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  1. 2010 Dec 27

    Husker Heartbeat 12/27: Alfonzo, Bubba, Lavonte, Locker, RichRod, Rich Peeps and the Power of Perlman


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

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

    *Alfonzo Dennard's back for a senior season. So is Lavonte David. Jared Crick will look more closely at the NFL Draft.

    *In naming him Midlander of the Year, the OWH examines Harvey Perlman's ability to plow through adversity.

    *Lee B says blaming bowls for being corrupt and rife with waste ignores that schools happily lap up the bowl's unfair deals. This is true, we suppose, but it's not a particularly profound truth.

    *No one beats Bubba Starling on the Kansas gridiron. Or diamond. Or hardcourt.

    *LJS Sipple sees no chance for a letdown in San Diego. We do.

    *Jake Locker came back to college to play in a game just like the Holiday Bowl. Good kid.

    *The wealthy make out when it comes to the BCS title game. Nah. You're kiddin.

    *RichRod is always looking for the greener grass, says the Detroit Free Press, which has made his life a living hell in Ann Arbor.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bubba starling, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, bcs, richrod, jake locker, holiday bowl

  2. 2010 Dec 27

    Husker Monday Takes: The Recruiting High Road


    By HuskerLocker

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    Six takes as you drag those bones out of a three-day weekend and into the final stretch of 2010:

    ***After turning in three decent-to-good recruiting classes in the Bo Pelini era, Nebraska appears headed for a boffo class in 2011. All according to plan, if you ask NU recruiting coordinator Ted Gilmore.

    “You're just looking at three years of work – or recruiting kids and getting to know kids,” Gilmore said. “These kids are people we identified a long time ago.”

    Well, it's that and a few other things. Bo tweaked the organization and recruiting personnel in the last 18 months or so, Ndamukong Suh's Heisman run provided a bounce, Tim Beck works the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex like he's Ricky Roma and Barney Cotton – a surprisingly underrated recruiter – has collected some flat-out studs for this February.

    I frankly don't see a lot of “misses” in this class. Nor can there be. Nebraska isn't particularly in the business of running non-contributors out of the program.

    Some top programs certainly are. Alabama signed 111 players to scholarships of one kind or another in Nick Saban's first four classes. Saban creatively turned over the entire roster. He massages the numbers with greyshirts, medical redshirts and by simply informing some players that there's no more room at the inn – unless they want to pay their own way.

    Or how about Arkansas, which has signed 135 players over five years? Compare that to Sugar Bowl opponent Ohio State – which has signed just 99 during that same time period.

    ESPN's Outside the Lines recently focused on LSU.

    You're seeing a SEC theme here. The Big Ten frowns on oversigning.

    So does Nebraska.

    “That's not a program we run here,” Gilmore said. “That's not what we're going to do. If we recruited a kid – hey that's on us. If the kid isn't what we thought he was talent-wise, you know what, it's not the young man's fault. That's on us. But we're not going to spend a lot of time crying and feeling sorry for ourselves. We're going to develop what we've got. Whoever that is. Coach em up.

    “If the young man is doing what he's supposed to on and off the field and handling his business, his scholarship – as far as it being renewed – is not going to be based on his athletic ability. If he's doing what he's supposed to be doing, we're going to honor it – hold up our end of the deal.”

    Doesn't get much clearer than that.

    But it will put NU at a slight disadvantage. There are a few reaches in that 2008 class who are longshots to contribute for the Huskers. They still have two more years on the scholarship rolls; those are roster spots Nebraska could use to retool its team for the Big Ten transition.

    The high road has its costs. Worth paying, in this case.

    ***More from Gilmore. Asked if Nebraska would hotly pursue a running back recruit if a certain someone – that is, 2010 signee Braylon Heard – didn't academically qualify, he said: “We're not going to take a guy just to take a guy. And if he's not that caliber of player who can change our program, we're going to take a better player at a different position.”

    A political answer that still probably points to this reality: It's Rex Burkhead, Tray Robinson and a rook of some flavor – be it Heard or 2011 commit Aaron Green – next season. Burkhead's the stuff, but Robinson played sparingly in 2010 after a promising fall camp. Heard and Green are, heretofore, just potential. If Heard doesn't make it, Green becomes NU's only – albeit illustrious - running back recruit over two years.

    Whoever coordinates the offense in 2011 – Shawn Watson still could grab that Miami (Ohio) head coaching job and take Gilmore with him – will have to do more with less at running back. A 70/30 run/pass split – with a heavy emphasis on the Wildcat – just doesn't seem feasible if you want to keep Burkhead healthy.

    ***Just out of interest, I recorded several of Ndamukong Suh's games this year to see how the former Husker was adjusting to the NFL as a young Lion. I shouldn't have been surprised, of course, but I was: The kid is an astonishingly good football player for a rookie defensive tackle, one of the most punishing, demanding jobs in one of the most punishing, demanding sports.

    Still developing a consistent technique, Suh is agile, brutally strong and smart about pursuit angles. Just like at NU, he's still peeling back downfield to slow down screens and draws. As his situational statistics show, he consistently makes plays in every quarter of the game and on every down – although his forte is on first and second down against the run. That's where an interior defensive tackle earns his paycheck so the defensive ends can pin their ears back and attack on third down.

    Of course, Suh is still a sack machine. By the end of the year, he may reach double digits – from the interior position, against a tough diet of NFC North, NFC East and AFC East teams.

    He gave his heart to Nebraska – on the field and in the weight room – and no pro stat ever dims the light of that contribution. But it's refreshing to see that Suh's is just the opposite of a bust. He's a Motor City Boom with two pythons for arms and a perfect defensive coordinator in Gunther Cunningham, who led the very best Kansas City Chiefs defenses in the 1990s.

    Within three years, the Lions win a playoff game. Provided a quarterback stays upright for a whole year.

    ***Speaking of defensive tackles, you'll notice junior Jared Crick has admitted to at least dipping a toe in the NFL Draft waters after this year before deciding whether he'll return for a senior campaign. Though the smart money is on him coming back – the NFL surely seems headed toward a potentially long, painful lockout, no matter what sweet honeyed lie agents try to peddle – Crick owes himself the look.

    He'd be one of the top interior pass-rushers in the Draft. He has the speed to slide outside to a 3-4 defensive end, or the frame to stay inside and play a two-technique in a 4-3. His versatility frankly expands the number of teams that could draft him. His first step is freaky fast; he butchered Oklahoma's offensive line the Big 12 Championship. All the Sooners could do was tear at his jersey.

    Crick is no Suh – and yet he's underrated by college standards.

    Either way – in five years, Husker fans will better appreciate just how talented the 2009 and 2010 defenses truly were. Pros all over. Truth.

    ***Hidden inside the delayed suspensions of five Ohio State football players is much of what you need to know about how college football really works.

    The NCAA announced last week week that quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four other Buckeyes broke a bevy of rules when they sold apparel, merch and gifts for profit. The governing body put off the five-game benching until the 2011, thus allowing Ohio State to file an appeal – which could not possibly be heard and processed over the holidays, apparently – and field its best team for the Sugar Bowl.

    That's not really the interesting part. That's par for the mercurial NCAA course.

    But this is intriguing: OSU, which held itself as a paragon of “never again” virtue after the Maurice Clarett fiasco, has chosen not, as of this writing, to suspend them for the bowl game, either. Even though one of the gifts some players allegedly sold were “gold pants” awarded for beating rival Michigan.

    Would many Buckeye fans truly blame athletic director Andy Geiger or head coach Jim Tressel if they did sit all five players? If they considered it socially, no. If they considered it, politically – perhaps.

    I can think of a few powerful boosters putting a few thousand dollars down on New Orleans hotels and restaurants who wouldn't appreciate that significant tab going for naught in a blowout loss to Arkansas. An estimated 15,000-20,000 “stockholders” in Buckeye football would get queasy in the Big Easy if OSU trotted out walk-on Joe Bauserman to face the Razorbacks' Ryan Mallett.

    Hey, it's the Big Ten. It's CIC. It ain't intramurals! Ohio State is merely heeding the CIC's best-known economist – the University of Chicago's Milton Friedman – who famously entitled one of his essays: “The Social Responsibility of a Business is to Increase Its Profits.”

    And what is profit in college football? Forget TV dollars – it's really booster bucks. And how do you get those?With a big win in a big bowl on national TV.

    I have more to say on this – and maybe a dire proclamation or two - but I'll save it for a “State of the Game” series I'm doing in January.

    ***Jake Locker will face a better secondary Thursday in Nebraska than the Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow faced Sunday vs. the Houston. How's that for a bold statement? I believe it. Tebow eclipsed 300 yards passing in a 24-23 win over the Texans, doing a good bulk of his damage with screen passes to no-kneed Correll Buckhalter and a second-rate receiving corps. When a NFL defense quits, man, it quits, and even Tebow, with the longest throwing motion known in the free world, can tear it apart.

    Tags: husker monday takes, ted gilmore, jake locker, holiday bowl, tim tebow, big ten, recruiting, braylon heard, rex burkhead, tray robinson, shawn watson, ndamukong suh, jared crick

  3. 2010 Sep 17

    CHALKTALK: Jake Locker vs. The Pelini Brothers


    By HuskerLocker

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    HL's Samuel McKewon breaks down how Washington will try to attack Nebraska's stalwart defense - and why the Huskies must run to win. It's exclusive, easy-to-understand analysis you won't find anywhere else except right here - for a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: washington game, jake locker, bo pelini, chalktalk

  4. 2010 Sep 17

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Five Keys to Washington


    By HuskerLocker

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    Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

    It’s a few weeks after an awful season - the kind that makes fans question the whole point of putting on the colors and rooting for their teams on any given Saturday - and the new defensive coordinator has gathered the remaining players for an introductory speech. This being his sole chance to deliver a right cross of a first impression, he lights into them.

    I don’t care if a kid’s more talented or he has a bigger heart, he bellows. I’m going to put the 11 best kids who are going to win a game for me out of the field. Get rid of the losing. We don’t do that around here anymore.

    This isn’t Bo Pelini at Nebraska in spring 2003. Or the head coach version of Bo in spring 2008. It’s Nick Holt, Washington’s defensive coordinator, in spring 2009, just after the Huskies finished 0-12.

    “Tenacious,” UW linebacker Cort Dennison remembers thinking of Holt in that first meeting. Fearless. Emotional. Competitive.

    “He expects to win at everything,” Dennison said. “He brings the best out of you. Best coach I’ve ever had.”

    That quote could easily apply to half of NU’s defenders, speaking about Bo or Carl Pelini.

    As I’ve read about the Huskies this week and talked to some of their players, I see parallels between Washington’s program in 2010 and Nebraska’s in 2008. Young, bright, aggressive guys at the helm. A culture taking hold. Players buying in. The previous coaching staff left behind just enough players worth developing - plus a quarterback whom teammates want to follow.

    Like that Joe Ganz-led Husker squad, this Jake Locker-led Husky bunch is flawed - but dangerous. Prone to breakdowns - and creating nightmares. Capable of taking Nebraska to the wire - or crashing against the waves of the moment.

    Which Washington appears depends, to some extent, on which NU rolls into Seattle. Safety Dejon Gomes put it best this week when he said the Huskers’ chemistry would be put to the test. They’re talented as all get out, willful, still a shaky at times, and led by Taylor Martinez, the most curious Nebraska player in years.

    With haste:

    Test for T-Magic: Bo Pelini and Shawn Watson are on record: They think this mysterious, talented redshirt freshman will handle his first road start in stride.

    I’m not sure they - or any of Martinez’s teammates - really know.

    Martinez’s gift, it would seem, is to erase memories of good or bad plays and take each snap tabula rasa. In Memorial Stadium, against the first two offerings of Steve Pederson’s parting gift, that was true. Martinez was deft and heedless with his play regardless of what, good or bad, had just happened.

    Can he translate that to Seattle with the knowledge of the enormity of the game - and the pressure on his shoulders? If he can’t - does Bo Pelini pull him and give Cody Green a shot? And how close by is Zac Lee?

    Know this about Bo: When it comes to winning games, he’ll hurt some feelings. He’ll yank a guy.

    Working in Martinez’s favor: His big-play ability compels a coach to keep giving him the ball. Not every quarterback, for example, could make up a 14-0 deficit in a quarter. But Martinez could.

    Power Play: Washington has to run the ball. Has to. Yes, despite Locker’s arm and athletic talents. Absent a running game, the Blackshirts eat Locker’s lunch. NU commits too many athletes to the pass, tackles too well in space, generates too good of a pass rush, and dials up too exotic of blitzes. If Blaine Gabbert, Landry Jones and Colt McCoy - three more efficient QBs than Locker - couldn’t unravel it, don’t expect Locker to do it in 40 passes.

    So the Huskies must run against NU’s smallish, agile front seven. They have the running back, Chris Polk, to do it. The offensive line is young but talented. And Washington will have the advantage of crowd momentum. Should UW run the ball well between the tackles, then it can play to Locker’s strengths - his agility on rollout plays and the playaction pass.

    Locker hasn’t been a primary running threat since his freshman season - when he gained 986 yards - but he’s good enough in the zone read to burn the Huskers. But how many hits does head coach Steve Sarkisian want to expose Locker to? UW’s season won’t be defined by Saturday any more than Nebraska’s will.

    The Specials: Nebraska has a distinct advantage here. UW is 90th nationally defending the punt, 91st defending the kickoff, 99th in net punting, 107th in punt returns and 117th in kickoff returns. The Huskies are now breaking in a junior walk-on punter after the starter got hurt. NU has some of the best punt (9th) and kickoff (18th) return units in the country, plus kicker/punter Alex Henery, plus kickoff specialist Adi Kunalic.

    NU has a 3-to-7-point edge here, and head coach Bo Pelini knows it. That’s why Niles Paul is heading back to return kickoffs this week.

    Seattle Sound: Husky Stadium is much like any hostile atmosphere: It’s as tough as the opponent allows it to be with its play. If NU can’t shake Washington, the crowd will surge. Hang a couple touchdowns on the Huskies early, and unplug the purple-and-gold faithful.

    We’ve already covered Martinez, so here’s another guy to watch: Running back Roy Helu. He likes these moments. He’s good in a big crowd. He feeds off of it. In some of NU’s toughest road games - Texas Tech and Oklahoma in 2008, Virginia Tech, Missouri and Kansas in 2009 - Helu ran with toughness, consistency and a sense of urgency.

    One more: Paul. The talented senior wide receiver has to fight the urge to rush himself. Stay in the moment, and create big plays. Get ahead of it, and create turnovers.

    Clutch Time: Washington isn’t to be confused with Virginia Tech in 2009. Certainly not USC in 2006. Perhaps Wake Forest in 2007. But it’s “the game” of this weak non-conference schedule, the one September measuring stick worth remembering. It’s a long trip in front of a big crowd against a team with athletes comparable to Nebraska.

    And as such, I’m curious to see which of NU players leaders embrace the moment and begin to take the baton from Pelini and run the team with their own passion and personality.

    Check Out Our Two Newest Chalktalks: Jake Locker vs. The Pelini Brothers and What Makes T-Magic Tick

    Tags: washington game, five keys, jake locker, taylor martinez, niles paul, roy helu, bo pelini

  5. 2010 Sep 16

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Man From Ferndale


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    You ask for a Jake Locker practice story, some small addition to this particular legend of the Washington quarterback who occasionally does extraordinary things for heretofore awful-to-mediocre football teams in Seattle.

    UW linebacker Cort Dennison has to think a minute.

    “He does a new thing every day,” Dennison says.

    Then he picks one from the most recent fall camp: Locker, flushed from the pocket, rolled to his left and, while on a stone-cold tear toward the sideline, leapt, aimed and flung the ball back from whence he came, thence his arm to judge the quick and dead fifty yards downfield. To a open receiver. Touchdown.

    So roughly 65 yards on a hard sprint, thrown against his body, perfect strike.

    “Rolling to his left,” Dennison says again. Remembers thinking: Oh my God.

    And: I’ve never seen that before.

    “That’s just God-given talent right there,” he says. “And hard work. I don’t really think there is anything the defense can do about it.”


    He is, in the alpha and omega, the Man from Ferndale, a Washington hamlet just 13 miles from the Canadian border - as close to Vancouver as it is Seattle - bisected by the Nooksack River. Rooted in agriculture, its 11,000 citizens include a bunch of Lockers, some of whom played Division II college football.

    None of them, though, were Jake, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound tank who runs and throws like a young John Elway - without the polish that came with Elway being the son of a college coach. But Locker’s sheer athleticism overwhelmed opponents in high school as he led Ferndale to a state championship in 2005. Shortly after his arrival at UW - or maybe even upon it - he got a nickname. A doozy. The Savior.

    And there is no way to beat around this bush: Despite becoming the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2007, despite the hosannas and acclaim from NFL Draftniks, he has not been one.

    Locker is 9-20 as a starter and 3-10 vs. AP Top 25 teams. He’s thrown 26 career interceptions, completing just 53 percent of his passes heading into this year. In the 2010 season opener, Locker had a “Heisman” opportunity to lead a fourth-quarter, game-winning drive at BYU. He didn’t finish it.

    This is also true: Until now, he could not have been. His team wouldn’t allow it.

    Locker committed to Tyrone Willingham. The Huskies, in 2007 and 2008, couldn’t find defense on a map, giving up 32 and 39 points per game, respectively.

    Whereas Tim Tebow, a guy of similar physical skills, was surrounded by some of the finest offensive talent in America and supported by an elite defense, “Montlake Jake” had none of those advantages - plus a lame duck head coach apparently incapable of drilling the finer points. Locker broke his throwing thumb in 2008 and missed the final eight games. So UW fell into Lake Washington, finishing 0-12, even managing to lose to rival Washington State, a pitiable team that gave 44 points per game that year.

    “I had an opportunity to step away and kind of look at our team from a different perspective,” Locker said. “It helped me in becoming a better leader, understanding how we could improve as a football team and it allowed me and some others to be more aggressive in the dressing room.”

    Locker got his shot at resurrection. UW dumped Willingham and hired Steve Sarkisian, himself a decorated college quarterback at BYU, and mentor of a Trojan trinity - Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez - at USC.

    “The energy and passion they brought to the game, it was contagious for all of us” Locker said. “It allowed us to pick things up quicker and develop as a football team a lot faster than maybe we would have with another staff.”

    Sark, as he’s known in Husky fan circles, took apart Locker’s game and put it back together. Re-taught him how to read protections and keep passing plays alive without forcing himself into one of those throws that defied explanation but risked interception.

    “Now he’s not out there wondering or waiting to see if it will happen,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got real anticipation.”

    Said UW safety Nathan Fellner: “He’s smart with the ball. It’s hard to cause turnovers in practice. He’s really good with his reads. He also has a cannon.”

    Locker threw for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Just 11 interceptions. The numbers were good enough for Locker to seriously consider entering the NFL Draft, where the St. Louis Rams would have looked hard at selecting him over Sam Bradford. His raw tools alone - plus his mobility - warranted that look.

    He leaned on Sarkisian, who had been through it with Palmer and Leinart - who returned for their senior years - and Sanchez, who did not, drawing criticism from then-head coach Pete Carroll. In recent years, some NFL scouts have argued that quarterbacks can’t get enough starts in college. The tide has ebbed away from pure playmakers and toward guys who can stand up to a political vetting process.

    “I was happy to have someone who’s been around and gone through it before,” Locker said.

    Sarkisian said Locker did “due diligence.” Coach and quarterback together examined pro QBs.

    “Who’s gone out, who hasn’t,” Locker said. “The success they had, or the success they didn’t have.”

    Of the NFL’s brightest luminaries, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton and Eli Manning and Philip Rivers all played for four years. Only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger left after their junior years. Sam Bradford left school early, of course. So did Jamarcus Russell.

    Locker announced he’d return in December 2009.

    “I haven’t regretted it a day since,” he said. “I feel really, really good about it.”

    Said Sarkisian: “He’s loyal. He’s humble.”

    And Dennison: “Anytime you turn down money for something you love, you have to take your hat off to the guy and what he did,” He had tens of millions thrown his way, and he said no. I respect that.”


    Locker adorns the September cover of the University of Washington’s alumni magazine, Columns. It is not ordinary grip-and-grin kind of snapshot, however. He beams into the horizon, his features sharpened by the sun at gloaming. His Adam’s apple looks ready to pop out of his throat. Here is the classic definition of the Big Man on Campus, a guy recognized not so much for winning, but just being.

    Sark: “As good of a player as he is, he’s an even better person.”

    Fellner: “He can throw the rock.

    Dennison: “I look up to him.”

    “HOME FIELD HERO” reads the cover art.

    Hard against Nebraska impenetrable, infuriating, indisputably awesomely punishing defense rides The Savior, Montlake Jake, The Man from Ferndale.

    Tags: jake locker, washington game, steve sarkisian

  6. 2010 Sep 14

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: UW Offense 'Not Just Jake'


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Photo from Getty Images

    From a sheer television marketing perspective, Nebraska’s Saturday game at Washington is a cinch to pitch.

    UW quarterback - and Heisman candidate - Jake Locker vs. a Huskers defense that “hates quarterbacks” and ate most of their lunches in 2009.

    Bo Pelini’s advice?

    “Don’t buy the hype,” the Nebraska head coach said at Tuesday’s presser.

    That’s no knock on Locker, whom Pelini praised effusively on Monday and Tuesday.

    Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini called Locker “as talented of a quarterback’ as he’s seen in his three years at NU. Consider who that includes: Sam Bradford. Colt McCoy. Tyrod Taylor. Blaine Gabbert. Chase Daniel. Todd Reesing.

    Rather, Bo and Carl Pelini said, it’s “not all Jake Locker” that the Huskies are putting on the field.

    “The same way as it's not one guy on our defense,” Bo Pelini said. “It's 11 on 11. We need to execute. They have some good talent and are going to make some plays.”

    Washington, 1-1 after losing to BYU 23-17 and beating Syracuse 41-20, returned 10 offensive starters from the 2009 squad once Locker decided not to enter the NFL Draft.

    Coming off of a 289-yard, four-touchdown performance vs. the Orange, Locker is centerpiece of the Huskies, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder whose cannon arm fires from various launch points. A dynamic athlete lacking some polish as a passer, Locker struggled with accuracy and mechanics until UW coach Steve Sarkisian took over in early 2009, and began to retool Locker’s footwork, pocket presence and ability to read defenses.

    “He’s not out there wondering or waiting to see if it will happen,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got real anticipation now.”

    Thus far in 2010, he’s completed 60 percent of his passes for 277 yards per game. He’s likely to finish second on UW’s career passing yardage chart. He’s already No. 1 as a career rusher at quarterback, amassing 1,595 yards over roughly three seasons.

    “He wants to find his receiver first, but if he needs to, he will take off and run,” defensive tackle Jared Crick said.

    Locker is complimented by receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar. Kearse, the better of the two, won Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors after catching nine passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns vs. Syracuse. He’s third in the nation thus far in receiving yards.

    “He’s Locker’s favorite target,” safety Dejon Gomes said. “He’ll probably one of his go-to guys.”

    Aguilar, a Denver native who got basketball offers from Wichita State and Providence out of high school, is more of slot/possession type, caught seven passes for 81 yards, plus 5 for 57 vs. BYU.

    Sophomore Chris Polk is a headliner at running back, a 5-11, 214-pounder who fits Washington’s power running offense. He turned down USC to play for the Huskies, and rushed for 1,113 yards last year. He’s got 209 yards so far this season. The backup is a true freshman, Jesse Callier, who rushed for 46 yards vs. Syracuse.

    Tags: washington game, jake locker, dejon gomes, bo pelini, carl pelini

  7. 2010 Sep 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Bo Wary of Locker's Talent


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Bo Pelini loathes beating around the bush, and the Nebraska head coach didn’t pull any punches in describing the best player on Washington’s offense, quarterback Jake Locker.

    “It’s pretty obvious,” Pelini said during the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference. He’s a heck of a player. He does a lot of good things. He can run, throw it. He can beat you a lot of different ways and hurt you a lot of different ways. We’ll have our work cut out for it.”

    Pelini declined to compare Locker - a senior who had thrown for 555 yards and rushed for 41 in two games this year - to any quarterbacks he’s previously faced. Locker, though in a West Coast Offense, has the size and speed of a Tim Tebow, and is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

    Locker’s ability to get out of the pocket and scramble, Pelini said, required Nebraska’s defense to stay at home and be smart in “defending their offense.”

    “You have to rush with lane discipline,” Pelini said. “But at the same time you have to get pressure on him. They create some challenges for you defensively…you’ve got to him an essence of respect. I’ve been there before. We have a lot of respect for him.”

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    Tags: bo pelini, jake locker, washington game

  8. 2010 Jun 18

    OPPONENT REPORT: Washington


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    (This photo is from the Seattle Times)

    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: Washington (5-7 in 2010)
    Coach: Steve Sarkisian (5-7 overall)
    Plays Nebraska: Sept. 18, 2010
    Spring Game: April 30

    Summary: It’s hard to know precisely what to make of the Huskies, who boast incredible-yet-still-somewhat-unproven quarterback talent in Jake Locker, an offensively-minded head coach in Sarkisian and more talent than its 0-12 record from two years ago might suggest. NU fans worried about this road trip should be; if properly motivated, UW, in its sound tunnel of a stadium, is one of the toughest home teams in America.

    Getting back Locker - a surefire first-round draft pick in the NFL or MLB - for his senior year was incredibly important to the growth of the Washington program; true freshman Nick Montana (Joe’s son) appears to be the backup. Locker threw for 2,800 yards and rushed for 388, compiling 28 touchdowns; he’s commonly referred to as “Tim Tebow with an arm.” Locker only completed 58 percent of his passes, but he, along with Blaine Gabbert, will be the most dangerous quarterback Nebraska faces in 2010. Running back Chris Polk is among the best in the Pac-10, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards last season in Sarkisian’s classic, West Coast style offense.

    The defense is a trouble, giving up 27 points per game last year, but it does have some good individual pieces returning in linebacker Mason Foster (85 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions) and cornerback Desmond Trufant. Alameda Ta’amu, at 6-3, 350 pounds, is one of the nation’s biggest defensive tackles, but the Huskers gave up almost yards per carry last year. UW forced nearly two turnovers per game.

    By the time the Huskies play Nebraska, they will have already traveled to BYU, an emotional game for Sarkisian, who quarterbacked there and won a Cotton Bowl to boot. If UW wins in Provo, expect a motivated team full of momentum in Seattle.

    Progress so far: Washington returns 18 starters - although we can debate on whether all of them are worth returning on defense - so spring was more a time of seasoning than orientation. The defensive line probably needs the most development after a thoroughly lackluster 2009 against the run; creating depth there is something Sarkisian has worked hardest on.

    Locker was kept under wraps, shall we say, for much of spring and almost all of the spring game, as UW focused on keeping an oft-injured talent completely healthy. Washington has many of its best skill players returning, so the chemistry is intact.

    Breakout player: Montana, who was slagged pretty hard in his senior year of high school by the recruiting services, only to enroll early and become the star of the spring game, leading a touchdown drive in the rain for a 14-13 victory. Montana completed 21 of 34 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, throwing the game-winning touchdown as time expired. Another true freshman who enrolled early, Deontae Cooper, rushed 11 times for 72 yards.

    What You May Not Know: Washington only outgained its opponents three times in 2009 - but two of those games were UW’s final two, blowout wins over Washington State (30-0) and California (42-10). The other? A season-opening loss to LSU.

    Keep an eye on: Hype on Locker and the Huskies via the national media. The Pac-10 is up for grabs in 2010. USC probably has to be the favorite, but Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington have the kind of teams that can knock off the Trojans. Four of those five did just that last year, in fact. Locker is a Heisman Trophy campaign waiting to happen if he can put it all together.

    Spring Opponent Reports: Missouri, Texas A&M Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Texas, Kansas State, Kansas, Western Kentucky, Colorado

    Tags: spring opponent report, washington, jake locker, steve sarkisian

  9. 2010 May 03

    Husker Heartbeat 5/3: The Big Ten (11, 12, 16, 20) Plunge


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

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

    Cool? Cool!

    *Tom Shatel argues why Nebraska should jump at the chance to join the Big Ten. His reasons: Money and security. We’ll hold off on a take until we can view the entire parameters of what the Big Ten is offering; indeed, if the Big Ten is really interested in expanding to 16 teams. Which we doubt.

    *After a spirited speech from pitching coach Eric Newman, Tom Lemke turned in NU’s best pitching performance of the year. Coincidence?

    *Fascinating story about how Nebraska first-round draft picks Trev Alberts, Dave Rimington and Larry Jacobsen got a rude awakening in the NFL after, frankly, being a little pampered at NU. Oh, the story spins it into the communal excellence of the Husker program vs. the strictly business culture of the NFL - and some of that is true - but, in reality college football players - at many schools - are sheltered and protected too much from the realities of the outside world.

    *Prince Amukamara is angling for a little time on offense, but appears happy being a All-Big 12 cornerback, too.

    *Washington begins an awards campaign for Jake Locker.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big ten, tom shatel, trev alberts, dave rimington, prince amukamara, washington, jake locker

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