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  1. 2012 Mar 18

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Knee-Jerk Reactions (3/18/12)


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Erstad’s troops aren’t perfect, but they've been impressive out of the gate. The split with Cal and their recent merciless mauling of Louisiana Tech was encouraging.

    - Cole Pensick might want to replace Caputo, but he’s not the best center Pelini's staff can put in the middle.

    - If Shaka Smart comes to Nebraska, I'll eat my hat*

    - Terry Joseph’s currently out recruiting the Southeast. Does this guy also make julienne fries?

    - Another spring, another promise of Kyler Reed being more involved. Pretend this is SEC country.

    - Kenny Bell’s afro is top notch, but he’s no Wonder Monds…yet.

    - Congrats to Carl Nicks for making bank as an NFL guard. Was it really necessary to take a shot at the team he won the Super Bowl with, though?

    - Alonzo Whaley’s the logical starting point for replacing Lavonte David at WILL. David Santos is the sane choice.

    - If Braylon Heard can pick up his new secondary role, he’ll be a beast at cornerback. He can hit. If Joseph can teach him to cover, he’ll be decleating Big Ten wide receivers in no time.

    - Oh this is just priceless:

    - P.S. Don’t forget your PowerTowel®.

    *Will find nacho hat to eat.

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    Tags: baseball, cole pensick, john groce, terry joseph, kyler reed, kenny bell, carl nicks, alonzo whaley, david santos, barylon heard

  2. 2012 Mar 10

    NEBRASKA SPRING FOOTBALL: Five Make or Break Players


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Chris Labenz

    With the departures of key starters such as Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard, Jared Crick, Austin Cassidy, Marcel Jones and Yoshi Hardrick, Nebraska’s football team looks very different this spring.

    The absence of these veterans forces other Huskers to step up to keep the team goal of winning the Big Ten Championship in tact.

    As Bo Pelini continues executing the “process”, the following five players are on the verge of falling so far behind their peers, they won't be able to catch up.

    Guard Andrew Rodriguez - “A-Rod” came to Nebraska with high praise from recruiting services and scouts who touted the big man from Aurora, Nebraska as future All-Conference lineman.

    However, there was also rumor among the locals that Rodriguez lacked the necessary work ethic and passion to become of one college football’s elite.

    His play has mirrored these claims, being dominant at times, and sluggish at others. Given his incredible natural talent, there was no reason for the one-time New Yorker to get beat out midseason by former walk-on Seung Hoon Choi, no offense to the plucky South Korean.

    While coaches have stated that Rodriguez was suffering from lingering injuries, he didn’t seem to have the fire necessary keep a full-time starting gig.

    It’s time for this enigmatic player to make a decision between being great or fading into the background. If he chooses the latter, Nebraska has ample depth at the guard position to fill his absence with other highly-talented players chomping at the bit for playing time.

    Tight end Kyler Reed – No. 25 has had one of the most frustrating careers to follow. Flash back to the Oklahoma State and Missouri games of two years ago, and you see a tight end that can fly past safeties for long touchdowns and constantly create mismatches.

    Reed was non-existent last season, battling injuries and toughness issues only magnified by Ron Brown’s move to running backs coach.

    While part of the blame must be placed on Taylor Martinez for failing to find an often open Reed, there was no reason for the preseason star to experience such a dramatic drop-off in play.

    He faces his senior season, and it’s crucial to Nebraska’s success that he finds a way to play at a high level for the entire season. If not, expect the Husker offense to continue to be boxed in by safeties playing near the line of scrimmage. There's no fear of being burned deep by Ben Cotton.

    MIKE linebacker Will Compton – Lavonte David is not a player that can be replaced with one guy. No. 4’s ability to make plays across the field was the biggest reason the Husker defense had a fighting chance at stopping the better teams faced during the past two seasons.

    Nobody on the roster possesses his combination of speed, agility, sure tackling, and instincts. However, if the Blackshirts are to survive without the future NFL linebacker, Compton must step up his game this season and become the player many thought he could be when he signed his letter of intent.

    He has expressed desire to become the vocal leader of the Blackshirts, but fans have to wonder whether No. 51’s bite will match his bark.

    Against Michigan State, the Missouri native showed flashes of his why he was rated a four-star prospect, stopping running backs in their tracks and chasing the opposition down at every turn. While this performance was impressive, it still appeared to be the exception instead of the rule for Comtpon.

    In 2012, the senior linebacker must perform like he did against the Spartans every week if the Blackshirts are to regain the form that has become expected of a Bo Pelini-coached defense.

    If Compton can’t handle the load, expect young guns David Santos and Trevor Roach to garner serious playing time while all Husker fans simultaneously shake their heads and mutter, “David would’ve made that play.”

    Safety P.J. Smith – No. 13 is another Husker whose playing time has risen and fallen like the temperature of so many Nebraska seasons. With Austin Cassidy's graduation, there is a wide open spot next to Daimion Stafford at the back-end of the defense.

    While Pelini and company have accumulated above average depth at the position, nobody seems to stand out as a clear favorite this spring.

    Due to Smith’s knowledge and experience, along with the demands Pelini places on his safeties, it’s fair to guess that he could have a leg up on players like Corey Cooper. Cooper is one of many secondary members full of potential, but very green.

    Additionally, Courtney Osborne will be anxious to get back on the field after mysteriously disappearing in 2011. Smith has played well when given the chance, showing a great knack for finding the football, but injuries and a lack of top-shelf athletic ability have kept him from permanently needing an extra hanger in his locker for the a black practice jersey.

    If Smith can’t take his play to the next level this spring, don’t be surprised if new secondary coach Terry Joseph decides to roll the dice and go with the inexperienced, more athletic Cooper as his other starting safety.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez – Martinez’s weaknesses in the passing game have been well-documented over the past two seasons. Heading into spring ball, T-Magic still has the keys to the Husker offense. One that was often very good, but maddeningly inconsistent.

    Opposing defenses were able to force Tim Beck to call plays that the dual-threat quarterback was clearly not comfortable executing, while containing opportunities for Martinez’s trademark long runs.

    If No. 3 can’t find a way to consistency complete more 10-plus yard passes downfield, Nebraska’s offense will again struggle to put up enough points to win games against the likes of Michigan and Ohio State.

    Should his struggles continue, the great unknown remains about whether Beck and Pelini will finally give another quarterback a chance to lead the first team offense against live ammunition.

    Expect fans to become restless if the staff isn't willing to make a change in the face of even more disappointing offensive performances, especially with Carnes and incoming signal-caller Tommy Armstrong itching for the chance to make people forget about Martinez.

    Can these five embrace the challenge of becoming the vital cogs to the Big Red’s success? If not, there are players below them on the depth chart happy to take their place.

    Follow Chris on Twitter: @chris_labenz
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    Tags: spring football, andrew rodriguez, kyler reed, will compton, pj smith, taylor martinez

  3. 2012 Mar 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Spring Practice Position Primer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Quarterback: Without Tommy Armstrong in camp, Martinez has no threat to his starting spot. He’s showed tremendous athletic potential last spring.

    If Carnes continues to improve athletically, and the mental aspect of the game can be reinforced, while the gap between he and Martinez isn’t likely to shrink that much, a legitimate backup candidate could be crowned.

    Running back: Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green start on equal footing heading into Saturday and could very well end up where they started following April’s spring game.

    Thanks to Abdullah’s edge in experience during actual FBS play, one has to think he has a leg up on Green. His fumbling problems may level the playing field, however.

    Wide receiver: Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Tim Marlowe and Jamal Turner will all have the opportunity to solidify their starting roles.

    With the departure of Khiry Cooper, look for Taariq Allen, who followed wide receivers coach Rich Fisher from Weston, Massachusetts, to vie for the fifth spot. KC Hyland and Tyler Evans are two other talents with an opportunity to shine.

    Tight End: Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed aren’t going anywhere, but David Sutton and Eddie Ridder have the opportunity to showcase their potential.

    Offensive Line: Departed center Mike Caputo’s replacement could come from a number of candidates including Cole Pensick, Nick Ash and Ryan Klachko. Pensick and Ash may have seniority, but Klachko sticks out as the prospect with a higher ceiling.

    Brandon Thompson, Andrew Rodriguez, Mike Moudy and Ryne Reeves look to be the favorites to hold down the guard spots. Rodriguez’s attitude has reportedly been lackadaisical, but Moudy and Reeves have the tenacity to step up should he slack off.

    Sirles and Qvale will start out spring at the tackle spots with Tyler Moore giving them all they can handle in an attempt to take one of their spots. Zach Sterup is a likely backup candidate with Givens Price needing a strong spring to assert himself as a legitimate threat for playing time.

    Defensive Line: Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah, Eric Martin and Joseph Cater have the end positions on lockdown barring injury. Donovan Vestal and Walker Ashburn need huge springs to hold off the incoming Avery Moss and Greg McMullen come the fall.

    The interior’s been decimated by injury with Chase Rome and Todd Peat, Jr. now out for the entirety of spring ball. Once Kevin Williams and Thad Randle return from injury, they’ll be plugged in next to Baker Steinkuhler in an attempt to hone their abilities, and find a suitable replacement for Rome’s spring absence.

    Having a deeper interior for rotation’s sake won’t hurt heading into Big Ten play. Jay Guy and newly-placed Tobi Okuyemi will have the opportunity to show that their work ethic has improved.

    Linebackers: Will Compton has the MIKE slot on lockdown while Sean Fisher will spend most of his time trying to cement the BUCK slot by the end of spring. Max Pirman could find himself trying to work into rotation behind him.

    Pelini mentioned to look for David Santos and Alonzo Whaley to work at the WILL position to begin the essentially-impossible task of taking over for Lavonte David. Don’t be surprised to see Santos win that battle by mid-April.

    Defensive back: Mohammed Seisay will be one of the most-watched players on the entire team this spring. Not only will he be wearing the departed David’s No. 4, but he looks to lock down the title of Nebraska’s elite cornerback.

    Andrew Green, Cinate Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and recently-switched Braylon Heard will likely get the opportunity to lock down the opposite end.

    Safety: Daimion Stafford, Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith are the likely candidates to lock down starting role. Osborne’s recent concussion issues may cause Pelini and company to take things slow with him.

    Kicker/Punter: Brett Maher is light years ahead of Mauro Bondi, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Boca Raton native can narrow the gap in the slightest.

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    Tags: spring practice, taylor martinez, brion carnes, ameer abdullah, aaron green, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, tim marlowe, jamal turner, taariq allen, ben cotton, kyler reed, cole pensick, nick ash, ryan klachko, brandon thompson, andrew rodriguez, mike moudy, ryne reeves, cameron meredith, eric martin, chase rome, todd peat, baker steinkuhler, will compton, david santos, mohammed seisay, brett maher

  4. 2011 Dec 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Husker Tweets of the Week (12/13)


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Every week we'll be tapping into the heart of social media, Twitter, to find the best Husker tweets of the past week. This week's highlights:

    @SharpeGreg (Greg Sharpe): Excited to see all the Husker fans in Orlando to ring in the new year with a Husker victory! #huskers

    @jestyr7 (Christopher Peters): The Pinnacle Bank Arena was originally going to be called the Rex Burkhead arena. But that was too much swag for one place. #FactsAboutRex

    @Kspeeeed25 (Kyler Reed): Thanks to all my bros on the team spreading #ATB I dont personally know him, he is from KC and I was contacted to help via twitter.

    @BoPelini (Bo Pelini): Just interviewed M. Nobler for the D-Coordinator position... Very impressive to say the least!

    @AFRO_THUNDER80 (Kenny Bell): The roads are so much better today..... someone must have asked #Rex to plow. #1800-TheManCanDoAnything

    @JrodVCrick (Jared Crick): Congrats to Coach Carl for getting the FAU job! I wouldn't be in this position without him. Those FAU cats are very lucky to have him

    @PJ_Mangieri (P.J. Mangieri): If I can change one persons life for the better while I'm here then it's all worth it

    @NUequipment (Nebraska Equipment Crew): Excited for a good morning bowl practice #GBR. @CapitalOneBowl

    @FonzieDennard15 (Alfonzo Dennard): CONGRATS TO COACH SANDERS FOR GOING WITH COACH CARL BEHIND Y'ALL 100% #believedat

    @Joebro9 (Joe Broekemeier): Love it @D_Gomes24 and Roy blasting off today!

    @acass8 (Austin Cassidy): The Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow are the best drama on TV.

    @BRASKA_4 (Lavonte David): Some ppl ask me if I make it to da top would I forget about them? I ask them same ppl, if I never make it to da top will you forget about me

    @BKinnie84 (Brandon Kinnie): They say your senior year flies bye! Smh! So true!

    @_willcompton (Will Compton): Damn proud to b getting my degree!! College wouldn't b a success w out it!! #ClassRing #HuskerGrad #Business pic.twitter.com/H7fQ2GAp

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: kyler reed, bo pelini, jared crick, pj mangieri, alfonzo dennard, austin cassidy, lavonte david, brandon kinnie, will compton

  5. 2011 Dec 07

    Husker Heartbeat 12/07: Stoops to Nebraska?, Reed's Few Appearances and Pinnacle Bank Arena is Already Money


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    - Former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops would consider filling Nebraska's defensive coordinator slot if offered

    - Tight end Kyler Reed doesn't show up often, but he makes the most of his opportunities

    - Five Huskers who should've hoisted the Heisman, but didn't

    - Nebraska's newly-dubbed Pinnacle Bank Arena wound up with a great deal for naming rights considering the size of the venue

    - A new conference and off-court distractions wore on the Nebraska volleyball team

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    Tags: mike stoops, kyler reed, pinnacle bank arena, volleyball

  6. 2011 Nov 27

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Iowa


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Call Rex Burkhead’s final tote of the rock what you want, but he deserved the record for carries after his day/season.

    - Speaking of Superman, he was responsible for over 72 percent of Nebraska’s rushing yardage and over 41 percent of the Cornhuskers’ entire offensive output.

    - The gameplan was vanilla, but when you have a weapon like Burkhead and an opponent that can’t stop him, why mess with a good thing?

    - Ameer Abdullah ran hard when he had the opportunity. Another year’s tutelage under No. 22 will only end in positive results for the young backups.

    - Taylor’s touchdown lob to Kyler Reed was awfully Tebowesque.

    - Martinez has improved over the season, but it’s been two steps forward, one step back.

    - Props to seniors on the offensive line. This is a unit that's pulled a 180.

    - Lavonte David plays like the entire opposing team has personally wronged him. In other news, the sun rose today.

    - Andrew Green looks remarkably different from game one. We might see brothers playing regularly on offense and defense come next season.

    - Wonder what five things Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt wishes he could’ve brought to Dennard Island.

    - Brett Maher had a 16-yard punt and still ended the game with a near 42-yard average on seven boots.

    - Bowl Prediction of the Week: Capital One vs. Arkansas.

    - Nebraska and Iowa should be playing for a six-foot-long bronzed pitchfork. There, it’s been said.

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    Tags: rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez, kyler reed, lavonte david, andrew green, alfonzo dennard, marvin mcnutt, brett maher, capital one bowl, arkansas, heroes game

  7. 2011 Nov 06

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Northwestern


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By James Stevenson

    Offensive MVP: Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez was the only reason Nebraska was in this game. His completed 28 of 37 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

    He also accounted for nearly half of Nebraska’s rushing yards, carrying the ball 12 times for 53 yards. Martinez was on fire and throwing exceptionally well despite the windy conditions.

    Defensive MVP: Junior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler has attracted more attention with the lack of injured defensive tackles Jared Crick, Thad Randle, and Chase Rome next to him.

    Despite walk-on (and offensive lineman according on Huskers.com) junior Justin Jackson seeing significant playing time next to him, Steinkuhler turned in one of his best games of the year. He recorded nine tackles, including one sack and two tackles for loss, the only such tackles recorded by the “Blackshirts”.

    Northwestern MVP: Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck called his worst game of the season. Knowing he had a banged up I-Back in Rex Burkhead, and two offensive linemen working their way through nicks and cuts (Hardrick and Caputo), Beck’s play calling in short-yardage conversion situations was baffling and often ineffective.

    In the first three quarters of play, the Cornhuskers only converted two of six third or fourth downs situations requiring four yards or less (converting 25 percent on third and fourth down with only two yards to go).

    Nebraska didn’t even pretend the ball was going to someone else than Burkhead or Martinez, with 33 of 34 carries going to the duo. Where was the Diamond formation? Where were the young and healthy running backs? Why do Husker fans have to wait until late in the fourth Quarter to see Kyler Reed catch a pass?

    Missing in Action: Freshman wide receiver Jamal Turner is one of Nebraska’s most dynamic athletes, so where was he? On a day where Nebraska ended up flinging the ball around 37 times, the fact that it’s most shifty and elusive wide receiver wasn’t on the field is inexcusable.

    Burn Notice: Senior defensive back Lance Thorell led the team in tackles with 15. This was in large part because the receivers he was covering kept catching the ball. What happened to the emergence of Stanley Jean-Baptiste?

    Even a converted safety like Corey Cooper might be a better option than watching Thorell get burned all day. (Dis)Honorable mention goes to Ciante Evans for getting torched on an 81-yard touchdown (though the lack of safety support was baffling).

    No Take Backs!: Hope the Blackshirts enjoyed their new jerseys for a week. After giving up 468 yards, averaging six yards gained per play and 28 points, the defense should be back in white this week (all 20 of the individuals in question).

    Going into this game, I would’ve argued that the offense certainly would’ve needed to score 30-plus points to assure victory. The 81-yard touchdown pass hauled in by Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert was the back-breaker for the Blackshirts. It was absolutely inexcusable for a defense that is designed to prevent the big play.

    Triple Threat: Sophomore quarterback Kain Colter lead Northwestern with 115 passing yards on four completions. He also paced the Wildcats on the ground, rushing 17 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. He even showed off his receiving skills, lining up in the slot frequently, and catching another 3 passes for 57 yards. He accounted for 21 of Northwestern’s 28 points.

    Will the Real Nebraska Please Stand Up?: Who is this team? Are they the unit that lost to a 3-5 Northwestern team at home, the one that dominated a (once again) division-leading Michigan State, the one who got exposed in the first half versus Ohio State or the one that dominated the Buckeyes in the second half?

    It’s baffling how inconsistent Nebraska has been this season. It certainly speaks volumes about the lack of depth at key positions with defensive tackle, defensive back, offensive line, and I-back all looking very thin right now. More accurately, the inconsistency sums up and defines the Bo Pelini era at Nebraska. It’ll be fascinating to see which Cornhusker team shows up during every half-game over the next three weeks.

    How Does the Hawkeye Fight Song Go?: Nebraska fans will be the biggest Iowa Hawkeye fans this side of Carter Lake for the rest of the season. Legends Division leader Michigan State visits Iowa City next week.

    A Hawkeye victory would return Nebraska’s destiny to its own hands: win out, and the Huskers could still make the improbable trip to Indianapolis, due to holding the tiebreaker over the Spartans. Michigan State also still has to take a trip to Evanston to face this very Northwestern team on the last weekend of the regular season.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: taylor martinez, baker steinkuhler, jared crick, thad randle, chase rome, justin jackson, blackshirts, tim beck, rex burkhead, yoshi hardrick, mike caputo, kyler reed, jamal turner, lance thorell, corey cooper, cinate evans, kain colter, northwestern, jeremy ebert, iowa

  8. 2011 Nov 03

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Five Most Underutilized Huskers of 2011


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brett Baker

    transitive verb: to utilize less than fully or below the potential use

    I don't have any proof that a coach coined the term "armchair quarterback", but I think it's a reasonable assumption that one probably did. Between football coaches and politicians, I'm not sure who is second guessed more often, but I know which one I'm more interested in.

    Eight games into the 2011 Nebraska football season, we have a pretty good idea of who the team is, but could it be more than what we see? Here are five players that I'd like to see used more than they have to this point.

    5. Defensive End Joseph Carter:

    To say Carter passes the eye test is an understatement. Maybe it's because he wears a single digit jersey number or maybe it's just because he's a huge dude, but if the Huskers needed a comic book super hero cover model, Carter is the guy. Why is this JUCO transfer student underutilized?

    Looks alone don't get it done in the Pelini defense. There's a steep learning curve and rare is the player that can step right in, excel and get the job done (I'm looking at you LaVonte David). That's one factor. Another is production.

    Carter has played in six games and has yet to record a solo tackle. When you get the chance, you have to produce. Here's hoping that Carter gets those chances and makes the most of them going forward.

    4. Quarterback Brion Carnes

    There's a saying in NFL towns that the most popular guy on the roster is the backup quarterback. That's definitely not true in Lincoln (paging Mr. Burkhead, Mr. Rex Burkhead). Carnes is a bit of a victim of circumstance, though.

    The Huskers have only had two games truly in control long enough to let Carnes have any real run: Tennessee-Chattanooga and Minnesota.

    Even so I'd like to have seen a couple special packages and predetermined series for the freshman quarterback. It's better to get experience on your terms than on someone else's.

    3. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste

    When I looked at the stats it kind of surprised me that SJB has played in a mere four games. Such has been the impact of his arrival on the defensive side of the ball.

    Inserted during a crucial stretch of the Ohio State game, the sophomore wide receiver-turned-cornerback came up with a huge interception. Given his position change it's easy to see why it took a while to get him on the field.

    I can't really fault the coaches for bringing him along slowly, but given how well he's done in such a small sample of time, I can't help but wish that he had made the switch as fall camp opened.

    2. Wide Receiver Jamal Turner

    With his electric performance in the spring game, many had summer visions of the slippery fast freshman dancing across the Huskers’ opponents this fall, and he has, to an extent. With just 15 receptions, he's racked up 243 yards receiving. That's a little more than 16 yards a catch.

    Even though he has yet to find the end zone, he has the kind of ability that makes fans simultaneously hold their breath and lose their minds, certain they are about to witness the launch of Johnny Rodgers 2.0.

    That's a lot to put on any player, but Nebraska is not just any other school. That's not why he needs to have a bigger role in Tim Beck's offense, though. Turner is a game breaker that needs touches. I don't care if it's on a bubble screen, reverse or a fly pattern. Get the ball in his hands and turn him loose.

    1. Tight End Kyler Reed

    Would it surprise you to learn that the 2011 preseason All-Big Ten tight end has only started one game?

    It surprised me, but not nearly as much as how absent he's been from the team's offensive attack. Even though he sat out the Minnesota game with a hamstring injury, his numbers are alarmingly off the pace he set last year.

    With just eight receptions in seven games and no touchdowns, the junior will be hard pressed to match his stats from last season (22 catches and a team-high eight touchdowns).

    I'm not going to pretend to know the inner workings of Beck Ball but I've got to think that Reed needs to be a bigger part of the passing game. He can stretch the field and has proven to be a reliable target.

    Hopefully with the meat of the schedule staring the Huskers in the face, Reed can remerge as the weapon he's known to be and find his way off this list.

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas
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    Tags: joe carter, brion carnes, stanley jeanbaptiste, jamal turner, kyler reed

  9. 2011 Oct 29

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Michigan State Gameday Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    If Nebraska wins today’s game, who will be the MVP and why?

    Brian: The Defense. They are being called upon to do something that they haven’t done this year: shut down the pass. SJB and Fonzie need big games, but the supporting cast needs to be just as big. Offensively, the ‘skers can score. I don’t know if they will score enough, but they can put points up.

    Erin: This is a tough question because it really could go any direction. It could go to Taylor Martinez for leading the team and making sure he didn't hold on to the ball most of the game.

    However, if Martinez is passing the ball off, it's likely going to Rex Burkhead, so it could be argued for him to have MVP, especially with a couple of touchdowns. At the same time, we can't forget the defense and Lavonte David could really bring that group together. He would be deserving then.

    So I'll sum it up: If Nebraska wins today's game, one of three people will be MVP - Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, or Lavonte David.

    Greg: When Nebraska wins, there will be an MVP on both sides of the ball. On defense, it will be Dennard. The Spartans will have to throw the ball since their rushing game is anemic. This will be the game where Fonzie puts his stamp on his senior year.

    On offense, it will a player who earns MVP because of his leadership and character. Respect MSU's front seven, maybe even eight at times, and know that the Huskers will likely be put in a position to throw the ball more than usual. Look for a big game from Brandon Kinnie.

    James: Taylor Martinez. In order for Nebraska to win, T-Magic is going to have to play smart, manage the game, and complete high-percentage throws (swings, screens etc) in order to keep the chains moving. If Taylor can keep the chains moving and get Nebraska enough points to win against a salty defense, he will have done his job.

    This will come down to him making good decisions, throwing well, attracting attention from MSU's defenders (and freeing up threats like Jamal Turner and Rex Burkhead), while also hitting some long balls to Kenny Bell and Kyler Reed.

    Brandon: This goes one of two ways. Both Burkhead and Martinez are going to earn Co-MVP honors or whoever successfully operates trickeration will obviously be given the nod. Rex and Taylor are who defenses are going to key in on and take the chance of letting talented, but young players burn them knowing that they’ll likely make mistakes.

    Honestly, I can’t say what or even if Tim Beck will pull any rabbits out of his hat, but this game means too much for anything less than the kitchen sink to be thrown at Michigan State.

    If Nebraska loses today’s game, how should the Cornhuskers regroup/handle the rest of the season?

    Brian: They need to keep going with the season, but realize that it’s now an audition for who wants to start for 2012. Two games back in the division with the tiebreaker out of hand is almost impossible to overcome (especially with MSU’s schedule).

    Even though there are bowl implications, there’s nothing the Huskers can do but try to win out and hope. When it comes to the point that Nebraska is eliminated from division title hopes, then you start to find out what you have/need for 2012. No time like the present to figure that out.

    Erin: I will just say these words over and over to myself while praying to the Gods of football that Michigan State loses to Iowa: "We just have to take each game one at a time. It doesn't matter if we lose this game. Michigan State might lose to someone else. This doesn't have to be a key game for us." - Taylor Martinez

    As for the team, they need to do what we do every week after a game, win or lose: Practice, get better, and win. Yes, Michigan State could lose to someone else. If we happen to lose to them, it's not time to give up. It's time to work harder and be ready.

    Greg: Can't get discouraged. Play every game like they're playing for the Big Ten championship. The chips might fall into place where they still might.

    James: As I outlined in my piece on Wednesday, the season, in terms of winning the Legends Division and reaching the conference championship game, will effectively be over.

    Nebraska should look to get the youth as many reps as possible. We should still try to win the games, of course, but it would effectively be a chance for Nebraska to start building for 2012, and maybe even more importantly for 2013. Maybe the coaches could even hit the road recruiting a bit more during the week to try and shore up some of the deficiencies.

    Brandon: The most beneficial thing would be to give Brion Carnes a 50/50 split in both practice and game situations. Taylor’s the starter and that’s fine, but if he struggles against Nebraska’s remaining opponents, Carnes should be given an equal opportunity to shine. If he beats out Martinez for the starting spot, well, that’s the game of football. If you can’t get the job done, the guy behind you will.

    Starting a youth movement would seem to be the next logical step, but so many starters are already young that it’s basically already happened. 75 percent of the running back depth chart is composed of true freshmen. Nebraska’s got Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa stepping up at receiver. I’d definitely focus on getting Tyler Moore extensive minutes.

    With Crick done and Randle likely out for at least a while, you’re going to see guys like Chase Rome and Jay Guy get more time. It’d be silly to burn linebacker Davis Santos’ redshirt at this point which is something I feel should’ve happened earlier in the year. The secondary’s as green as it can get. Simply put: Work towards 2012.

    If you could add one player from last year’s defensive back seven, who would it be and why?

    Brian: Dejon Gomes. The corners are good, but he was the difference maker in the secondary. Blitzing, coverage, knowledge, etc. You’re seeing it now with him playing in the NFL. Matt O’Hanlon is a close second. He had the physical game and always seemed avoid getting stuck in a bad spot.

    Erin: Prince Amukamara. He had an island and people didn't like to be on it. The secondary misses and needs him.

    Greg: He wasn't a first round draft pick by chance. PRINCE PRINCE PRINCE!

    James: Eric Hagg - in the "Peso" role, he was a gigantic asset. Hagg could cover tight ends, receivers, slot men, running backs, you name it. He also was killer in run defense.

    You'd have to think that if Nebraska still had him, the defense would be a good step stronger than where they are right now, from both the personnel and schematic viewpoints. That said, it'd be hard not to want Prince Amukamara back as well, Nebraska's second cornerback is a guy who played wide-receiver five weeks ago.

    Brandon: The sexy pick is Amukamara, but I’d honestly take Eric Hagg. Amukamara’s a first rounder and would solidify the spot opposite Dennard, but Hagg’s versatility in the defensive backfield would allow him to be moved around and expecting an instant impact wouldn’t be far-fetched.

    How do you feel about Nebraska’s chances going into this game?

    Brian: I would feel a lot better if we had all hands on deck. No Crick or Randle worry me up front on defense to make sure the run game for MSU is non-existent. Nebraska may have to blitz in this game, which is something that Bo doesn't like to do much of.

    Offensively, it’s the same story: Put yourself in good situations and try to find match ups to exploit. Get the ball to the playmakers and help Taylor realize he doesn’t have to do it all.

    Erin: I feel good. I think Sparty is overrated. Everyone is acting like they beat Wisconsin in this huge beat-down when they won in a last minute pass play. I'm happy for Michigan State, but come on, they're not suddenly LSU. Nebraska has just as good of a chance at beating them as they did a month ago. One game for Sparty doesn't change anything.

    If you want to get technical, this is a very familiar situation for Nebraska. Last year the Huskers faced a Missouri team that had come of a huge 36-27 win over No. 1 Oklahoma. The Tigers walked into Memorial Stadium with their heads held high, only to have Roy Helu Jr. going completely crazy, helping rake up a 24-0 score by the end of the first half.

    The game ended 31-17 and the Huskers walked away with the win. Different conference, different team, but the scenario is awfully similar.

    Greg: I'm a healthy blend of confident and cautiously optimistic. Win this game and Nebraska's probably back in the top ten. Lose this game and they're out of the top 15. My confidence levels are in the 80 percent range. GO BIG RED!

    James: I honestly don't know what to think. Nebraska is certainly capable of winning this game if they show up, and show up for four quarters (instead of the typical two we seem to be getting from this bunch). I also don't know what Michigan State team will appear on Tom Osborne Field, they aren't great on the road, and they may be out of juice after the last three weeks.

    If the Michigan State team from last week shows up, and Nebraska from the second half of Wisconsin/first half of Ohio State is on the field, we'll get blown out. I think the answer will be somewhere in the middle, and as such, I expect a close game. Right now, I'm expecting a Spartan win, though.

    Brandon: Nebraska can beat Michigan State, but they absolutely cannot afford another Ohio State scenario. If this turns into a battle of struggling offenses, I’d prefer that over a shootout as Cousins is a far more refined passer. Nebraska would have to lean on Burkhead as Taylor’s a coin flip when it comes to completions unless he checks down to No. 22.

    MSU loves to blitz and if I was scheming against Martinez, I’d try to rattle his cage all day long until he proved to me he could exploit the gaps in coverage. This is where Rex comes in. If he can battle against Wisconsin, he can do so against the Spartans. Beck has a lot of tools at his disposal, but it’s going to come down to crisp execution, and I cannot emphasize this enough, winning the turnover battle.

    Will Nebraska win? Honestly, everything I’ve seen thus far causes me to say no, but knowing what the Cornhuskers are capable of tells me that they can win.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36
    James: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, brandon kinnie, kenny bell, kyler reed, bo pelini, prince amukamara, dejon gomes, eric hagg, brion carnes

  10. 2011 Oct 25

    Husker Heartbeat 10/25: Husker Playmaker Returns, Pelini on Burkhead and Suh Fires Back


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

    - Kyler Reed should be healthy enough to return to action against Michigan State

    - Pelini: Coaches know Burkhead's name; college football fans are a different story

    - Nebraska knows what's at stake in this weekend's season-defining showdown

    - The Huskers brace for a battle in the trenches against the Michigan State Spartans

    - Early bonding pays big dividends as the Husker volleyball team has been on a rampage on their way to No. 1 in the polls

    - Ndamukong Suh fires back at allegations of him being a "dirty player."

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: kyler reed, bo pelini, rex burkhead, volleyball, ndamukong suh

  11. 2011 Oct 23

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Minnesota


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By James Stevenson

    The Cornhuskers disposed of Minnesota with little drama as Nebraska dominated not only the field at TCF Bank Stadium, but also the stands. The Big Red didn’t face a challenge from the worst team in the Big Ten in their 41-14 win, but there were still multiple efforts which stood above the rest and deserve recognition.

    Offensive MVP: The rout was on when redshirt freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell took a pitch on a reverse, then navigated down the sideline with perfect balance and speed for an 82-yard touchdown run. The scoring scamper was the longest touchdown run for a freshman in school history, and was Nebraska’s longest run since 2004. Bell also snagged four passes for 25 yards.

    Defensive MVP: Aside from leading the team with six tackles, senior safety Austin Cassidy made the biggest play of the day for the defense-that-is-yet-to-receive-their-Blackshirts. When Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray fumbled at his own 20-yard line, Cassidy, in his attempt to recover the ball, accidentally kicked it nine yards to the Gopher 11-yard line before scooping it up and returning it for a defensive score.

    Special Teams MVP: After looking at everything, from kickoffs, to field goals, to returners to that made tackles, there wasn’t a standout performance on special teams Saturday. Honorable mention to Brett Maher for scoring 10 points on two field goals and four PATs, but hard to give him the award after a rough day with his punting duties and missing a 52-yard kick in the third quarter.

    Minnesota MVP: MarQueis Gray accounted for 189 of the Gophers’ 254 yards of offense. He threw for 122 yards, and his 67 yards on the ground included a 30-yard rush and a touchdown.

    Workhorse: Despite being banged up during the bye week, junior I-back Rex Burkhead was still the workhorse for the Husker ground game. His fourth time breaking the century mark this season, Burkhead gained 117 yards on 23 carries and rushed for a touchdown,

    12th Man: An announced crowd of 49,187 consisted of an estimated 25-30,000 Nebraska fans. Early in the game, the “Go Big Red” chants drowned out the Minnesota marching band. Husker fans neutralized the road advantage, creating more of a high school or scrimmage atmosphere.

    Missing in Action: After the game, senior offensive tackle Jermarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick joked about several Husker players who found themselves stuck in a Minneapolis elevator on Friday.

    That’s one plausible explanation as to why junior tight end Kyler Reed didn’t see the field on Saturday. One of Nebraska’s most dangerous deep threats, he was sorely missed when the Husker wide receiver corps dropped multiple deep passes from quarterback Taylor Martinez.

    The Cornhuskers will need all of its offensive weapons against a salty Michigan State defense coming off of a historic win against Wisconsin.

    Welcome Back: After not playing in nearly a month due to a leg infection, true freshman I-back Braylon Heard helped run out the clock, averaging six yards a carry on seven totes of the football with a long of 22 yards.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: kenny bell, austin cassidy, brett maher, marqueis gray, rex burkhead, yoshi hardrick, kyler reed, braylon heard

  12. 2011 Oct 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Minnesota Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    What does Nebraska need to work on versus Minnesota both offensively and defensively?

    Brian: Offensively, the Cornhuskers need to do what they have done so far. Let the line earn their ribeyes and stuffed baked potatoes on this one.

    Defensively, get better in base formations and find out if SJB is what the other side of the secondary needs.

    Erin: Offensively, Nebraska just needs to work on playing consistent football. If the offense can replicate the second half of the Ohio State game for an entire game, they will be a force to be reckoned with. For me, it's not about improving the talent or play ability, it's about improving the consistency.

    On the defense, it's going to be all about the secondary. I'm aware Jared Crick is out, but our line will be just fine. Guys like Terrence Moore and Chase Rome will fill the void nicely. The secondary is where the improvement needs to be focused.

    With Stanley Jean-Baptiste's new role at cornerback, it will be crucial for the secondary to rotate players around and find the right fit. Minnesota shouldn't give the defense too much of a struggle, so the secondary needs to take this as an opportunity to grow.

    Greg: Create turnovers on defense. This game gives the Huskers the opportunity to dominate, and they need to do more than just claim a moral victory on defense. From the offense, let's see a perfect game from the offensive line. If they are solid, the offense will have a good day.

    James: Offensively, the biggest opportunity for Nebraska is to continue working on its passing game. Getting Taylor more comfortable in the pocket, going through his progression, and hitting his dump off man will be critical for offensive success against Michigan State and Penn State's strong defenses.

    Defensively, containing and sacking Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray will be the main thing I'm looking for. Nebraska's defensive line hasn't always done the best job in contain against quarterbacks like Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

    Furthermore, both the defensive line and linebackers have missed plenty of tackles either in the backfield, or after the quarterback has taken off. Limiting those mistakes will be important with perhaps the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the country still on the schedule in Michigan's Denard Robinson.

    Brandon: On offense, the Cornhuskers need to work on their rhythm and basic fundamentals. Starting with ball-handling and crisp blocking to effective short and long-range passes, Tim Beck needs to call a game that gets these guys clicking heading into next week.

    On defense, the obvious answer is finding a replacement for Crick whether it’s a lone individual or by committee. What’s more important is strengthening the defensive line as a whole. Nebraska’s going to be facing some punishing rushing attacks including Michigan State’s next week. They need to find a way to at least slow opponents' ground games down.

    Another obvious statement is the secondary, but not just getting Stanley Jean-Baptiste live game action. It would be advisable to work other safeties in as this is going to be the final game on the schedule where Carl and Bo can experiment.

    Will the number of Taylor Martinez's passes outnumber Rex Burkhead's carries?

    Brian: It should, but at the same time, the number of carries by Green/Abdullah/Heard should out number Rex's. Keep Burkhead healthy for the upcoming stretch.

    Erin: I hope not. I have my fingers crossed that it is a nice balance. The ball should only go in the air when it needs to.

    Greg: The only way that happens is if Rex has a massive first half and Bo opts to spell his legs in the second half. Otherwise, all running backs should have a field day.

    James: Yes. From the coach and player comments during the bye week, Rex was pretty nicked and bruised up from being Nebraska's workhorse. The Huskers will need him against stiffer competition, and will utilize the three freshman running backs to carry some of the load and gain experience.

    To further lock this in, Minnesota has one of the worst passing defenses in the conference and country. If there was ever a time to give Taylor Martinez additional reps in the passing game in live game action, this is it.

    Nebraska will need balance against the better defenses they have yet to play, and its borderline criminal how few touches Jamal Turner and Kyler Reed have been getting.

    Brandon: Honestly, I believe so. Minnesota’s a poor football team and if there’s any defense for Taylor to practice his passing against, it’s the Golden Gophers'. I’d look for every range of pass from short out routes to heaves over the Minnesota secondary to Kyler Reed.

    This is also a game where Rex can afford to get some rest. You’ll see him out there, but it’s hard to think that Abdullah, Green and Heard won’t see time, especially if Heard is fully recovered.

    What are three things that Nebraska needs to have seen as a result of this game?


    1.) 400-plus yards rushing. Let the big dogs on the line eat.

    2.) Memorial Stadium North. Revive the memories of Notre Dame Stadium in 2000.

    3.) A good ol' behind the woodshed stomping. Minnesota is not good at all. There’s no reason that past the first 10 minutes of action that this game should be close. These are the games before the Callahan era that we’d just look at them and say “My decent is better than your better."

    Nebraska needs to put their foot on the Gophers' throats, run them out of the building, and get that swagger back before Michigan State comes to down. Put something in Sparty’s head.


    1.) An offensive showing similar to the one against Ohio State. Can the Huskers keep improving? This week will show us.

    2.) A powerful defense. Our defense has been lacking its luster and spark. Someone like Lavonte David has to be tired of it. Can he get the team fired up for good? Let's hope so.

    3.) A big win. I don't think anyone wants to see this game be a close one.

    Greg: I'll let Erin tackle these in her "5 Things to Look for" column.


    1.) Nebraska needs to see Brion Carnes get plenty of playing time in the fourth quarter. He's still just an ankle injury away from being the starter, and he needs more playing experience. This also means Nebraska needs to put Minnesota away early.

    2.) The defense beginning to gel by holding Minnesota to their season average of points, or less. Minnesota benefits from the return of a healthy Gray, but has been averaging 18 points a game thus far. Nebraska is averaging giving up 21. I'd like to see the Huskers hold a team UNDER their season average. This Minnesota team scoring in the high 20s would concern me.

    3.) A set rotation on defense. It's been a merry-go-round in the defensive backfield. Daimion Stafford has played safety and corner, Eric Martin's been at linebacker and defensive end, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste is now playing cornerback.

    Nebraska needs some stability on the defensive roster to help this unit come together and trust each other. The loss of Crick probably hurts this though, as Nebraska will now be tinkering with a defensive line that hadn't blown anyone away even with Crick.


    1.) Confidence on Defense: There needs to be a sense that there is improvement no matter how small. Some momentum will do this unit a world of good. That said, if Minnesota covers the spread, that should be considered a red flag.

    2.) An Effective Passing Game…From Two Quarterbacks: There’s absolutely no reason that Brion Carnes should be on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of this game. There’s no logic in having Martinez under center if Nebraska leads by 35, especially when Carnes needs live action badly if No. 3 goes down.

    3.) Jean-Baptiste Solidify Himself: This could be filed under No. 1, but there needs to be a solid No. 2 opposite Dennard. Even if SJB can be the primary cornerback in a rotation, it would be a step up from the current status quo.

    What is your prediction for Nebraska's final record including any post-season play?

    Brian: If this team can get to 9-3, it’s a successful season. After all we have seen, unless something changes, running the table isn't realistic. There will be one, maybe two losses somewhere down the line.

    Erin: Nebraska will go 9-3, and will be in Indianapolis facing Wisconsin again. I'd even say Nebraska has a post-New Years bowl game to look forward to such as the Capital One Bowl on January 2nd.

    I would be willing to change my overall record depending on whether or not the defense can find its swagger. If they can ignite that spark, our team could be lethal. Until I see that, I'll stand by 9-3.

    Greg: I don't think this team, the way it stands now, is a one-loss team. If they were to face Wisconsin again in Indianapolis, I don't see where enough improvement has been made to beat the badgers. 11-2 with a bowl win.

    James: 10-3 - Without some improvement defensively, I think Nebraska splits the Michigan games, and drops one more to the trio of Northwestern/Iowa/Penn State. They miss the inaugural Big Ten Championship, but a nice trip to the Gator Bowl and a surprising win over an SEC team like Florida is just what the Huskers will need to finish out the season.


    At this point, Michigan State appears to be a toss-up, but the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Edwin Baker along with a stout defense doesn’t bode well.

    Northwestern’s Dan Persa is hobbled and the Wildcats’ leading rusher is out. Michigan’s Denard Robinson will be difficult to be kept in check, but if he can be forced to pass, Nebraska has a solid chance. Penn State’s best weapon is Beaver Stadium and Iowa…well, is Iowa.

    I think the Cornhuskers drop two of those games. If I had to guess, I’d say Michigan State and Michigan simply due to Sparty’s defense and Robinson’s speed. That puts Nebraska at 9-3, but missing out on the Big Ten Championship Game which we may be seeing a preview of this evening with Wisconsin at Michigan State.

    Expect Nebraska to go to the Gator Bowl to face Georgia ending on a 9 or 10-win note.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: stanley jean baptiste, alfonzo dennard, jared crick, terrence moore, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, austin cassidy, jamal turner, kyler reed

  13. 2011 Sep 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Winning Covered Up a Game That Still Stinks


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    John Madden once said, “Winning is a great deodorant.” If that’s the case, then Nebraska used up a lot of Right Guard last Saturday night. The Fresno State Bulldogs should have a decent season. Derek Carr is going to be a player that the Cornhuskers won’t look forward to playing in the coming years, especially in the Silicon Valley.

    Pat Hill had his bunch ready to go and it showed early on. However, the second half showed that this Nebraska team can come out and answer the call on both sides of the ball. Granted, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out for this team to head to Indianapolis in December, much less win the Big Ten’s first championship game.

    Husker fans knew that there were going to be offensive growing pains this year. Regardless of the redundancy in Tim Beck’s first half play calling, the second half showcased several playmakers. Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, Kyler Reed and Quincy Enunwa demonstrated that they’re all studs.

    Ameer Abdullah likely saved the day with his 100-yard kickoff return. Many fans wanted to give this offense an identity off a 20-play script from the spring. Martinez is learning and continues to slowly improve. There were moments of clarity in the first half, but by game’s end, he had statistics that mirrored a performance from the first half of 2010.

    There needs to be trust in Tim Beck’s system. He did something that hasn’t happened in three years in Lincoln. He opened up the playbook and allowed the offense to create its own opportunities. Martinez always has and needs to be an option, not the only option for this offense. Burkhead’s a rock Ameer Abdullah’s stock is rising.

    Kenny Bell displayed a deep threat ability to compliment Kyler Reed and Quincy Enunwa. Jamal Turner is going to be electric if he doesn’t lose the ball in the lights. Those alone represents six other options that are available to help this offense. That doesn’t count Brandon Kinnie, who is certain to get back to his 2010 ways.

    The defense will improve. This season resembles 2008, when the staff and schemes were new. Sure enough, there were growing pains. Losing Alfonzo Dennard hasn’t helped, but the experience for Ciante Evans and Andrew Green will pay dividends. Derek Carr was a good test for this secondary, because Dan Persa and Russell Wilson are both accurate and are quick on their feet. Let’s not forget that Denard Robinson will likely be watching tape of last Saturday’s game.

    Some players need to improve, of course. Justin Blatchford needs to step his game up as does Damian Stafford. Stafford had flashes of brilliance, but needs to be more consistent, like former Huskers Dejon Gomes and Eric Hagg. Austin Cassidy had a few mental breakdowns, but he’ll rebound. Will Compton and Sean Fisher both played well, but not spectacularly.

    The defensive line also played at an average level. If Fresno State was a bad game by Pelini brothers’ standards, is the line in Vegas looking temping with a revenge game against Washington coming up? History encourages betting on Nebraska following a poor defensive performance from Pelini’s bunch. (Of course, this article mentions it for entertainment purposes only)

    Offensively, going against defenses that stack the line of scrimmage seems to be the main problem for this team, so why not use formations that take people out of the box? Perhaps installing play-action for Taylor or using misdirection? Regardless, the bottom line is that when the game clock read all zeroes, Nebraska won.

    It was a victory sparked by a stud named Ameer Abdullah, great second half work by Beck, and a Nebraska team’s realization that this they can’t look forward to anything other than the next play. A triumph that, while not 60 minutes of a Picasso, was better than Monet. Once the pads came off, a 2-0 record is all that mattered.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: fresno state, derek carr, pat hill, tim beck, kenny bell, jamal turner, kyler reed, quincy enunwa, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez, brandon kinnie, ciante evans, andrew green, alfonzo dennard, justin blatchford, daimion stafford, austin cassidy, will compton, sean fisher

  14. 2011 Sep 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Fresno State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - For those of you making Tim Beck/Shawn Watson comparisons, knock it off. Watson would’ve had Martinez throwing slant routes across the middle and handing the ball off to Burkhead in the second half as Nebraska either won by a point or lost.

    - Martinez clearly had his software from OSU 2010 reloaded at halftime, though.

    - Ameer Abdullah: So fast that he can cramp up at the opponent's 45 yard line and still can't be caught.

    - 41 tackles by Will Compton, Lavonte David and Daimion Stafford sounds impressive. Not so much when noted that none caused Fresno State to lose yardage.

    - Anxiously waiting for someone to argue why Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Kyler Reed shouldn’t be Nebraska’s main receivers. Kinnie’s close, but he’s battling his quarterback’s mechanics.

    - Guessing no Heard or Green was because of shift in offensive philosophy in the second half.

    - Derek Carr is much more talented than his brother and was good prep for Dan Persa/Northwestern.

    - Fresno gained almost five yards per rush. Forget Wisky for a moment and remember Washington’s Chris Polk.

    - Brett Maher nailed a 57-yarder in warm-ups. Was somewhat disappointed he didn’t kick that 62-yarder. Also wondering if Alex Henery wasn’t.

    - Burkhead leaping over a goal line pile only lends more credence to his "Superman" nickname. That and his Kryptonian birth certificate.

    - A 33-percent third down conversion rate doesn’t speak well about the entire offensive staff.

    - On the next episode of Ghost Hunters: Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith.

    - Daimion Stafford's going to be absolutely beastly once he hits midseason form.

    - Filed under “Kinda Funny”: Memorial Stadium erupting in cheers for Bo Pelini chewing a ref out.

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    Tags: tim beck, shawn watson, ameer abdullah, taylor martinez, will compton, lavonte david, daimion stafford, jamal turner, kenny bell, quincy enunwa, kyler reed, brandon kinnie, braylon heard, aaron green, derek carr, chris polk, brett maher, alex henery, rex burkhead, p, j, smith, courtey osborne, bo pelini

  15. 2011 Sep 06

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Ten Tips for Taylor Martinez


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brett Baker

    Athletes use clichés as often as a ball fake, a drop step or a juke move. Writers try to avoid them, but fail. Clichés are clichés for a reason. They’re true, and following Saturday’s game, it was clear what a difference a year makes.

    A year ago, Nebraska fans were all riding the high off of the electric debut of quarterback Taylor Martinez. His performance against Western Kentucky sparked a wildfire of enthusiasm and expectation. By the end of the season, that wildfire had been doused by two feet of water and expectation had been replaced with uncertainty.

    Where’s Nebraska, or more perhaps more importantly, where’s Martinez after game one? Snap judgment suggests some improvement. With that in mind, here are ten tips for T-Magic as we go forward:

    10. Be Progressive. B–E Progressive

    Read your progressions better and faster, because it’s the basis for any great quarterback. Start at your primary, work down the reads, and take the best option. That happens in two or three seconds, but they are crucial seconds. Great quarterbacks can move a safety with their eyes alone which can open up a seam for big gains with his speed.

    9. To Know Your Tight End Is To Love Him:

    Kyler Reed was voted to the Big Ten preseason team for a reason. Make him part of the game plan. Phillip Rivers & Tony Romo have made their money by feeding Pro Bowl-caliber tight ends. Do the same and ride Reed all the way to Indianapolis.

    8. Hit 'Em in The Nose:

    Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts shared a great anecdote: Johnny Unitas was playing out his career during Fouts’ rookie year with the San Diego Chargers. Shortly after meeting, Unitas told Fouts to aim for his receivers’ faces.

    Fouts asked the legend why receivers would catch the ball if they had to do it or get a broken nose. While equipment has certainly improvement since 1973, basic human instinct hasn’t. Put a laser on their beak and they’ll get their hands up almost involuntarily.

    7. Sell It:

    One of the great things that Brett Favre did during his career (Yes, he did some great things before his long, slow slide to the middle) was what he did without the ball. After a handoff, he faked a jump pass. It looked silly and he knew that, but it also served a purpose. If he made linebackers freeze for just a second then his running back would have that much more of an advantage.

    6. Build Positives:

    String together a series of downs where the ball is always moving forward. Lean into the play when going down on a short gain. If you can get two or three yards when no one’s open, take them. Be smart and get the ball past the line of scrimmage.

    5. Get Classic:

    With the return of heavy option, Martinez would be well-advised to find Tom Osborne and ask him for some old game tape. Then he should get some popcorn before watching Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier and Scott Frost until his eyes hurt. The option isn't a play, it's a con game made for defenses.

    Doing this requires discipline, repetition and balls of steel. Put all of that together and the option is a pretty lethal weapon in the field general’s arsenal. A pitch to Rex Burkhead in the first quarter was a great example of this. Make that play every play & you’ll be in the pantheon of legendary Huskers.

    4. Be Efficient:

    There are hundreds of choices during every play. Sometimes the necessity of this is choosing the path of least resistance. Martinez needs to master how to live to play the next play as well.

    3. Footwork, Footwork, Footwork:

    This was perhaps the most disappointing part of the quarterback’s game on Saturday. It was pretty obvious early on that he hadn’t really worked on this during the off season. His feet never settled when he dropped back to pass. He needs look no further that the NFL’s current MVP to see what great footwork is about.

    Watch Tom Brady’s feet in the face of an NFL rush. The guy may as well be trying to catch a cab in downtown Boston, and that’s a good thing. There’s no wasted energy, effort or motion. With his body, mind, and feet settled, he’s able to dissect the secondary. Yes, he’s been doing this for a long time, but he had to start somewhere.

    2. Find a Rhythm

    Martinez has no rhythm when he drops back to pass. A well-executed pass play goes like this: Snap, drop, set and throw. It often seems like Martinez isn’t sure what he’s to do in the pocket. Bill Parcells use to run a great drill with Drew Bledsoe when the veteran quarterback was holding onto the ball too long.

    Bledsoe had to find a steady pace to throw and if he didn’t, he’d get an air horn in the ear. The Big Tuna was never known for subtly. What that drill did was instill the speed that his quarterback needed to work at.

    1. Leaders Lead:

    For all of the knocks against Tim Tebow, the one thing that can never be denied is his leadership ability. It’s perhaps the toughest thing to develop in someone that doesn’t naturally possess it. At some point, Martinez has to be the guy that his teammates can look to when times are tough. They have to be able to see in the possibility of reaching their goals in him.

    This trust has to be both real and earned. Athletes can smell a fraud from a mile away. Martinez's sophomore status has little to with anything. This is his third year at Nebraska. Tebow was a leader when he showed up. Throughout his career, Tommie Frazier was not necessarily a well-liked teammate, but he was the epitome of a leader and respected as such. Martinez can get there, but it has to start now.

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas
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    Tags: taylor martinez, tommie frazier, kyler reed

  16. 2011 Aug 16

    Husker Heartbeat 8/16: Martinez Impresses, Kyler Reed Runs Loose and Advice for Pelini


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Taylor Martinez continues to impress in practice and is named to the Manning Award watch list

    - Huskers keep the reins loose on tight end Kyler Reed

    - Freshman running back trio generating excitement

    - Tyler Legate has the look of an old-fashioned Nebraska fullback

    - Seven pieces of advice for Bo Pelini

    - Record-setting linebacker Lavonte David could be even better in 2011

    - Nebraska women's volleyball ranked No. 5 in preseason poll

    - UNL students shoot music video for football rally

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: taylor martinez, bo pelini, lavonte david, tyler legate, kyler reed

  17. 2011 Jul 07

    Husker Heartbeat 7/7: The Big 12 Will Miss Nebraska, NU Among Big Ten Scandals and Another Award Nominee


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Nebraska will miss (and be missed in) the Big 12

    - Have the Huskers joined a conference of cheaters?

    - Tight end Kyler Reed added to Mackey Award watch list

    - Is Nebraska's departure a sign of things to come?

    - ESPN Gameday's no stranger to Lincoln

    - Niles Paul's journal: Pre-draft stress

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    Tags: big ten, big 10, kyler reed, big 12, niles paul, espn

  18. 2011 Jun 25

    Husker Locker Podcast 6/25: Aaron Green and the T-Magic Man


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring ONLY questions asked by you, the Husker Locker fan base.

    - Are Taylor Martinez and Aaron Green becoming fast friends?
    - Nebraska's shiny new gloves
    - Big Ten Nebrasketball
    - The Husker Legacy Statue's move
    - The Peso D in the Big Ten
    - Trouble for Nebraska and Suh via North Carolina?
    - Rankings for Nebraska receivers
    - Why the lack of Eric Martin hype?

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or a message to any of us on Twitter.

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:

    Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: aaron green, taylor martinez, ndamukong suh, john blake, doc sadler, brandon kinnie, kyler reed, eric martin, basketball, podcast, podcasts

  19. 2011 Apr 08

    SPRING FOOTBALL: Tidbits from Taylor


    By HuskerLocker

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    For two years, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez essentially learned one kind of language for Shawn Watson's West Coast/spread hybrid offense.

    So while he might be barking out calls and checks in Tim Beck's no-huddle, simplified attack, he occasionally has that Watsonian terminology or pre-snap routine rattling around in his head.

    “You have to deprogram that whole offense in a three-month period,” Martinez said Friday echoing a term Beck has used several times. “You pretty much have to forget last year. Sometimes I'll try to put one of this year's plays to last year's plays but I try not to do that. The longer it goes on, it gets less and less.”

    Now three weeks into spring camp, Martinez, the frontrunner to win the starting job at quarterback, said the offense is “getting better every day.” The biggest challenge now, he said, is knowing the pace at which the Huskers will operate for a given play, and the wide receiver/running back motions for those plays.

    Running a no huddle attack hasn't been much a problem, Martinez said. NU practiced it each day last fall, and Martinez ran plenty of it in high school.

    “I'm very comfortable with it,” he said.

    When Martinez said last week he'd talk more to the media, he wasn't kidding. He spent more than 20 minutes with reporters Friday in two different sessions, joking and laughing with several. It created a sharp contrast to fan's perception of a remote, diffident Martinez who chose to address the press very much last season.

    Among the tidbits from T-Mart:

    ***His ankle is close to 100 percent, but he feels the occasional twinge on certain cuts.

    ***Five receivers have emerged from the pack to work with the No. 1 unit: Senior Brandon Kinnie, junior hybrid Kyler Reed, sophomore Stanley Jean-Baptiste, redshirt freshman Kenny Bell and true freshman Jamal Turner.

    ***Team chemistry is “closer than it's ever been.”

    “You'll probably hear that from a lot of players,” Martinez said. “It's very important throughout a team – how each other likes one another.”

    ***He said he had “no clue” that Watson was leaving the program until he saw it in the newspaper. He did get to say goodbye.

    Watson's final advice?

    “Stay confident and keep doing what I'm doing,” he said.

    ***Martinez worked a little with Beck prior to the Holiday Bowl on improving his zone reads with running backs. NU's awful offensive line play never allowed that extra work to pay off, but it did give Martinez more of a flavor of what it'd be like to work with Beck.

    “I used to talk to him a lot in practice,” Martinez said. “We were pretty close.”

    Tags: spring football 2011, taylor martinez, shawn watson, tim beck, brandon kinnie, kyler reed, stanley jeanbaptiste, kenny bell, jamal turner

  20. 2011 Mar 28

    Practice Report 3/28: Offense Going No Huddle?


    By HuskerLocker

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    As the Nebraska football team reconvened Monday for spring practice after a 12-day break, more details emerged about the Huskers' new, Tim Beck-coordinated offense.

    Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez – speaking to the media for the first time since November – confirmed the Huskers will use a version of a no-huddle offense that just happens to be similar to the attack Martinez ran at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School. There, Martinez primarily operated out of the shotgun and threw swiftly to his receivers, sometimes within a second of receiving the snap.

    “Some quicker reads,” Martinez said. “And sometimes you'll see deeper routes.”

    Junior tight end Kyler Reed said NU will use hand signals to call plays from the sideline. Wide receivers will no longer shuttle the plays in and out, and Nebraska will rarely form a traditional huddle. The offensive tempo, Reed, said, will vary on the situation.

    “It doesn't have to be high tempo,” Reed said. “It can. It can be like a huddle tempo, too, where we just kinda wander up to the line and get the signal. Or it can be fast. We have to learn the hand signals.”

    That'll take time, Reed said.

    “But we've got all summer, all spring, all camp to learn them,” he said. “It's just repetition.”

    Reed said Beck wants to shift around his skill personnel, too. For example, Reed will play tight end, split out at receiver and could line up as a H-back. Beck wants Nebraska to adjust, Reed said, to different defenses, “so people don't just know by week eight exactly what we're doing.”

    Martinez said the spring break gave him time to study the playbook and retain what he'd already learned. Head coach Bo Pelini said NU spent part of its two-hour Monday workout in Hawks Championship Center in review.

    “They did great,” Pelini said. “It was a little sloppy at first...about where you expect to be during spring ball.”

    Pelini said his team “stayed in shape during the break.” NU returns to the practice field Wednesday. It will not be open to the media.

    Coach Quote: "We have a lot of confidence in Brett. He would have played in a lot of places last year, but he was unfortunately behind a really veteran, really good kicker. We feel real good about where he is." - Head coach Bo Pelini on kicker/punter Brett Maher

    Player Quote: "Coach Fisher's bringing us together a lot closer. Our room's not divided as much. We're really working together. Even though there's competition on the field for playing time, we're really helping each other out. We're 'one' this year. I don't know that there were divisions last year. But I don't know that there was really great leadership. This year, Brandon Kinnie's doing a great job taking over as a leader. He's holding us accountable." - Wide receiver Tim Marlowe on coach Rich Fisher and Kinnie

    Notes: Rex Burkhead was again limited in practice Monday. Coaches had planned on easing Burkhead's workload this season after Burkhead carried the Husker offense during the last half of 2010...Junior tight end Kyler Reed said his younger brother, Dagan, is likely to walk on at Nebraska in the fall. Dagan Reed, a running back, held a scholarship offer from NU last summer but chose not to pull the trigger on it; he didn't choose a school on Signing Day. “I think he wants to come up and earn a scholarship,” Kyler Reed said...The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein and ESPN's Adam Rittenberg were in town Monday to conduct a variety of interviews with Pelini and a number of players.

    Tags: spring football 2011, taylor martinez, kyler reed, dagan reed, rex burkhead

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