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  1. 2012 Feb 13

    Husker Heartbeat 2/13: Junior Day QB Better Than Martinez?, Erstad Shuts out Skeptics and Sanders Bolts FAU After Two Months


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Junior Day QB visitor: "I think my throwing ability is a little bit better than [Taylor Martinez's]"

    - Josh Banderas, son of former Husker Tom Banderas,is gunning for a scholarship offer this Junior Day

    - Erstad bound and determined to bring wins back to Haymarket Park

    - Former Husker Marvin Sanders sticks around Carl Pelini's FAU staff for two months before bolting to Southern Cal

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: recruiting, josh banderas, darin erstad, baseball, carl pelini, marvin sanders

  2. 2011 Dec 16

    Husker Heartbeat 12/16: SC Native Targets Gamecocks, Marvin Sanders Surfaces and Suh's Shoe Drama


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Several Huskers dig the fast track to a diploma that Nebraska offers

    - South Carolina native DE Joe Carteris looking forward to battling the Gamecocks

    - Former Husker coach Marvin Sanders joins Carl Pelini at Florida Atlantic

    - Lady Nebrasketballers know that they need to crank up the physicality as the season continues

    - Could the untying of shoes have led to the stomping that caused former Husker Ndamukong Suh's recent suspension?

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: joe carter, marvin sanders, carl pelini, ndamukong suh

  3. 2011 Sep 16

    THE OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 9/16: Collaring The Huskies


    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    On the docket:

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

    - Secondary coaching (Marvin Sanders vs. Corey Raymond)
    - Wisconsin and Nebraska in the Top 10
    - How the BCS title game could play out between Oklahoma, the SEC and the Big Ten
    - Brandon Kinnie
    - Washington predictions

    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: marvin sanders, corey raymond, wisconsin, bcs, sec, oklahoma, big ten, brandon minnie, podcast, podcasts

  4. 2011 Feb 05

    COACH SEARCH 2011: 2/5 Update


    By HuskerLocker

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    OK, so we're giving it a name and shoving out updates - including some of our own - until this matter of Nebraska's coaches is resolved.

    As they love to say in the movie review business, here's where we came in:


    Latest Official Update: *Some enterprising sort at UNL decided to post a job for an offensive coach on the school's Web site. It sure reads like an offensive coordinator job. Every major news agency jumped all over it, of course, until head coach Bo Pelini told the OWH's Tom Shatel he didn't know about the job opening and theorized that director of football operations Jeff Jamrog may have posted it for an intern. Later, when the OWH attempted to press director of media relations Keith Mann on who made the job posting, Mann hung up on them. Gonna be a good weekend in Huskerville!

    Potential Candidates: NU running backs coach Tim Beck could be in line for a nice promotion - he's NU's best recruiter and an above-average position coach. Both the LJS and OWH have mentioned Kansas' Ed Warinner - who worked with Beck in 2007 - as a possibility for offensive coordinator but we think he's down the list, perhaps. Oregon's Scott Frost - a former NU quarterback - would likely accept a promotion from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator if Pelini were to offer it. We already knew this; hence, our Case for Scott Frost, which argues that Bo Pelini should pull the trigger and make the offer unless a top name is floating around.

    We think there may be another name - better than Warinner, in our estimation - and we're working on solid confirmation.

    At wide receivers, where Ted Gilmore can't possibly survive Watson's firing, you *may* a shuffling of duties that brings a current Husker assistant in to coach them. Ron Brown seems like the right fit. Brown should have been the WR coach in 2008, when Gilmore should have been relieved of his duties. Brown is an elite WR coach, coveted by at least two NFL teams and Florida State during his stint at Nebraska; why he was merely a tight ends coach for three years baffles us.

    The biggest question on offense seems to be quarterbacks. Shawn Watson was a long-term, solid QB coach. He knew that job well. He developed a variety of mediocre talents into above-average college signal-callers. It's the job for which he is best suited.

    There's no "Watson" on the staff now, and only Frost, a former quarterback, seems to fit inside the parameters of what makes a good QB coach. Beck worked with Taylor Martinez some during Holiday Bowl preparation. But, as Martinez's Holiday Bowl performance showed - it didn't exactly pay off. Cotton can coach QBs - he worked a little bit with Watson in spring and fall camp of 2009 teaching the finer points to Cody Green after practices. But we think offensive line is more natural fit for him.

    Could an intern like Joe Ganz really take that job now? No. Ganz is really smart - an assistant coaching candidate within five years - but not ready to tackle that without Watson working with him.

    So who coaches quarterbacks? That's a bigger question than "Who coaches wide receivers?"


    Latest Official Update: NU has two openings after the resignation of Marvin Sanders. Sanders' opening will be filled within the next week by Corey Raymond. The open linebackers jobs appears headed to Ohio position coach Ross Els. Pelini confirmed both to Tom Shatel Friday night.

    Els is not a terribly sexy name. But - he's a Lincoln native, he's purported to be a good teacher of the game, he fits in well with defensive coordinator Carl Pelini and he may get a crack at coaching special teams. At any job short of coordinator, we're less likely to play the resume game. If Els can coach, he can coach, and if Bo thinks he's the guy over Doug Colman, so be it. Since Raymond probably assumes some pretty aggressive recruiting duties - Sanders was nonchalant at best on the recruiting trail despite excellent communication skills - then Els can probably worry less about locking down a bunch of prospects. He'll also probably work the JUCO routes with Carl Pelini, who has strong contacts throughout Kansas.

    Tags: coach search 2011, scott frost, marvin sanders, shawn watson, ted gilmore, ed warinner

  5. 2011 Feb 03

    INSTANT ANALYSIS: Losing Marvin Sanders


    By HuskerLocker

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    Marvin Sanders' resignation could create a number of changes on Nebraska's defense. As for Sanders' presumed successor, Corey Raymond? Check it out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: marvin sanders, corey raymond

  6. 2011 Feb 03

    Sanders Quits


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska secondary coach Marvin Sanders resigned Thursday afternoon, head coach Bo Pelini said, for "personal and family reasons."

    "Marvin has decided the most important thing for him at this time is to take a break from coaching and spend more time with his family," Pelini wrote.

    “Marvin is an excellent football coach, and he has been a key part of our defensive success here at Nebraska. The success of his secondary on the field speaks for itself, and he has a great rapport with his players and other members of the staff.

    “I am working toward finding a replacement for Coach Sanders, and we will have an announcement on that once the University hiring process is completed.”

    Sanders' replacement is believed to be Corey Raymond, who left the University of Indiana after two months. Previously, Raymond worked at Utah State in 2009 and 2010, and worked under Pelini at LSU in 2006 and 2007.

    See also: Instant Analysis: Losing Marvin Sanders

    Tags: marvin sanders, bo pelini, corey raymond

  7. 2011 Feb 03

    SIGNING DAY: As Changes Loom, Bo Stalls


    By HuskerLocker

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    BREAKING NEWS: Marvin Sanders Resigns

    Imagine a house with a paranoid guy inside it. He locks down everything. Bars on the windows. He buys a security system. He learns the finest self-defense techniques. Occasionally peeks out through the blinds just for good measure.

    Then he gives a key to his good friend and that guy leaves the back door wide open.

    And so it went Wednesday for Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, who carefully worked to keep this bubbling pot of intrigue hidden deep in his administrative kitchen. He hasn't granted an interview in five weeks. He held a Signing Day press conference by phone. Running silent and stoic. Although he was upbeat as he took the phone. Chipper, almost. For him, at least. Hey – it's still one hell of a recruiting class. Even if Bo declines to talk about individual players.

    Just one problem. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson – a Bo friend - announced Wednesday that his secondary coach, Corey Raymond, was leaving the Hoosiers after two months to fill the same role at Nebraska.

    The Hunt for Bo October began.

    Pelini denied he had hired any new coaches, much less Raymond, but he wasn't saying much more than that. Pressed repeatedly by two reporters from the Omaha World-Herald – Mitch Sherman and Dirk Chatelain – Bo ducked and dodged and jabbed like fellow Youngstown native Kelly Pavlik. He avoided the knockout over the last nine minutes of his presser. But he's behind on points, protecting a bruised reputation and in serious need of some offense – in PR.

    “I have not hired any coaches up to this point,” he said first. “But it's been obvious that a defensive position has been open for awhile now.”

    Yes, it is. That's a legally safe answer because it's true, and Bo merely inferred the connection. Although I don't think – nobody does – that Raymond's about to fill the linebackers job.

    Is Marvin Sanders – one of NU's best position coaches – still on the staff? “I'll address any staff questions at another time. This is not the time or the place.”

    When will it be? “I don't really live on timetables...I'll address staff or anything when the time is right. When I feel the time is right. When I think you need to know. Fair enough?”

    Bo's only question of the session was met with a fitting four-second silence, as if every Husker fan listening online or in their car had a chance to answer that question themselves. Just a voice in space, existential, pitching three pennies to its adoring public and calling it a nickel.

    I wonder, if you could have polled all those Husker fans right then, what their answer would have been?


    On his Twitter Page, Bo says the secret to success is “constancy of purpose.” He will stay this course, a lonely throwback on the sea of words, telling the press and NU fans and even new recruits what they need to know when he thinks they need to know it. His journey is being silently underwritten by athletic director Tom Osborne, a kind man and even kinder leader whom, I suspect, values his employee's freedom over micromanagement. Even if his star pupil could use it.

    Is this how Tom would have handled it, staying away from a Big Red Recruiting Dinner in Omaha where three assistants – Sanders, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore – also didn't show up, their collective absence looming larger than an Aaron Green 80-yard run? Would he have allowed rumors about Sanders to fester? The guy who just coached three All-Big 12 players – and an All-American - in the span of two years?

    All Bo had to do Wednesday is hit a single with these questions. To think it out ahead of time and comb over the bald spots. Now, he'd better be prepared to hit a home run whenever he does officially decide the time and place is right to make the first major changes to his staff in four years.

    He just might. I won't underestimate him. Bo sometimes puts himself in a hole, but he's pretty adept at crawling out. And he can still run this town – and the press with it – if he committed to winning them over.

    As it is, the media is slowly tiring of Bo's routine, pressed as they are by readers, listeners and viewers for more answers. The insatiable appetite is out there, in the masses, in the pizza shops and bars and office complexes and churches and cafes and video stores. Maybe it shouldn't be. In fact, I damn well know it shouldn't. I've written it: Pain's in store for Nebraska. We'd best pay closer attention to an exploding budget deficit and a potentially-divisive immigration law than who Bo hires to run his secondary.

    I've also written: Bo can do fans – and the state – a favor with more transparency, access and clarity.

    On Signing Day he gets dragged into a line of questioning for which he seemed unprepared. Why? Who would better know how to manage questions about the coaching staff other than the guy managing it? Is there no clear plan of attack? Did Bo not realize that Wilson would announce staff changes – like most other head coaches do – at his Signing Day press conference? Can he really blame Wilson for managing his program while Bo dawdles to manage a much bigger one?

    Contracts are sensitive. New ones. Potentially terminated ones. Whatever. Fine. Noted. The world marches these days to a beat of legalese. There are ways to talk around these issues without pretending as if they aren't to be discussed in the first place.


    Everyone figured Bo could create a defense out of thin air and some pretty good prospects; and he's done it. He is, for my money, the best defensive coordinator in America. (If Sanders is out – and Bo left the matter dangling in the air, a rabbit for media greyhounds to chase – I won't question the decision. On that side of the ball, Bo knows. The secondary might have been Marvin's Garden – but it was Bo's magical seeds that did the trick.) But he's more than a DC. He is, for the 169th time, a fabulously-well-paid steward serving at the leisure of his boss, Osborne, who serves at the leisure of Harvey Perlman, who serves at the leisure of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's faculty, who work, more or less, for the state of Nebraska. You.

    That inefficient chain-of-command is, in part, to blame. Osborne doesn't meddle. Perlman's like a mamba, and he already had his one poisonous bite after the Texas A&M game. The faculty, I mean, God bless em. And you...you're in the middle. You have the biggest stake, but the smallest part to play. You are actually driving the truck. From the trunk.

    And the beater is beginning to travel into uncomfortable, theoretical territory, where a coach pits his obstinacy of purpose and oblivious-to-culture personality against the news media, which will, as the media tends to do, eventually fracture into differing opinions, agendas, angles and voices. To serve the needs of the people who create those differences.

    It starts with the “if only it were 1973 and three people like me covered the team” faction. It's fueled by local radio rock stars and their cleverly-turned phrases. It continues with the new guard, arrows in their Twitter quiver. The battle is tracked and mediated by a universe of Internet poets, larks and trolls. Message board mavens. Talkback tough guys. Hacks like me, trying spin it into a grander narrative of society, something worthy of Wharton on her worst day. Personally, I like the whole rollicking, rumbling apple cart, gaining speed, pitched forward into the cold, wintery night, with God only knows round the bend.

    But you will know when you get there. That rushing sound you will hear is white noise inside a Big Red vacuum, strangely and hermetically sealed by the one consistent passion of this state: Nebraska football.

    The right words, the right hires, the right time, the right place. All in a red duck's row. Good luck, Bo.

    Tags: signing day, shawn watson, ted gilmore, marvin sanders, bo pelini, football, recruiting

  8. 2011 Feb 03

    Podcast 2/3: Wild Wednesday


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, recruiting, bo pelini, mens hoops, marvin sanders, signing day

  9. 2011 Feb 02

    Bo Denies Coaching Staff Changes


    By HuskerLocker

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    We may know why Bo Pelini didn't want any additional questions asked during his Signing Day teleconference Wednesday.

    During his recruiting press conference earlier this afternoon, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson confirmed that his new secondary coach, Corey Raymond, would instead take a job to coach the same position at Nebraska.

    Asked during his recruiting teleconference about Wilson's statement, Bo said: "I have not hired any coaches at this point." He said he hasn't fired anyone either. When asked when he'd disclose who had hired and fired, Bo said: "When I think the time is right."

    Raymond worked under Bo at LSU in 2006-07. He played at LSU, as well, and spent six seasons in the NFL.

    Prior to his two-month stint at Indiana, Raymond worked at Utah State as a secondary coach.

    See also: The Full Bo Press Conference[/url and [url=http://www.huskerlocker.com/blogs/official/signing-day-free-player-videos-4331]Free Player Videos

    Tags: marvin sanders, bo pelini, corey raymond

  10. 2011 Jan 24

    YEAR IN REVIEW: S Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Our report card for the Nebraska safeties and their position coach, Marvin Sanders. Eric Hagg A Stellar season for the senior Peso, who won Team MVP from his teammates. Terrific, good-natured...

    Tags: year in review, report card, eric hagg, dejon gomes, courtney osborne, austin cassidy, pj smith, rickey thenarse, marvin sanders

  11. 2010 Dec 20

    Husker Heartbeat 12/20: DUI Sidelines Rickey T for Holiday


    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.

    *NU safety Rickey Thenarse gets suspended for the Holiday Bowl after picking up a DUI ticket - among others - after he graduated Saturday.

    Sayeth Bo: "It saddens me to announce that Rickey Thenarse will be suspended for the Holiday Bowl due to a violation of team rules. Rickey is a young man who has faced and overcome as much adversity and tragedy in his life as any person I've known. But he also understands that he's accountable for his actions. Rickey made an unfortunate decision the same night that he reached one of his greatest personal goals by earning his college degree."

    *Mavin Sanders says Courtney Osborne can do more than just tackle and hit. You're kiddin? Slow month at the LJS, apparently.

    *3,900 tickets remain for the Holiday Bowl, so NU is trying a military bowl blitzcampaign. Patriotic guilt. Clever move. I mean, if a terrific promotion, but it ought to be a first resort, not a last one - and the university should gladly send soldiers to the game without asking its fans to do it. Right?

    *LJS Steve Sipple tells you to go see Doc Sadler's crew during the holiday break. Thus far, fans aren't really listening.

    *Former Nebraska wrestler Rulon Gardner will be on NBC's Biggest Loser.

    *Former Nebraska gymnast Burkett Powell died at 38 over the weekend.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, rickey thenarse, courtney osborne, marvin sanders, bo pelini, harvey perlman, ljs sipple, rulon gardner

  12. 2010 Nov 01

    Practice Report 11/2: Martinez, Dennard Held Out


    By HuskerLocker

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    Two of Nebraska's best players – quarterback Taylor Martinez and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard – are “day-to-day” after missing NU Monday practice for entirely different kinds of injuries.

    Martinez sustained an ankle sprain Saturday in the second quarter of the Huskers' 31-17 win over Missouri, head coach Bo Pelini told reporters Monday. Pelini initially called it a “bone bruise,” but revised his injury report after getting more information.

    Pelini said Martinez should practice Tuesday. Zac Lee and Cody Green split reps with the first-team offense in Martinez's absence. Lee replaced Martinez in the Texas and Missouri games.

    “There hasn't been a week where I've let up in my preparation because of the situation,” Lee said.

    Dennard is recovering from a concussion sustained in an accidental hit with teammate Courtney Osborne. Team doctors must OK Dennard's return to the field. Generally, concussed players take a battery of tests throughout the week and emerge symptom-free.

    True freshman Ciante Evans replaced Dennard and “did a great job,” Pelini said.

    “He really rose to the occasion and made some plays out there,” he said.

    Evans consistently covered his receivers despite frequently being tested downfield, but his best play may have been in run support; he stuffed Missouri quarterback 6-foot-5, 240-pound Blaine Gabbert on a third-down-and-goal play. Mizzou had to settle for a field goal.

    “He's not afraid to stick his nose in there,” secondary coach Marvin Sanders said. “You're not looking for your corners to be the Ronnie Lotts of the world, but if they're willing to stick their nose in there, they've got a chance.”

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a shorter, 90-minute practice outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    What’s New: Martinez and Dennard were held out of practice.

    Coach Quote: "The light's been on. I said this earlier in the year: There are five or six guys that I was comfortable with in playing...I had total confidence in them. Through the course of the season these guys earned their opportunities and this past game they've taken advantage of it. It's been happening all year" Secondary coach Marvin Sanders on the progression of Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne

    Player Quote: “With all the tradition that Coach Osborne and Coach Devaney built here, the running football, the smashmouth football, for a running back to get an accolade like that, it's amazing We're proud to be a part of it and for him and what he was capable of doing.” Tight end Ben Cotton on Roy Helu's school rushing record


    *Nebraska will have to explore pay-per-view one more time for the Nov. 13 game vs. Kansas. The contest was not picked up by any network. A traditional 1:00 p.m. start could be an option.

    *Roy Helu was named Big 12 Player of the Week.

    *Cotton said he knows several of the Iowa State players and routinely keeps in touch with ISU senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, who played at Ames High School as a senior when Cotton was a sophomore.

    Barney Cotton coached in Ames for three years as ISU's offensive coordinator.

    “It was a good experience,” Ben Cotton said of living in Ames. “They love their football just like we do here. We've got our work cut out for us.”

    *Sanders said Evans may be the first guy to replace Dennard, but Anthony West could get a look, too. Dejon Gomes and Eric Hagg can play the spot in a pinch. Anthony Blue is out for the season with his second torn ACL.

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Tags: practice report, isu game, taylor martinez, alfonso dennard, ciante evans, marvin sanders, ben cotton, zac lee

  13. 2010 Sep 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Practice Report 9/13


    By HuskerLocker

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    A fast-moving storm temporarily knocked out the lights inside the Hawks Championship Center Monday afternoon, forcing the Nebraska football team to head outside into the elements to finish its first practice in preparation for Washington Saturday.

    “It was a little weird,” left tackle D.J. Jones said. “But we maintained and finished practice. It’s fine. We don’t mind it. It’s football.”

    Head coach Bo Pelini called the workout in shoulder pads and shorts “a typical Monday workout” with “good tempo.” He added that NU’s offensive players responded well to the coaches’ challenge to their improve focus after sloppy play in a 38-17 win over Idaho.

    “We drilled it,” said Pelini, who talked only briefly after practice. “We worked some things in individual. We’ll get it corrected.”

    Safety Ricky Thenarse, who left Saturday’s game with a cramp, returned as scheduled. Cameron Meredith, who played extensively vs. Idaho, practiced as well.

    One with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska practiced for two hours spending the last portion of it outside because a storm knocked out the power inside Hawks Championship Center.

    What’s New: Preparation for a road game, which seems to be one of Pelini’s favorite activities.

    Coach Quote: “Some of our penalties the other day - there were some bad decisions in there. Some unnecessary penalties. But a lot of times it was guys trying to be aggressive or trying to make the extra block and that’s a positive. It comes down to decision-making. You’ve got to know when to and when not to.” Head coach Bo Pelini on NU’s penalties Saturday

    Coach Quote II: “We’ve played in the rain before. It’s not a big deal. It’ll be raining for them too. Kinda expect that when you go out to Seattle from what I understand.” Pelini on a rainy forecast for the Washington game.

    Player Quote: “I keep telling him to stop running with his arms out and stuff…he’s tough. He’s not no punk. He can take some hits. He took some hits in practice. Sometimes he be trying to think like he’s 240 pounds or something running the ball. But he’s not. I applaud him for that. Some other quarterbacks would be scared to do what he do.” Linebacker Eric Martin on quarterback Taylor Martinez.


    ***Martin hadn’t made the defensive calls ever at Nebraska until last Monday, when coaches charged him with learning those calls in an effort to replace Alonzo Whaley on the field.

    “A lot of yelling at me,” Martin recalled of that first day in practice. “Because I wasn’t making the call loud enough. I was saying it, but I wasn’t saying it so everybody could hear me. Coach Carl (Pelini) got mad a few times about it.”

    Martin said he made all of the calls correctly in Saturday’s win over Idaho.

    “I was so worried about it that I took it personal,” Martin said. “And I really was studying for it. And I made all the calls right. It helped me build up my confidence up a lot.”

    ***Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was highly complimentary of Nebraska’s defense during his Monday press conference, calling the not-yet-Blackshirts “as sound of a defense as I’ve seen in 10 years in playing against really good teams.”

    “They’re able to stay close to guys,” Sarkisian said. “There’s not a lot of air, there’s not a lot of room to throw balls. There’s a real onus on the quarterback to understand what coverage it is and anticipate throws.”

    Secondary coach Marvin Sanders took the praise - then brushed it off.

    “That coach speak,” Sanders said. “Steve has seen a lot of good football over there at USC and now at Washington. I appreciate his compliment but I believe we have to continue to improve. I’m not going to let him lull me into believing that we’re any good right now.”

    ***Jones said Nebraska’s offense isn’t far away on some of its mistakes in short yardage situations.

    “We understand that we did wrong - and what we did right,” he said. “It’s not like we don’t know. We understand the things we can get better at…we came out and tried to put our best foot forward toward. We need to keep an excellent tempo.”

    Next Practice: Tuesday. Presser and full pads.

    Tags: bo pelini, practice report, washington week, eric martin, dj jones, marvin sanders, steve sarkisian

  14. 2010 Apr 07

    Husker Heartbeat 4/7: Prince, Nixon and the Hawk, Connie and Blaming Barry Collier


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

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

    Cool? Cool!

    BRN asks: Who’s the fourth running back at NU? We’ll take Lester Ward if somebody above him gets hurt, and Austin Jones for spot plays out of the shotgun on third down.

    *Marvin Sanders toils away at making the already-gifted Alfonzo Dennard and Prince Amukamara more complete players.

    *Do you remember when Nixon, during the Vietnam War, mysteriously (and apocryphally?) confronted protestors at the Lincoln Memorial in the middle of the night? I give you Dan Hawkins, answering the questions of Buff fans in the Denver Post - at length!

    Quoth the Hawk:

    The power and magic of people with a purpose will make it happen. I think the people on campus and in the Dal Ward Athletic Center know what we have done and what we are up against. Every situation has a different boiling point for success, and I believe we are getting closer to that point. We are at a critical point and we need the Buff faithful to be supportive of the program; if everyone rolls up their sleeves and rows in the same direction, we will reach the destination.

    *Lee B’s Big 12 chat, still blaming the Barry Coller era for Doc Sadler’s current struggles. The chat is aces otherwise, but Collier’s bland personality simply cannot translate to every single problem NU has. Sadler had too much success in his first three years to now retroactively point out the grey clouds. (Yes, I prefer "grey"!)

    *Nebraska and Creighton’s softball teams are facing unexpected struggles.

    *Can Connie Yori stage an encore season at NU?

    The quick answer: No. Nebraska should aim to return to the NCAA Tournament, which will be challenge in itself. Baylor and Oklahoma, Final Four participants, will improve, Missouri and Colorado inch forward, Kansas State probably gets back into the NCAA Tourney picture.

    Nebraska has its point guard - Lindsey Moore - and senior leader - Dominique Kelley. But the Huskers need to find consistent scoring in the post - Cathryn Redmon can provide the defense and rebounding, but not the shooting - while getting more out of shooter Kaitlyn Burke than she provided before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. The freshman class looks strong, but it’s asking a lot of it to produce wins right off the bat.

    Look for a slightly softer non-conference schedule.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, richard nixon, dan hawkins, marvin sanders, lee b, prince amukamara, alfonzo dennard, connie yori, softball

  15. 2010 Mar 23

    SPRINGTIME WITH BO: The Prince and Paul


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    When Nebraska wide receiver Niles Paul covered ten yards in 1.40 seconds during winter conditioning - the fastest time in NU history - strength and conditioning coach James Dobson made Paul run again for proof.

    Boom! Another 1.40.

    With a smile at Tuesday‘s spring football press conference, cornerback Prince Amukamara brushed that time off his shoulder.

    “Niles did kill everybody with that ‘10’ time, but - yeah, there’s a but - he’s not going around saying he’s the fastest,” Amukamara said at Tuesday‘s press conference. “If he did, I’d ask him to race.”

    Wait a minute, Paul countered. When the fastest of the Cornhuskers staged races two years ago, “Prince was the only one who didn’t want to race.”

    “So Prince can’t tell me anything about racing,” Paul said.

    This is the friendship between two of Nebraska’s best athletes.

    “We can go downstairs right now and I can see him and we’ll get to talking,” Paul said. “As a matter of fact, we just got into it downstairs. This is how we are.”

    Paul is ripped like Bernard Hopkins - and that’s not an exaggeration - plus 50 pounds, with the straight-line speed of his uncle, Ahman Green. Amukamara, with his wingspan and off-the-chart jumping ability - not to mention his 6-foot-1 frame - is the kind of rangy corner some NFL drool over.

    In drills, in workouts, in games of 7-of-7, in the lunchroom, they’re good at feeding off of each other, talking trash and colliding for jump balls. Iron sharpening iron. Speed quickening speed.

    “He definitely lets me hear it if he beats me on a deep route,” Amukamara said, “and I let him hear it if I get a (pass break-up) on him.”

    Their competitive zeal is fueled by breakout performances during the last half of 2009. Before that, both of them possessed more potential than production. Equal parts “money” - and mistakes.

    Amukamara was “playing too timid” in games, Paul said, after dominating in practice. In a 31-10 loss to Texas Tech, Red Raider receivers zipped past him. He missed a crucial tackle that helped set up a long gain and an eventual touchdown.

    And secondary coach Marvin Sanders rode him about it in “several little talks,” Amukamara said. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini did, too. You don’t know how good you can be.

    “It was hard to distinguish the criticism (from the) encouragement,” Amukamara said.

    Paul was pulled, for a time, from the Missouri game before returning to catch two touchdown passes. But the guilt of bizarre fumbles vs. Texas Tech and Iowa State (a 9-7 loss) crawled into his brain.

    “I let a lot of stuff mess with my confidence,” Paul said. “I doubted my credibility as a player sometimes. I had a lot of talks with Coach (Shawn) Watson and Coach (Bo) Pelini.”

    Sanders, meanwhile, finally broke through to Amukamara, who admitted Tuesday to being “offensive” to his position coach.

    “He had a lot of good things to say but I wasn’t trying to hear it,” Amukamara said.

    But he was listening that night vs. Oklahoma, when he daringly stepped in front of a Landry Jones pass, picked it off, returned it to the 1, and set up NU’s only touchdown.
    One week later, Paul blasted off, making several big catches - and a key kickoff return - at Kansas. Another big catch vs. Kansas State. A punt return for a score - and two crucial third-down grabs - at Colorado. And a long punt return in the Big 12 Championship that should have given Nebraska the deciding touchdown it needed to win.

    They both starred in the Holiday Bowl. Paul caught four passes for 123 yards, a touchdown, and a muscle flex. Amukamara was stunning as a shutdown corner. Arizona couldn’t crack him.

    “Niles went through a huge transformation,” Amukamara said. “His confidence is sky-is-the-limit.”

    Paul paid Amukamara an even higher compliment: “I wouldn’t race Prince in the 40.”

    Then again…

    “I think I can beat him in the 60.”

    What's your take from the Nebraska press conference?

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, prince amukamara, niles paul, marvin sanders

  16. 2010 Feb 16

    Podcast 2/16: Baseball's Optimism in 2010


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, kelsey griffin, mike anderson, bo pelini, carl pelini, marvin sanders, john papuchis, mike ekeler, barney cotton, shawn watson, tim beck, ron brown

  17. 2010 Feb 15

    Pay Bump for Bo, Assistants


    By HuskerLocker

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    According to several news outlets, Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne bumped the base salary for head coach Bo Pelini again on Monday - and sweetened the pot for NU’s assistants - particularly defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.

    Effective Feb. 1, 2010, Bo Pelini will make 2.1 million per year. Last year, he made $1.851 million as a base, although incentives pushed him over $2 million.

    Carl Pelini gets $375,000, while offensive coordinator Shawn Watson gets a small raise to $380,000. Secondary coach Marvin Sanders now becomes the highest-paid non-coordinator, making $250,000 per year. Ted Gilmore, Tim Beck, Ron Brown, and Barney Cotton will make $220,000. Previously, all five, plus Carl Pelini, made $208,360. Watson made $375,000 last year.

    Mike Ekeler and John Papuchis were bumped from $150,000 to $175,000.

    Bo Pelini is now the fifth-highest paid coach in the Big 12, inching just ahead of Kansas’ Turner Gill, who will make $2 million at KU. Bo is just behind Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s $2.2 million base salary. Like OSU, NU and Osborne has chosen to focus more dollars toward the assistant coaching staff than most programs in the Big 12.

    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, marvin sanders, john papuchis, mike ekeler, barney cotton, shawn watson, tim beck, ron brown

  18. 2010 Jan 04

    Commentary: The New Fad - New and Improved?


    By HuskerLocker

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    Air Raid. Spread. No huddle. Zone read. Fly sweep. Wildcat.

    After years of offensive fads in the Big 12, get ready for a defensive one: The Match Read Zone. The name that’s been given to Bo Pelini’s spread-killing defense. A system that’s not easy to get down but - much like a match-up zone defense in basketball - can be hard to crack.

    You can be plenty sure league defensive coordinators have been paying attention to Pelini since he arrived in the Big 12. You can also be sure they took notes as Bo dismantled Texas and Colt McCoy with it.

    Why does it work? Because it’s zone, masquerading as man, taking away the simplest throws for a quarterback. Because it’s aggressive against bubble and tunnel screens. Because Nebraska has the back seven personnel - and the four-man pass rush - to pull it off.

    It’s a perfect storm of sorts that met the two perfectly vulnerable - though normally productive - spread offenses - Texas and Arizona - at the end of the season.

    Bo’s the new fad of the Big 12. With two of the offensive gurus - Mike Leach and Mark Mangino - floating away on rafts made of their own egos, the problem to solve for 2010 won’t be how to stop their passing games. But how to crack Bo Vinci Code.

    Two-tight end formations - which forces Nebraska to replace corners with linebackers - might be part of the solution. Straight power football might be another. With a full season of tape to view, offensive coordinators will begin to chip away at the few weaknesses the Blackshirts possessed in 2010. Washington, armed with a good quarterback (Jake Locker) and even better playcaller (head coach Steve Sarikisian) will pit its West Coast principles vs. Match Read excellence.

    Much like he declared the Huskers back for good after the Holiday Bowl, Pelini has set the bar for his defense, at, oh, only “five times better” than it was this year. Statistically, trust us, it’s basically impossible. So we can presume Pelini is talking experience, expertise and playmaking ability.

    Nebraska looks to have the nation’s best secondary in 2010. Credit Pelini and position coach Marvin Sanders for just about all of it, as Prince Amukamara and Eric Hagg were merely raw prospects in spring 2008, and Alfonzo Dennard, Dejon Gomes and P.J. Smith - all projected starters - weren’t yet on campus. Is it on par with the 2003 unit, Pelini’s first college secondary, that featured three future NFL starters in Fabian Washington, Josh Bullocks and Daniel Bullocks, and led the nation in interceptions? Potentially.

    The front four loses Ndamukong Suh. He will be sorely missed - and don’t let pundits or even the Brothers Pelini attempt to sweep his departure under the rug. Suh was arguably most valuable on screens, draws, shovel passes and backside running plays. A stat nobody kept track of: How many first downs Suh - and Suh alone - saved by peeling back to make downfield tackles. And you can’t teach his instincts for pass defense and finding the ball. What’s left is pretty good. But Suh made that unit dynamic and versatile.

    The warning flags appear to be at linebacker. It was telling that, in the last half of the season, Gomes and Hagg were serving as de facto linebackers on key downs, as opposed to Will Compton and Sean Fisher. Spread passing teams carry light cargo, and allow Nebraska to get away it. But almost half of NU’s opponents in 2010 can and will go heavy. And if Pelini found it necessary to pick up JUCO linebacker LaVonte David, it speaks, potentially, to the health and inexperience of some of the guys behind Compton and Fisher. Eric Martin is a exciting playmaker as a sophomore, but he won’t see the field until he knows the defense.

    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, marvin sanders, john papuchis, mike ekeler, jared crick, dejon gomes, will compton, sean fisher, pj smith, alfonzo dennard, eric hagg

  19. 2010 Jan 04

    7 Questions: Defense in the Offseason


    By HuskerLocker

    Can NU keep its defensive staff intact for one more season? After 2010, all bets are off, because Carl Pelini, Marvin Sanders, John Papuchis and Mike Ekeler could easily be headed for head coach/coordinator roles somewhere. Can Bo Pelini convince them to see through one more potentially championship-winning season? We’ll know for sure in the next two weeks.

    How does Bo adjust to life without Suh? No. 93 can’t be replaced, so that option is out. But the remaining pieces on the defensive line - Jared Crick is chief among them - are pretty solid. Of course NU retains a base four-man look, with Crick at his spot, Terrence Moore plugging the nose, and Pierre Allen and Cameron Meredith crashing on the ends.

    Do Sean Fisher and Will Compton keep developing? We have no reason to think they won’t - but, with at least five offenses on the 2010 schedule requiring a nickel-or-base defense - Washington, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Colorado and Kansas State fit that bill - NU needs two - not just one - of Mike Ekeler’s guys to perform at the level Phillip Dillard reached in 2009. And it doesn’t appear JUCO linebacker LaVonte David will hit the scene until fall.

    How do Mathew May and Matt Holt fit back into the defense? Both injured in 2009 - May played mostly on special teams, Holt didn’t play while recovering from a torn ACL - these two walk-on breakout players of 2008 will have to fight for time in what’s become one of the nation’s defenses. They’ll get a look, because they have the size - and speed - to stay on the field in a dime set as a hybrid linebacker/safety.

    What defensive wrinkles get unfurled in 2010? One option just to chew on: A three-man line that kicks Crick out to a hybrid tackle/end, uses a heftier Meredith at the other end, and sticks Moore - or maybe true freshman Jay Guy at that true nose tackle spot. We suspect Bo and Carl get creative with the players on hand.

    Does Eric Hagg stay at nickel, or rotate back to free safety? And, if the latter, does Rickey Thenarse shift down into Hagg’s role? Thenarse is a wild card best used 10-15 times per game then he left on the field for 60 minutes. The rest of the secondary - Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard at the corners, Dejon Gomes at slot corner, P.J. Smith at strong safety, Austin Cassidy, Lance Thorell and Anthony West as priority backups - seems pretty set. Our take: Keep Hagg where he is, pick your spots with Thenarse, and give Cassidy a long look at Matt O’Hanlon’s starting job.

    Who is this year’s Dejon Gomes? Thad Randle? Alonzo Whaley? Courtney Osborne? Smith? Cassidy? Andrew Green? Jason Ankrah? That’s what’s fun about prognosticating, isn’t it?

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    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, marvin sanders, john papuchis, mike ekeler, jared crick, dejon gomes, will compton, sean fisher, pj smith, alfonzo dennard, eric hagg

  20. 2009 Dec 29

    Podcast 12/29: The Quest for 10 Wins


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, marvin sanders, mbb, adrien coleman

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