wants to build it into one guy. It’s a team game. That’s how it works. That’s the way it’ll always be.”

    That’s true. But it’s also true that Suh is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s got the talent, the statistics and the commitment to his own education to back up the hype, too. Suh has shown he can handle the press and his best gift is giving credit where it’s due: To the NU coaches, specifically defensive line coach Carl Pelini.

    “If I’m supposed to be that spokesperson, that’s supposed to be my God-willing thing to do, I’m more than happy to do that,” Suh said. “As long as this team continues to win and move forward.

    “I’d like to be an example of what these coaches have taught me in the last two years. And now you can be a recruit and have four years under your belt – just imagine how much better you can be than me.”

    You don’t have to watch Carl Pelini in practice very long to know he’s an excellent teacher, a mixture of attitude and intelligence, a preacher of technique and desire. Suh’s ability to defend the pass from his position is a combination of natural instinct and sound instruction. Defensive end Zach Potter did the same last year. Against a quick passing offense, pass rushes can be hard to come by. That’s why you have to disrupt the quarterback in a different way. Suh, and the rest of the defensive line, is surprisingly good at doing that.

    Suh is so practiced at explaining what he’s learned from the Brothers Pelini that it serves as an excellent recruiting poster for the program.

    Suh’s performance does, too, of course – but the Heisman, convoluted as it may be, brings the wood, so to speak. It’s helped resurrect the image of USC’s program in the 2000s; Tim Brown’s 1987 Heisman opened the door to five years of great success at Notre Dame, while Ricky Williams did the same in 1998 at Texas. Wisconsin won the 1994 Rose Bowl, but didn’t peak until 1999 with Ron Dayne’s sprint to the award.

    Most of those teams also won games. Suh’s chase for the Heisman, and NU’s team success, generally go hand in hand.

    Now – those hands have to wash each other’s backs.

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    Tags: ndamukong suh, bo pelini, heisman

  8. 2009 Jul 13

    HL's Preseason Heisman Board


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Our preseason Heisman includes the three finalists from last year – we’re idealistic, but not stupid – and seven more contenders.

    We’ll update our Heisman board each week during the season.

    1. Colt McCoy, Texas QB
    Stock: Up
    He’s the only one of last year’s three finalists without a trophy, and even now it’s hard to understand how Sam Bradford beat him. McCoy may not be as coveted by pro scouts as Bradford, but he’s a terrific leader, eerily accurate and a good runner.

    2. Tim Tebow, Florida QB
    Stock: Up
    Tebow finished third last year, and probably deserved to. But the Gators should have the nation’s best team, and Tebow’s physicality and stature in the game is highly recognizable. Whether he wins a second Heisman or not, he’ll be remembered as one of the great college football players in history.

    3. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State WR
    Stock: Up
    This year’s Michael Crabtree, with a twist: Bryant also returns punts better than anyone in the nation, with a 17.9 yard average last year and two touchdowns. Bryant is poised to have a very big year, as is OSU; the question becomes whether teammates Zac Robinson and Kendall Hunter siphon away too much of the credit.

    4. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma QB
    Stock: Down
    Bradford will have the tough task of duplicating astounding 2008 numbers with a new offensive line and new receivers. Great player and great kid, but not likely. A repeat winner has to be a little more special statistically than Bradford is bound to be next year.

    5. Eric Berry, Tennessee DB
    Stock: Up
    Somebody has to stand up for the best defensive player with a shot at the award. Berry has been a starter at safety from the day he stepped on campus. Last year, as a sophomore, he had 72 tackles, seven interceptions, six more pass breakups and three sacks. And he does this while being a ferocious hitter in run support. Berry, at 5-11, 203, is simply a great player, that rare strong safety who’s also a top-notch cover guy. Worthy of the Heisman.

    6. Jevan Snead, Mississippi QB
    Stock: Up
    When the light went on for this Texas transfer in the last half of last season, it really went on. Snead is a more a big playmaker than McCoy or Bradford; when Ole Miss throws the ball, it tends to be downfield, for big plays. That will diminish his completion percentage, and possibly his chances. But an undefeated regular season – which is possible – sure would help.

    7. Jahvid Best, California RB
    Stock: Up
    Here’s your best bet at 2,000 yards, a short, shifty dude who averaged 8.1 yards per carry and gained 1,580 yards overall against the defensively weak Pac 10. Best could be part of the first Cal team to win a league title in ages. Don’t be surprised if Best has close to 1,000 yards after four games, heading into a game vs. USC. His performance there will shape his Heisman candidacy.

    8. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State QB
    Stock: Up
    You already know he’ll get more publicity than the average player, but, to boot, Pryor probably deserves it. He was good as advertised in his true freshman season, a lanky, confident runner with better-than-average passing mechanics. Games vs. USC, at Penn State and at Michigan will be the measuring sticks, but, either, we expect giant numbers from a quarterback of a top 15 team.

    9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State QB
    Stock: Up
    The trigger man of OSU’s offense may not have the glitz of McCoy and Bradford, but he’s no less indispensable. For Robinson, much like Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, it all lays out there in front of him. Win the games, and reap the rewards. A big test in the season-opener vs. Georgia needs to be passed. After that: Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

    10. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada QB
    Stock: Up
    Who is he? A guy who rushed for 1,130 yards and passed for 2,849 while amassing 39 total touchdowns in Chris Ault’s Pistol offense. He plays in the defense-challenged WAC, but he’ll get two early season games on national TV: at Notre Dame, and vs. Missouri. If Kaepernick shines in both, and Nevada goes on run through its conference, he’ll be in the conversation.

    Tags: heisman board, colt mccoy, sam bradford, dez bryant, big 12

  9. 2009 Jun 03

    Some Much-Deserved Praise for Turner


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Heisman Pundit names him the 2nd-most underrated coachbehind Baylor's Art Briles.

    The whole list, with their comments. You may want to visit their most overrated list, too...although it's not a very good list of coaches.

    1. Art Briles, Baylor–One of the finest offensive minds in the game, he helped revive the Houston program and now appears to have Baylor on the quick turnaround as well.

    2. Turner Gill, Buffalo–How many coaches from the overrated list could find a way to win at Buffalo? And why is this guy still in Buffalo?

    3. Kyle Wittingham, Utah–He had a tough act to follow in Urban Meyer. But he just went 13-0, too. Either going 13-0 is easy to do at Utah, or the Utes have had some really good coaches lately.

    4. Mike Riley, Oregon State–Has done something only one other current coach in the country has done: Beaten Pete Carroll twice (the other is Bill Snyder, who just returned to coaching).

    5. Kevin Sumlin, Houston–When Briles left, the Cougars could’ve taken a dive. But Sumlin did an admirable job and led Houston to a bowl. Is anyone noticing?

    6. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss–Seems to win wherever he goes, but is never fully appreciated. Sure, he’s using Ed Orgeron’s talent, but he knows what to do with it.

    7. Bobby Johnson, Vandy–He got Vandy to a bowl. How many coaches on the overrated list could get Vandy to a bowl?

    8. Dick Tomey, San Jose State–Was run out of Arizona for no real good reason then sat out a few years before doing a solid job for the Spartans. He’s still got it.

    9. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest–Has won 28 games in three seasons at Wake, not that anyone seems to care.

    10. Jim Harbaugh, Stanford–Has turned Stanford into a hard-nose, competitive team. Beat an extremely talented USC team with almost no talent. Now, he’s starting to bring in some talent. Look out.

    See also: These Husker boots weren't made for walkin...

    Tags: turner gill, heisman pundit

  10. 2009 Jun 01

    Five Defensive Players for the Heisman


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Here’s five top defensive players returning in 2009 who at least deserve some consideration for the Heisman, and since nobody else will mention them, we will.

    Taylor Mays, USC safety

    Not terribly flashy in 2008 – 53 tackles, 9 pass deflections, no INTs - but it’s not his fault. Mays played behind incredibly good linebackers who gobbled up tackles and was generally avoided by opposing quarterbacks. Pound for pound, he could be the most devastating hitter in college football. He is that rare specimen at 6-3, 230, who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash time.

    Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska defensive tackle

    Utterly dominant over the last half of last season, he finished with 75 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and two defensive touchdowns. Suh obliterated Clemson’s offensive line in the Gator Bowl and blocked a crucial field goal in the first half.

    Brandon Spikes, Florida linebacker

    Accounted for 93 tackles, eight sacks and four interceptions in 2008. And, remember: It was Florida’s defense, not its offense that won the SEC Championship over Alabama and the BCS title game over Oklahoma. Spikes is the undisputed leader of that unit. Tim Tebow may be God’s gift to the Gators. But Spikes and Co. actually won the national championship for coach Urban Meyer.

    Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri linebacker

    You may not like him, but you can’t argue with his overall production last year: 155 tackles, two defensive touchdowns, three interceptions. He’ll have less defensive help around him this year than he did in 2008, but Weatherspoon is a ‘backer any college team would gladly take.

    Eric Berry, Tennessee safety

    Along with Mays, the premier safety in the nation. Berry has a nose for the ball, can run after he picks it off (two touchdowns after seven interceptions in 2008) and knows what it’s like to be stuck on the field because of an awful offense.

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    Tags: heisman trophy, ndamukong suh, taylor mays, eric berry, sean weatherspoon, brandon spikes

  11. 2009 Jun 01

    Suh for Heisman? Why Not?


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    “A waste of time,” a buddy of mine said recently with the flick of his hand.

    He was talking about the 2009 Heisman race.

    “It’s just completely –formal,” he said.

    A mere formality?

    “Bingo. The same three guys who went there last year are just going back this year.”

    That is, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy.

    “And unless McCoy takes a dump for half the season, he’ll win it, because the other two guys already have one.”

    Odds on McCoy: 1/5, sans said dump.

    A crude truth, but one nonetheless: The 2009 Heisman race will begin with three horses. And I’d be surprised if any other player, short of some running back dashing for 2,000 yards before mid-November, gets even a whiff of publicity.

    Does such a back exist? In the era of spread offense, which literally and figuratively spreads the ball around, it’s becoming less and less likely. Central Florida, East Carolina and Tulane’s running backs might do it, but nobody at one of BCS Conference schools seems ripe for it.

    How about any other quarterbacks outside of the big three? We’d be stunned.

    Wide receivers? Not likely. The best of the bunch, Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant, would need the Cowboys to go undefeated before he got a bright enough spotlight.

    So what about a defensive player?

    The 2009 season does, after all, seem to have an unusual number of bright stars on college defenses.

    Nebraska has one in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Defensive tackle Terrence Cody sometimes commands triple teams for Alabama. Florida has linebacker Brandon Spikes. Texas boasts linebacker Sergio Kindle. South Florida has defensive end George Selvie. USC has the best safety prospect, since, oh, Kenny Easley, in Taylor Mays. Oklahoma seemingly enjoys a whole roster of studs, specifically tackle Gerald McCoy.

    These aren’t blokes just popping out of nowhere. These are first-round NFL Draft picks who chose to come back for another year of college football. In the 2010 NFL Draft, they’ll be just as coveted, if not more coveted, than Tebow, Colt McCoy or Bradford.

    And, of course, they’ll compete for their position awards. The Lombardi and Outland Trophy races ought to be particularly close.

    The question we’re posing here – not that it’s new, and not that someone else, somewhere else isn’t making it right at this moment – is this: Why won’t any of them have a prayer of winning the Heisman? Hell, forget winning it: Why do none of them have a prayer of even being invited to New York?

    We know this, of course, because we have empirical evidence. Aside from Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson scoring an upset Hesiman win over Peyton Manning in 1997 – and we’re fairly sure that the Manning family hasn’t quite forgiven the nation for failing to reward their kid for never beating Florida - a defensive player hasn’t finished in the top ten of the Heisman voting since Florida State linebacker Marvin Jones in 1992. Woodson’s win, too, was as much for his “two-way” play and punt returns as it was for his general defensive skill.

    So consider that for a minute. In 17 years, only two defensive players were deemed worthy enough for the top five of the Heisman balloting. Consider that many of the nation’s top head coaches – Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, Bob Stoops – are defense-first guys. None of them are apparently good enough to produce a Heisman-worthy football player on defense. Just conference and national titles.

    OK, consider it for another minute. Consider who the omitted list includes. Every single NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Every member of the 2008 NFL All-Pro team. Every member of every All-Pro team that didn’t include Woodson or Hugh Green (who finished second in 1980) for the last 30 years or so, for that matter. Almost half of all the first-round NFL Draft picks for the last decade – so, about 160 players – never even finished with enough votes to get to the top five.

    No, the NFL isn’t the sole determinant of who was dominant in college. But, you would figure, out of more than 100 millionaires…one of them was one of the top five players in college, right?

    A little breathtaking, no? That Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau, Zach Thomas, Jason Thomas, Albert Haynesworth, Brian Urlacher, Glenn Dorsey, Terrence Newman, Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney, Terrell Suggs and Patrick Willis were never considered a top five player in the Heisman balloting?

    And it’s not as if a Heisman ballot is a super-controlled environment. You can vote for whoever you like, as a Denver Post columnist did last year when he handed Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson a first-place vote. And enough ballots are spread out to enough electors in enough regions to presume some reasonable balance. You should, in theory, get a wide range of opinions.

    But those opinions almost never zero in on defensive players. How is it that supposed experts – the nation’s beat writers and college football media – could somehow identify, each time, five players who were specifically not on defense? (I’m well aware that Heisman winners vote, too, but, considering they’re almost exclusively offensive players, what else would you expect from them?)

    Athletic departments could do more. Publicity campaigns, for example. USC certainly has the clout and the media attention to make Mays its Heisman cover boy instead of, say, overrated and underwhelming Joe McKnight. Not sure where Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini stands on the matter, but Suh is clearly the team’s leader and best player. If he’s as dominant as he was in 2008, and he continues to play goal line offense, a campaign only makes sense, right? Knowing Bradford’s generous soul, he won’t mind if OU shoves its considerable resources to the Sooners’ best defender (or, it must be said, tight end Jermaine Gresham).

    After all, consider the rhetoric surrounding Bradford at this moment. There is some question as to whether he’ll play as well with an inexperienced line. In other words, a quarterback’s play, in the eyes of those who presumably vote on the Heisman, is dependent on the talent of the line that protects him.

    But shouldn’t the argument be reversed? Shouldn’t the most outstanding player in college football raise the overall level of his offensive line? The logical argument should be “at least in pass protection, OU’s young line has nothing to worry about – as Bradford is the best player in America,” right?

    No? Games are won or lost in the trenches?

    Then why hasn’t a player in the trench, not once, been in the top five of the Heisman balloting since Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace on offense, and Washington’s Steve Emtman on defense?

    Are the beat writers and voters really so apathetic and lazy as to simply follow the storylines trotted out by ESPN – which broadcasts the Heisman Trophy Presentation but has no explicit control over the voting - hook, line and sinker?

    Look at the Academy Awards, where the supposed “most educated” voters routinely ignore the highest-grossing movies when handing out nominations. Now, while it’s true the voters there are, too, subject to massive marketing campaigns, Michael Shannon, in “Revolutionary Road” and Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” aren’t getting noms because of TV coverage or free screeners. They’re getting them because voters watched the films, knew good work when they saw it and judged accordingly.

    Lifetime veterans of college football should be able to do the same. Fans should expect it of them. Movie buffs expect it of awards voters.

    The smattering of defensive players is above.

    Consider it a watch list. And a test.

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    See also: Five Defensive Players for the Heisman

    Tags: ndamukong suh, heisman trophy

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