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  1. 2012 Apr 04

    Husker Heartbeat (4/4/2012): Players' Choice, Pelini's Tests and Second set of Purple 'Cats Downed


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    - Sipple: Give the players what they want

    - Tests aren't limited to Husker football players' classrooms

    - Jorge Brian Diaz and Mike Fox's playing days in Lincoln are over

    - Husker Hardballers blank Kansas State 6-0 and sweep the series

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    Tags: uniforms, jorge brian diaz, mike fox, basketball, baseball, kansas state

  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

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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 Oct 27

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Nine


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    It’s week nine, ya’ll! There are only a few marquee games this week as the push to the finish line kicks into high gear. Last week’s thrills and spills include -


    Texas Tech: An impressive start and great win in Norman, especially after the weather delay. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege had his coming out party and the whole team played fantastically from top to bottom.

    Southern California: A great win in South Bend. Even though the Trojans have nothing to fight for at the end of the year, they’re still showing up week in and out.

    Arkansas: A tremendous comeback from the depths of Hades against Ole Miss to win (Don’t worry, the statement on Houston Nutt is worthwhile this week)

    Syracuse: Coming back from the depths of the Greg Robinson mistake, the Orange impressed a national crowd with a win against West Virginia.

    Michigan State: We called it here last week. Sparty wins conference games that shouldn’t be close with heart-stopping theatrics.


    Oklahoma: What was that, Sooners? A letdown game? There’s no excuse for that.

    Illinois: A few people called it (including our editor-in-chief and newbie James Stevenson). We all got Zooked.

    Missouri: Not only could the Tigers not come close to matching Oklahoma State’s offense, but the Missouri faithful couldn’t sell out a game featuring the No. 4 team in the country.

    Kansas, Auburn, Georgia Tech and SMU:

    On to our Pre-Halloween fun (All times Central):

    Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma State (2:30 PM ABC Regional)

    The Art Briles Bears head north up I-35 to take on a white-hot Cowboys team. Mike Gundy’s crew is still undefeated, headed towards a possible Big 12 title and national championship bid. For Baylor, it always starts and ends with Robert Griffin III at the helm throwing to wide receiver Kendell Wright.

    Last week, Baylor had a bye week after their pasting from Texas A&M while the Cowboys took care of business in Columbia against Missouri. The defenses will be tested well in this ballgame, with Baylor ranked No. 101 in points allowed.

    Oklahoma State is a more pedestrian No. 65. This is a game that should scare OSU coach Mike Gundy, as RG3 has been slowed down, but never completely stopped.

    However, the Cowboys' money combo of quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon is just too much, especially when in the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium.

    No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 8 Kansas State (2:30 PM, ESPN)

    This becomes a do-or-die game for Bob Stoops against a surprising Kansas State team. Bill Snyder has his team playing hard with a fierce running game and a defense playing far better than expected allowing just less than 20 points per game.

    Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert have rushed for over 600 yards each already, and the defense has been good enough to hold up their end of the bargain. Oklahoma looked lethargic on offense and even less inspired on defense against Texas Tech, especially in the secondary.

    Stoops shut off media access to his team this week. He’s angry, as he well should be. A pissed off Sooners team is not a welcome sight. Look for a close game, but Oklahoma will prevail.

    No. 22 Georgia at Florida (2:30 PM, CBS at EverBank Stadium – Jacksonville, FL)

    Shine up your stirrers! The World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party attendees renew their love in north Florida when the Bulldogs and the Gators meet in their annual tilt. Georgia has become the front runner for the SEC East title after starting their season fighting for Mark Richt’s job. Florida, on the other hand, has played hard but have a three-game losing streak thanks in large part to injuries.

    The Gators have said that John Brantley will start at quarterback, although there are whispers that he’s not ready to get back under center. Regardless, Georgia is the better team right now and can help their case for a division title with a win.

    They are out of the SEC Championship Game for now unless South Carolina loses (a likely prospect). Georgia takes this game as Florida is just not playing well right now, especially on offense.

    No. 6 Stanford at Southern California – (7:00 PM, ABC)

    The final featured game of the week pits Andrew Luck against Matt Barkley and Lane Kiffin’s de facto Pac-12 title game due to postseason ineligibility.

    The Trojans made a statement last week against Notre Dame, while Stanford rolled Washington at home. The defenses are going to be tested like they will be in Stillwater, however there is much more at stake for Stanford than there is for USC.

    If the Cardinal wins this one in Los Angeles, they set up a big game for the North division against Oregon in Palo Alto. That becomes a revenge game for last year’s whooping in Eugene. Coach Kiffykins and his quarterback have their hands full going against a defense that only gives up 12 points per game, No. 5 overall.

    Luck has to live up to his billing over the next few weeks for Stanford being taken seriously in case teams slip and a spot in the national title chase opens up. Expect a good game and for Stanford to squeak by.

    Other games of note across the 48 states of the Union include:

    No. 25 West Virginia at Rutgers – WVU’s Big East title hopes are on life support. They need this win badly.

    Ole Miss at No. 24 Auburn – A regeneration game for Auburn. Let’s see how much they can improve.

    Kansas at No. 24 Texas – This should be a tune-up for Texas. For the 38 of you that can actually watch it, let us know how it goes.

    No. 5 Clemson at Georgia Tech – *MAJOR UPSET ALERT* Georgia Tech is angry, at home, and Clemson is due to have a bad game on the road.

    No. 15 Wisconsin at Ohio State – Wisconsin will play better against the Buckeyes, but expect Ohio State to come out guns blazing.

    Coaches that have a Three Mile Island burn going on the back of their pants include:

    Turner Gill, Kansas: People are now realizing that Turner is in over his head at a school that should have never hired him. Remember when there were rumors that Auburn wanted Gill? Who knew that Gene Chizik would have been the better option?

    At least there will only be (how many people have the Longhorn Network again? Oh, right.) 38 people watching th Jayhawks get stomped.

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: You got stomped by an Arizona team that has been a train wreck all season long. How does that treat you? At least Cal will only beat you at home in front of a third’s capacity.

    Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Mr. Wilson is now included on this list for the simple reason that he’s not very impressive right now. Furthermore, the loss of one of the country's top recruits (quarterback Gunner Kiel) doesn’t help matters. I like Wilson, but he needs to get his team back to basics. Fundamentals win ballgames, kids.

    Jerry Kill, Minnesota: Only this school would give a contract extension with a decent sized buyout to a guy that admits he’s over his head. Bravo. Maybe the FireJerryKill.com guy isn’t so off the mark after all, eh?

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi: I’m saving the final bullet for you.

    This is video of Houston Nutt’s post-game press conference last week when his no talent Rebels gave up 29 unanswered points to Arkansas snagging defeat from the jaws of victory. 30 seconds into this video, he goes after Ole Miss’ Rivals.com writer Neal McCready for his prediction that Ole Miss would lose 49-10 to the Razorbacks.

    Obviously, if you cover the spread, it’s a victory in Houston's eyes. Moral victories don’t count in the win-loss column, Nutt! This is your team, your staff, your fourth year!

    Let me guess, if McCready didn’t write that piece, it wouldn’t be as satisfying to lose by only 12 points in your 10th consecutive conference loss, would it?

    Let’s review your tiresome crusade to justifying over-signing: Throwing others under the bus when you lose such as your offensive coordinator, the NCAA for putting recruiting restrictions in place, and the kids you wanted until you realized during summer conditioning that they weren’t as good as you thought.

    Not to mention the upperclassmen that you dump on the side of the road because you have a freshman that you don’t want to redshirt. It’s all their fault, isn’t it Houston? Anyone but you.

    You are the poster child for everything wrong with college football. When things go wrong, it’s someone else’s issue, except when you win. I despise Bobby Petrino with a passion, but thank goodness that Arkansas hired him and not you.

    I hope you lose out and Pete Boone fires you in the tunnel after Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen embarrasses you. Then, I’d like to see you try to get another FBS job and pull these stunts, because fans across the nation will come after you wherever you may roam.

    There might a spot opening up in Lawrence after this year, so why not be the joke in the Big 12? You’d do a fine job taking the place of Colorado as the conference’s laughing stock.

    Then again, the thought of you being on the field with Gary Pinkel with both of you trying to outwit the other…that’s how black holes are made, isn’t it?

    Rant over.

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    Tags: texas tech, usc, syracuse, michigan state, oklahoma, illinois, missouri, kansas, auburn, georgia tech, smu, oklahoma state, kansas state, florida, stanford, turner gill, rick neuheisel, kevin wilson, jerry kill, houston nutt

  4. 2011 Oct 16

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions – Bye Week


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The original defensive game plan thrown at Wisconsin may work well against Michigan. Robinson’s a great runner, but is an incredibly inaccurate passer.

    - Michigan State’s going to be a tough bunch to beat. Kirk Cousins and Edwin Baker are a cut above what Ohio State brought to town

    - Still not sure if Penn State’s home-field simply doesn’t offer that big of an advantage or if fans have been that apathetic this season.

    - Without running back Mike Trumpy, it’s hard to think that Northwestern has the talent necessary to outlast the Cornhuskers.

    - Did the outcome of yesterday’s slate of games seem just plain weird to anyone else?

    - Florida and Auburn should both be ashamed of yesterday's display.

    - Who had Kansas State sitting at 6-0 halfway through the season in their pool?

    - Usually bye weeks are somewhat refreshing, but this one felt odd. Oh well, back to action as Nebraska takes on a Golden Gopher squad in a game that provides three levels of entertainment: The game, the final score, Jerry Kill’s post-game quotes.

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    Tags: michigan, michigan state, minnesota, jerry kill, kansas state, florida, auburn, edwin baker, denard robinson, penn state, mike trumpy, northwestern

  5. 2011 Sep 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Five


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    It’s hard to believe that there are football games happening outside of Madison this week (GASP!). This is where you find out what else is going down and where it’s going down at. Last week’s winners and losers include -


    Georgia: Congrats Bulldogs, you kept your heads out of the guillotine just long enough by embarrassing someone else for a change. Then again, considering it was Ole Miss, that wasn’t a difficult project.

    Oklahoma State: You battled back from trailing Texas A&M early on the road to pull out a big win. Take care of everything before December, and you’ll have your opportunity to make the big time.

    LSU: The Tigers took the potential of getting ambushed in Morgantown very well. Les Miles’ offense bailed out the defense for once, and The Hat just keeps on winning.

    Arizona State: Save the Illinois stumble, the Sun Devils have been the biggest surprise out of the Pac-12 so far this year. They had a fine win against Team Kiffykins.


    Pittsburgh: For the second week in a row, the Panthers snared defeat from the jaws of victory. The Big East won’t feel bad for them at all though.

    Toledo: The Rockets were flat out jobbed by an incompetent officiating crew from ref to replay official. What an awful way to lose a game.

    Arkansas: The Razorbacks had their chance, and proved they were in over their heads again. If things don’t improve this week…well, let’s wait on that thought.

    West Virginia: A good performance by quarterback Geno Smith, but the Mountaineers had no answer for LSU’s offense. WVU will get better though, at least if no one is faking injuries.

    Ole Miss, Memphis, NC State: This is fitting:

    Onto this week’s dandies! All time CDT, of course.

    No. 14 Texas A&M vs. No. 18 Arkansas – (11:00 AM Saturday, ESPN)

    Yours truly will be in Jerryworld to watch the first SEC conference game for the Aggies as they take on the fighting Hogs. Both teams lost last week, Texas A&M with a disappointing second half versus Okie State, while Arkansas really wasn’t ever in the game against Alabama. Arkansas quarterback Trevor Wilson was efficient last week, but nothing spectacular. “Efficient” isn’t going to beat Saban’s team.

    While A&M doesn’t have the defense that Nick Saban possesses, the Aggies are stout. Running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr. has to put up better numbers than last week for Arkansas to improve. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was alright last week, but RB Cyrus Gray wasn’t and didn’t help the A&M effort once they started to struggle.

    Don’t think that head coach Mike Sherman didn’t notice the success Alabama had running the ball with Trent Richardson. Arkansas has won the two games against A&M in Arlington so far, but there’s no reason to think that the Aggies won’t take this one. Texas A&M’s defense will be the difference in 2011.

    No. 15 Baylor at Kansas State – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    Who'd have thought that this game would have Big 12 conference championship implications at the beginning of the season? Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this year, and has shown that he’s definitely worthy of Heisman consideration. Baylor rolls into Manhattan, Kansas to play Bill Snyder’s Wildcats, who pulled off a semi-shocking, convincing win against Miami (FL).

    Junior quarterback Collin Kline hasn’t been great for the Wildcats, but he’s going to have to start putting together longer drives to keep RG3 off the field. The Kansas State defense is only giving up 10 points per game, but it was given a stern test against the Canes and the Bears could run roughshod over it.

    Look for Griffin to struggle a touch more than he has, but he will still have a great game and Baylor should win setting up an October with some big games for the Bears to prove they belong in the upper tier of the Big 12.

    No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech – (5 PM Saturday, ESPN2)

    A potential ACC title game preview goes down in Lane Stadium Saturday evening when Dabo Sweeney takes the surging Tigers to face Frank Beamer’s Hokies. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has played well for the Tigers, who are off to a fantastic start. Running back David Wilson has been the star for the Hokies on offense, but Virginia Tech hasn’t faced a true challenge thus far.

    While Bud Foster’s defense has been great for the Hokies, Virginia Tech has been in much tighter games than expected. Clemson has only played at home during their great start, and this is one of two major road tests for the Tigers.

    With the wave of momentum that Clemson is riding, their chances are better than people think, and it’d be no surprise if they walk out of Blacksburg with a win. If the Hokies do go down, they can’t lick their wounds for long, as the Miami Hurricanes will be visiting next week.

    No. 3 Alabama at No. 12 Florida – (7 PM Saturday, CBS)

    The other Game of the Week takes place in the warmth of The Swamp. Nick Saban goes from one big game to another and Will Muschamp finally gets to be the head man in a big time SEC conference showdown. The Crimson Tide comes off a game where running back Trent Richardson played out of his mind again, and a swarming defense took the wood to a respectable Arkansas offense.

    Florida’s offense has evolved into an unstoppable monster under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are the fastest one-two punch in the SEC, and quarterback John Brantley has taken his game to another level. These two teams have rock solid defenses, so this one will come down to who can win a three-plus hour chess match.

    Saban pulls everything out of his kids in this type of atmosphere. Can Muschamp coach at his level? The game will be low scoring. The winner’s tough to call, but Alabama seems to be the appropriate lean right now. Check the weekly Husker Locker predictions to see who is ultimately chosen.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Mike Locksley, New Mexico: Whoops! The axe finally fell on Mike this weekend after a “recruit” stole a car registered to Locksley and his wife. It didn’t help that this young man was underage and hit the sauce hard. If this was the final straw for Mike, that’s a sad statement from the New Mexico athletic department. Such is life though, and the interstate game vs. New Mexico State is here. For the families, folks, for the families.

    Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: In a game where the loser may have gotten fired on the way back to the showers, you no-showed again in the second half. Also, you didn’t even talk to the media after the game. Instead, you send out offensive coordinator David Lee to take the bullet for you. Do you think Fresno State will care if you feel bad and pull punches?

    Tom O’Brien, North Carolina State: How’s Russell Wilson treating you? Wait, nevermind.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: A win over Burfict’s boys in the desert? Not likely.

    Danny Hope, Purdue: Beating Notre Dame would save your job for the season. Not beating them would be both terrible and is expected.

    Larry Porter, Memphis: Really? SMU runs you out of your own stadium?

    Mike Stoops, Arizona: In a shocker, the Wildcats were beat down by Oregon and will be beat down by Southern Cal. Why? Because that’s the norm for Arizona football.

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    Tags: georgia, oklahoma state, lsu, arizona state, pittsburgh, toledo, arkansas, west virginia, ole miss, memphis, north carolina state, texas a, m, baylor, kansas state, clemson, virginia tech, alabama, florida, mike locksley, houston nutt, tom obrien, mike riley

  6. 2010 Oct 10

    Husker Monday Review: KSU


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Of all the words spoken, recorded and written on Nebraska’s 48-13 Thursday night thumping of Kansas State, the direct simplicity of NU left guard Keith Williams cuts through the bouquets and hosannas:

    “We’re going to run the ball, run it right at you and see what happens,” he said. “I wouldn’t say they gave up, but we gave them our best shot. We were looking for their best shot, and it didn’t work out for them.”

    Bingo. The 44 test. Nebraska’s two-deep vs. Kansas State’s two-deep? Best shot vs. best shot? No contest. Too much speed, size and athleticism. The Wildcats played keep-away for a half, burned up their nine lives on an awful fourth down call, and came out cold and gassed in the second half. The Huskers ran right over, around and past them.

    Credit head coach Bo Pelini, with an assist from the goat, Bill Callahan. Discredit Bill Snyder with a huge assist from Ron Prince of Thieves, the Cat gift that keeps on giving. He left virtually nothing behind for Snyder to coach. NU has three quarterbacks better than KSU starter Carson Coffman, and, after Thursday night, I’d take every one of the Huskers’ offensive linemen, too.

    You can’t simply plot the rest of Nebraska’s regular season. Alabama’s poor, slipshod performance at South Carolina proves the future around the corner might not be in the playbook. But Thursday was that perfect storm I envisioned before the 2010 season began: A glut of talent, led by seniors, all coached up by guys who know how to develop and teach.

    On with the review:

    Five Players We Loved

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez:
    Virtuoso stuff. He practically glides when he runs, a bug skimming on water. Martinez is not necessarily the fastest Husker on the team, but he’s so deceptively fast that players take awful pursuit angles to tackle him. Opponents don’t know how to defend him in the open field.

    Running back Roy Helu: Healthy enough to hit the home run, and running tougher than ever. Helu is making a quiet case to many NFL teams to spend a mid-round draft pick on him.

    Linebacker LaVonte David: If this is what he looks like while the light’s still going on, can you imagine how dangerous he’ll be when it’s burning bright? David’s instincts and aggressiveness far outstrip his recognition of plays – and that’s a good thing. Linebacker is still, at heart, a position about reaction, speed and fearlessness, and David’s eyes roll over when a play heads his way.

    Defensive tackle Jared Crick: He enjoyed a Suh-like night against the run, gashing hard into the backfield against one of the Big 12’s best (reputedly) offensive lines.

    Kicker/punter Alex Henery: Hit two field goals, and had a couple crucial field-flipping punts that kept Kansas State out of the red zone in the first half, when the game was still technically in doubt.

    Three Concerns

    Fumbles: Nebraska was lucky to recover the two it put on the turf Thursday night. Both could have given K-State a very short field toward a touchdown.

    Kickoff coverage: On the few occasions when Adi Kunalic doesn’t do the trick with a touchback, NU’s kick coverage team hasn’t been there to pick up the slack – especially against Kansas State. The personnel is what it is – reserves and upper-echelon walk-ons – but there might be a slight lack of speed on the unit.

    Post-game presser setups on the road: Do opposing teams not understand the media following Nebraska enjoys? Setting up head coach Bo Pelini in an elementary school desk three feet off the ground and four feet from an equipment truck, while bus exhausts threatens to asphyxiate all the of 60 reporters and 70 player crammed into a 30-square-foot space, is no reasonable solution, even if it comically resembles a European street market. You know us Midwesterners. We like our personal space.

    And this isn’t the first trip. Last year at Baylor, Pelini was stuck at an even smaller desk under the poured cement bleachers, surrounded by fans who were separated from Bo and the media by two security fences on either side of Pelini that guards pulled down from the ceiling. At least Iowa State holds its opposing team pressers in an equipment shed where there’s a little room to talk. I can maneuver around blocking dummies and offensive line sleds. Barely.

    Three Questions

    How good is Texas really? We’ll find out. NU will get the Longhorns’ undivided attention. UT’s defense isn’t as good as the 2009 version, but it’s no slouch. Martinez will be tested.

    Any other Heisman campaigns to ruin? Not unless Oklahoma hooks up with NU in the Big 12 Championship. By the bowl game, the Heisman will have already been won. Of course, Colorado’s Cody Hawkins crept back into the lineup Saturday midway through the Missouri game. Maybe he’ll make a run.

    Will Husker fans ever step inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium again? They might, but they won’t be wearing red. I could NU pursuing a two-game series one day with Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado or perhaps one of the Texas teams. But KSU? Probably never again. Thanks for the memories, Manhattan.

    The lasting image for me: Profanities in purple and pink lip gloss written all over the windows of my car when I returned to it Thursday night. Cat fans won’t miss Nebraska too much, either, I guess.

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    Tags: husker monday review, kansas state game, taylor martinez, roy helu, jared crick, lavonte david, alex henery

  7. 2010 Oct 08



    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Quarterback Taylor Martinez. One of the best nights in the history of a Nebraska quarterback. Such breathtaking speed and playmaking ability.

    DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Linebacker LaVonte David. If you think Will Compton’s going to dislodge David from the field, think again. They’ll both have to play. David is clearly in the running for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after 16 tackles.


    QUARTERBACK: A Martinez had a few hiccups, but his huge runs and passes easily made up for it. He’s too good not to spy all over the field. Especially impressed with Martinez’s patience Thursday night. He took that extra half-second to read the defense or let his offensive line set up its blocks.

    RUNNING BACK: A- Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead ran the ball with authority and confidence. Helu is a home run hitter once again; he’s as dangerous as Martinez in the open field. Burkhead does the dirty work. Small demerit for a couple so-so blocks and Burkhead’s fumble and false start.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: A Best game of the year. Dominant, physical and no penalties.

    WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B Weren’t called upon to do much in the passing game, but the receivers blocked pretty well. No drops. Ben Cotton recovered a key fumble by Martinez.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: B+ Jared Crick and Cameron Meredith had standout nights fighting against KSU’s line. Meredith was especially stingy. Pass rush wasn’t bad, although often not necessary, the way KSU was bailing on check downs.

    LINEBACKER: A- David had the best game of his young career. Dejon Gomes probably spent more than half of the game at a linebacker spot and held up surprisingly well for his size. NU appears to have an answer at this position that is a little unconventional, but effective.

    SECONDARY: B+ A bit leaky on the opening two drives, but the Husker safeties and corners did a solid job of spiking down to tackle Daniel Thomas. The coverage improved in the second half significantly.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: C- Alex Henery was his usual excellent self, nailing two field goals and having a 42-yard net punting average. The kickoff coverage unit, however, was very poor as was kickoff return. NU’s special teams will get a nice tongue lashing this week, we suspect.

    GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: A- We liked the offensive plan through and through, especially the balance early in the game. On defense, the Brothers Pelini got a little cute with the blitzes early, but righted the ship by the game’s third KSU drive.

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    Tags: report card, kansas state game, lavonte david, taylor martinez

  8. 2010 Oct 08



    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    MANHATTAN, Kan. – Was this Seattle or the Little Apple?

    Hell, if I know after Thursday night. Didn’t we see this game three weeks ago? A team in purple with a sieve for a defense and a Heisman Trophy candidacy wrecked upon the shores of the rugged Blackshirts? A 35-point win over a middle-of-the-road BCS foe with more chatter than punch in a pinch?

    The scenery changed. But Nebraska’s football team didn’t. The Huskers who thumped Kansas State 48-13 in front of God, ESPN and everybody are the same Huskers who staged a 56-21 track meet at Washington. South Dakota State? Jack Rabbit Slim’s? It’s a restaurant in “Pulp Fiction.” If Bo Pelini’s bunch of fast cats bummed around in the back alley with SDSU’s ham-and-eggers for a couple hours, I’m not inclined to remember it now.

    Because I caught another episode of must-see TV. Or don’t-blink TV. Three more hours of, pound for pound, offense and defense, the most exciting team in college football. Maybe not the best. Maybe not fit for a eight-week gulag in the SEC. But just plum fun, these Huskers, who played with anger, confidence, nerve and speed. Damn, that speed. Nebraska’s had better teams than this one. I’m not sure there’s ever been one faster.

    Yes, NU is flawed. That doesn’t detract from the novelty of its high-wire act, which asks a great deal from a solemn sniper like Taylor Martinez and a defense that is, quite legitimately, playing two guys who hover around 200 pounds – LaVonte David and Dejon Gomes - at linebacker.

    You could see some better teams in 2010. Alabama for one. Oregon, perhaps, for another. I’m not sure you’ll see a more intriguing team, with more moving parts and a better storyline, than the Huskers. It’s still being written, and the next chapter – Texas – could be juicier than the first five combined.

    At halftime, they serve ice cream here at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium – it’s like a free Ding-Ding Man, encased in a little cooler with a sliding door that sounds like fat cells when it moves - and a collection of pot bellies were still foraging around for that second Choco Taco when Martinez dashed for an 80-yard touchdown on a designed, third-down draw play that was blocked like a Katherine Hepburn scene from “The Philadelphia Story.” Martinez zoomed through the KSU defense and glided to the end zone untouched, pointing to corner of red-clad fans. It should be harder than that, right?

    Martinez darted around all night, with Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead picking up their own chunks of yards. Kansas State’s defensive line – whatever its scheme – got wiped off the field by NU’s offensive line, which ground the Wildcats into that faded-lime-colored turf at Wagner Field that turned into KSU’s personal Green Mile. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was more careful and deliberate with how Martinez carried the ball, and choice paid off. Nebraska first established its physical will – then kicked up the speed a notch.

    Head coach Bo Pelini thought Martinez would have to pass Thursday night. Early throws on the opening drive suggested a plan to show off T-Magic’s arm. But Kansas State seemed thrown off by a quicker Husker tempo. And too weak against NU’s offensive line.

    Were the Wildcats too amped up? Did Snyder pop his own team’s balloon with a ridiculous fourth down play that asked Carson Coffman – not Daniel Thomas – to run two yards?

    Next time I need my car fixed, I’ll ask some morose, tattooed barista reading New Moon. Next time I need coffee, I’ll dial up Biff down at the welding shop.

    Snyder’s call made no sense. It whiffed of stale gamesmanship from a coach emeritus. His plan otherwise lacked sauce and originality.

    Watson wisely turned the game over his athletes. Martinez is the most prominent, but hardly the only one. The skill seeps down into every spot. The Huskers’ offensive linemen can move. The wide receivers can move. Kyler Reed, who zoomed for a 79-yard touchdown reception, could be the fastest tight end NU’s had in years. Put all that speed and talent onto the field – and fuse it with pretty good coaching – and you have an advanced version of sandlot football.

    “We have so many weapons on the field at one time,” senior wide receiver Niles Paul said. “At any given moment, any of us can hit for a big play.”

    And those big plays can go both ways. NU was lucky to recover two of its three fumbles tonight. Martinez threw a pass that – had it not been knocked down at the line of scrimmage – should have been intercepted. Cody Green almost threw a Pick Six of his own.

    As brilliant as he was, Martinez still botched a few reads and went the wrong way a couple times. He’s a flashy point guard who can ball until dawn. But he still gets locked into bad plays out of his aspiration to break every one of them wide open.

    Which is why it’s exciting. The Huskers are loose and explosive. NU, while captain of its fate, is hardly master of its Big 12 domain; Texas will be a fierce challenge, Oklahoma looms, and I suspect there will be at least one trap game left on the schedule. I didn’t think it’d be tonight. Kansas State doesn’t have the horses. Oklahoma State does. Texas A&M does.

    But those teams must regard Thursday night as a significant warning. We’ve yet to see, to my estimation, much of Nebraska’s offense. Watson insists Martinez is a top-flight passer. And the Huskers’ base defense is a tough nut to crack for points, if not the occasional first down. Nebraska loves the road, which is a little odd. And Martinez rises, again, to the moment, with reporters and cameras and fans swirling around him for a glimpse at an inscrutable persona with seemingly boundless talent.

    It was chaos at the postgame presser. You should have seen it, Bo sitting in a desk fit for a fifth-grader, surrounded on all sides by reporters, idiots like me roaming around, conducting interviews while players signed stuff, bus exhaust choking us all to death. It felt like old times at Nebraska. Nuttiness. Noise. Excitement. Dominance.

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    Tags: kansas state game, taylor martinez

  9. 2010 Oct 08



    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Master blinked. The Magician put on a show. And Nebraska’s football team quelled a hopeful crowd and a Big 12 North foe out for revenge in the old-fashioned manner: Right up the gut, and right down Kansas State’s throat, with lightning-quick speed.

    NU racked up 451 yards rushing - and 587 total yards - during its 48-13 blowout win in front of 51,015 fans at Bill Snyder Stadium and a ESPN national television audience.

    "We played our type of football," head coach Bo Pelini said.

    That's a way of putting it. Who wouldn't take that effort?

    Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez - effectively benched during a poor game vs. South Dakota State - rebounded with a virtuoso performance that had tongues wagging all over the country. He rushed for NU-quarterback-record 241 yards and amassed 369 total yards - a freshman record - before exiting the game when the Huskers had a 45-6 lead.

    "When he lets the game come to him, man, he's hard to contain," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "...If you're wrong one inch..."

    Martinez ran for touchdowns of 14, 35, 41 and 80 yards, the last of which came on the first drive of the second half, effectively ending the Wildcats' upset hopes. Martinez often appeared bottled in before busting free and gliding, almost effortlessly, away from Cat defenders.

    "He made it look awful easy," KSU coach Bill Snyder said. "He's a tremendous athlete, and he obviously has excellent speed. He's faster than we are."

    Said the typically-brief, media-cautious Martinez: “I'm glad that this was my first Big 12 game.”

    He didn't have to throw much, but he hit key passes on both of the Huskers' first-half touchdown drives. Martinez put a cherry on top with a 79-yard option pass to Kyler Reed for his fifth total touchdown. That score sent KSU fans sprinting for the exits, leaving behind pockets of red to bask in the outcome of their final trip to Manhattan.

    Although Kansas State controlled the tempo for much of the first half - running 34 plays to NU’s 25 and holding the ball for four more minutes - nothing much else went right for the Wildcats. Snyder botched an early fourth-down gamble by putting the ball in the hands of his least athletic skill player, and the Blackshirts otherwise shut down KSU's Daniel Thomas, who rushed for just 63 yards on 20 carries. Thomas caught another eight passes for 36 yards, but never cut loose for a large gain.

    "We just played our base defense," defensive tackle Jared Crick said. We didn't do anything special. We just went out and played our brand of football. Nothing more than that. We went out there with an attitude."

    Nebraska took away Thomas' cutback lanes by spiking cornerbacks and safeties toward the backside of each play, which left Thomas to contend with LaVonte David and Dejon Gomes, who combined for 28 tackles.

    “We were upset about it," safety P.J. Smith said of NU's run defense, which still gave up 180 yards, mostly in garbage time. "Coach talked about it. We knew we could stop the run. People are going to say what they want to say, we just ignore it and do our thing on the field. We just take care of it.”

    While KSU converted some early third down plays on the arm of Carson Coffman, the Wildcats played quite conservatively, rarely throwing deep or trying a trick play. Coffman, who completed 14 passes but only for 91 yards, was eventually replaced by two different quarterbacks who had more success against Husker reserves. Martinez, in fact, lingered in the game long past the need for him to play, long enough to get hit with a strong (somewhat inadvertent) uppercut from KSU defensive end Brandon Harold that drew a personal foul.

    It was one of the best hits K-State landed all night on Martinez, who outgained the Wildcats on the ground - and in total - by himself.

    But the game turned early, as Snyder gambled on an early 4th-and-2 at the NU 25 - and put his money on the wrong horse. Instead of Thomas carrying the rock, it was Coffman, who faked a jet sweep to Brodrick Smith and rumbled slowly toward the sideline, where he was stopped a yard short by David. The KSU crowd gasped, Nebraska celebrated, and Snyder had committed a crucial, early mistake from which the Wildcats never quite recovered.

    Nebraska (5-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12) answered with an eight-play, 76-yard drive that didn’t feature a third down. Martinez hit a 24-yard playaction pass to Mike McNeill that set up his 14-yard touchdown run - on a broken play - right afterward.

    KSU (4-1 and 1-1) countered with a field goal. Then Martinez led an eight-play, 87-yard drive midway through the second quarter that featured two key offsides penalties on the Cats, a 17-yard pass from Martinez to Niles Paul, and Martinez's 35-yard score on a zone read. NU tacked on an Alex Henery 39-yard field goal right before halftime.

    The Huskers quickly, deftly put the game out of reach in the second half in much the same fashion they dispatched of Washington. Martinez galloped 80 yards on a designed QB draw on NU's first drive of the second half to give the Huskers a 24-3 lead. After a Wildcat punt, senior running back Roy Helu blasted 68 yards on a counter play to pad the margin to 31-3. Helu finished the game with 110 yards on just ten carries. Martinez then threw 79-yarder to Reed, who zipped past the defense unabated, caught the ball, and raced to the end zone.

    "He made a great catch and outran the safety," Martinez said. "I just tried to get the ball to him because I saw he beat the safety so bad.”

    NU-KSU was billed as one of the key games for the Big 12 North. The Wildcats, who have yet to play a true road game, own a win over UCLA, which upset Texas. Purple-clad students poured into the stadium two hours before kickoff and loudly protested the Huskers - especially Pelini - as they entered the field.

    By the end, few of them remained.

    "It'd be one hell of a way to go out of the Big 12," guard Keith Williams said. "You want to go out of the Big 12 on top."

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    Tags: kansas state game, taylor martinez, kyler reed, bo pelini, jared crick, dejon gomes, lavonte david, roy helu, daniel thomas

  10. 2010 Oct 07

    Pre-Game Chat Live Now!


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: kansas state game

  11. 2010 Oct 06

    NU-KSU Position Matchup


    By HuskerLocker

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    Breaking down the matchups of Nebraska-Kansas State game position-by-position:

    QUARTERBACK: Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (496 yards rushing, 532 passing) is explosive and dynamic as a runner, and inconsistent as a passer. At times, he throws a surprisingly clutch pass. Then he’ll toss one right to the defense. Kansas State’s Carson Coffman (639 yards passing) is more a game manager who has struggled with accuracy, but delivered a fourth-quarter, two-minute drive to beat Central Florida two weeks ago. EDGE: Even.

    RUNNING BACK: Nebraska’s Roy Helu (305 yards rushing) and Rex Burkhead (304) make an effective duo. Helu is more of the home run hitter, while Burkhead is a steady, consistent, more versatile talent. Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas (628) and William Powell (134) are just a little better; Thomas is one of the nation’s best overall talents, while Powell provides a nice burst as a change-up back. EDGE: Kansas State

    WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: Nebraska has more experience and proven playmaking ability in Niles Paul, Brandon Kinnie and Mike McNeill, while KSU counters with young talent in Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson, and a veteran in Aubrey Quarles. We’ll give Nebraska the slight nod thanks to experience and Paul’s occasional big play. EDGE: Nebraska

    OFFENSIVE LINE: Both good units. Kansas State is big, physical and aggressive, hoping to engage the defensive line on its side of the line of scrimmage, while the Huskers are more athletic and agile, especially on pulling plays. Neither are the best pass-blocking units in the Big 12; they’re occasionally prone to giving up sacks. EDGE: Even

    DEFENSIVE LINE: Nebraska still has one of the best front fours in the Big 12, and possibly the country. While the Huskers scheme may reduce, to some extent, NU’s production up front, don’t kid yourself - they’re still plenty formidable. Kansas State has one standout in Brandon Harold; the rest of the bunch is pretty average. EDGE: Nebraska

    LINEBACKERS: NU has a lot more athleticism and playmaking ability in LaVonte David and Eric Martin, both of whom lack experience and time in the defense. If they had that, they could be among the best line backing corps in the country. Alex Hrebec is KSU’s best linebacker; he’s been playing since his freshman year. EDGE: Even

    SECONDARY: Nebraska has the best collection of defensive backs in America. Kansas State does not. EDGE: Nebraska

    SPECIAL TEAMS: Nebraska’s units have been solid this year, but haven’t had that many chances on punt or kickoffs thanks to Alex Henery and Adi Kunalic kicking hard-to-return balls. Henery is, in our view, the nation’s best kicker, while Kunalic is among the best in kickoff specialists. Kansas State has a good return crew on kickoffs with William Powell; Tramaine Thompson probably isn’t as dynamic on punt returns as Niles Paul, however. EDGE: Nebraska

    COACHING: Bill Snyder is one of America’s elite program managers; he knows how to get an ailing team back on its feet and winning games. He also outworks most coaches and generally crafts a good offensive plan. Is he a great game day coach? No. He’s too conservative and often unwilling to deviate from the pre-scripted plan. Bo Pelini is a terrific gameday adjuster who sometimes coaches by the seat of his pants and burns timeouts setting up special defenses for third down. We respect both. EDGE: Even

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    See also: 5 Keys to KSU, 5 NU Players to Watch, 5 KSU Players to Watch, The Matchup Edge and Guess The Score

    Tags: kansas state game

  12. 2010 Oct 06

    KSU GAME: 5 KSU Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

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    Running back Daniel Thomas: It goes without saying that he’s the best player Kansas State has; he’ll also be called upon to carry the Wildcats’ offense. Can he slip through NU’s aggressive defense? We’ll see.

    Quarterback Carson Coffman: So long as the senior stays on script, throwing playaction passes and running the occasional option play, he’s a steady game manager who doesn’t make too many mistakes. But Coffman is not a particularly accurate or effective passer in third down situations.

    Wide receiver Tramaine Thompson: Not KSU’s best receiver - that’s Brodrick Smith - Thompson is the Wildcats’ primary punt returner, and also a quick scatback-type receiving option on third down. NU should lock down the talented Smith, so Thompson, probably operating out of the slot, will be Coffman’s preferred pick.

    Defensive end Brandon Harold: Kansas State’s best pass rusher has to have his best game to date. Harold is fast enough to roll around NU left tackle Jeremiah Sirles and strong enough to bull through him, too. A couple early pressures of Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez could change the balance of the game.

    Linebacker Alex Hrebec: The guy who helps run KSU’s defense has the tough job of playing Martinez while keeping a good eye on running backs Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead and the playaction pass.

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    Tags: kansas state game, daniel thomas

  13. 2010 Oct 06

    KSU GAME: 5 NU Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: The pressure is on T-Magic to grow from his poor last outing, and do it on national TV. There isn’t a result - spectacular or disappointing - that would surprise me. The kid is becoming a college quarterback before our eyes, and it’s on him to mature in the right way.

    Wide receiver Niles Paul: The senior has already expressed his displeasure over a lack of touches in the Washington and Idaho games. Does offensive coordinator Shawn Watson call his number Thursday, or Paul, once again, a blocker and a flashy decoy?

    Right tackle Marcel Jones: When healthy - which Jones finally appears to be - he’s a solid-to-strong pass blocker. But it’s his first game of the year, so NU will need to fold him into the line rotation with D.J. Jones carefully.

    Defensive end Pierre Allen: Big game for the senior, as Kansas State likes to run plays that bounce toward the defensive ends. Allen has to force Daniel Thomas back toward the NU linebackers and prevent him from getting loose on the edge.

    Linebacker LaVonte David: Those ten days of practice and film study could be the biggest benefit to the junior. David has to stay disciplined, smart and tough in the chute. Daniel Thomas is the best running back the Huskers will face in the 2010 regular season. This is a big moment for David.

    Want to Head to the Big Nebraska-Texas Game? Click here!

    See also: 5 Keys to KSU, 5 NU Players to Watch, 5 KSU Players to Watch, The Matchup Edge and Guess The Score

    Tags: lavonte david, pierre allen, taylor martinez, niles paul, marcel jones, kansas state game

  14. 2010 Oct 06



    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Forget the politics. Forget the farewell tour. Forget the storylines. Lord knows you’ll get drunk on all of that next week when Texas comes to town.

    Treat Nebraska’s Thursday night showcase at Kansas State as precisely the kind of test NU needs before that emotional slugfest Oct. 16. Because the shoe is on the other foot. It’s KSU that looks at the Huskers with scorn. It’s NU that serves as the Wildcats’ biggest game of the year. Before it zeroes in on Enemy No. 1 in UT, Nebraska is Enemy No. 1 for the Big 12 North on this night.

    So, for the Huskers, this ESPN-televised game becomes more about the enemy combatants - guys like running back Daniel Thomas - than what they stand for. There will be time for soapbox speeches and philosophical rants - plenty - next week, when it Nebraska’s turn to grind the axe.

    On with the keys. We have been hitting on some variation of them for ten days.

    Tempo: Kansas State wants to possess the ball, bleed the clock and play keep-away from the NU offense. Nebraska’s explosive, quick-strike offense puts the opponent on their heels and forces them off the their scripts. One of the two will have to give. The Huskers want to get Kansas State off the field quickly, while KSU wants to pressure Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez into mistakes by creating an atmosphere that makes him rush.

    Unsurprisingly, the running game - for both teams - is important here. NU and KSU go about it in different ways, yet both choose to imprint their physical will on the opponent. Whichever team does that better probably controls the pace of the game, if not necessarily the outcome.

    Talent Gap: I call it the 44 test. Take Nebraska’s two-deep and Kansas State’s two-deep on both sides of the ball and see which group has the advantage.

    Sparing you the analysis, it’s fair to say, across the board - especially on defense, where several Nebraska backups would start for K-State - that the Huskers get the nod. Turn NU-KSU into a sandlot game, and Nebraska runs roughshod over the Cats.

    But it’s not a sandlot game of raw-skill-on-raw-skill. So Kansas State must take its few strengths - Thomas, the offensive line - and parlay that into a game philosophy. Again - back to tempo.

    Nebraska, meanwhile, needs to exploit its advantage of speed, agility, experience and sheer athleticism. Get guys out into space to make plays. Rely on corners Alfonzo Dennard and Prince Amukamara to play man coverage down the field. Get after quarterback Carson Coffman with speedsters like LaVonte David and Eric Martin.

    Through four games, Nebraska’s been content to let offenses try to solve their complex, effective web of defense. I wonder if, in this game, it’s better to attack the Wildcats and put them on their heels, right away, to eliminate any notion of an upset.

    The Chess Match: The game behind the game is this: Bill Snyder vs. the Brothers Pelini. That’s a lot of brainpower and innovation on one field.

    Snyder’s formula is simple: Work, work, work. Plan, plan, plan.

    “I had heard stories and took them for what they are,” said KSU safety Tysyn Hartman at Big 12 Media Days. “Then you see him in person, and it’s exactly what the stories are saying. The guy’s up there almost 24/7. Rarely sleeps. Rarely eats…first one in, last one to leave.”

    I think of him as Job - a tireless, faithful guy in the face of poor resources and an iffy talent pool. His teams come ready. His script is almost always well-conceived.

    “He’s a good coach a normal week and he’s an even better coach with ten days preparation,” defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said.

    The Brothers Pelini have their own plan, but they’re even better at in-game adjustments. One constant, over their three years at Nebraska, has been the ability to identify a weakness, quickly create a fix, and apply it on the following drive. The Huskers rarely get beaten up for a whole game.

    Snyder can be slow to deviate from his plan when it isn’t working. It’s a criticism that’s been leveled at him for years. When the guy stays on script, though, he’s tough to beat.

    Taylor Terrific? That’s the question for Nebraska’s offense. Does anybody really know what to expect? The opaque, unreadable Martinez has presumably learned from mistakes made in the South Dakota State game - coaches don’t make him talk between games, so Martinez gladly declines the job to do it - but those lessons are best applied against a Kansas State defense that must have some bells and whistles designed for him.

    We’ll put some of NU’s offensive performance on rest of the units - plus offensive coordinator Shawn Watson - but a lot of it goes back to Martinez, the straw who’s stirred NU’s spread option drink for four games. Can he make the necessary passes to beat the blitz? Can he identify a blitz as it comes? Can he make the right reads against a defense designed to confuse him? These are hard questions for any redshirt freshman to answer. If he can’t, does Watson pull the plug on the road? If so - to which QB?

    The kid’s going to make mistakes. That’s part of the deal. You just hope they don’t create much harm.

    Wildcat zoo: I’m expecting a loud, angry crowd at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Profane. Cruel. Ready for Husker blood. In other words - a terrific atmosphere worthy of KSU’s “Octagon of Doom” at Bramlage Coliseum for basketball.

    Nebraska’s team appears to relish these games. Bo Pelini feeds off of adversity and animosity, and his players follow suit. How the Huskers handle the crowd - especially when they’re frustrated - may play a big role in how they react on the field.

    See also: 5 Keys to KSU, 5 NU Players to Watch, 5 KSU Players to Watch, The Matchup Edge and Guess The Score

    Tags: kansas state game, five keys, taylor martinez, bill snyder, bo pelini, carl pelini, shawn watson

  15. 2010 Oct 06

    Husker Heartbeat 10/6: NU-OU in 2021?


    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.

    *Nebraska and Oklahoma are working on a two-game series that would include a game in 2021 - the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century.

    *John Blake called Ndamukong Suh's sister quite a bit last year - but apparently it wasn't about agent Gary Wichard, even if, right after he called Suh's sister, he then called Wichard. Bo Pelini expressed concern over it during last year.

    *A Q&A with Dejon Gomes.

    *Kansas State has a beef against red this week.

    *The Wildcats need more than hate to beat NU.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, kansas state game, john blake, ndamukong suh

  16. 2010 Oct 06

    CHALKTALK: Taylor Martinez's Growth at QB


    By HuskerLocker

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    HL's Samuel McKewon breaks down some of the game management aspect that redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez has to master, and ways that offensive coordinator Shawn Watson can get him in a rhythm in the Kansas State game. Simple, basic, easy-to-understand analysis that makes the game a lot more fun to watch! Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: chalktalk, kansas state game, taylor martinez, shawn watson

  17. 2010 Oct 06

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: From Urban Legend to Campus Legend


    By HuskerLocker

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    Before he played a single snap at Kansas State, Daniel Thomas had already carved out a niche as a modern-day myth, this dynamic, spectacular athlete without a natural position or a way to get in to school.

    “There was a phantom Daniel Thomas here before Daniel even got here,” senior offensive lineman Wade Weibert said. “You always heard the hoopla.”

    It was summer 2009, and the Hilliard, Fla., native had just finished toiling away at Butler County Community College, taking courses so he could qualify to play at KSU. Poor grades at a Mississippi junior college had already robbed Thomas of a scholarship to play at Ole Miss.

    “He let some things get away from him,” head coach Bill Snyder said.

    He sat out 2008 - Ron Prince’s final year - still trying to cobble together his academic record at Manhattan Christian College. Then Prince was fired, Snyder was hired, and the light switch for Thomas, at long last, really flipped on. He enrolled at Butler.

    “He saw some daylight he tried to take advantage of it,” Snyder said. “He realized it was an opportunity that he didn’t want to pass up. He did the work that was necessary to get where he wanted to be.”

    So 17 months after he committed to the Wildcats, Thomas - still waiting on his final grades - could only practice with his teammates in unsupervised, improvised workouts. He played quarterback, running back and wide receiver. The silent stud in exile.

    “Nobody told us who this quiet kid was,” Weibert said. “It turns out it was Daniel. He flies under the radar.”

    But once Thomas gained his eligibility, he had only fall camp to learn the Wildcats’ multiple-formation offense. Snyder put him at quarterback, didn’t like the fit, and shifted him to running back.

    The result: 1,265 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns in 2009. More than half that already (628 and 6) in four games for 2010.

    Urban legend to campus legend, in 14 months flat.

    “The one thing you can expect when you flip on the game film or the TV is something out of the ordinary,” Weibert said. “He’s very special.”


    You can almost hear Paul Rhoads shaking his head over the telephone.

    “People just don’t think he’s good enough, I guess,” the Iowa State coach says of Thomas, who rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Cyclones. “They want to compare him to somebody.”

    Well, yes. Part of the ingrained history of the game is that running backs are defined by their style, as old-timers (and newcomers) take one - or 20 - visual snapshots of a runner and immediately file back through memory bank to find an analogue. On windy Sunday afternoons at a Pop Warner game, some kid will bust off a 60-yard sweep and evoke memories of Marcus Allen. It’s a legacy of running backs.

    Quarterbacks are singular in nature; nobody is really “like” Tim Tebow, Tommie Frazier or Todd Reesing, even if there have been many like them before or since their time.

    But how “Little Earls” have there been since Earl Campbell? How many fluid, dynamic runners get the “Gale Sayers” moniker, even for a play? Alabama’s Mark Ingram is “like” Emmitt Smith. Pitt’s Dion Lewis jumps and darts “like” Barry Sanders. So Thomas has a predecessor. And he will soon be a forefather.

    Rhoads picks out Kevan Barlow, who played seven years in the NFL. I see Lawrence Phillips - minus the off-the-field junk. Thomas has Phillips’ size, his patience to let blockers set up and create holes and his ability to square his shoulders quickly and change direction.

    “He’s very patient,” defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. “He lets those guys work blocks. He spends a lot of time in the backfield before he decides where to go. It forces you to be even better technique wise and be patient.”

    And like Phillips, Thomas can carry the ball countless times, through injury or frustration, often willing to receive and return contact.

    “He's just a tough runner,” NU defensive tackle Jared Crick said. “He doesn't go down easy. He doesn't take easy ways out. Even if he's close to the sideline, he cuts it back and tries to get as many yards as he can, and I respect that.”

    But Thomas is distinctive, too. He has, in football parlance, the wiggle of a third-down back trapped in the size of a short-yardage back. He lacks breakaway speed, and yet he turns two yards into five, five into eight, seven into 12.

    “Sometimes you have to hit up high, and sometimes you have to get the legs,” safety P.J. Smith said. “We’ve been doing ‘chest-up’ drills all week. Chest-up tackles. He likes to spin a lot. And he’s a bouncer. He’s likes to jump-bounce. Just to wrap him up is hard.”

    Kansas State’s offense, Rhoads said, takes advantage of Thomas’s skills. The wildcat formation allows Thomas time to set up his blocks. Counter plays give Thomas pulling guards to read and cut back against. He is particularly tough near the sidelines, where he’ll angle sharply toward the chalk, stop, let a defender bounce off his back shoulder, then dip back toward the middle for more yardage.

    When prompted, Snyder sees the comparison between Thomas and former KSU quarterback Michael Bishop for “their ability to run with the football - be fluid and still have quickness to change direction and sometimes make people miss.”

    Weibert sees something else. A smile behind a facemask that grows as the game gets deeper into the fourth quarter. Thomas, like Bishop, loves to have the game on his shoulders.

    “He’s the epitome of someone who’s playing the game because he loves it,” he said. “I never hear him talk about himself. He never talks about his accolades or any expectations on him or anything. He goes out there, he does his job.”

    Tags: kansas state game, daniel thomas, hared crick, carl pelini

  18. 2010 Oct 05

    SCOUTING REPORT: Kansas State


    By HuskerLocker

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    The most in-depth scouting report on the Web! You'll get the full skinny on strengths, weaknesses, bread and butter plays, and more! Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: kansas state game, scouting report

  19. 2010 Oct 05

    Husker Heartbeat 10/5: Big 12 North Rising At Last?


    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.

    *With key victories last weekend, is the Big 12 North finally making its move to square the two divisions in their last year of existence?

    *LJS Sipple asks a fine question: Who are the Huskers' player leaders?

    *Kansas State not satisfied with 4-0 start.

    *It's Daniel Thomas' Heisman moment.

    *A Wildcat primer from LJS.

    *It keeps getting worse for John Blake. The question is...will it touch Nebraska in some way?

    *Are you tired of hearing "us against the world?" as it pertains to playing a three-hour football game 200 miles from one's home? Well...once more - with feeling!

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big 12, kansas state game

  20. 2010 Oct 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 10/4


    By HuskerLocker

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    To hear Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson explain Kansas State’s defensive philosophy, a paradox emerges.

    The Wildcats are a fundamentally sound, structured defense that hates giving up the big play, and yet most of NU’s opponents in 2010 have been aggressively unsound in trying to take away Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez.

    Will KSU try to throw the kitchen sink at Martinez, a redshirt freshman making his second career road start?

    “We always expect that because of our running game,” Watson said Monday.

    Under normal circumstances, K-State’s 3-4 alignment produces a bend-but-don’t-break unit, Watson said, that forces offenses to drive the length of the field.

    “They play very good unit defense,” he said. “They get to the football…they make you earn your way down the field. Very assignment-sound. They don’t give up big plays.”

    Central Florida, which lost to Kansas State 17-13 but rushed 252 yards, provides some “good indicators” for Watson as to how KSU might defend Nebraska. The Golden Knights run a pistol offense out of a spread formation. It’s little different than NU’s spread option look, however, in running philosophy. The pistol is more of a downhill running game while the Huskers take advantage of lanes emerging in the zone blocking.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: NU finished up the bulk of its preparations for Kansas State. At this point, the Huskers are on the equivalent of a Wednesday practice, so it was just helmets and shoulder pads today.

    What’s New: Junior right tackle Marcel Jones has been practicing throughout the weekend and again on Monday. Bo Pelini and Watson said he is expected to play and rotate with senior D.J. Jones.

    “With Marcel back, we’ll evolve,” Watson said of a more consistent offensive line rotation. “We’ll see how much he’s able to go. He looks good in practice. This has been a plan to get him ready for the Big 12 season. You’ll probably see us have more of a rotation at both those tackle spots.”

    Coach Quote: “He manages that offense well. He plays within the scheme. I think he understands what his role is there. I call him a very accomplished game manager.” Carl Pelini on KSU quarterback Carson Coffman.

    Coach Quote II: “The fundamentals of defensive football, period, have to be, and have been a point of emphasis for us over the last week or so. Not that they aren't always, but this was a week that we felt like with the extra time we needed to keep improving just how we take on blockers, how we come out of our stances, how we tackle, just the little things that make you a great football team.” Carl Pelini on attacking Kansas State’s offense

    Player Quote: “Teams are going to start scheming our offense, and we're going to start opening up the playbook, and start passing the ball, taking more shots. Coach is going to give us an opportunity to make big plays.” Wide receiver Niles Paul

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Tags: kansas state game, practice report, marcel jones, niles paul, carl pelini, shawn watson

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