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  1. 2011 Mar 01

    Husker Heartbeat 3/1: Mixed NFL Combine Results

    9,963 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

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


    *A minor calf injury keeps Pierre Allen out of the NFL Combine while Ricky Henry and Keith Williams struggle as well.

    This morning, Prince Amukamara ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the Combine while DeJon Gomes ran a 4.48 and Eric Hagg ran a 4.68.

    *Ahman Green will play in the CFL with Montreal.

    *Elmo - former Nebraska secondary coach Phil Elmassian - heads back to Purdue. Good for him. NU can roast his DBs now.

    *Denard Robinson makes Jeopardy!

    *And now a picture of Gene Chizik feeding bottled milk to a calf draped in a Cam Newton jersey.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, pierre allen, roy helu, prince amukamara, ricky henry, keith williams, eric hagg, dejon gomes

  2. 2011 Jan 17

    YEAR IN REVIEW: OL Report Card

    460 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Sam takes a long look at one of NU's most-criticized position groups, the offensive line. Is it earned for Barney Cotton? Yes and no. Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass

    Tags: report card, year in review, ricky henry, keith williams, mike caputo, jeremiah sirles, dj jones, andrew rodriguez, ben cotton, yoshi hardrick, barney cotton

  3. 2010 Dec 15

    NU/NFL Draft Rumblings

    1,944 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Out the corner of his eye – or perhaps in the back of his mind – of course Prince Amukamara has to pay a little attention. The AP and Sports Illustrated first-team All-American knows that several NFL Draft scouting services – whether you put stock into them or not – have the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder listed as a certain first-round pick.

    CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com tabs Amukamara as its No. 1 overall prospect. Mel Kiper has Amukamara at fifth on his latest Big Board. NFLDraftDog.com puts him at No. 6. ESPN's Scouts, Inc. ranks him No. 8.

    Pick any “guru” you wish, and the Prince is coming up with a healthy chunk of change. Presuming a work stoppage doesn't gum up the negotiation process.

    “I still hear people say where I'm projected of going,” the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year said Wednesday. “But I am not focused on it.”

    There's a Holiday Bowl still to play. Finals to finish. And, once the January hits, training to begin.

    He has an invite to the Jan. 29 Senior Bowl - the ESPN-televised, post-grad pony show that NFL scouts prefer to attend - as do several other Huskers, according to Amukamara: Roy Helu, Mike McNeill, Keith Williams and Niles Paul.

    Amukamara is the highest-ranked the of 12 or so NU seniors who could have a shot at the NFL in 2011 – or short of that, the UFL. NFLDraftScout ranks ten Huskers in its top 250 prospects – guys likely to be taken in the seven rounds of the April draft:

    Wide receiver Niles Paul (No. 56)
    Wide receiver/tight end Mike McNeill (No. 73)
    Defensive end Pierre Allen (No. 88)
    Running back Roy Helu (No. 109)
    Kicker Alex Henery (No. 151 and the No. 1 kicker)
    Safety Eric Hagg (No. 202)
    Guard Keith Williams (No. 210)
    Guard Ricky Henry (No. 239)
    Safety Dejon Gomes (No. 247)


    Out of the bunch, Hagg and Henery could be the most intriguing prospects.

    Hagg, a hybrid linebacker/safety in Nebraska's Peso defense, has a long, slender build – 6-2, 210 - that most resembles a wide receiver. He covers well enough to play defensive back but tackles running backs and wide receivers aggressively, too. Defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders has said more than once that if he was building a defense, he'd begin with Hagg.

    He just may not fit easily into a NFL position.

    “I think it kinda hinders me but it can help me at the same time,” Hagg said.

    NU's Team MVP said he has “no clue” where he might land in the Draft, or which teams would be interested. He said he'd talk to Husker defensive coaches in the upcoming weeks to figure it out.

    “It can give you anxiety attacks so I try not to think about it,” said Hagg, who admitted he takes a look at projections every now and then.

    Henery appeared unconcerned about his draft slot. Scheduled to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, he's a dual kicker/punter prospect with a 60-yard leg and uncanny accuracy.

    “They love him,” head coach Bo Pelini said of NFL scout

    He's almost too good; the few kickers taken in the upper rounds of the draft rarely turn out to be the best, although the Oakland Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski – a former first-rounder - remains one of Al Davis' better picks during the last 15 years. Most teams prefer to try out a glut of kickers, find the right free agent fit, and ride that guy until he gets a case of the shanks.

    “I won't worry about that process until after the bowl game,” Henery said with his usual calm. “I'll push it all until after the end of the year and not wonder 'What if?' It'll take care of itself.”

    Tags: nfl draft, prince amukamara, niles paul, mike mcneill, pierre allen, roy helu, alex henery, eric hagg, keith williams, ricky henry, dejon gomes

  4. 2010 Nov 30

    Huskers Clean Up in Big 12 Awards

    1,221 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Even if the Big 12 office seems primed to slight the Nebraska football team at every turn, the league coaches Tuesday more than took care of the Cornhuskers – with the noted exception of kicker/punter Alex Henery - with the release of the All-Big 12 awards.

    Six Huskers made the All-Big 12 first team: Defensive end Pierre Allen, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and offensive guard Ricky Henry. Five Huskers – including Henery – landed on the second team. Six more were named to the honorable-mention squad.

    In a nod to his sheer dominance - without the usual statistics to back it up - Amukamara won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year despite not catching an interception this year. Opposing teams only dared throw toward him 45 times this year, completing just seven passes. Amukamara had 13 pass break-ups, too. He's only the second cornerback to win the award – Kansas State's Terrence Newman won in 2002 – and the third Husker overall after defensive end Grant Wistrom (who won in 1996 and 1997) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (who won in 2009).

    Amukamara beat preseason favorite, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who finished the season leading the Big 12 in sacks.

    David won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. David finished with 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and 10 pass break-ups. Quarterback Taylor Martinez won Offensive Freshman of the Year despite missing the equivalent of two league games. Martinez amassed 2,409 yards in just 297 plays.

    On the Big 12's second team, Henery was named both the punter and the kicker. OSU's Dan Bailey beat Henery for Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team kicker despite Henery having a better field-goal percentage for the season and his career. Henery is poised to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Running back Roy Helu, defensive end Cameron Meredith, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, and wide receiver/kick returner Niles Paul joined Henery on the second team.

    Huskers named to the honorable-mention bunch were: Running back Rex Burkhead, center Mike Caputo, defensive back Dejon Gomes, Martinez, defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler and offensive lineman Keith Williams.

    Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy won Coach of the Year, while OSU receiver Justin Blackmon unsurprisingly won Offensive Player of the Year. Colorado's Nate Solder won Offensive Lineman of the Year while Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal won Defensive Lineman of the Year.

    Every Big 12 team was represented on the first or second team except Kansas, which had a scant three players named honorable mention.

    Tags: big 12, prince amukamara, lavonte david, taylor martinez, ricky henry, pierre allen, jared crick, alex henery, dejon gomes, alfonzo dennard, keith williams, mike caputo, rex burkhead, eric hagg, roy helu, niles paul

  5. 2010 Oct 25

    Practice Report 10/25: OL's Pass Pro Holds Up

    374 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Keith Williams' wide grin answered the question as soon as it left the reporter's mouth.

    The Nebraska left guard was asked how NU's pass protection held up against an active, blitzing Oklahoma State defense. If Taylor Martinez's 323 passing yards wasn't enough proof, OSU's single sack – without any quarterback hurries – closed the case.

    “We did a great job, and Taylor did a great job delivering the ball,” Williams said of the Huskers' offensive play in a 51-41 win.

    The Cowboys' defensive line was shifting and twisting on nearly every play, Williams said. OSU frequently rushed five defenders, sometimes more. Offensive line Barney Cotton said NU “by and large did a good job” picking up those nuances, especially considering Yoshi Hardrick had to replace left tackle Jeremiah Sirles, who left in the first half with an injury.

    “He stepped in off the bench cold in a long-yardage situation and held up,” Cotton said of Hardrick.

    The few times the line's protection faltered, Martinez sidestepped the rush and bought time for his receivers.

    “You don’t throw for as many yards as effectively as we did without good protection,” head coach Bo Pelini said. “At times we could have been better. He (Martinez) made a couple people miss in a few situations with recognition of some things, but the play was overall pretty good.”

    No. 14 NU threw more passes – 35 – than it had since the 2009 Iowa State game. Martinez was seen, until Saturday, as primarily a running threat.

    Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young hatched a scheme that limited Martinez's big runs in the zone read game. It also sought to confuse him when he passed.

    But the redshirt freshman showed off skills he lacked in Nebraska's first six games. The oblivious Martinez who took massive sacks and threw thoughtlessly into coverage transformed into a savvy, pressure-sensitive pocket passer. At least for one week.

    “I thought he did a heckuva job changing plays, alerting to blitzes, passing the ball,” Williams said. “That's a big improvement, especially with how the media's been getting down his throat.”

    No. 6 Missouri's defense should be a stiffer challenge. The Tigers are ninth nationally in sacks. Tied for 17th in tackles for loss. And 5th in scoring defense.

    “They don't sit still,” offensive line coach Barney Cotton said. “Their ends, tackles, noses, linebackers – everybody is involved in movement of some sort. I would expect very rarely for them to line up play a static defense.

    “That's going to be the biggest challenge – getting a hat on a hat. They're not going to stay where they're lined up. They're changing gaps all the time. Or they're twisting their linebackers. They have a very extensive blitz package.”

    In their 36-27 win over Oklahoma, the Tigers frequently employed a zone blitz scheme that brought pressure from safeties, who swooped toward OU quarterback Landry Jones while defensive linemen dropped into coverage and clogged the Sooners' passing lanes. Robbed of his safety blanket throws, Jones lacked the time to relocate receivers farther downfield.

    Once Jones was feeling the heat, and he tried to dump off a short pass, only to see defensive end Aldon Smith flip up a paw, deflect the ball, intercept it, and return it deep into Oklahoma territory.

    Smith, who missed several games with a leg fracture, was considered Mizzou's best pass rusher before the injury.

    “He's very fast, very athletic,” Cotton said. “That's his strength. He can motor.”

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced for two-and-a-half hours inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center in half-pads.

    What’s New: Jeremiah Sirles returned to practice Monday after missing most of Saturday's game. Pierre Allen did not, although Pelini said he could have done so.

    Player Quote: “That's how you beat teams with a good defense. You play physical.” Williams on facing Missouri's defense.

    Coach Quote: “I don't know, you'd have to call them and ask them. I don't know that. I don't know. I don't really know what they do. How fast they go. I don't think they go that fast. ” Bo Pelini, on the speed of Missouri's no-huddle offense Pelini was apparently not in the mood to compare Mizzou and Oklahoma State

    Next Practice: Wednesday

    Tags: practice, missouri game, keith williams, barney cotton, bo pelini, taylor martinez

  6. 2010 Oct 01

    Husker Heartbeat 10/1: 'A Born Leader'

    527 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

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


    *Husker recruit Jamal Turner had a choice to make when a loved one suddenly passed away: Play or mourn. Here's why he chose to play.

    *The Wiz of Odds covers some of the early cheap shots in the 2010 season.

    *Joel Makovicka scaled Mt. Kilamanjaro for a charity benefiting his nephew.

    *Nice feature on Husker guard Keith Williams.

    *We hate giving Stew Mandy any props, because he's a hack who somehow wormed his way into a national job at SI, but he rails on Nebraska's schedule to defend Boise States.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, jamal turner, joel makovicka, keith williams, stew mandy

  7. 2010 Sep 28

    Non-Conference Report Card - OL

    560 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Samuel McKewon takes the Pipeline apart piece by piece. Who's making the grade? Who needs to move that lumber a little bit faster? Find out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: report card, brent qvale, mike caputo, keith williams, ricky henry, brandon thompson, yoshi hardrick, andrew rodriguez, cole pensick, dj jones

  8. 2010 Sep 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 9/20

    4,102 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The tradition and history of South Dakota State’s football program - from its days in the North Central Conference with UNO and Morningside to a Division 1-AA program that heads to Nebraska for a money game this Saturday - was a bit lost on Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini.

    “I don’t even know what FCS is,” he quipped after Monday’s workout inside the Hawks Championship Center. “That's the next opponent on our schedule and they're the next team we play, and we’re playing, so let's roll. We have to get better this week.”

    In the next breath, Pelini conceded that FCS/1-AA teams have spearheaded their share of upsets this season. South Dakota beat Minnesota. Jacksonville State beat Ole Miss. And James Madison shocked Virginia Tech, which could still contend for the ACC title.

    He’s not “big on” scheduling 1-AA teams - the SDSU contest is the last game of Steve Pederson’s parting gift - but securing home games - especially once the Big Ten rotates to a nine-game conference slate in 2014 - may require it.

    “I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about their program, what their values are, their traditions,” Pelini said during the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference.

    Pelini praised NU’s practice Monday, citing “good tempo” in all three phases. It was as upbeat as Pelini’s seemed in weeks.

    “I like the way we came out,” Pelini said. “Good practice. We got a lot out of it.”

    The 56-21 victory might have had something to do with it.

    “There was a lot of good stuff in all three phrases of the game,” he said. “…There were some little things you always see, technique issues, that you may not see in the course of the game, especially with the line. But the major things we already saw.”

    On with the report:

    Particulars: NU practiced in helmets and shoulder pads for two hours in the Hawks Championship Center. Bo Pelini was pleased as were, clearly, many of the assistant coaches. Nebraska brought its lunch pail on Monday.

    What’s New: Left guard Keith Williams did not practice, and it appears he won’t be practicing on Monday for the foreseeable future to save on some of the wear and tear.

    “We kind of have a plan for him going forward,” Pelini said. “He’s actually feeling really good and he’s playing good football. We’re going to stick with the plan.”

    Linebacker Will Compton is no longer zipping around on a scooter, and he made the trip to Seattle. Pelini said Compton is still several weeks from returning after a broken foot.

    “To me he’s ahead of schedule, I think,” Pelini said “But time will tell. I’m not exactly sure.”

    Coach Quote: “The high point, at least for mem of the season, for me thus far is that the next time we got the ball we had a big answering touchdown. ” Offensive line coach Barney Cotton, on NU’s response after a Cody green fumble.

    Player Quote: “”


    Notes:

    ***Cotton said Brandon Thompson is progressing well and is the top backup left guard. Thompson was the first Husker backup lineman on the field Saturday. Could Nebraska be regretting burning the redshirt of Andrew Rodriguez because Thompson missed the first game with an injury?

    ***When asked to point out which part of the defense he thought played the best Saturday, Pelini picked out the defensive line.

    ***Wide receivers Ted Gilmore has high standards, so he had a small bone to pick with Brandon Kinnie’s 55-yard reception on Saturday: He got caught at the 1-yard line.

    “He got tracked down there,” Gilmore said. “He didn’t get the ball in the end zone….if we get that ball in the outside arm, we can stiff-arm that (defender) and get in. So there’s still things he can correct.”

    Next Practice: Tuesday. Full pads and a presser. Shawn Watson will be at the Tuesday podium.

    Tags: practice report, bo pelini, ted gilmore, barney cotton, keith williams, will compton, brandon kinnie, south dakota state game

  9. 2010 Aug 31

    50 HUSKERS TO KNOW: No. 13

    1,848 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Our 50 Huskers to Know series returns for the fall, as we count down the key players on Nebraska’s 2010 team. Check back throughout fall camp for the countdown, and scroll to the bottom for links to the whole list.

    No. 13 Keith Williams, 6-5, 310, OG, Sr.

    Time for Nebraska’s most talented lineman to stay on the field for a whole season. Whether Williams is always 100 percent or not, his relative health is important to maintaining NU’s depth and shielding a red shirt freshman like Brent Qvale or true freshman like Andrew Rodriguez from playing too much.

    Williams can be a dominant run blocker, is a smart, savvy pass blocker, and possesses a quiet, tough leadership that teammates notice. Naturally strong, Williams shed holding problems several years ago and could be a NFL guy should he shake off injury concerns. That’s not easy for the Missouri native to do.

    See all of the Huskers: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21, No. 20, No. 19, No. 18, No. 17, No. 16, No. 15, No. 14

    Tags: 50 huskers to know fall 2010, keith williams

  10. 2010 Aug 24

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 8/24

    2,007 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    For the first time in this fall camp, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini took on a clipped, irritated tone after his football team’s practice, seemingly unsatisfied with NU’s focus during the two-hour workout outside Hawks Championship Center.

    “It was OK,” Pelini said. “Not to my liking. But it was OK. Got a long way to go, though.”

    When asked if he was edgy, he replied: “Call it as you may.”

    Over four minutes, Pelini didn’t precisely elaborate on Nebraska’s struggles Tuesday.

    Sophomore linebacker Will Compton did.

    “The mental part what was not there today,” Compton said. “We’ve got to do a better job than that. That was not up to our standard…we’re competing for a national title. The national champion doesn’t just go along each and every day and not put pressure on themselves and work hard. You’ve got to hold yourself up to a national championship standard if you want to compete for it.

    “If he says we have a bad day - we’ve got to get it fixed.”

    Said senior safety Dejon Gomes: “You’re trying to go out and get better. If you stay the same, in theory you’re losing a practice.”

    Pelini shut down questions about the Huskers’ three-man quarterback.

    “There’s a chance we could play ten guys,” Pelini quipped. “Anything can happen.”

    Asked when he’d decide on a starter, Pelini indicated Sept. 4 - the day of the Western Kentucky game.

    “So I’m not answering quarterback questions,” Pelini said.

    Ditto for the rest of the depth chart.

    “Guys that trot out there for the first play - guys we put out there - are the starters,” Pelini said. “Until then it’s a competition to see who steps up.”

    It remains to be seen whether NU will release a depth chart prior to the first game.

    Pelini said there were scholarships available to be given to walk-ons, but no decisions had yet been made. The coach reported no injuries.

    With the start of fall classes on Monday, Nebraska welcomed the rest of its roster - mostly walk-ons with a handful of scholarship players - but Pelini said practice wouldn’t change much until the end of the week when the Huskers begin preparation for WKU.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced for two hours outside the Hawks Championship Center on one most of the pleasant weather days of August.

    What’s New: Several players appeared held out of practice Tuesday, but Pelini reported no serious or significant injuries

    Coach Quote: “If people have time to follow twittering and tweeting, then they need to get a job.” - Head coach Bo Pelini, on players’ Twitter accounts. Nebraska apparently has a policy on players having these accounts, but Pelini said it’s handled internally.

    Player Quote: “We’re going to have a huge target on our back. Everybody’s going to be out there trying to prove a point on Nebraska as a whole, but especially on our secondary because of how we performed last year.” - Free safety Dejon Gomes on NU’s defensive backs.

    Notes:

    ***Bo Pelini’s sole praise of the evening was reserved for left guard Keith Williams.

    “He’s doing really well,” Pelini said. “He has practiced well. He hasn’t missed a rep.”

    ***Few of Nebraska’s offensive players were tipping their hands in the slightest about the NU quarterback race. Most of them stuck to the “it’s a competition” line.

    “They’re all playing well,” receiver Brandon Kinnie said. “We’ll see.”

    Said sophomore tight end Kyler Reed: “They’re all great leaders. They’re all out there leading the team with a great huddle presence.”

    ***To a player, this fall camp in 2010 is more intense than the previous two under Pelini. Part of it is higher stakes. And part of it is a resurgent pride on the part of the offense after struggling for much of 2009.

    “We’re being a lot more physical,” Reed said. “We’re proving we can be a lot more physical with our defense. We have a great defense. If we can be physical with them, we feel we can be physical with most people in the country.”

    And part of it is the leadership and chattering from receivers Kinnie and Niles Paul.

    “It’s intense every day,” Kinnie said. “If it’s not, we make it intense.”

    Next Practice: Wednesday. There is no post-practice media access.

    Tags: fall camp, practice, bo pelini, football, will compton, dejon gomes, brandon kinnie, kyler reed, keith williams

  11. 2010 Aug 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 8/10

    3,894 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The giant cargo doors to the Hawks Championship Center were shut tight Tuesday afternoon. The Nebraska football team turned on the air conditioning inside the giant facility, and the Huskers practiced indoor after surviving 100-degree temperatures on Monday.

    Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told reporters the adjustment was needed for Nebraska to conduct a second “high-intensity” practice after Monday.

    “When you go outside, and it’s that hot, it’s just hard,” Watson said. “After a while, the human body just wears down. We want practices that are high intensity practices where we’re able to execute for the duration of practice. We came in because we wanted to get our practices more crisp.”

    NU didn’t change a thing in its routine, Watson said. He didn’t offer a prediction for where Wednesday’s fully-padded workout might take place, since the heat is not likely to subside in Lincoln until the weekend.

    Nor did Watson betray much about the quarterback race that remains in its early stages.

    “The last two days have been really competitive,” Watson said.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced inside the Hawks Championship Center for 2½ hours. NU donned the helmets and shoulder pads, and will wear the leg pads on Wednesday.

    What’s New: Practicing indoors. It wasn’t exactly cool inside the Hawks Center, but the conditions were significantly better than Monday’s scorcher. Also, guard Nick Ash appears to be the 105th player on Nebraska’s roster. Ash appeared Tuesday in a helmet and jersey.

    Coach Quote: He’s in China…I don’t put the fire hose out there for him to drink out of, I just give him the garden hose so he can get his feet under him. - Shawn Watson on freshman quarterback Brion Carnes It can’t be easy trying to evaluate three quarterbacks while bringing along a freshman, too.

    Player Quote: “All of the cornerbacks throughout the day, I’ll ask them ‘What am I supposed to do in this certain defense?’ Throughout the day, they tell me. At practice, I ask them all the time. They’re always helping me. Everybody has my back. They know I’m new, so they help me out every chance they can.” - Defensive back Antonio Bell It could be a good fit for Bell, who was never destined to be much of a run blocker at wide receiver.

    Notes:

    *Left tackle Jermarcus Hardrick was held out of practice Tuesday. Hardrick was struggling with cramps and heat on Monday. Bo Pelini will address the issue further after practice Wednesday.

    *Guard Keith Williams was held out of practice and is expected back Wednesday.

    *One reason senior Mike McNeill was moved to his “adjuster” role was to make way for sophomore Ben Cotton, whom Watson compared to tight ends he coached at Colorado, which includes one of the best in Big 12 history, Daniel Graham.

    “Ben can run, he can catch, he can block, he can do everything,” Watson said. “And he’s developed into a really good player. We wanted to clear the way for him.”

    *It’s hard to miss freshman guard Andrew Rodriguez - at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, he’s one of the largest players on the team - but his athleticism and nimble feet draw equal attention in drills.

    Although Rodriguez has “a lot of technique work to do,” Watson said, the OC added that “he’s got size and strength that a lot of freshmen don’t have.”

    “He’s been very impressive just in his skillset,” Watson said.

    Next Practice: Wednesday afternoon, as the Huskers will be able to practice in full pads for the first time.

    Tags: football, fall camp, shawn watson, brion carnes, yoshi hardrick, andrew rodriguez, alfonzo dennard, ben cotton, antonio bell, nick ash, keith williams

  12. 2010 Aug 09

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 8/9

    6,747 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    There weren’t buckets of salt and bullhorns at the Nebraska football team’s Monday afternoon practice, but the Huskers didn’t cut any corners in their 2½-hour workout on the new fields east the Hawks Championship Center.

    Yes, outside. The whole time. In a heat index that reached 115 degrees. NU had extra water stations set up and made sure players didn’t stand around too long in their helmets and shorts. But Nebraska didn’t ramp down its third practice of fall camp one bit. Nor did the Huskers particularly drag themselves through the Hawks Center when practice ended.

    “It’s just about fighting through it, mental toughness,” head coach Bo Pelini said. “It’s not easy when you go through the heat like that. But our guys - they did fine. It shows how good of condition they’re in and how good of a job our strength crew did.”

    A reporter asked if Pelini considered practicing inside. He looked around the Hawks Center, which, without turning on the air conditioning, is the equivalent of a sauna.

    “No,” he replied. “Without the air, sometimes it’s hotter inside.”

    Shoulder pads afforded Husker players their first chance to hit each other.

    “It was a hot one today so everyone was kind of a little heated,” sophomore Rex Burkhead. “A lot more people flying around, trying to get that first hit in. There’s always a little scuffle. But that comes along with it. We’re brothers. We’re around each other every day. There’s always going to be something like that to happen. It just makes us better. It means we’re competing."

    Pelini said coaches are “hamstrung” a bit by the 105-man roster limitations for fall practice, but they’ve divided the team into two groups based on their experience.

    “We’re getting a good mix of getting the older guys repped and the younger guys taught,” he said.

    Early in camp, Pelini also said he’s impressed with the most recent crop of true freshmen. In 2008 and 2009, NU redshirted most of its incoming class, and wouldn’t be blamed for doing so in 2010 based on the amount of depth and experience at most positions.

    Still - “I think it’s a talented group of kids,” Pelini said. “We’ll see how it plays out. Some of them have really stepped up and did a good job.”

    On with the report:

    Particulars: NU practiced in extreme heat but apparently pulled through it well. Pelini didn’t hesitate to call Monday’s practice a good one, applauding the effort. With temperatures expected to stay near 100 on Tuesday, we’ll see if the Huskers ramp down at all.

    What’s New: Left guard Keith Williams was held out practice with a pulled muscle and will return on Wednesday. Nebraska will add a 105th player to the roster Tuesday, Pelini said. Also, NU is using two yellow automatic snap machines to facilitate quarterback drills.

    Coach Quote: “You haven’t heard me talk redshirt. I don’t know where that came from. He’s playing.” - Bo Pelini on kickoff specialist Adi Kunalic. If it wasn’t clear before - it is now.

    Player Quote: He’s cool when you talk to him and get to be his friend, but he doesn’t really talk too much. He’s not the type of person who’d walk up to you and say hi. You’d have to walk up to him or chase him down. We’re two opposites together.” - NU linebacker Eric Martin on one of his best friends on the team, quarterback Taylor Martinez. No. 3 keeps to himself, but he’s impressed a lot of his teammates with his talent - and quiet leadership has its advantages.

    Notes:

    ***It’s only been three practices, but running backs coach Tim Beck has seen sophomore Dontrayevous Robinson already make a move in fall camp.

    “He’s been real impressive in the first couple days," Beck said. "Real physical. He’s been carrying his weight well. He’s always been a very tough guy, but he’s understanding things better. He’s playing fast and physical.”

    ***Burkhead said he’s bulked up to 214 pounds after a playing weight of 200 last season. Ideally, he’d like to start the season at 210 pounds. If that seems too big for the kid, remember that Nebraska is looking at reducing some of the wear and tear felt by some of the offensive players - evident toward the end of last year in the hard-hitting Big 12.

    ***A scout for the New England Patriots was on hand Monday seen talking to Pelini before practice and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson after it.

    ***Defensive back Andrew Green is now working at the Peso slot, according to the Lincoln-Journal Star. Green is a redshirt freshman and is working behind Eric Hagg and Austin Cassidy.
    .
    Next Practice: Tuesday, in the afternoon heat.

    See also: 8/9 Practice Photos

    Tags: fall camp, football, bo pelini, keith williams, rex burkhead, adi kunalic, dontrayevous robinson, shawn watson, eric martin, taylor martinez

  13. 2010 Aug 07

    NU FOOTBALL FALL CAMP: O-Line Options

    1,658 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    It was just hours after the Nebraska football team had reported for the 2010 season, and offensive line coach Barney Cotton had assembled his bunch for the first of many fall camp meetings.

    Cotton, having overseen a difficult transition for NU’s bulldozers - scheme, technique and attitude changes, lack of depth, injuries, a rash of false start penalties and fruitless plunges into the collective teeth of waiting defenses - was on fire Friday night.

    “All jacked up,” senior left guard Keith Williams said.

    He delivered a short, sharp message: Play hard. Compete even harder. Be the most physical line in college football. And get ready, because no job is secure.

    “He told us, ‘the best guy is going to be out there,” Williams said.

    And then Williams added: “And the healthiest guy is going to be out there.”

    Options. Cotton has some now. We’ll see what he does with them.

    He, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and head coach Bo Pelini have already pushed some buttons and made some changes, taking Mike Smith, a two-year starter at left tackle, and having him back up center Mike Caputo. In Smith’s place: redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles and the big dude who wore red-rimmed sunglasses and short dreadlocks at Saturday’s Fan Day, junior Yoshi Hardrick. Arguably the most important spot on the line, handed over to a couple newcomers.

    That’s confidence. That’s NU’s offensive line in 2010. Smiles, sweat and swagger after a gulag in 2009 where guys played through the swine flu, torn muscles, bum ankles, shoulders that felt like they were caught in bear traps, knee tweaks and just about anything else you can imagine.

    “We get banged up real bad,” Williams said. “In the trenches - it’s real hard.”

    Williams partially tore a pectoral muscle in fall camp last year. That’s like a scalpel digging into your chest when you engage a 320-pound defensive lineman. He grinded through it. He had little choice. Many of NU’s young offensive linemen - including freshman guard Brent Qvale - were hurt themselves. All of them redshirted.

    “Your body’s going to feel the pain,” Williams said.

    At right tackle, Marcel Jones was starting to turn the corner, master his assignments, when he hurt his ankle, and played sparingly through the last three games of the year. At least he had a proven backup in D.J. Jones to take over.

    But the injuries crippled the Huskers’ running game, especially in the Big 12 Championship, when Nebraska appeared to be practicing for a rugby scrum with its various two-yard jaunts. NU’s offensive futility - 35 carries for 67 yards - played a key part in a 13-12 loss to the Longhorns.

    “It still hurts,” Williams said.

    Even with 223 rushing yards in the 33-0 Holiday Bowl win, Marcel Jones said the Husker brain trust chose to make subtle changes to improve the health of the line. Better nutrition. More fluids and electrolytes. Yes, more massages. And a little less weight, seen most clearly on D.J Jones, but evident on other players, too.

    “We evaluated ourselves and that was the main thing: You have to stay healthy to have a great season,” Marcel Jones said.

    Then, the simplified blocking schemes that require more grit and less finesse were a hit with these guys in spring. While a quarterback competition between Zac Lee, Taylor Martinez and Cody Green is the talk of fall camp, Williams shrugs.

    “The only that’s going to change for the offensive line is the voice,” he said. “We’re going to block our butt off for them.”

    Nebraska’s offensive line is still giant, but quicker. With the addition of Hardrick - who, according to Williams and Jones, is “just like (guard) Ricky Henry, only bigger,” the Huskers got a little nastier, too. As many as ten players could vie for playing time, and Williams isn’t even sure, aside from true freshman Andrew Rodriguez, who’s behind him at left guard. He just knows he’s in a job fight.

    “Nothing is secure,” Williams said. “Not even for me. And I’ve been here five years.”

    The line is not going to shift down this fall camp to avoid injuries.

    “Because then you’re out there tip-toeing around,” Jones said. “So just fly around and get after it.”

    More than that, backing off detracts from the “most physical” pipeline NU is trying to rebuild. Nebraska intends to get downhill - yes, even running out of the shotgun - and that requires the twitch of an alley cat. Instinct. And a bit of a brute.

    The wide receivers may chatter more - Brandon Kinnie sure did his share Saturday - but the best snapshot of Nebraska’s hopes for Big 12 Championship were in Williams’ casual smile and prediction for the offensive line.

    “Oh, we’re going to have a good time,” Williams said. “We’re going to be physical. We’re going to fly around. We’re going to hit people.”

    Check Out All of Our Photos from Fan Day!

    Tags: marcel jones, keith williams, barney cotton, fall camp, football

  14. 2010 Aug 07

    NU FOOTBALL FALL CAMP: Big Red Swagger

    1,717 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    It’s hot as hell as Nebraska’s football team started its fall camp Saturday, but that confidence you see among the players and coaches is no mirage emanating from NU’s new practice fields.

    These Huskers like themselves some Huskers. Guns loaded. Let’s get it on. The defense has a whole season’s worth of excellence to prop itself up, while the offense has, well, pluck. .

    “I think (we’ve grown) leaps and bounds,” said junior wideout Brandon Kinnie. “We got a little bit a swagger about ourselves and we got a lot to prove and the defense doesn’t like that very much.”

    Said left guard Keith Williams: “We’re going to be physical. We’re going to fly around. We’re going to hit people.”

    And tight end Mike McNeill: “The confidence, the excitement - we’re just a team. The guys all love each other. We love hanging out. We love competing….guys aren’t dreading fall camp. Guys are looking forward to going one-on-one against each other. We’re going to have fun.”

    Check back on, oh, Tuesday, to see how much fun it still for NU as Death Valley weather descends on Lincoln and temperatures creep into the triple digits.

    Nevertheless, the Huskers appear chuffed, with an attitude geared for championships. Confidence is part of the Bo Pelini package, and it’s trickled down to the roster. You could see the swagger come from a mile away, frankly, and not just because the Nebraska football team rocked ice, chains, aviator sunglasses and mustaches out of a spaghetti western for Saturday’s Fan Day.

    It started in the Holiday Bowl. Continued through what, by all accounts, was a smashing session of winter conditioning. And the summer, quiet by the usual standards of a major college football program - aside from that viral video to “Beat Texas” - was a bit different, at least in description, from 2009.

    No, the program wasn’t any easier. But the Huskers seemed to enjoy it more.

    The levity came from unexpected places. Sophomore defensive end Cameron Meredith was poring over some of the old portraits NU has of former All-Americans when he saw a picture of Mike Knox. He liked the mustache. Started to grow one.

    “I’ve already got a girlfriend,” Meredith said. “If I was single, I don’t know.”

    And now, Burt Reynolds and Ion Tiriac, you have a lot of Husker company, the most interesting of which was Alonzo Whaley’s dipped-in-blond-dye look.

    “I saw his this morning,” Meredith said. “I didn’t know what it was.”

    Then receiver Niles Paul - in what seems to be a years-long debate with cornerback Prince Amukamara over just about every little thing - brought some boxing gloves down to the locker room on the final day of summer workouts. How about some afternoon fights?

    “It was fun, just to be done with some summer workouts,” Kinnie said. “Just in the locker room, going at it.”

    Amukamara paired up with Rickey Thenarse. Kinnie called out a cornerback, but nobody answered, so he took on scatback Austin Jones. Paul battled Roy Helu. And Yoshi Hardrick and Baker Steinkuhler, in a battle of the behemoths, squared off.

    “There was some tumbling in that one,” Kinnie said.

    “I was laughing so hard I was about to cry,” McNeill said.

    Every team jokes around. Blows off steam. Nebraska’s no different.

    But Bo’s fingerprints are all over these Huskers now. The family vibe resonates throughout the program. Another move by Meredith: He started inviting all of the freshmen - really any player - over to his house on Friday nights.

    “When I came here that first summer it was like the worst summer I ever had,” Meredith said. “I didn’t know anyone. I was in the dorms every day. So I always try to invite them over.”

    Said McNeill: “Bo wanted to change the culture and he has. He’s the leader of us and we look to him and follow what he does. At the same time, seniors are now going to do what he can do and has done for us.”

    It’s the transition I talked about Friday coming to bloom. But it needs to be tested with time, heat and toil. Saturday is likely to be the sunniest of fall camp; one the grind begins and adversity slams into the side of this team - as it does every squad - we’ll see who the enforcers are. And we’ll see how much more Bo has to crack the whip.

    Check Out All of Our Photos from Fan Day!

    Tags: fall camp, football, bo pelini, mike mcneill, keith williams, niles paul, brandon kinnie, prince amukamara

  15. 2010 Jul 19

    BIG 12 PREVIEW: Ranking the Big 12 Offensive Lines

    1,846 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    In Big 12 football, the North Division can’t crow about much.

    But, at least from our vantage point, it can claim most of the league’s best offensive lines in 2010.

    Part of our rankings are merely a reflection of returning starters; it’s easier refine players who have game experience over those who haven’t yet made their mistakes. But our rankings also reflect an emphasis on improving the running game (Iowa State, Kansas State and Nebraska) two programs finally putting together a decent bunch (Colorado and Kansas) and perhaps the league’s most gifted collection of linemen in Missouri.

    The Big 12 South still represents well with Oklahoma and Texas in the top seven, but many of the schools are trying to replace a boatload of starters, alter their offensive philosophy, or, in the case of Oklahoma State, do both.

    1. Colorado
    Returning Starters:
    Five
    Strengths: The best line in the Big 12 is huge - tackles Bryce Givens and Nate Solder are 6-foot-6 and 6-9, respectively - and athletic. It has also has a wealth of experience heading into 2010. Poor health decimated the line in 2009, but, when healthy, this bunch should be effective running the ball and protecting the quarterback’s flank. Weaknesses: Some stats - like giving up an astonishing 44 sacks - just can’t be prevented when CU’s quarterback situation is a mess, and the Buffaloes lack wide receivers good enough to get open. An improved running game should help, but this is not the Big 12's burliest bunch.

    T2. Missouri
    Returning Starters:
    Four
    Strengths: Center Tim Barnes is the Big 12’s best, while junior tackles Dan Hoch and Elvis Fisher combined to start 26 games last year. This bunch stayed healthy. That’s a terrific nucleus to help quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Weaknesses: Mizzou could use work in the running game. Some of the holes that were present in 2007 and 2008 weren’t there last year.

    T2. Nebraska
    Returning Starters:
    Four
    Strengths: Because of injuries, a variety of Huskers gained valuable experience in 2008 and 2009. Thanks to guards Keith Williams and Ricky Henry, NU is excellent on trap plays and screens - when the quarterback can see over the line. Some of the young depth - guard Brent Qvale, tackle Jeremiah Sirles - is impressive, not to mention junior college transfer Yoshi Hardrick. Weaknesses: Health has been a major factor with this bunch. False-start penalties, too. Mike Caputo takes over at center for Jacob Hickman; expect a transition there. Caputo played quite a bit, however, because of Hickman’s various injuries.

    4. Iowa State
    Returning Starters:
    Four
    Strengths: ISU’s offensive line ran the ball with gusto for much of last year, as this bunch surprisingly moved a lot of defenses off the ball. Ben Lamaak and Alex Alvarez were one of the Big 12’s best guard tandems in 2009, although Lamaak is scheduled to slide inside to center this year. Kelechi Osemele is one of the Big 12’s best left tackles. Weaknesses: The departure of All-Big 12 center Reggie Stephens. Plus, ISU’s schedule is much more challenging in 2010.

    5. Oklahoma
    Returning Starters:
    Three
    Strengths: The league’s best overall guard in Stephen Good and one of the best centers in Ben Habern. Good right tackle in Cory Brandon, while the new left tackle projects to be LSU transfer Jarvis Jones. Weaknesses: OU couldn’t run the ball last year, and its best lineman from 2009, Trent Williams, is now in the NFL. Better pass rushes were too quick for the Sooners’ interior, which led to a lot of quick passes and bad interceptions.

    T6. Kansas State
    Returning Starters:
    Four
    Strengths: Huge, as is typical for a Bill Snyder, as every Wildcat weighs at least 300 pounds (and JUCO stud tackle Manase Foketi is 6-5, 330). KSU can trap and drive block well, getting a solid push off of the line of scrimmage. Weaknesses: The tackles aren’t the most athletic - unless Foketi is everything K-State fans hope he’ll be - and faster defensive lines ate up the Wildcats in 2009.

    T6. Kansas
    Returning Starters:
    Four
    Strengths: After fielding two putrid offensive line in 2008 and 2009, KU will finally turn the corner with a big, experienced bunch in 2010. The best of them is Tanner Hawkinson at left tackle; although he has some growing and learning to do, he was pretty good for a freshman in 2010. Jeremiah Hatch is an oversized (6-3, 330) center, but effective anyway. Weaknesses: Tackle Jeff Spikes went down with a season-ending injury on July 13th; KU will struggle to find a replacement.

    8. Texas
    Returning Starters:
    Two
    Strengths: While not combining a ton of starts, the Longhorns’ line is full of upperclassmen like Tray Allen and Britt Mitchell, a converted tight end. Kyle Hix is one of the league’s better left tackles and guard Michael Huey will be a centerpiece of UT’s improved running game. Weaknesses: This bunch was badly exposed vs. Nebraska and Alabama, which showed a blitz template for rattling Texas quarterbacks. Perhaps shifting to a pro-style offense - which offers more protection options - will help the Horns out.

    9. Texas A&M
    Returning Starters:
    Two
    Strengths: In short time, head coach Mike Sherman has recruited offensive linemen well, and 2010 ought to begin to bear some fruit. Guards Patrick Lewis and Evan Eike are a strong duo. Freshman left tackle Luke Joeckel appears ready to start from day one of his time in College Station. Weaknesses: Also breaking in a new right tackle and center. A&M will be hard-pressed to match last year’s bunch.

    10. Baylor
    Returning Starters: Three
    Strengths: Experience at the right spots: Center and tackle. It’s a big bunch, as each player weighs more than 300 pounds. It’s year three of the Art Briles system as well. Briles had recruited this position strongly and the Bears should field one of the Big 12’s best lines in 2011. Weaknesses: The Bears are a year away; too often BU’s line was a leaky mess in 2009, giving up at least three sacks in its last five games.

    11. Texas Tech
    Returning Starters: Two
    Strengths: The Red Raiders have big-time jaw-dropping size at tackle, as Terry McDaniel is 6-7, 335 and LaAdrian Waddle is 6-6, 350. Center Chris Olson is a returning starter with plenty of experience. Weaknesses: New scheme, a greater emphasis on running the ball, and not much experience overall.

    12. Oklahoma State
    Returning Starters: One
    Strengths: A good offensive line coach in Joe Wickline, who is paid handsomely for his expertise. Weaknesses: A great dearth of experience. It won’t be easy to replace the Big 12’s best left tackle, Russell Okung, or the other three starters lost to graduation.

    Check Out Our Full Big 12 Preview: Big 12 Coaches, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Offensive Lines, Defensive LinesCommentary, 12 Best Players, Ten Overrated Players, Ten Underrated Players

    Tags: big 12 preview, big 12, keith williams, ricky henry, mike caputo

  16. 2010 Apr 21

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Offensive Line

    7,661 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Offensive line

    Spring Summary: Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and offensive line coach Barney Cotton met with two groups in the offseason: Oregon’s staff and former Husker line legend Milt Tenopir. The result: A simpler scheme, more pulling, wider splits and a new aggressive mindset. Now Nebraska needs to stay healthy. Is that a sure thing? Frankly, no: Guard Ricky Henry sat out all of spring, and tackles Yoshi Hardrick and Mike Smith missed the spring game with injuries. Hardrick’s broken hand will take time to heal and it’ll affect how much lifting he can do in the offseason.

    But, overall, spirits are up. Brent Qvale and Jeremiah Sirles are terrific young talents, Mike Caputo looks like a capable heir apparent for Jacob Hickman at center - having Hickman as a volunteer coach probably helps - while the right tackle position seems more solidified with Marcel Jones and D.J. Jones. And left guard Keith Williams remains a solid NFL prospect.


    Big Mover: D.J. Jones, who re-sculpted his body for his senior season and might be the favorite to start at right tackle heading into the fall. If he were to solidify his starting job, Marcel Jones just might get a look at left tackle. Hardrick’s progress was slowed by a broken hand, but his work ethic is contagious.

    More to Prove: Brandon Thompson. A gifted, physical sophomore, Thompson needs to get in the mix for playing time soon before he’s overcome by redshirt freshmen.


    Wild Card: Hardrick, who’s raw, but willing to punish. He could be a weapon in a power running game. Yes, a weapon - he wears out defenders with his motor.


    Freshmen to Add: Mike Moudy and Andrew Rodriguez. Both look the part, and both will probably redshirt anyway. Moudy is a sleeper recruit.


    Injuries: Henry missed all of spring, and Hardrick will have a tough summer ahead of him in terms of upper-body lifting. Mike Smith struggled with injuries, which is nothing new for him.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Don’t get in freak weightlifting accidents?

    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, mike smith, keith williams, brent qvale, jeremiah sirles, yoshi hardrick, ricky henry, mike caputo

  17. 2010 Apr 09

    SPRING FB: Plowing Through The Wall

    2,120 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Bo Pelini doesn’t believe in his players hitting a spring camp “wall” that tends to appear around the 10-practice mark. Nebraska’s football team hit that spot Friday.

    “They better not,” Pelini said after NU’s two-hour workout inside the Hawks Championship Center. “During the season we have to play 13 weeks.”

    But the Cornhuskers haven’t installed any new material during the “last few days,” Pelini said, to focus on “attention to detail” and execution.

    “We’re just sticking with what we have in right now,” Pelini said. “We haven’t progressed beyond because we have a lot of basic things we’ve got to get fixed and keep working on.”

    Pelini called Friday’s workout a “real good practice offensively.” He demurred on the defense. Respective players from each side of the ball echoed Pelini’s sentiment.

    Of the offense, guard Keith Williams said: “I like what I’ve seen. I really do. I like our running game. Our running game is going to be a lot better. I think it’s fun. Us making the holes, being physical, getting guys off the ball. Our running backs help a lot.”

    Said defensive end Pierre Allen: “We still got a lot of work to do. We’ve been making steps, but there’s a lot of young guys that never played before. Older guys, too. Right now we’re trying to build the chemistry up. We can’t just go out there 11 individuals. We have to build a group chemistry.”

    Allen hinted that Pelini has been vocal about it, too.

    “Bo is Bo,” Allen said. “He does what he do. That’s his coaching style. That’s what works for him, and that’s what works for us.”

    Nebraska will scrimmage Saturday for the second time this spring, but it won’t be as extensive as the 150-play script NU followed last week.

    “It’s a little bit of a mix” of practice and scrimmage, Pelini said. “…It’s the next day, it’s the next step, it’s the next opportunity to get better as a football team.”

    Notes:

    *Sophomore tight end Ben Cotton remained out Friday, as did freshman tight end J.T. Kerr and junior defensive back Marcus Mendoza. Sophomore Micah Kreikemeier was held out with a “locked-up” elbow, Pelini said.

    *Former Nebraska running backs Keith Jones, Calvin Jones and Marlon Lucky were on hand to watch Friday’s practice, as were members of the Husker walk-on club - and high school students in Future Farmers of America.

    See also: Doc's Daunting Task and Mike Anderson's Time to Rally

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, bo pelini, pierre allen, keith williams

  18. 2010 Mar 17

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 10

    5,060 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    LG Keith Williams, 6-5, 315, Sr.

    Now or never for Nebraska’s most talented interior offensive lineman. Injuries significantly slowed what should have been a breakout year for Williams; he was in and out of the lineup early in the year, and, because of NU’s thin depth at the position, never got a chance to rest his torn pectoral muscle. Playing with that is a bit like playing with a heart attack; it’s no joke. That Williams played some many games is a little amazing - it also speaks to how hard-up the Huskers really were.

    Health is the primary concern with Williams; if he has that, he’s a top-shelf guard in the Big 12, among the best. Physical and possessing good feet, Williams is also plenty tough and a good run blocker for a left guard. He pulls well and gets his hat on the right side of defenders in a zone scheme. He simply must stay healthy.

    Want All 50 Huskers? Join Husker Locker for free!

    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, keith williams

  19. 2010 Jan 27

    50 Huskers in Review: Nos. 5-1

    2,491 views

    By HuskerLocker

    In the summer and fall, Husker Locker created its “50 Huskers to Know” list for the 2009 season. We now review our list by examining production, injuries and depth chart position.
    We’ll present these in five-player increments. Here we go!

    No. 5 Keith Williams: Poised for a breakout year, Williams tore his pectoral muscle in fall camp. He played through excruciating pain anyway, and had his moments. In 2010, provided he’s healthy, look for him to be an all-conference pick. He’s still Nebraska’s best.

    No. 4 Niles Paul: It was almost like his two colossal blunders of the fall - failing to catch a backwards pass vs. Texas Tech, then failing to recover the ball that Tech returned for a touchdown, and that fumble-recover-fumble vs. Iowa State that cost NU the win - actually set Paul free. Over the last five games of the year, including the Holiday Bowl, Paul became a new man - a different player, returning one punt for a score, almost returning another vs. Texas, making clutch third-down grabs vs. Colorado, making huge plays vs. Kansas and Kansas State, and displaying an all-around game in the Holiday Bowl to earn MVP. He caught 40 passes for almost 800 yards, and became the big-play most hoped he would be.

    No. 3 Roy Helu: More brilliance in games vs. Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas, and more perplexing injuries in many of the other games. Helu’s a tough guy to figure out on and off the field. Talent and instinct to burn, but there seems to be times when Rex Burkhead is the more consistent option. Still - it says something about a guy when he rushes for 1,137 yards, and you barely noticed him over the last four games of the year. He’s still a big-time weapon.

    No. 2 Ndamukong Suh: Arguably the best player in Blackshirt history - remember, that doesn’t include Train Wreck Novak - and certainly the most decorated, Suh became the poster child for the emerging Bo Pelini era. He worked hard, excelled in the classroom and dominated on the field. A unique, game-changing talent in ways defensive linemen usually aren’t - pass coverage, downfield tackling. Hopefully NU fans enjoyed the show. He isn’t coming through that door again.

    No. 1 Zac Lee: As great as we knew Suh was, Lee occupied the top spot for the obvious reason: He’s the only guy with the ball in his hands every play. So much has already been written about Lee, so let’s merely say one more thing: He turned a corner in his attitude and belief in himself as the year went on, and he doesn’t have a lot to fear in 2010. Bo likes him. It’s his job to lose.

    The list is now complete! Check out the full list!

    Tags: 50 huskers in review, ndamukong suh, zac lee, niles paul, keith williams, roy helu

  20. 2010 Jan 02

    7 Questions: Offense in the Offseason

    4,411 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Shotgun to stay? Whether we or you or any Husker fans prefers an under center power game is immaterial to what offensive coordinator Shawn Watson’s players can actually execute. And the Huskers look better in a shotgun spread offense. They just do. It suits the quarterbacks, the running backs, the offensive line, the receivers and the Wildcat formation.

    How long does it take Zac Lee to recover - and is recovery successful? Funny that Nebraska fans would pin a potential national title run on the health of No. 5, but, after seeing Cody Green’s wobbly work in the Holiday Bowl, so be it. Lee is unquestionably the No. 1 guy going into spring practice - and he still isn’t very good. So not only does he have to rehab after surgery on his right torn flexor tendon, he has to find a way to improve without throwing the ball - possibly through all of spring camp.

    Can Cody Green capitalize on Lee’s absence to develop for 2010 and beyond? We can’t ignore his struggles during the last half of the season - but we also can’t take too much from them, either. Green hasn’t been allowed to grow into a starter - too much attention for a handful for a good plays, too short of a leash for a handful of bad ones - and he should make “the leap” in the spring. Well, he’d better, anyway.

    Whither Kody Spano? The things Spano reportedly did best - throwing those skinny slants and posts, and hanging in the pocket when bullets started flying - are attributes Watson appreciates most. Can he come back from two ACL tears? Can he trust his knee enough to make plays. It’s rare - but possible.

    Is there a No. 2 receiver in the building? Some Husker - Brandon Kinnie, Khiry Cooper, Antonio Bell, Curenski Gilleylen - has to take the heat off of Niles Paul. And receivers coach Ted Gilmore has to stop sampling every guy on the roster for the role. Find two or three complimentary receivers, stick with them, and develop chemistry with Lee - when he returns - Green and whoever else tries out at QB.

    How much can the redshirt freshmen - plus Jermarcus Hardrick - push the vets on he offensive line? Hardrick will push Marcel and D.J. Jones at right tackle - and potentially win the job. As for the redshirt freshmen, we’re talking about Brent Qvale (guard), Jeremiah Sirles (tackle), Jesse Coffey (guard) and Nick Ash(guard/center). At the very least, Qvale (huge, and nimble) and Sirles (looks the part) were slated for the two-deep before injuries tilted the risk/reward scale against burning their redshirt. Neither will likely start for NU in 2010, but they can provide important depth every third or fourth series, or serve as injury protection. At any rate - they sorely need experience for the future.

    Where does Taylor Martinez fit in? We dug around in the few weeks after the Big 12 Championship game about Martinez, and found he was more feared as a receiver than he was at quarterback. And yet he’ll start at QB - potentially as a Wildcat guy - and take a run at the backup job. Either way - the kid needs to see the field, and get the chance to make plays. He’s among the fastest players on NU’s roster and he’s big enough to take some licks. T Magic is more like T Mystery.

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    Tags: holiday bowl, shawn watson, tim beck, barney cotton, ted gilmore, ron brown, bo pelini, zac lee, roy helu, mike mcneill, rex burkhead, niles paul, jeremiah sirles, brent qvale, jermarcus hardrick, nick ash, jesse coffey, keith williams, ricky henry, mike caputo, mike smith, marcel jones, d, j, jones

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