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  1. 2010 Nov 08

    CHALKTALK: How NU Stuffed ISU's Fake

    3,904 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Iowa State gambled with a fake extra point to beat Nebraska, but the Huskers stole the win. How? Samuel McKewon breaks it down. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: chalktalk, isu game

  2. 2010 Nov 08

    Husker Heartbeat 11/8: Suh Tries His Hand at Kicker

    5,510 views

    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.


    *Nebraska's defense struggles to adjust to opponents' offensive twists.

    *NU graduate assistant Joe Moglia gets a UFL job.

    *Ndamukong Suh misses an extra point - yes, you read that right - in the Detroit-NY Jets game, which comes back to haunt the team later.

    *Iowa still has a shot at the Big Ten title.

    *Lee B weighs in a "bizarre" day that wasn't really.

    *The KLIN ploy to sync its radio broadcast with the TV broadcast so Husker fans could turn down their sets didn't really work. Here's why.

    More legitimate groaning about Paul Rhoads two-point gamble.

    See also: How NU Stuffed ISU's 2-Point Conversion

    Tags: husker heartbeat, ndamukong suh, lee b, blackshirts, isu game

  3. 2010 Nov 08

    Podcast 11/8: NU Drops in BCS Rankings

    5,120 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Win free Nebraska-Kansas tickets by signing up for Husker Locker today for free!

    Tags: podcasts, isu game, volleyball, womens hoops, soccer

  4. 2010 Nov 08

    Husker Monday Review - ISU

    363 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to the Big Ten.

    You probably didn't see that banner hanging at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday afternoon. It wasn't physically there. But in spirit, Nebraska's new league hovered over its 31-30 overtime win at Iowa State.

    In size, structure and athletes, the Cyclones are the Big 12's best impression of the Big Ten. ISU's receivers and tight end were a load for NU's secondary to cover and tackle. Iowa State wasn't fast, but it was tough, making clever foot tackles on Husker running backs Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu just before they burst into the clear. Paul Rhoads' defense deliberately kept everything in front of it.

    The Cyclones' big offensive line frequently managed Nebraska's exotic blitzes, holding occasionally – and getting away with it. Happens all the time in the Big Ten, where the tackles are the size of a tugboat and nearly impossible to bull rush.

    The Brothers Pelini rolled the dice with a relatively smallish defense that again kept the equivalent of four safeties on the field and just one linebacker in LaVonte David. From this vantage point – it didn't work. ISU ran 16 more plays and picked up nine more first downs. Despite throwing 20 more passes, ISU won the time of possession battle.

    As well as Nebraska matched up with Missouri's offense and defense, it matched up poorly with Iowa State. And the Huskers will see better versions of the Cyclones' template – see Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan State, among others – in the Big Ten.

    On with the review:

    Five Players We Loved

    Running Back Rex Burkhead: Charged with carrying a significant load in Taylor Martinez's absence, Burkhead excelled in the Wildcat formation and otherwise. The kid who grew up with a Barry Sanders poster on his wall is more grit than he is flash – and that's just what Nebraska needed out of him.

    Safety Austin Cassidy: He read Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud's eyes perfectly on that Pick Six, stepping in front of the ball at just precisely the right moment. Then Cassidy flashed some running skills during the 29-yard return for a touchdown. Remember that Cassidy was a stud quarterback in high school. He didn't appear to have lost a step.

    Peso back Eric Hagg: In a battle between Iowa State holder Daniel Kuehl and this athletic senior, I'll take Hagg any day. Secondary coach Marvin Sanders would build a defense around this kid. He'll make a play for all-conference honors despite having fewer tackles than most safeties would.

    Defensive end Cameron Meredith: He played the run effectively all day, finishing with ten tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. He's bit like the defensive line's version of Hagg: Versatile, smart and athletic.

    Tight end Kyler Reed: Quickly becoming Nebraska's best receiver – period. How do you match up against the kid? Three more grabs for 52 yards on Saturday – and every one of them were important.

    Three Concerns

    Five More Fumbles: And Nebraska was fortunate to recover any of them, frankly. Throw in a key dropped pass by Brandon Kinnie and a dropped interception by Dejon Gomes, and it's clear: The Huskers' hands continue to betray them.

    Game Management Blunders: Burning timeouts and getting penalties because of too many guys in the huddle. Failing to adjust to Iowa State's super-quick no-huddle scheme. Two glaring examples of Nebraska coaches occasionally getting too caught up in the chess game to just line up and play football.

    Wind: And we don't mean Matthew Modine's movie about yachting. NU can't seem to punt into it, doesn't dare throw into it and generally seems hamstrung by its existence should it blow harder than a few miles per hour.

    Three Questions

    Where's the Fire? Until Cassidy's interception return in third quarter, Nebraska's sideline seemed uncertain and detached from the game on the field. Did a week's worth of adversity take its toll? Did the Huskers expect to roll over ISU? NU still seems to lack that galvanizing emotional presence – especially on defense. Do the coaches emote too much, and the players too little? It sometimes looks that way.

    Should Nebraska sit Taylor Martinez one more week? Expect Alfonzo Dennard to be cleared to play this week after recovering from a concussion. No worries there. But Martinez – does he rest that ankle for the Kansas game so that he's right for a suddenly-interesting tilt at Texas A&M? We like NU to sit Martinez again so long as Green is healthy enough to go. It'd be nice if Zac Lee is back, too, but an injured throwing hand isn't a good sign.

    How much better can the Huskers' recruiting class get? With the commitment of cornerback Charles Jackson last week, Nebraska has inched close to having one of the nation's top ten recruiting class. A few big names remain on the board – and NU has to hold on to JUCO safety Daimion Stafford, who is considering a visit to Florida and USC.

    Tags: isu game, husker monday review, kyler reed, rex burkhead, cameron meredith, austin cassidy, eric hagg, taylor martinez, big ten

  5. 2010 Nov 06

    NU-ISU: Report Card

    5,625 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our report card after the Nebraska-Iowa State game!

    OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Running back Rex Burkhead. He ran the Wildcat with expert precision – and had to catch some pretty rotten snaps from Mike Caputo just to get the play going. In the second half, he bulled his way for tough yards. Burkhead was the spark – indeed, just about only one – NU had on offense Saturday.

    DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Safeties Austin Cassidy and Eric Hagg We knew that Austen Arnaud would finally make a mistake throwing the ball against NU's defense, and when he did, Cassidy was there to read the throw, step in front, and make the game-defining play, a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown. Hagg, meanwhile, had two terrific interceptions – including one of a two-point conversion that saved the Huskers' Big 12 hopes.

    GRADES:

    QUARTERBACK: C Cody Green is not a dynamic runner unless he gets a full head of steam. And he fumbles just too much. But it must be said: He made one big throw after another in the second half. Kid converted four straight third-down passes, and none of them were easy throws. Green showed in that second half that, yes, he can lead these Huskers in a pinch. Because he just did. If Green ever had a half-season to work out the kinks, he could be a pretty good starting quarterback.

    RUNNING BACK: A Man's game from Burkhead, who just ran like a plow through ISU's arm tackles. Roy Helu's one fumble was a joke – if five guys are holding you up for the sake of trying to strip the ball, the play's over – and he otherwise ran quite well. These two carried the offense, especially Burkhead.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: B A little leaky on a few pass plays when the rush got to Green, but the run blocking was pretty solid, considering Iowa State was sold out to stop the run. Keith Williams bravely came back in the game after getting hurt early. He wants a Big 12 title bad, you can see it.

    WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B- Brandon Kinnie had a drop, but other than that, these guys played OK. Kyler Reed is quickly becoming the best receiving tight end in the conference. It's probably too late in the season for him to win any postseason rewards but he's really hard to cover one-on-one, and he's starting to gain confidence, too. The blocking, overall, wasn't great until Burkhead's touchdown run in overtime.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: B Did their job against the run, holding up ISU's offensive line to free up lanes for linebackers and safeties to come through. Iowa State ran the ball 48 times for 157 yards. That's 3.3 yards. Not much. Cameron Meredith and Pierre Allen arguably played their best games of the year. Against the pass, NU preferred to use the blitz to slow down Arnaud, and sometimes it worked. Nice QB hurry by redshirt freshman Jason Ankrah, which forced a holding call and an interception.

    LINEBACKER: C- LaVonte David had ten tackles – but he didn't play that well. He missed some tackles and allowed Alexander Robinson to beat him four times in the passing game, twice on third down and once for a 13-yard touchdown. He did cover a wheel route Robinson ran pretty well, though. Will Compton was only on the field for spot plays.

    SECONDARY: C Cassidy and Hagg raise the overall grade, but the secondary, without Alfonzo Dennard, missed some opportunities and tackles. Ciante Evans and Anthony West both got picked on pretty good. Dejon Gomes struggled to match up with tight end Collin Franklin. He's really not a fit for those guys; Missouri's Michael Egnew did the same thing last week. Courtney Osborne and Cassidy filled like mad men against the run, though, Nice job there. Osborne is an aggressive son a gun. I like him. When he figures everything out.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: C- Not good at all until Hagg's interception, which I don't even really count – since Hagg was the only one to sniff out the fake. Paul had the boneheaded fumble. Burkhead fair caught a punt on the 6-yard line. Alex Henery wasn't on his punting game Saturday. His boots against the wind were too high and errant to make much of a dent. NU botched two more kickoff returns. Iowa State frankly didn't play much better on special teams.

    GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: C Nebraska burned several timeouts because of having the wrong guys in the huddle. NU incurred two substitution penalties. The Huskers blitzed quite a bit and put themselves out of position on certain plays as a result. On offense, Shawn Watson called a decent game, given he has little-to-no confidence in Cody Green's ability to throw against the wind. Watson put Green in some empty sets in the second half, which seemed to make Green more comfortable throwing down the field.

    See also: Postgame Notes and What's Your Reaction?

    Tags: isu game, report card, austin cassidy, eric hagg, rex burkhead

  6. 2010 Nov 06

    NU-ISU: Huskers Lucky - But Good, Too

    1,351 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    AMES, Iowa – Just win, Herbie.

    It doesn't have to be cute, sweet, cuddly or nice. It doesn't have to warm a Husker fan's heart. Yes, it can even stop a few of them in the process.

    But Nebraska isn't going to apologize for Saturday's 31-30 ugly duckling overtime win on these windy plains, where the air smells of leaves, withering grass and hunting parties on the outskirts of town.

    The Big 12 title chase is still alive and heading back to Lincoln for a date with Turner Gill. The NU faithful can smile this week through all the “Turner Comes Home” stories instead of grumbling and spitting into their coffee and toast.

    “Part of being a champion is being good,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “And part of it is being lucky. Sometimes, you have to catch a break or two here and there.”

    Were the Huskers lucky? Yep. Cody Green had two ridiculous fumbles that he just happened to recover. That's luck. ISU dropped a few passes down the stretch. That's pretty lucky. The Cyclones missed two field goals. For all the unlucky crap that happened to Nebraska in last year's game, it was bound to balance out. (Except for Niles Paul, poor kid.)

    Were the Huskers outcoached? Until the very last play, probably. ISU had a better plan. It didn't blow its timeouts – although Iowa State didn't exactly use them, either.

    But the Cyclones stuck a big foot in their funnels on the final play and, as long as folks remember this series, they'll know it ended a coach's ill-conceived gamble.

    Paul Rhoads wore a stiff upper lip in his postgame presser defending his extra-point fake in overtime, but here's the bottom line: You don't ask your holder to beat the No. 9 team in the country with his arm. Because the No. 9 team in the country usually has a cat like Eric Hagg, who can make plays to crush the cardinal-and-gold gang and leave their fans lingering in their seats, dazed and snookered, 15 minutes after the game had ended.

    Until that moment, when the Huskers' advantage in talent and recruiting stole away an ISU win, NU was just another ranked team ready to fall.

    Nebraska had its reasons. It's hard to easily beat any BCS-autobid conference team when your top two quarterbacks and all-conference cornerback stand over on the sidelines, unable to help. How many teams could do it? Take Kellen Moore away from Boise State. Take Cameron Newton away from Auburn.

    How many? Oregon, OK. TCU, apparently. But few. Very few.

    The Huskers found a way to overcome Taylor Martinez's absence. Not so much when it came to corner Alfonzo Dennard.

    If you want to know just how crucial Dennard is to NU, I give you Saturday. The real costly hit made last week by safety Courtney Osborne was the one he made by accident, on his own teammate.

    ISU quarterback Austen Arnaud, running around on a bum wheel, ignored Prince Amukamara's side all game. Eric Hagg patrolled his man. You know what Austin Cassidy did.

    All that was left was Dennard's spot and Arnaud completed ten passes over there. Ciante Evans and Anthony West are OK. But they're no Dennard, who could play in the NFL next week – just so long as he's cleared to play after a concussion.

    Watson and head coach Bo Pelini were right to sit Martinez. Sit him again next week. Have the kid right for Texas A&M, which still has some noise left to make in the Big 12 South.

    Rex Burkhead stepped into the spotlight and played like a stud. That game is precisely why he's valuable to Nebraska.

    Burkhead is not a gamebreaker. He's just steady and tough. How many wayward snaps did he catch Saturday while in the Wildcat? How many tackles did he break? How crucial was that third-down run late in the fourth quarter that extended NU's drive just enough that Iowa State couldn't mount a final drive in regulation?

    With Rex, it's always – always – the little things at which he excels. That skill is so hard to recruit. Few teams have that kind of a guy – the utility knife. Kudos to Watson for knowing Burkhead could carry enough of the load Saturday to ease Green's burden.

    Watson had to call a game around Green's deficiencies – namely, that No. 17 has apparently lost the ability to run – and although he can stick that 3rd-and-1 pass call on a high, unreachable shelf, he called to the few strengths he had on the field – and produced enough points to win. Now, if a certain sideline coach can remember which guys should be in the huddle...

    The Blackshirts struggled and couldn't manage ISU's no-huddle very well. Iowa State is a big team in size, and Nebraska's personnel – athletic as it is – didn't necessarily match up very well. The Brothers Pelini tried a lot of blitzes and corkscrew stunt calls. Some of them got home. Others did not. Iowa State's offensive coordinator is not long for Ames. Imagine if he had a quarterback like Martinez.

    Nebraska had to live without No. 3 on Saturday. Tall enough order. Throw in No. 15, and Saturday's game seemed a lot tighter and tougher than a fat point spread suggested.

    And so it was.

    But Nebraska, being good – and a little lucky – prevailed.

    Three more wins to Dallas.

    See also: Postgame Notes and What's Your Reaction?

    Tags: isu game, rex burkhead, bo pelini, shawn watson, cody green

  7. 2010 Nov 06

    NU-ISU: Great Escape from Ames

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    By HuskerLocker

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    AMES, Iowa – Go for the block – but watch the fake.

    The call first came from Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, who watched Iowa State's extra-point unit line up to tie NU at 31 in the first overtime of a wild, back-and-forth, mistake-prone game.

    Go for the block – but watch the fake.

    “All I did was echo it,” head coach Bo Pelini said.

    ISU indeed ran that fake, as holder Daniel Kuehl rose from his spot and awkwardly lofted a ball toward Cyclone tight end Collin Franklin, who was wide open.

    “I had no hesitation whatsoever,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said in making the call.

    “I was surprised,” said Husker safety Eric Hagg.

    But Kuehn threw the pass too softly. So Hagg, reacting quickly, zoomed under the ball, grabbed it with two hands, fell to the turf, and the delirious crowd of 51,159 at Jack Trice Stadium both gasped and roared, the choice based on which color of red each fan wore.

    “It's a game of inches,” Rhoads said ruefully.

    Nebraska 31, Iowa State 30. How do you like it? The end of a series – with a bang, crash and lucky Husker win.

    “Game's crazy,” Bo Pelini said. “But you've got to find a way to win. I'm just happy we found a way to win. I don't think we played our best. But you're going to run into some adversity and you've got to find a way to get it done.”

    That adversity included:

    *Playing without starting quarterback Taylor Martinez (ankle sprain) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (concussion), backup quarterback Zac Lee (throwing hand bruise) and parts of the game without guard Keith Williams and safety Dejon Gomes.

    Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said the decision to sit Martinez occurred at game time. Martinez even entered the game for a single play as a decoy at wide receiver.

    “It was close,” Watson said. “He could have played today. But if we didn't have to go that route, it was in his best interest and ours.”

    In Martinez's absence, Cody Green threw for 79 yards and rushed for ten. But the big star was Rex Burkhead, who ran the Wildcat more than ten times, and finished with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

    “We had to rely on the run game,” Burkhead said. “New formations and all that. We still had to manage.”

    Dennard's absence was not covered quite as well. ISU repeatedly threw at Dennard's replacement, freshman Ciante Evans. Anthony West replaced Evans, and ISU picked on him, too. Cyclones' quarterback Austen Arnaud tossed one score against each of them.

    “They went after them,” secondary coach Marvin Sanders said. “But they weren't blown coverages. Their guys, gotta give them credit.”

    *Five fumbles – two of which were lost.

    *A stiff south wind that kept both teams from effectively throwing the ball into it.

    *ISU's no-huddle attack, sped up especially for this game that gashed NU for 360 total yards – including 203 through the air.

    The No. 9 Huskers (8-1 overall, 4-1 in the Big 12) still led 24-10 heading into the fourth quarter, thanks to 17 straight points in third, punctuated by several good throws from Green and safety Austin Cassidy's 29-yard interception return for a touchdown.

    But Iowa State (5-5, 3-3) stormed back with two touchdowns in the fourth. The first came during a hard-fought, 13-play, 75-yard drive. The second was set up by another costly fumble by NU wide receiver Niles Paul, who chose to return a kickoff from deep in his own end zone, then coughed it up at the 13-yard line.

    “He was trying to make a play,” Pelini said.

    With 10:40 left, a game Nebraska had controlled was suddenly a stalemate.

    It stayed that way until overtime, when Burkhead scored on a 19-yard sweep around left end, cutting back toward the field after he reached the sideline.

    ISU quarterback Austen Arnaud answered that score with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jake Williams.

    Which set up the extra point fake. Conventional wisdom generally states that home teams ride out the overtime and wait until the last possible moment to attempt a 2-point conversion. Rhoads chose to go for the win right then.

    “I saw them about to fake so I looked in the backfield,” Hagg said. “And (Kuehl) just caught it. I didn't know if he was going to throw or run...and then he just threw it. And I jumped for it.”

    On the sideline, running back Roy Helu, who finished with 99 yards and a touchdown, watched one of his best friends make a play he'd seen Hagg make in practice before.

    “I couldn't believe they went for it,” Helu said. “Eric was so intelligent to come off (his assignment) like that.”

    Rhoads again: “The play was there, and if we execute, game over, we're the ones running in the end zone to celebrate.”

    Instead, Nebraska's quest for a Big 12 Championship stays alive.

    It will not be a memorable game from any other perspective. ISU outgained the Huskers 360-314. NU wasted timeouts in both halves because it had too many men in the huddle. Nebraska converted half of its third downs, but botched others because of a false start penalty, a dropped pass, and a poorly-thrown ball on 3rd-and-1.

    The Cyclones never really slowed down the Wildcat formation, in which Burkhead alternated between running the ball or handing it off to Helu. His first carry out of the set went for 29 yards. It would go down, he said, as his favorite college game thus far.

    “Definitely,” Burkhead said. “Overtime. On the road. In an atmosphere like this. Great night for college football.”

    Survival can feel like that.

    See also: Postgame Notes and What's Your Reaction?

    Tags: isu game, rex burkhead, eric hagg, taylor martinez, paul rhoads, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard

  8. 2010 Nov 06

    Chat Live from Ames!

    311 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Ask Samuel McKewon your questions right now!

    Click here!

    Tags: chat, isu game

  9. 2010 Nov 05

    Five ISU Players to Watch

    1,996 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Five Iowa State players to watch in Saturday's game vs. Nebraska

    Quarterback Austen Arnaud: Frequent readers of this site know I don't think much of Arnaud's skills – especially against good teams. But he held up OK at Texas, and finally seems to be putting it all together in his senior season. He's not very accurate downfield and tends to become very conservative with the ball if coverage is tight.

    Tight end Collin Franklin: One of ISU's best pass-catching threats, Franklin has 31 grabs and a real shot at making a Big 12 all-conference team. Nebraska has to take him out of the gameplan; he's Arnaud' safety valve.

    Defensive end Jacob Lattimer: Coming off a stellar performance at Texas, when he slowed down the UT passing game with his excelling pass-rushing skills. Lattimer will match skills with Jeremiah Sirles or Yoshi Hardrick.

    Running back Alexander Robinson: Really like this kid, who's sort of a hybrid runner who reminds me a little of former Iowa running back Ronnie Harmon. Robinson has deceptive speed; you don't want to give him a crease. He can shimmy his way out of a phone booth, too. Underrated player overall.

    Safety David Sims: While ISU's linebackers get the lion's share of the publicity right now, Sims is probably the team's best player. An active, physical tackler on the back end, Sims is also a solid guy in pass coverage.

    Tags: isu game

  10. 2010 Nov 05

    Five NU Players to Watch

    3,438 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Five Nebraska players to watch in Saturday's game vs. Iowa State

    Linebacker Will Compton: After seeing spot duty in three games, Compton should remain on the field for most of Iowa State's offensive plays, so long as ISU keeps a tight end on the field. Compton earned his Blackshirt this week, and it wasn't by accident; expect him to play plenty on Saturday.

    Defensive tackle Jared Crick: After the best game of his 2010 season, Crick needs a big-time encore against an ISU line somewhat susceptible to a strong pass rush. Could NU line up Crick at defensive end again this week? It sure seemed effective vs. Missouri.

    Peso back Eric Hagg: He'll be busy Saturday, as Iowa State works a variety of combination routes and tries to isolate their tight end, Collin Franklin, on Husker linebackers. Expect Hagg to do a little bit of everything Saturday.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: Will he play? Is he healthy enough to make explosive plays? Can he withstand Iowa State's inevitable blitz? Is a banged-up Martinez better than a 100 percent Cody Green or Zac Lee.

    Wide receiver Niles Paul: Iowa State will try to limit NU's running game, which means Paul will get his chances to slip behind the Cyclones' defense. Also, ISU's kickoff and punt coverage teams are fairly awful, so Paul will get a few looks in the return game, too. Paul tends to play better on the road than he does at home.

    Tags: isu game, taylor martinez, eric hagg, niles paul, jared crick, will compton

  11. 2010 Nov 05

    FIVE KEYS: ISU

    614 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    In his post-game presser after a 52-38 win over Texas Tech, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads couldn't stop gently pounding the lectern. His blood was still pumping after playing a game that most – including some ISU fans – gave the Cyclones little chance of winning.

    He wanted to sum up the whole night - how Iowa State had jumped the Red Raiders with a series of smart plays, how embattled quarterback Austen Arnaud soldiered through injuries and delivered one of his best career games - with a simple anecdote.

    “We had a pregame meal a 2 o'clock,” Rhoads said, rubbing a hand through his tussled hair. “Pregame meal at 2 o'clock. Our team was there eight minutes early. Ready to eat.”

    He paused.

    “We were ready to play.”

    Rhoads doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, he wears it like a duffel bag slung over his shoulder. And he's precisely what Iowa State – forgotten, downtrodden, a little maligned – needed, right when ISU needed him.

    “He knows exactly what this team is going through, it seems like, at all times,” Arnaud said.

    He's very different from the rather secretive, reluctant Bo Pelini, who declined to share even a clever joke about how he prepared his team for Saturday's home game with Missouri by driving them on buses out of town and back again – as if to say “here we are.”

    It's a sharp little dose of humor that not only cut the tension, but served as a small lesson, too: We'll change our routine a little bit, but some of this stuff was in your head. Get rid of it because driving around on a bus is a little ridiculous. Given NU's first-quarter barrage over Mizzou, I'd suggest the teaching hit its mark.

    Rhoads leaves no stone unturned and openly rallies the media, the fans and the student body to the Cyclones' cause. As he must. Bo insulates his team from the nonstop deluge of speculation, adulation and attention. I think he closes the lid too hard, and sometimes tries too much to obscure matters that seem rather plain to sentient folks, but his style is also, to some extent, out of necessity.

    On with the keys:

    Turnovers: Any game between Iowa State and Nebraska must include this storyline, especially after the 2009 contest, when NU handed the Cyclones eight gift-wrapped morsels of hope. ISU actively goes after the ball like few teams in the Big 12 – or college football.

    There's a downside to that approach, of course: Unsuccessfully tackling the ball – which the Cyclones do a lot - leads to broken tackles and yards after contact. Iowa State willingly sacrifices some technique for a shot at a takeaway. If Nebraska protects the ball well, it could be worth a lot of yards and point for the Big Red.

    Speed: Nebraska's fastest team in memory sure showed it against a pretty speedy squad in Missouri. Iowa State certainly doesn't have the quarterhorses to hang with the Huskers for four quarters without some help from turnovers. Watch for this disparity to show up most readily in special teams, where the Cyclones field one of the nation's worst kickoff and punt coverage units, while NU gets back Eric Martin from a one-game suspension.

    Tempo: Iowa State is slow and steady, building its scoring drives play by play, third down conversion by third down conversion. Nebraska's is, of course, getting its doctorate in big plays. ISU's aims with time of possession and clock control are similar to that of Kansas State: Steal time and bleed the clock. NU will have to stay patient, consistently win early downs on drives and not press too hard to create big plays when they're not available. So much of the Huskers' loss to the Cyclones in 2009 was about panicking throughout the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

    Jack Trice: Because of its setup, it's a wind tunnel that serves as the Big 12's most frigid field – oh yes, much more so than Folsom Field or Memorial Stadium. While that won't be an issue Saturday – expect a gorgeous day – the expected crowd of 56,000 will be cozy and loud. ISU has good fans, and the Cyclones have been waiting for this game since the last one. NU should face its toughest – yet good-natured - road crowd of the year.

    Magic Healer: Ankles sprains don't typically heal overnight. But Taylor Martinez appears to be the quickest of healers – so much so that offensive coordinator Shawn Watson called him “Superman” Tuesday. We'll see. NU might be employing a bit of gamesmanship with the Cyclones this week, presenting Martinez as 100 percent when he may be short of that while Zac Lee waits in the wings to run the show Saturday.

    Lee can handle that kind of scrutiny; he won key road games at Kansas and Colorado last year under similar circumstances. But Martinez, I suspect, wants badly to play in Ames, where his father played one season for former ISU coach Jim Walden. It Martinez can have his wheel at 80 percent, he'll play. If not – sit him and trust NU has enough athletes to prevail anyway.

    Tags: five keys, isu game, taylor martinez, bo pelini, paul rhoads, eric martin, zac lee

  12. 2010 Nov 04

    Bo: Starting QB "Game-Time Decision"

    7,999 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Although Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has practiced for the bulk of the week and is "getting better every day," head coach Bo Pelini said his pick for starting quarterback is "probably a game-time decision."

    “We have three quarterbacks, we have good depth at the position,” Pelini said. “You deal with things like that (injuries) as the year goes on. Fortunately they are all getting better. Taylor is getting better, he’s progressed through the week, but we have a lot of good options there at the quarterback position.”

    NU kicks off vs. Iowa State in Ames at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Pelini has previously said that backups Zac Lee and Cody Green will be used situationally. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has called them "2A and 2B" Lee played vs. Texas and Missouri.

    Cornerback Alfonso Dennard worked out Thursday and hasn't been ruled out for Saturday's game. He missed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday practices.

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    Tags: isu game, taylor martinez, alfonso dennard

  13. 2010 Nov 04

    Guess The Score! NU-ISU!

    1,811 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Put your score and potential offensive and defensive MVPs in the comment box below. Get the score correct and win $20 gift certificate to Lincoln's BBQ4U and a Locker pass subscription through January!

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



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    Tags: guess the score, isu game

  14. 2010 Nov 04

    SCOUTING REPORT: Iowa State

    250 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The best scouting report on the Web breaks down the Cyclones in ways no other analysis does! Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: scouting report, isu game

  15. 2010 Nov 03

    T-Magic Suits Up for Tuesday Practice

    7,038 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said Tuesday night he's “really encouraged” by the progress of NU quarterback Taylor Martinez, who's attempting to recover from a ankle sprain suffered in Saturday's Missouri game.

    “Every day is a positive sign,” Watson said. “He's done a great job of working with our training staff. He's ready to go.”

    Martinez practiced in full pads, throwing and running without any considerable limp, if not participating in every part of the workout. Wide receiver Niles Paul said coaches held out Martinez from certain contact drills.

    Watson said the ankle looked fit enough to hold up for Saturday's Iowa State game.

    “He's not swelling up,” Watson said. “There's no discoloration. If you look at it, it looks like yours. Little bit more muscle there.”

    Not one ankle sprains is like another. Some take weeks to heal. Rarely do players recover enough to practice just four days after the injury occurred.

    “I'm really shocked,” Watson said. “Well, he doesn't shock me at anything anymore. He bounces back. He's like Superman.”

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    Tags: isu game, taylor martinez, shawn watson

  16. 2010 Nov 02

    Practice Report 11/3: Compton Earns Blackshirt

    3,866 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska's football team has committed enough turnovers in its last two games vs. Iowa State to feed a small army - and fuel last year's dramatic 9-7 ISU upset.

    “Thirteen,” sophomore tight end Kyler Reed said Tuesday. “That definitely has to be in the back of your mind.”

    Five during a 35-7 win in Ames two years ago. And that crazy eight last year, courtesy of the Cyclones' penchant for attacking the ball – and Nebraska's occasional carelessness with the same.

    “We shot ourselves in the foot with four or five red zone turnovers,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said.

    Watson refused Tuesday to shy away from those ghastly numbers. NU addressed the issue head-on this week and reiterated the sermon with continued ball security drills in practice. After a sloppy performances in wins over Idaho and South Dakota State, coupled with myriad drops and fumbles in the 20-13 loss to Texas, the Huskers redoubled their efforts to prevent turnovers. Nebraska committed zero in a 31-17 win over Missouri.

    “It's helping,” Reed said of the increased emphasis. “It's in our bloodstream. We're starting to get used to it, locking the ball right when you catch it.”

    Iowa State ranks 9th nationally with a +9 turnover margin and 11th nationally with 20 turnovers gained – one behind Idaho and two behind Oklahoma State, previous Husker opponents. Nebraska is 38th in turnover margin.

    ISU coach Paul Rhoads preaches an aggressive style of tackling, Watson said, that creates turnovers.

    “They put their hats on the football, and they do a great job of stripping the football,” Watson said. “They're really active in their pursuit to the ball, and they do a great job of ripping and pulling and tugging.”

    The 5-4 Cyclones couple that style with a bend-don't-break defensive scheme that, in theory, gives up yards but not points. It worked in wins over Texas and Texas Tech; not so much in massive losses to Utah and Oklahoma.

    “You have to be patient,” Watson said. “You have to work your way down the field. When big plays present themselves – and they will – you have to take advantage of playaction.”

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a shorter, two-hour practice outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    What’s New: Quarterback Taylor Martinez dressed for practice and participated in some of the drills, but not many of the contact drills according to senior wide receiver Niles Paul. Cornerback Alfonso Dennard did not practice, nor did defensive end Pierre Allen, defensive tackle Jay Guy and defensive back Joshua Mitchell.

    Coach Quote: " They're not going to try and fool you a whole lot. They do give you a lot of different formations and whatnot. They just try to be physical at the point of attack, and they are patient in how they call the game. They eat up yardage, and they eat up clock. It's going to be a big challenge for us." Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini on Iowa State offense

    Coach Quote II: "Anytime you have been together a long time, you complete things a bit more. Guys have a better understanding and respond a little bit with more ease. I think that was the case Saturday. It wasn't anything mind-boggling that we did. It was very similar conceptually, but our guys and coaches taught it well." Head coach Bo Pelini on the creativity of Nebraska's defense in the Missouri game

    Player Quote: “All the rumors are false. I am not going anywhere. I love the team. I love the fans. This state has really taken me in.” Quarterback Cody Green, on whether he's dissatisfied with his backup role

    Notes:

    *Nebraska has a new Blackshirt in linebacker Will Compton, who found the practice jersey hanging in his locker Tuesday afternoon. By Tuesday night it already had some flecks of red on it.

    “I don't know if I deserve it quite yet,” Compton said. “As far as playing time on the field but I'm excited to have one finally.”

    Compton, who out the season's first five games recovering from a broken foot, played only in goal-line situations vs. Missouri because of the Tigers' scheme. He still has not supplanted his replacement, LaVonte David, in the lineup; David is a clear favorite for Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

    But Iowa State's downhill running game should force NU to respond with an extra linebacker on the field, Compton said.

    “They run the ball a little bit more – especially in bigger personnel – than Missouri. They're closer to Oklahoma State. Not as much, but they do it. They came out and tried to do it to us last year, so who knows?”

    *Safeties Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith still have their Blackshirts despite Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne replacing them in the Missouri game. Carl Pelini said he expects a good battle for playing time throughout the week, with the game reps going to the guys who practice best.

    “They are trying to win their positions back,” Pelini said. “Maybe they will and then the other guys have to fight to get it back. That is what you want on a football team, competition. That is what depth gives you."

    Next Practice: Wednesday

    Tags: practice report, shawn watson, kyler reed, isu game, will compton, cody green, bo pelini, carl pelini

  17. 2010 Nov 02

    11 Memorable Nebraska-Iowa State Games

    4,370 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Photo from UniWatch Blog

    There's never been much animosity between Nebraska and Iowa State's football program. Just an unspoken good cheer between the two fan bases - plus some frigid football games in November!

    NU has its share of blowouts in the series but, over the years, ISU notched surprising upsets and victories, too. Here's 11 games we remember fondly as this rivalry ends after Saturday.

    1972: Nebraska 23 Iowa State 23 The Huskers rolled into Ames as the nation's No.2 team. They rolled out lucky to get a tie, as ISU tied the game with 23 seconds left on a touchdown pass, then missed the extra point that would have given the Cyclones the win. Nebraska lost eight turnovers that day, a stat that would rear its head again some 27 years later. One of the last games at Clyde Williams Stadium, built more for track than football.

    1976: Iowa State 37 Nebraska 28 The Cyclones took advantage of nine NU turnovers (weird how that keeps happening) and schooled the No. 9 Huskers with their option offense. A late comeback led by Vince Ferragamo fell short and the Huskers plummeted from the top ten. It was this loss that made some Nebraska boosters question whether head coach Tom Osborne was the right guy to lead the team. If you can believe it.

    1977: Iowa State 24 Nebraska 21 Another Cyclone stunner, as ISU running back Dexter Green outdueled I.M. Hipp in Lincoln. This is the last Iowa State win over Nebraska until 1992. From 1976-1978, ISU was 24-11. Not bad.

    1983: Nebraska 72 Iowa State 29 The combined 101 points were the most ever scored at Memorial Stadium at the time (later eclipsed on several occasions). The teams racked up 1,170 yards (ISU had 503 overall, and 346 passing). Mike Rozier rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, Turner Gill threw for 241 yards and Irving Fryar caught five passes for 114 yards.

    1986: Nebraska 35 Iowa State 14 NU overcame a brutal wind, frigid temps and a sluggish first half to score 28 second-half points and rebuff ISU's upset bid. Ken Kaelin and Tyrese Knox both rushed for 126 yards. Osborne reputedly used one of his rare fire-up speeches at halftime.

    1992: Iowa State 19 Nebraska 10 Marv Seiler. This small, relatively unknown ISU quarterback ran the wishbone with beauty and speed against a Husker team that was coming off of back-to-back wins over top 15 teams. ISU rushed for 373 yards, and Seiler sealed the win with a long run on third down on the Cyclones' final touchdown drive.

    1994: Nebraska 28 Iowa State 12 The Huskers were flying high two weeks after beating Colorado and headed toward an Orange Bowl. And yet, ISU took NU into the fourth quarter, trailing just 14-12. Remember, too, that NU had to win pretty to stay ahead of undefeated Penn State. Nebraska scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, one from Damon Benning, one from Lawrence Phillips. Phillips rushed for 183 yards on 36 carries, one of his great performances.

    2000: Nebraska 49 Iowa State 27 NU iced a dead heat with a 28-point fourth quarter. The Huskers led just 21-20 heading into the final 15 minutes, before an overpowering running game – featuring Eric Crouch and Dan Alexander – steamrolled the previously-undefeated Cyclones. ISU quarterback Sage Rosenfels put up a good fight, throwing for 346 yards. Iowa State won nine games that year.

    2004: Iowa State 34 Nebraska 27 ISU held off a furious Husker comeback after staking a 34-13 lead off the arm of redshirt freshman quarterback Bret Meyer. Bittersweet game for then-Iowa State offensive coordinator Barney Cotton, who served in the same role at Nebraska in 2003, and now coaches the Huskers' offensive line these days.

    2005: Nebraska 27 Iowa State 20 OT A crisp, well-played game that also served as Zac Taylor's coming-out party. He completed 36 of 55 passes for 431 yards, while running back Cody Ross caught 8 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. NU sealed the win with a key stop in overtime.

    2009: Iowa State 9 Nebraska 7 The Huskers commit eight turnovers – which includes Niles Paul's bizarre fumble halfway toward scoring a go-ahead touchdown – in one of their worst losses in Memorial Stadium history. ISU pulls a massive upset despite missing its starting quarterback and running back.

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    Tags: isu game

  18. 2010 Nov 01

    Practice Report 11/2: Martinez, Dennard Held Out

    3,160 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Two of Nebraska's best players – quarterback Taylor Martinez and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard – are “day-to-day” after missing NU Monday practice for entirely different kinds of injuries.

    Martinez sustained an ankle sprain Saturday in the second quarter of the Huskers' 31-17 win over Missouri, head coach Bo Pelini told reporters Monday. Pelini initially called it a “bone bruise,” but revised his injury report after getting more information.

    Pelini said Martinez should practice Tuesday. Zac Lee and Cody Green split reps with the first-team offense in Martinez's absence. Lee replaced Martinez in the Texas and Missouri games.

    “There hasn't been a week where I've let up in my preparation because of the situation,” Lee said.

    Dennard is recovering from a concussion sustained in an accidental hit with teammate Courtney Osborne. Team doctors must OK Dennard's return to the field. Generally, concussed players take a battery of tests throughout the week and emerge symptom-free.

    True freshman Ciante Evans replaced Dennard and “did a great job,” Pelini said.

    “He really rose to the occasion and made some plays out there,” he said.

    Evans consistently covered his receivers despite frequently being tested downfield, but his best play may have been in run support; he stuffed Missouri quarterback 6-foot-5, 240-pound Blaine Gabbert on a third-down-and-goal play. Mizzou had to settle for a field goal.

    “He's not afraid to stick his nose in there,” secondary coach Marvin Sanders said. “You're not looking for your corners to be the Ronnie Lotts of the world, but if they're willing to stick their nose in there, they've got a chance.”

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a shorter, 90-minute practice outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    What’s New: Martinez and Dennard were held out of practice.

    Coach Quote: "The light's been on. I said this earlier in the year: There are five or six guys that I was comfortable with in playing...I had total confidence in them. Through the course of the season these guys earned their opportunities and this past game they've taken advantage of it. It's been happening all year" Secondary coach Marvin Sanders on the progression of Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne

    Player Quote: “With all the tradition that Coach Osborne and Coach Devaney built here, the running football, the smashmouth football, for a running back to get an accolade like that, it's amazing We're proud to be a part of it and for him and what he was capable of doing.” Tight end Ben Cotton on Roy Helu's school rushing record

    Notes:

    *Nebraska will have to explore pay-per-view one more time for the Nov. 13 game vs. Kansas. The contest was not picked up by any network. A traditional 1:00 p.m. start could be an option.

    *Roy Helu was named Big 12 Player of the Week.

    *Cotton said he knows several of the Iowa State players and routinely keeps in touch with ISU senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, who played at Ames High School as a senior when Cotton was a sophomore.

    Barney Cotton coached in Ames for three years as ISU's offensive coordinator.

    “It was a good experience,” Ben Cotton said of living in Ames. “They love their football just like we do here. We've got our work cut out for us.”

    *Sanders said Evans may be the first guy to replace Dennard, but Anthony West could get a look, too. Dejon Gomes and Eric Hagg can play the spot in a pinch. Anthony Blue is out for the season with his second torn ACL.

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Tags: practice report, isu game, taylor martinez, alfonso dennard, ciante evans, marvin sanders, ben cotton, zac lee

  19. 2010 May 07

    SPRING OPPONENT REPORT: Iowa State

    3,731 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    As Nebraska’s 2010 spring football season is over, Husker Locker takes a glance at what NU’s opponents – as well as the Big 12 and the nation as a whole - are doing this spring.

    Team: Iowa State (7-6 in 2009, beat Nebraska 9-7)
    Coach: Paul Rhoads (7-6 overall)
    Plays Nebraska: Nov. 6, 2010
    Spring Game: April 17

    Summary: Iowa State exceeded all reasonable expectations in 2009, upsetting NU and winning a bowl game.

    Here comes the hangover.

    ISU’s schedule turns brutal in 2010, with Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech rotating onto the Big 12 Conference slate, and Iowa and Utah showing up on the non-conference schedule. Throw in Nebraska, and the Cyclones are staring at five preseason top 20 teams - the Utes should be favored to win the Mountain West - before a single kickoff.

    Rhoads knew it, and sat his team down before spring practice to explain it. It’s about to get a lot tougher in Ames.

    Fortunately, ISU has one of the Big 12’s most experienced offenses - and one of the best defensive minds in Rhoads - to combat it. Iowa State’s no-huddle, spread offense has two experienced quarterback options - Austen Arnaud and Jerome Tiller - to choose from, a solid running back in Alexander Robinson, and a sleeper group of wide receivers - Darius Darks, Darius Reynolds and Sedrick Johnson - who, if healthy, could be the most athletic bunch in the Big 12 North.

    As Nebraska can attest, ISU’s defense likes to force turnovers, and makes up for its relative lack of strength and size in the front seven with a gritty secondary.

    Iowa State could have a better team in 2010 - and have a worse record. In fact, count on it. But NU better not take the Cyclones lightly.

    Progress so far: Typical of Arnaud’s career, he looked excellent in spring practice, causing Rhoads to call him ISU’s most improved player, before getting outplayed by Tiller in the Cardinal/Gold Spring Game. Tiller threw for 220 yards, and Arnaud 154, as both offenses combined for 735 total yards. Arnaud is more accurate on the short/intermediate routes that spread teams thrive on, while Tiller is a better runner and more instinctive. Frankly, if Arnaud isn’t replaced, again, by midseason, color me surprised.

    The defense has work to do along its defensive line and in the linebacking corps. It’s vulnerable both ways until the Cyclones can consistently stop the run. The secondary, featuring safety David Sims, is actually pretty good, but too often has to commit itself to stopping the run.

    Breakout player: Backup running back James White had 94 yards in the spring game, including a 50-yard touchdown. Starter Robinson has been injury-prone for two years, so expect White to see plenty of playing time.

    What You May Not Know: Kicker Grant Mahoney is probably the Big 12’s second-best behind Alex Henery in terms of length - he hit three field goals over 50 yards last year - but he struggled with blocks last year. Sims could be one of the Big 12’s best punt and kick returner.

    Keep an eye on: The ISU quarterback race. It’s not over. Arnaud consistently gets the nod for his smarts and game management skills. But he rarely plays well against good defenses.

    Spring Opponent Reports: Texas, Kansas State, Kansas, Western Kentucky, Colorado

    Tags: spring opponent report 2010, isu, paul rhoads

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