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  1. 2008 Nov 10

    Suh named Big 12 Player of the Week


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    For his 12 tackle, 2.5 sack and four tackle for loss performance against Kansas, junior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was named the Big 12's defensive player of the week. He's the second defensive tackle to get that award.

    "He was very disruptive at the line of scrimmage," KU Coach Mark Mangino said. "We had trouble dealing with him all day long."

    Tags: suh, kansas week

  2. 2008 Nov 08

    NU-KU Game Photos


    By HuskerLocker

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    Related photos

    Cover photo for the NU-KU game photos album
    NU-KU game photos
    25 photos
    Trophies: 1
    Hey all...these are the terrific photos taken by Josh Wolfe at the game today...enjoy!

    Tags: kansas game, kansas week

  3. 2008 Nov 08

    Huskers Serve Dish of Revenge


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It’s one of those unwritten rules of college football: Never admit you’re too interested in paying back a team that took your lunch money in a previous season. Just in case, you know, they take it again.

    But after Nebraska’s 45-35 win over Kansas, the Cornhuskers couldn’t help but admitting that, yes, just a little vengeance was involved, considering KU’s astonishing 76-39 victory in 2007.

    A couple quotes:

    Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn: “It's incredible. I can't even describe the feeling right now just because what happened down there last year, and where our team is heading this year, just to make a statement and beat them.”

    NU quarterback Joe Ganz: “It was awesome. It just feels so good to come back and redeem ourselves from what happened last year.”

    Tight end Mike McNeill: "It feels great. All the guys are really happy in the locker room. It was nuts for a little while after the game. It's a big win."

    NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini: “This was a very meaningful game for our guys after what happened last year. They wanted a little payback and they played their tails off today.”

    Tags: kansas game, kansas week

  4. 2008 Nov 08

    'Run' Over: KU Can't Slow Huskers


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It was arguably Kansas’ most conservative game plan of the year and it called for brutality in simplicity: Run the ball. Stop the run.

    KU did a little of both against Nebraska Saturday afternoon, but not to the tune of a victory. In fact, the Jayhawks’ 45-35 loss to NU, coach Mark Mangino said, could be traced directly back to the Cornhuskers’ repeated victories in the trenches while Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing was left to fend for his life.

    “We said all week that we had to stop their run,” Mangino said. “We did not do that effectively, at least not in key situations. We said we had to run the ball well, and we did not do that. Their defensive line disrupted our run game. We were able to get some runs in the perimeter with Jake Sharp, but we were not effectively able to run the ball between the tackles. And then we did not tackle well today.”

    That combination was just too much for Reesing to overcome. He threw for 304 yards on just 15 completions – becoming KU’s all-time passing leader on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Meier – but he threw a costly fourth quarter interception and was sacked five times by Nebraska’s relentless front four. Although Reesing and receiver Dez Briscoe (six catches 176 yards) put on a show, Kansas still had to punt seven times.

    Why? A failure to execute the zone read and option plays Mangino clearly thought would work against Nebraska’s defense. KU ran the ball 39 times, gained only 119 yards, and never had a run longer than 14. And that was on a Reesing scramble late in the fourth quarter.

    “Their D-line was great,” Briscoe said. “They dominated our O-line today, just to tell it like it is.”

    When Kansas passed, Reesing had to face more pressure than he’s probably faced in his career in Lawrence. He was consistently harassed, pushed the turf, wrapped up and thrown down. On one play, certain to become a signature play for Reesing, he was hit hard by defensive back Eric Hagg. The quarterback absorbed the blow, regained his balance, and calmly threw the ball to a wide-open Meier for Kansas’ first touchdown.

    "That is just a competitive guy,” Mangino said. “He fears nothing. He's always looking to make a play. He's played some great games since he's been here, but I think today's game typifies who he really is. I thought that he took some vicious hits today, but he bounced up, made throws, ran the ball.”

    Said Briscoe, who looked like the next great Big 12 receiver: “I've never seen him on the turf as much as he was today. I mean, there's a first time for everything. He's a competitor. He always wants to end the game in clutch situations that we were in. He kept hitting and grinding and coming up and fighting through injuries if he had some.”

    Kansas had less success on defense; NU gained 495 yards and scored 45 points, leaving another 14-21 points on the field because turnovers and penalties. The Huskers’ offensive line simply overwhelmed KU’s defensive bunch, especially on Roy Helu, Jr’s 52-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that gave Nebraska a 31-21 lead and broke open a previously tight game.

    “All week we focused on stopping the run, stopping the run, stopping the run,” cornerback Justin Thornton said. “When we need to stop them and they bust something like that, it definitely hurts."

    It all led to KU’s third loss in the Big 12 this season; now the Jayhawks no longer control their own destiny in the Big 12 North. Kansas, dropping to 6-4, has already qualified for a bowl, but happens to be staring right down the barrel of a 6-6 season as it faces Texas and Missouri to end the season.

    “We're gonna come out and play strong in our next two games and we're going to surprise some people,” Thornton said. “Hopefully they don't take it easy on us, because we'll be ready to play next week.”

    Tags: kansas game, kansas week

  5. 2008 Nov 08

    Commentary: Ruling The Trenches


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    See, Virginia, Bo Pelini does smile.

    Nebraska’s head coach had a lot to be happy about, considering his team made the kind of mistakes – penalties, turnovers, mental busts – that should have sunk the Cornhuskers against tough, savvy Todd Reesing and an active, gambling Kansas defense. And would have, had it not been for the NU boys in the trenches, on both sides.

    The front four on defense and the big five on offense. That was the glue Saturday in NU’s 45-35 win over Kansas. Pat Roy Helu, Jr. on the back all you want. He deserves it, the way he’s played over the last two games. The kid is tough, elusive, and instinctive. I like him.

    But Saturday was about that seven-yard area filled with violent, sweaty men who gather around the ball right before it’s snapped. And Nebraska owned that area. Again and again and again, vs. a KU team that, based on its game plan of running the football and blitzing NU quarterback Joe Ganz, kinda figured it would win the patch of land Charlie McBride used to call “a meat grinder.”

    Well, not Saturday. The wind kicked up and NU’s offensive and defensive lines strapped it on. It wasn’t quite old-school – after all, KU is no juggernaut in 2008 – but on a cold November day, it’ll do.

    NU’s front four on defense – Ndamukong Suh, Ty Steinkuhler, Pierre Allen and Zach Potter – played with so much anger that Pelini didn’t have to blitz his linebackers and safeties very often. They repeatedly collapsed the pocket on Reesing like no team has this year, and to do it with four guys is more or less how the perfect Cover 2 defense works.

    “I expected that kind of game,” NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. “I challenged them all week. I thought this was a game where our D-line should play well and dominate up front, and they did. I could go right down the line, but I’m so proud of those guys. I’m thrilled.”

    Suh, in particular, put together one of those performances that goes on a highlight tape and ends up on some NFL GM’s desk in about a week. What a game! Twelve tackles, 2.5 sacks, four tackles, a quarterback hurry? That’s scary good. That’s All-Big 12 good.

    And yeah, as many good defensive linemen as they are in the Big 12, Suh’s right there with them. He was like a big, 300-pound tick on Saturday, sucking the blood out of blocking assignments, running backs, Reesing, you name it.

    This from a kid who seemed a little lost during the last half of 2007, when he was hurt and seemingly unmotivated. This from a kid who sat out spring ball with a knee injury. Thing is, Suh always had the immense talent, the power, the speed, and even the attitude, if reports about how hard he was to block in practice were true. The junior just never put it together until 2008, where he’s been an anchor inside, a beast. He barely comes off the field.

    “We really came together and put a great game together,” Suh said. “We're just working off of and feeding off of each other. One guy makes a play, giving him love and working together as a unit as we're supposed to and as we have been throughout the season pretty well."

    Some of the credit, at this point, has to go to Carl Pelini. Yeah, he’s working with some good talent – Suh and Potter bring a lot to the table physically, and Allen and Steinkuhler are nothing to sniff at – but he’s pushed the right buttons with these guys. They’re relentless. They get their hands up. They hustle down field. They cover for what I’d call a below-average secondary that missed so many tackles on KU receiver Dez Briscoe Saturday that I lost count. What’s scary is this: NU needed every one of those 28 tackles, and five sacks to beat Kansas. That’s how much falls on their shoulders.

    The burden isn’t as big for the Huskers’ offensive line. Quarterback Joe Ganz can make plays on his own. Nate Swift has suddenly blossomed into complete receiver in his senior season. Roy Helu, Jr is more and more looking like a starting running back. Heck, even Chris Brooks made a nice grab for a touchdown.

    It doesn’t change that, in key moments Saturday, Barney’s boys made holes and protected Ganz against KU’s somewhat desperate blitzes. When offensive coordinator Shawn Watson dialed up those elaborate screens on NU’s first touchdown drive, the line executed perfectly. When Ganz needed that extra second of time on a key fourth down play, he got it. Both sacks were Ganz’s fault, not the lines, and Ganz admitted as much.

    In fact, if Ganz can find a way to swipe his dad’s credit card, he’s taking them out for a meal.

    “They played awesome, awesome, awesome,” Ganz said. “They played so good today picking up blitzes. Kansas, they started struggling a little bit and they started bringing more blitzes, that's when we came in with our kill game and our passes and those guys picked everything up.”

    Ganz, thus, had time to let Swift and Todd Peterson get into the clear on elaborate crossing patterns and post corner patterns. NU’s final touchdown – which turned out to be crucial – was a perfect example of the time Ganz had to throw a difficult 20-yard to a specific spot. That’s hard to do if you’re rushed; recall that it was the same play Nebraska couldn’t execute in overtime against Texas Tech.

    The offensive line, even with Lydon Murtha’s injury, is growing.

    As are most of the Huskers. The secondary remains a sore spot, as Nebraska dropped a couple interceptions and generally seemed shaky whenever Reesing pressed the ball downfield. NU’s special teams are still up and down. And fumbling has officially become a problem for Nebraska. It’s happening way too often.

    But the men in the trenches don’t handle the ball. They just handled the Jayhawks.

    Tags: kansas game, kansas week

  6. 2008 Nov 08

    Wild Game, Big Win


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It was the final moments of Nebraska’s 45-35 win over Kansas and head coach Bo Pelini, as usual, was pacing the sidelines. Except his path kept getting interrupted by his sideline coaches, who greeted him with hugs. Not the kind of jubilant, emotional displays Pelini has been a part of in his LSU years. They were small and sincere. Ones of genuine happiness – and maybe a little relief.

    It might not go down as a signature win for Pelini. It certainly wasn’t a masterpiece. And with a plethora of penalties, turnovers and mental busts, NU tried about as hard as it could
    to give it away.

    Those qualifiers aside, Nebraska iced a 14-14 halftime dead heat against Kansas with one big second-half play after another, notching its biggest win of the year, gaining bowl eligibility and generating the kind of hope that runs all the way through the offseason.

    "I told them I was proud of them, proud of the way they hung together,” Pelini said. “After getting hit in the mouth last week they just came back and played hard. We didn't always play smart today. We gave them some things. But ultimately they just kept going and it shows. I kept saying all along there's a lot of character in that locker room, and I think it showed. It showed today and it showed time after time this year.”

    Yes, it’ll more than do, as the Cornhuskers compiled 495 total yards, scored 21 fourth-quarter points and sacked Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing five times. Nebraska (6-4 overall, 3-3 in the Big 12 Conference) had three turnovers, a number of costly offense penalties and failed to recover an onside kick, but it made the crucial plays in the fourth to finish off the Jayhawks (6-4, 3-3).

    NU trailed 21-17 late in the third quarter before scoring touchdowns on four consecutive drives. Sophomore running back Roy Helu, Jr. played a big role on all of them. First, he caught a 14-yard pass from NU quarterback Joe Ganz to start the ensuing drive, scoring from 10 yards out to give Nebraska a 24-21 lead.

    After KU punted on its next drive, Helu busted the backbreaker, a 52-yard touchdown run on a zone read play in which he squeezed through a tackle at the line of scrimmage, cut to the sideline and outran the defense. Nebraska led 31-21.

    “It's so easy for an offense when you get big break-out runs,” Ganz said. “It's harder on a defense, it kind of demoralizes them a little bit, especially that break-out touchdown. That was huge, for me, for the whole offense, not having to do anything but the one play and go out there and put seven points on the board. It was a big swing of momentum too.”

    For the game, Helu finished with 115 rushing yards and 176 total yards for the game as he spelled senior Marlon Lucky, who got hurt in the game’s first few plays.

    “He got hot,” Pelini said. “He made some plays.”

    Kansas answered with a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-28. Then Helu made another big play, busting a 23-yard run over the middle. Ganz, who completed 28-of-37 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns - converted a key third down with a 22-yard pass to Nate Swift, then finished off the drive with a two-yard pass to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was in the game playing fullback.

    “I looked back to Joey and we made eye contact and he just lobbed it to me,” Suh said. “He took a little heat off the ball.”

    It was the cherry on the top of Suh’s day, arguably one of the best games for a defensive tackle in recent NU history. Suh finished with 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. In all, the Huskers’ starting front four combined for 28 tackles, five sacks, and an interception.

    “Since the beginning of the year that's been the strength of our defense,” Pelini said. “They got after (Reesing) and they made him uncomfortable start to finish and that allowed us to play some coverage in the back. We didn't have to blitz all the time.”

    Said KU Coach Mark Mangino: “Their defensive line is probably the strongest part of their football team. They're very good, anyone that's played them knows that. We needed to be able to get some runs on the inside, take some pressure off the quarterback in the pocket, and we were not able to do that."

    Defensive end Zach Potter intercepted Reesing on the following drive, NU kicker Alex Henery executed a fake field goal and Ganz hit Swift for a 20-yard touchdown for a 45-28 lead.

    KU’s Reesing, who only completed 15 passes, but still amassed 304 yards, never quit, leading the Jayhawks down the field for another touchdown, which he scored with a 14-yard scramble. Then Kansas recovered the onside kick. Nebraska got a key sack of Reesing, however, and was able to force a turnover of downs.

    So ended NU’s wildest, most entertaining game of year.

    Nebraska led 17-14 midway through the third quarter when Swift fumbled a punt inside Nebraska’s 20-yard line. After Swift’s fumble, Kansas scored four plays later with Reesing’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Fields. KU led 21-17.

    The Huskers answered with an eight-play, 78-yard drive directly following that ended in Helu’s 10-yard touchdown.

    Nebraska outplayed Kansas in the first half, running 11 more plays and gaining 58 more yards. But the Huskers shot themselves in the foot with penalties, two turnovers, and two defensive busts.

    NU’s offensive line was flagged for two false start penalties and a holding call that called back a 30-yard shovel pass from Ganz to Helu. Running back Marlon Lucky fumbled the ball inside KU 25-yard line, and Ganz threw an interception in that same end near the end of the half. In all, Nebraska visited Kansas territory five times, and scored only twice.

    Kansas, meanwhile, struggled to move the ball consistently against Nebraska’s defense, but got three big plays en route to 14 points.

    Trailing NU 7-0, Reesing hit Dezmon Briscoe on consecutive pass plays, the second of which was a 40-yarder on a quick slant pattern that set up the Jayhawks at the NU 28-yard line. On the next play, Reesing rolled to his right, absorbed a big hit from defensive back Eric Hagg, regained his balance, and threw to a wide open Kerry Meier behind the Nebraska defense for a touchdown. NU and KU were tied at 7.

    “I was taken back by his size,” Pelini said. “He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he has a huge heart.”

    Reesing’s next big pass was a 53-yarder to Briscoe, whom Reesing found wide open inside Nebraska’s Cover 2 defense. Briscoe caught the ball, hesitated briefly while a safety flew by and sprinted to the end zone to give Kansas a 14-7 lead.

    Nebraska answered with its second touchdown drive of the game, an eight-play, 67-yard drive in which NU only gained yards on three plays, all of them Ganz passes. The last of them was a 25-yard touchdown pass inside KU’s zone defense to junior Chris Brooks, who caught the first touchdown of his career.

    The Huskers opened scoring with arguably its most diverse drive of the season, using all three running backs on the eight-play, 80-yard march that ended with running back Marlon Lucky throwing a four-yard touchdown to tight end Mike McNeill.

    Tags: kansas game, kansas week

  7. 2008 Nov 08

    NU-KU Game Blog


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    OK, here we go...talk about the game on our game thread in the forums!

    1:00 The wind will be a factor today. The cold, too. As much as you'd think this game could come down to passing, both teams might have to run to win. It's an old-school autumn game in Nebraska, folks. Ought to bring back the memories.

    1:37 Mangino wearin the throwback jacket while Bo is in the sweatshirt...let's see how NU's offense adjusts to the wind right off the jump.

    1:47 Nebraska and Kansas trade punts. Neither team able to run the ball much, to little surprise. Ndamukong Suh saved a first down a Reesing scramble. Looks like Bo's defensive crew is going to play it a little safer on the blitz schemes...good idea.

    1:55 Wild Lucky! Nebraska goes 80 yards in eight plays, using all three running backs - Roy Helu, Jr, Quentin Castille and, yes, Marlon Lucky, who culminates the drive by taking the direct snap faking a run into the line and completing a jump pass to tight end Mike McNeill for the touchdown.

    2:01 Todd Reesing, ladies and gentlemen. KU strikes back with three passing plays, all beautifully executed by quarterback Reesing. The last of them, a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Meier, occurred after Reesing took a big shot from NU safety Eric Hagg. Reesing absorbed the blow, took a few steps back, and calmly tossed the ball to a wide open Meier.

    Wrap up, Mr. Hagg. You might want to try it.

    2:10 End of the first quarter, and NU and KU are tied. Nebraska failed to convert a fourth down inside Kansas territory (thanks, largely, to a missed holding call on the Jayhawks) but were hurt, again, by a false start penalty - NU's second of the game.

    2:21 Nebraska blows a chance at points on its fourth drive when Marlon Lucky fumbles on a third and short inside KU's 25-yard line. Kansas recovered. Earlier on the drive, Ganz had a certain touchdown pass, but Ganz was stripped of the ball by KU linebacker James Holt before he could throw it.

    NU looks better than KU today, but it's not showing up on the scoreboard yet.

    2:36 Nebraska blows another drive with a holding penalty, Kansas answers with a two-play drive for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Reesing hits Dez Briscoe for 52 yards while Nebraska seemed to be running Cover 2 defense (it was executed so poorly, it was a bit hard to tell.)

    2:48 Well, whaddya know. Chris Brooks, three years after becoming one of the highest touted receiver recruits in NU history, actually catches a touchdown pass right after Ganz converted a crucial fourth down with a 10-yard pass to Nate Swift. 14-14

    2:57 Halftime, and boy, should Nebraska be ahead by 10-14 points. Two turnovers, three crucial penalties, two major defensive busts keep NU from having a cushion going into halftime.

    NU's been inside Kansas territory six times. KU has been inside NU's twice. Yet, the game is tied. Big plays. And the turnover margin.

    4:02 There's a new running back in town. Sophomore Roy Helu, Jr takes a zone read play 52 yards to the house to give NU a 31-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.

    4:14 Kansas answers...with feeling! 80 yards in 8 plays to close the game to 31-28....it's not over by a long shot.

    4:22 Nebraska puts another TD on the board, this one a two-yard pass from Ganz to Ndamukong Suh. Yep, you heard that right. Suh was playing fullback - you'll recall he did the same last - when Ganz faked to Helu and tossed the ball to a wide open Suh. It's Suh's second touchdown of the season.

    4:34 Stick a fork in those Jayhawks! Zach Potter intercepts Reesing, NU kicker Alex Henery perfectly executes a fake field goal, and Ganz finds Swift for a 20-yard touchdown. NU takes a 45-28 lead and is well on its way to its best win of the year.

    Tags: kansas week

  8. 2008 Nov 08

    Native Son, KU Proud


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    The year was 1982. Tom Osborne was an up and coming coach in the college football world and No. 8 Nebraska was set to square off with No. 20 Auburn in Alabama. It was a game where Todd Brown made one of his several marks on Nebraska history.

    Brown caught a touchdown pass from Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill that broke open the tight game with the Tigers that led to a 41-7 spanking, which in turn helped NU to a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl victory over LSU.

    Brown was a proud Husker in one of Tom Osborne’s better years, but on Saturday Brown will be wearing Kansas blue, and might have a case to be the proudest Jayhawk fan in Memorial Stadium.

    “I’m not a Husker fan, and I’ve never been a Husker fan,” Brown said. “I’m a Husker player. I love Nebraska, and I bleed red, but there’s no comparison. I want Kansas to win, and more importantly I want my son to win.”

    That’s the catch. Brown has a son, Micah Brown, who is currently a junior at KU and will be getting action on special teams in today’s game. It’s a game that both father and son have been looking forward to for awhile.

    “Everything is kind of surreal right now,” Micah Brown said. “To go through all the trials I’ve come through, I can finally see the payoff. It makes me emotional just thinking about it.”

    None might be more emotional about NU’s game against the Jayhawks than Todd though; mainly because he never thought his son would play college football. Micah said he never wanted to at first.

    Micah enrolled at KU as a scholarship track athlete. He thought his football playing days were behind him after logging four years on the gridiron at Kearney High School just 20 miles away from his home in Holdrege.

    After a year of track, Micah knew he couldn’t get rid of the itch to play football. After he made his decision to ditch his track scholarship and attempt to walk on the football team in Lawrence, Micah gave his father a call.

    “When I got the phone call that he was going to play, I was excited that he was going to learn a lot,” Todd said. “He has persevered and worked hard. He got to be a part of something very few men get to do—play college football on a team that’s really good.”

    The Jayhawks were good enough last year for Micah to now be wearing an Orange Bowl ring for KU’s victory over Virginia Tech.

    Most would think that as the game neared in the previous weeks, the decision on being a Husker fan or Jayhawk fan would have been tough for the former Husker and proud father, but for him, it was a no-brainer.

    He’s not only going to be a Jayhawk fan in Saturday’s near-freezing temperature, but he declined an offer on a much more comfortable Nebraska fan position.

    “I turned down sky box tickets to sit with the KU fans,” Todd said. “I’m going to sit with the KU fans wearing blue and wearing a number 37 jersey (his son’s number). I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.”

    The proud father admitted that the weather will be more likely less-than-desirable, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

    “For me, it’s kind of a dream come true to see my son play in Memorial Stadium,” Todd said. “It’s irrelevant that it’s against Nebraska. I think that’s what’s great for me because he understands hard work. That’s how I got to play at Nebraska—I was a walk-on.”

    Tags: kansas week

  9. 2008 Nov 08

    Pregame Fun In Havelock


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Related photos

    Cover photo for the Pregame in Havelock album
    Pregame in Havelock
    26 photos
    Trophies: 13
    Fall in Lincoln.

    OK, it isn't exactly springtime in Paris, but it'll do. Yes, even on a night when the wind is rushing down the streets, blowing crunchy leaves and debris all over the place. Especially then, in fact, when the light the skies gets a little low and winter stars begin their march in the door. November is here, and each year, it's just a little comforting, especially when it comes to football.

    We hung out in Havelock Friday night at Misty's and across the street at the Isles. Steak and pizza, and some of the best in town at that. Found a lot of NU faithful at both joints, and even a few parents of Husker players. Hope you enjoy!

    Tags: kansas week, photo of the day

  10. 2008 Nov 07

    Big Red Breakfast Update 11/7


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska secondary coach Marvin Sanders was this morning’s speaker at the Big Red Breakfast in Omaha. Good speaker, Marvin. And a good crowd for his chat this morning – one of the biggest of the year.

    Some notes:

    *Kansas, like most spread offenses, tries to rush a defense to the line, expose how that defense is lining up, then changes the play to reflect the alignment.

    “The game’s been taken out of the college quarterback’s hands,” Sanders said. “…We don’t want to show early. You have to balance not giving away everything with lining up correctly.”

    That includes KU QB Todd Reesing, who will stand up before the snap, get the play change, and execute accordingly.

    Sanders said Reesing will make plays on the run. The key is
    to not allow Reesing to throw outside of the pocket. If he runs, let him run, Sanders said, but not throw. And then get a hit on Reesing.

    *NU’s recruiting “athletes who can help Nebraska football get where it wants to get,” not necessarily highly rated players.

    “It’s not always the flashiest guy,” Sanders said, but a guy who can be invested in the program for three or four years.

    The best example of that, Sanders said, is Nebraska’s walk-on program, which is being expanded in the Pelini era.

    “A young man from Nebraska, he has a little bit more ownership in the program,” Sanders said. “He has a little bit more pride.”

    Sanders said NU ranks the top 40 players in the state, monitors their progress throughout the year, and fills position needs accordingly by actively inviting walk-ons into the program.

    *The young secondary continues to grow up and gain confidence, Sanders said. They still haven’t quite learned to trust their ability and their skills well enough to create turnovers consistently, but they’re getting better at it.

    Sanders said NU defensive backs are taught to be as aggressive as they possibly can be.

    “We got a couple of pass interference calls,” he said. “I don’t care. As long as we’re being aggressive to the ball.”

    Tags: big red breakfast, kansas week

  11. 2008 Nov 07

    Five Keys to Kansas


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Without further adieu....your keys to the game!

    Reesing v. Ganz: When it comes to the showdown, which one is going to be there? Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing is more of a creative playmaker, while NU signal caller Joe Ganz is more of a smooth operator. Both are skilled leaders. Both take risks. Both have been burned. And both do a lot of burning of their own.

    Which one will make the big scramble? Convert the key third down? Throw the climactic, game ending interception? The drama-within-the-drama is as high this week as it’s been for any Nebraska game this season. In three games against the Big 12’s best quarterbacks – Mizzou’s Chase Daniel, Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford - Ganz has played terrific against Tech, so-so against Missouri, and poorly against OU. In each, he threw backbreaking interceptions.

    Here’s the fourth of five rounds for Ganz (the last is next week vs. Josh Freeman.) Does he answer the bell against one of the nation’s best?

    Mark of the Mangino: His weight obscures his coaching gifts to some, which is a shame, but Nebraska doesn’t need any reminder of the magic KU Coach Mark Mangino can weave against the Huskers. Put simply, he schooled Bill Callahan’s staff for three years with a mixture of short passes, quick draws and deep balls. The man knows his way around a game plan, and his teams always do a couple of the little things well.

    For one, KU’s receivers can block. All of them. They’re physical, tough and committed to locking guys up downfield. Nebraska’s receiving corps is getting better at this in 2008, but it’s Kansas that reminds me of the old NU receivers who knew how to get inside the pads of a safety and put him on the turf. The Jayhawks don’t have a great offensive line, but they’re terrific on the perimeter. It can frustrate a defense like Nebraska’s, where the strength of the team is its front four.

    The other observation? KU’s linebackers can tackle. They’re not great in pass coverage, but James Holt, Mike Rivera, and Joe Mortensen wrap up and take down with consistency. They blitz well, too, combining for seven sacks. It’s a trio of savvy seniors who can give Ganz trouble.

    Tim Beck: The first-year Nebraska running backs coach was there as Kansas climbed out of obscurity into dizzying success last year as a 12-1 Orange Bowl team. He recruited many of KU’s players. He knows KU’s offense. He understands the weaknesses of KU’s defense.

    Could Nebraska possibly have a better scouting report? Nah. Probably not.

    Now, of course, Beck’s downplaying his role. He’s got to do that.

    “Maybe personnel, knowing some of the kids,” Beck said. “This guy does this, this guy can do that. But the thing Ed Werner does, the (Kansas) OC, he’s got the whole playbook in his hands, he can call any play at any time he wants. To sit there and say “They’re gonna run this,’ it’s not necessarily true. What am I gonna do, tell Bo? ‘Hey Bo, if you don’t got a guy covering over there, that’s where they’re gonna throw it?’”

    Beck dost protest a bit much. Know this: Nebraska’s defense should have a better sense of what Kansas will do out of certain formations based on Beck’s understanding of Mangino’s attack plan. And Beck’s personnel knowledge is useful, too. If he’s got an inside straight on some kid’s weakness, Nebraska can and will exploit it. It’s a tiny little advantage that NU has. Not a decisive one. But worth watching.

    Plan B: Both NU and KU will try to establish the running game, presumably with zone read and option plays out of the shotgun. After it doesn’t work – and I fully expect it won’t for either team – chart how long it takes the Huskers and Jayhawks to start passing on nearly every down. Why? Nebraska is 84th against the pass. Kansas is 110th. Neither team has a decent, or particularly experienced, secondary; both have solid, experienced receivers. Do the offenses wait to exploit these mismatches until the second quarter? The second half?

    From the jump: Oklahoma’s first-quarter assault on Nebraska last week was called an avalanche, an aberration, a disaster.

    I prefer to see it, rather, as a culmination of a problem NU’s had all season in the first quarter of games, home or away.

    Since Virginia Tech ambushed the Huskers in the first quarter of its 35-30 win, one could argue that Nebraska has played a strong opening 15 only twice since then: at Iowa State and Texas Tech. And the Tech game is a borderline call at best. The defense is especially prone to big plays early, as witnessed in the Missouri, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma games. Call it busts, alignment errors, whatever. The reality is, on the whole, Nebraska’s opponents look more prepared at opening kickoff.

    Now Bo Pelini and his staff have been pretty adept at adjustments. Give them that. But slow starts are killing NU against good teams. Whatever it is the Huskers have to battle – nerves, uncertainty, confusion – the Kansas game would be a helluva opportunity to overcome it.

    Tags: five keys, kansas week

  12. 2008 Nov 05

    Kansas Tries to Bust a Streak


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Time to drag 1968 back out of closet as it pertains to Nebraska football.

    That’s the last time Kansas breezed into Memorial Stadium with a better team and beat the Cornhuskers. In that particular election season 40 years ago, KU was No. 6 in the polls. No ratings disco in 2008, but the Jayhawks, at 6-3, do boast the better record going into Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game.

    Not that blue-collar KU is cutting the ribbon before it’s broken the streak.

    “They’re still Nebraska, and we’re going to be in Lincoln and it’s definitely a tough place to play,” running back Jake Sharp said. “We’re going to have to have another great week of preparation and hopefully take care of business on Saturday.”

    Sharp’s a bit of a darling around Lawrence this week after racking up 254 total yards in a 52-21 win over rival Kansas State, a game that’ll be remembered fondly by KSU fans as the one that broke the back of Ron Prince of the JUCOs. Sharp darted for 181 rushing yards against the Wildcats’ tiny defense, including a 47-yard option play that brought back memories of the running game Kansas never had.

    For Sharp, it was a trip down memory lane of high school in Salina, Kan.

    “I was definitely exhausted like I was back then,” Sharp said. “The offensive line had a great day, they opened up holes and I was able to do a lot of running.”

    He’s part of a ground game that’s suddenly appeared in the last month after being dormant during the non-conference season. Operating out of shotgun spread offense, KU runs a lot of zone read plays, and the young offensive line struggled to carve out lanes for Sharp. Starting with a 30-14 win over Colorado, Kansas has been building more of rhythm.

    “We have a system in place that we all believe in,” Kansas Coach Mark Mangino said. “We don’t change things radically when we win or when we lose. We do things the same way each week because we believe that will help our players get better.”

    Mangino’s system has worked well against the Huskers, at least in recent years. KU hammered NU 40-15 on 2005 and 76-39 in 2007, and narrowly lost in Lincoln 39-32 in overtime. In that game, Kansas crawled out of a deep first half hole to tie the game in the last minutes with a second-string quarterback and a string of highly effective draw plays. You may recall that then-defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove failed to adjust to the Kansas attack, citing concern over a certain shovel pass Mangino liked to run.

    That play is still in KU’s offense, having working like a charm last week when quarterback Todd Reesing flipped the ball to Sharp, who scampered for 44 yards to set up a Kansas touchdown.

    What’s changed, Mangino said, is Nebraska’s defense under head coach Bo Pelini. Although Mangino got in a slight dig on NU’s talent when he suggested the Huskers “may need to work on their recruiting,” he generally saw Nebraska progressing toward weekly improvement.

    “I see their kids being in the right spots, lined up in the right places,” Mangino said. “I see their kids playing hard every snap with enthusiasm. Those are the things you look for when a new coach takes over and that is what they are doing.”

    KU’s other obstacle is playing Memorial Stadium – the Lincoln version – where the crowd can disrupt the Jayhawks, quick-huddle, timing-based system.

    “I haven’t been up there yet,” Kansas sophomore receiver Dezmon Briscoe said, “but my teammates have told me it is a tough place to play and that they have really good fans.”

    Said Mangino: “Our kids will go there and play well and will not be intimidated. We respect the Nebraska fans and the Nebraska program, but we have played pretty well the last couple of times we have gone there."

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    Tags: kansas week, jake sharp, mark mangino

  13. 2008 Nov 05

    Blue Collar KU Boys


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    He has the stature and scrambling skills of a young Fran Tarkenton. Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini likened him to a smaller version of Brett Farve. Still others see a dash of Doug Flutie.

    Draw whatever comparisons you like. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing is the business of giving fits to the defense, opposing fans and, when he tries to do too much, his own team.

    In the pocket, running the option, flipping a pass sidearm – he’s the straw that stirs the Jayhawks’ potent offensive drink, and a microcosm of the KU team in general. Underestimated. Athletic. Tough.

    “He is kind of all over the place,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a good football player. He’ll try and stick it in the hole. He makes quick decisions and he’ll jam the ball in there.

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    “I don’t mean to put too much on the kid by saying Favre, he’s not Brett Favre, nobody is, but he can run and do a lot of different things. He’s a good all-around quarterback, he’s a leader. I have a lot of respect for him.”

    Pelini should. Reesing’s thrown for 2,638 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008, one year after an incredible season in which Reesing’s play took the Big 12 Conference and the nation by surprise. With a year of tape on the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder – measurements that seem generous – the conventional thinking was that defenses would cause Reesing’s numbers to drop.

    Other than the interceptions – the junior has 9 this year to only 7 in 2007 – Reesing is firmly on pace to improve upon his yardage and completion percentage, and come close to matching the 33 touchdowns he threw last year, which included six against Nebraska.

    Reesing’s also has rushed for 167 yards, mostly on scrambles and option plays, which he executes deftly.

    “If he doesn’t like what he sees he’ll take off and run,” Pelini said. “That always presents more stress on you at times.”

    And occasionally on KU itself. Because Reesing freelances so often, crisscrossing the field or waiting until the last second to flip a ball just as he’s going out of bounds, he, like Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz, can make some mistakes. He threw two first-half picks against Oklahoma, both inside OU’s 20-yard line. After a brilliant game at South Florida, he nevertheless threw the interception that sealed the Bulls’ win.

    His worst performance came in a 63-21 loss to Texas Tech, when he threw three interceptions, including ones on back-to-back possession in the second half.

    “I’ve never had that happen to me in a lot of years of football to have back-to-back mistakes like that,” Reesing said after the Tech game. “Sometimes when things go bad they can get real bad. You can’t really sugarcoat that.”

    And then there Reesing’s other performances, a perfect brew of creativity and bravado, one threaded needle after another. Trailing 20-0 at Iowa State at halftime, Reesing rallied KU for five second-half touchdowns in a 35-33 win, throwing for 319 yards He converted a crucial third down with an eight-yard scramble and a fourth down with a 6-yard pass. Both of those drives led to scores.

    Sounds a little like the thrills and spills of life with Ganz, doesn’t it?

    “We’re both short, we both can run well,” Ganz said of the comparison. “I can kind of see it. They run a different offense than we do, so he does different things than I do and I do different things than he does. That’s a good guy to be compared to. He’s a good quarterback. He’s great for that team. He’s a great leader. Coach Beck compares me to him so it’s a great honor.”

    NU running backs coach Tim Beck recruited Reesing to KU from Austin, Texas. Although undersized, Reesing possessed the gifts – smarts, poise, playmaking abilities – that good quarterbacks have and KU Coach Mark Mangino is noted for finding. Mangino is known as a strong talent evaluator. Beck confirmed it with his own eyes when he’d watch film with him,

    “You look at some of the guys he’s made into marquee players,” Beck said. “Having the ability to spot ‘em and know what their potential could be versus what their potential is on the tape.”

    That’s how a guy like KU sophomore Dezmon Briscoe, also recruited by Beck, goes from a decent-but-unheralded recruit to arguably Kansas’ most dangerous receiver in recent memory. Briscoe’s caught 54 passes for 800 yards and ten touchdowns, including a breakout game against Oklahoma, when he set school records with 12 catches and 269 yards.

    “He’s not gonna wow you with his speed off the ball,” Pelini said. “But he’s big, he uses his body well, he has big hands. And he catches the ball in a crowd.”

    It’s also how backup quarterback Kerry Meier doubles a KU’s leading possession receiver with 66 catches. And how Daymond Patterson goes from the team’s No. 4 receiver to starting cornerback in the matter of a week, and makes it stick.

    A combo of kismet and elbow grease.

    “They’re hard-nosed kids, a blue-collar group,” NU wide receiver Todd Peterson said. “They’re coached well and they’re going to have that same mindset. They’re going to be hard workers.”

    Tags: kansas week, todd reesing

  14. 2008 Nov 05

    Mid-Week Practice Update


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It’s not a habit Nebraska’s football team would like to continue beyond this season. Beyond this week, for that matter. But the Cornhuskers’ focus has invariably improved after losses to Missouri, Texas Tech and now Oklahoma, as head coach Bo Pelini has been happy with NU’s practices this week.

    “We’ve done well,” Pelini said Wednesday after a two-hour workout in the Hawks Center. “I like the progression that we’ve had. I think we’re gonna be ready to play good football.”

    Pelini agreed his zeroes in better after tough losses, which tends to happen, he said, with players in that 18-to-22 age range

    “We talk about it all the time,” he said. “These young kids, they don’t understand to a certain extent. You’re always dealing with complacency…that’s why we don’t change our approach much. It’s very matter-of-fact, all the time, that we need to get better every day.”

    That’s not always easy for a defense that’s still learning the Pelini system while preparing for another explosive version of the spread offense in Kansas.

    “You’ve only got so much time and you have to get ready for each particular opponent,” Pelini said. “And that’s one of the challenges of putting in a new system, especially defensively. We’re trying to come together as a system but we’ve played a lot of different offenses.”

    On the injury front:

    Middle linebacker Phillip Dillard remains out.

    Left tackle Lydon Murtha’s MRI “looked good,” and he’s “day-to-day” for Saturday.

    Wide receiver Menelik Holt is “a lot better,” but is “questionable” for the game.

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    Tags: kansas week

  15. 2008 Nov 04

    Watson: No Quitting on 'Q'


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska sophomore Quentin Castille has rushed for four touchdowns in 2008. He’s also lost four fumbles, most recently in NU’s loss to Oklahoma. In some programs – especially one with a competitive situation like Nebraska – that might mean a benching.

    NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said he’s holding Castille accountable – “he’s carries a football with him 24/7 right now” – but he’s not giving on the tough-running, short-yardage specialist.

    “You don’t put a kid behind the eight ball, don’t throw him because he’s having a problem. You fix the problem,” Watson said. “You help him battle through the problem. That’s coaching. We’ve kept our demeanor the same. We believe in him.”

    Watson said Castille’s struggles are similar to a receiver who struggles with drops, or a golfer who can’t keep his drives in the fairway.

    “A lot of it is he’s got to have confidence in himself,” Watson said. “That’s the key. Maybe he’ll find himself. He’s just doing little fundamental things wrong. He’s learning from it.”

    Tags: quentin castille, kansas week

  16. 2008 Nov 04

    Vengeance for 76-39?


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Amidst all the valleys of Nebraska’s 2007 football season – and there were some deep, dark ones – the lowest might have been the scene as NU left the field after a 76-39 loss to Kansas.

    Many members of the Cornhuskers’ defense – including coordinator Kevin Cosgrove – were visibly distraught. Then-coach Bill Callahan seemed to walk right by interim athletic director Tom Osborne. The post-game mood was a mixture of shock, dismay and defeatism.

    So it makes some sense that remaining Nebraska players might feel a sense of payback for such humiliation. Of course, if NU was eager to put a 62-28 loss to Oklahoma behind it, how willing will it be to dredge up another of the worst losses in program history?

    “I don’t think we need any more motivation than we already have,” Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz said. “It was an embarrassing loss, but if we’re looking back at last year as motivation then we’ve got some problems, if we can’t get motivated to play this game at home, coming off a big loss.”

    NU receiver called that game “bittersweet” for the offense, because it scored 39 points, but still lost by a giant margin.

    “We can’t really take too much from that game,” he said. “We made too many mistakes. We left a lot of points on the field…it’s a new year. It’s completely different.”

    Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh more blunt.

    “Maybe people do have some vengeance and want to get back at (Kansas),” he said. “But we play them every single year. If you want to say there’s vengeance, we have vengeance for them every single year.”

    The flip side of this blowout coin isn’t reliving history either.

    “We dropped 76 on them on our homecoming so that was a great accomplishment,” KU sophomore receiver Dezmon Briscoe said. “But we can’t look back on that. They are a much improved team. Their coaching staff and players know what happened last year and they don’t want that to happen again.”

    Suh was one of those defensive players who looked gutted walking off the field in Lawrence. Calling the experience “horrible,” Suh said he’s already got that game out of the rearview window, never to return.

    Ganz, meanwhile, was just trying to deal with the whirlwind that was, at the time, his first start. He played well in the first half, leading NU to 24 points, including touchdowns on the team’s first two drives. His willingness to challenge KU’s defense not only took that unit – and star cornerback Aqib Talib – by surprise, but it kept the Huskers within striking distance while Kansas rolled up and down the field.

    In the second half, the other shoe dropped, he threw three interceptions (and could have thrown more than that) as Nebraska drowned even more in a pool of its own mistakes. The first of Coach Bill Callahan’s “mercenary” game plans that had Ganz throwing long after the game was decided, the Huskers lost in a way that would have made the basketball team blush with embarrassment.

    The senior from suburban Chicago watched the first half of the KU game on Monday. He hadn’t yet watched the second half, but planned to, and was “immune” to the carnage on the tape.

    Tags: kansas week, joe ganz, nate swift

  17. 2008 Nov 04

    Bo Expresses 'Regret' for Sideline Tirades


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It was the kind of subplot during Nebraska’s 62-28 loss to Oklahoma that ESPN clearly loved and NU fans probably didn’t: Head coach Bo Pelini’s recurring, animated outbursts of anger toward referees, assistant coaches and, on one occasion, a Husker player.

    The images – particularly three profanity-laced tirades that Pelini directed into his headset – caught the attention of fans – and maybe prospective recruits – gathered around their televisions.

    “I regret that,” Pelini said. “I was made aware of it by some of my family. I wasn’t so much yelling at the kids as I was on the headset. It was kind of out of character, that aspect of it. You have to be aware of it.”

    They were Pelini’s first comments in a series of several at his Tuesday press conference. He had been previously reluctant to even suggest that his sideline demeanor had been a problem; after the Virginia Tech game in which he received an unsportmanslike conduct penalty, Pelini offered a brisk “no” to whether he had any concerns about outside perception.

    On Tuesday, citing “perception is reality, and that’s something I’ve got to fix,” Pelini reversed course, patiently answering questions about his emotions, including the penalty near the end of the VT game.

    “There’s a difference between animated and over the top,” Pelini said. “You can still be (animated) and still get your point across. Know what I’m saying? There’s a difference between going over the top and not going over the top. Obviously if I got a personal foul, I went over the top in that particular instance, in that guy’s mind.”

    Pelini said he had “grown a little bit in the aspect of how to talk to refs. What to say and what not to say.” But he also disagreed with the notion that he’s “lost it” on players or that his emotions have played any role in Nebraska’s 17 personal fouls this season, including the latest on Saturday night against Terrence Moore, who was ejected for trying to punch an Oklahoma player.

    ESPN captured Pelini grabbing Moore’s facemask, talking to him sternly, and pointing to the bench. At the time, Pelini believed he was ejecting Moore himself, but, as it turned out, Moore was ejected by referees, which means he wouldn’t be available for the first half of the Kansas game.

    While mentioning that Moore’s personal foul was “out of character,” Pelini did not apologize for grabbing Moore’s facemask and getting his attention.

    “The young man took a swing at somebody,” Pelini said. “To me that’s something that’s very undisciplined, something that we’re not going to tolerate on our football team. Will I grab a facemask so he gets the point and looks me in the eye? I’m not going to hit the young man. I don’t believe in something like that. But I’m going to get my point across.”

    It’s a style that Nebraska players say is a change from the aloof, almost wistful persona of Bill Callahan, and one to which they’ve adjusted.

    “When he needs to get a point across, he’ll get in your face,” defensive end Zach Potter said. “Next play, you do something right, he’ll be making a joke. There’s no difference to us whether he’s in our face or making a joke. It’s just who he is.”

    Said linebacker Cody Glenn: “He’s trying to get problems fixed. He’s trying to fix things that’s going on during the game…He’s a player’s coach. He’s not going to get too much into attacking the players.”

    Still, Pelini said he felt strongly enough about the perception of his behavior that he approached athletic director and former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne about it.

    “It was a pretty short conversation,” Pelini said. “Coach Osborne knows the type of person I am and what kind of heart I have. He also knows I’m an emotional guy.

    “But I know, from my standpoint, I’ve got to be smarter than that.”

    Tags: kansas week, oklahoma week, bolosophy

  18. 2008 Nov 04

    Joe Ganz on the Oklahoma Game


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

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    If you can believe it, not one newspaper or television reporter asked Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz a direct question in Tuesday's press conference about NU's 62-28 loss to Oklahoma Saturday. You'll recall that Cornhusker players and assistant coaches didn't weigh in on the game that night, and Ganz didn't talk Monday night.

    Pretty amazing, that the question could go unasked of Nebraska's best offensive player and quarterback. But so it goes.

    So we asked him after his comments on the podium.

    You won't read this anywhere else.

    "I didn't play well enough, we didn't play well enough," Ganz said. "Everything that could have gone wrong did. It was exactly what we didn't need. They're a good team and when stuff like that happens, it's hard to stop the snowball."

    And that first play of the game, in which Ganz's quick screen pass to Todd Peterson was returned for a touchdown?

    "We have a run/pass option," Ganz said. "It all depends where the buck linebacker lined up. If he's in the box, I'm supposed to klck it out to Todd. And the corner, I don't know if he gambled or what, but when it stepped in front of it, there wasn't a whole lot I could do. That just wasn't supposed to happen."

    Kind of a "holy crap" moment?

    "Pretty much," Ganz said.

    Ganz echoed head coach Bo Pelini's sentiment that Nebraska was not able to make a play to stop Oklahoma's first-quarter assault, although he wasn't sure that tight end Dreu Young's fumble at midfield really was one.

    "If that had been in the end zone, I'm pretty sure they don't call that a touchdown," Ganz said.

    Tags: oklahoma week, kansas week

  19. 2008 Nov 03

    Husker Players Speak! And Don't Say Much.


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Reporters gathered in the northwest corner of a darkening Memorial Stadium. Nebraska’s football team wound down its Monday practice with a scout team scrimmage while starters, one by one, filed toward the locker room.

    It became clear that the evening would not turn into the post-game press conference that never occurred after NU’s 62-28 loss to Oklahoma. Head coach Bo Pelini kept his assistants and players off limits on Saturday, and although a handful of them stuck around Monday night, their comments were subdued and largely focused on upcoming foe Kansas and the stretch run of the 2008 season.

    “Obviously we had some mistakes,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. Suh, one of the few players to talk Monday, lamented the Cornhuskers’ lack of execution. Had NU played to its capabilities “the outcome would have been totally different. It wouldn’t have been a 62-28 loss.”

    While there was “no panic” on Nebraska’s offense after falling behind 28-0 in the opening minutes, running back Roy Helu, Jr. said, “we need to be more consistent moving the ball down the field.”

    Helu had the standout performance Saturday, rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown. That total included a 57-yarder in the fourth quarter in which Helu broke several tackles. As is typical from the sophomore from Danville, Calif., he shrugged off the praise.

    “It was all the offensive line,” Helu said. “If you had watched any of the tape from our perspective, they had some really big holes. If Q(uentin Castille) was in there or Marlon (Lucky) was in there, they’d have the same type of runs. Our offensive line had the hot hand. I was just there to run off their blocks.”

    Helu didn’t expound on many other topics. When asked if he was ready to move on from the Oklahoma, Helu had a one-word answer: “Yeah.”

    Pelini was focused on Kansas, too.

    “I don’t want them to forget about the mistakes they made because I want them to learn from them so that it doesn’t happen again,” Pelini said. But as far as what we can do about Oklahoma? You can’t do anything about it. It’s over now. That opportunity will come again next year.

    “…Spirits were fine. Guys’ attitude was good. They’re ready to play Kansas, I can tell you that right now.”

    Earlier in the day, during the Big 12 Coaches’ Teleconference, Pelini answered questions about the OU game before politely summarizing “We just didn’t play well. I’ll leave it at that. I’m about done talking about that game.”

    When it came to Nebraska’s defense, Pelini didn’t get into specifics. Neither did senior cornerback Armando Murillo.

    “I ain’t supposed to be talking about it,” he said. “We just didn’t execute our reads, our keys, stuff like that…Kansas is coming up. You can’t sit and think about it.”

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    Tags: oklahoma week, kansas week, ndamukong suh, roy helu

  20. 2008 Nov 03

    Mangino Talks Huskers


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Kansas Coach Mark Mangino plans on taking Bo Pelini’s advice to forget the Oklahoma game and prepare for the NU team that has “improved greatly” with “more and more disciplined football” and “playmakers on offense.”

    Mangino said he watched part of Nebraska’s 62-28 loss to OU but wasn’t able to catch it all because he had visitors at his home. But the Cornhuskers’ first-quarter collapse against the Sooners was an aberration, he said, that can occur to teams in Norman.

    “I expect to see a well-prepared Nebraska team, and a team ready to go,” Mangino said. “We played Oklahoma. You do a couple of things wrong and they can come roaring out of the blocks. What happened to Nebraska can happen to anybody against Oklahoma if you have a couple of mistakes. I’m not going to read a whole lot into that.”

    Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz, receivers Nate Swift and Todd Peterson and running back Roy Helu, Jr. were all mentioned by Mangino as players to watch.

    Mangino has a rising offensive star of his own in junior running back Jake Sharp, who had 254 total yards – including 181 rushing yards – in a 52-21 win over Kansas State Saturday. Sharp now has 647 rushing yards for the season and 884 all-purpose yards, both of which lead the Jayhawks. Sharp is arguably KU’s speediest player, too.

    “He is very fast,” Mangino said. “He has good explosion to him. He’s really developed through his own hard work…he’s a really tough guy too, hard-charging guy who doesn’t go down very easily.”

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    Tags: kansas week

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