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  1. 2011 Jan 20

    Husker Heartbeat 1/20: Recruiting, Senior Bowl, Slauson, The Vest and Doc's Boys


    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.

    The latest in Nebraska's recruiting rankings from the 3 major services, ESPN, Rivals and Scout.

    *NU lands commit No. 17 Ameer Abdullah.

    *How much talent did Nebraska have this year? How about a nation-leading five players to the Senior Bowl? Including Pierre Allen. That much.

    *Former Husker Matt Slauson loves playing with the rowdy Jets - for Bill Callahan, whom Slauson says is completely different in the NFL.

    Answering recruiting questions as Signing Day approaches.

    *The difference between this year's Nebraska basketball team and last year's bunch. Plus - why Doc's defense is working so well right now.

    *The vest knows his business at Ohio State.

    *Texas and ESPN will team up for a 24-hour Bevo Network.Our special comment.

    *You'll hear a lot more about oversigning in recruiting classes this winter - which is a good thing.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, matt slauson, pierre allen, recruiting, doc sadler, mens hoops

  2. 2009 Apr 26

    NFL DRAFT: Glenn First of Three Huskers Taken


    By HuskerLocker

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    He played all of nine games at linebacker, and he spent the last month of his career at Nebraska serving a suspension.

    And yet, NU's Cody Glenn flashed enough potential in that short time span to become the first Cornhusker selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. Glenn went in the fifth round, with the 158th pick to Washington. There - he'll join, aside from highly paid and highly productive London Fletcher - one of the most undistinguished linebacker corps in the league.

    Overall, Nebraska had three players drafted by NFL teams. Offensive guard Matt Slauson was picked up by the New York Jets in the sixth round with the 193rd overall pick. Moribund Detroit selected tackle Lydon Murtha with the 228th pick in the seventh round.

    Glenn is a 6-foot, 244 pounder who spent three years at running back, where he briefly ascended to the top the depth chart midway through the 2006 season before getting hurt on a two-yard touchdown run at Texas A&M. Glenn played sparingly in 2007, relegated by head coach Bill Callahan to fourth string behind Marlon Lucky, Roy Helu and Quentin Castille.

    Glenn approached head coach Bo Pelini about switching positions before spring practice in 2008. He moved to weakside linebacker and picked up the position well enough to play nine games and make 51 tackles.

    Two days after a 45-35 win over Kansas, Pelini suspended Glenn indefinitely for a violation of team rules. It turned out to be for the rest of the season. Local reports never determined the reason for Glenn suspension - Glenn told the Washington Post "I got caught up selling some tickets that I wasn't supposed to be doing." - but he remained on the team roster and appeared, with other graduated seniors, at a charity basketball game and on the sidelines Red/White Spring Game.

    Glenn was tabbed by many analysts as a priority free agent.

    The 6-4, 315-pound Slauson, meanwhile, will reunite with former NU head coach Bill Callahan, the Jets’ offensive line and associate head coach. It was Callahan who offered Slauson the chance at a scholarship out of an Air Force preparatory school when Colorado wouldn’t take the plunge.

    At 6-7, 306, Murtha wowed scouts with impressive physical test scores at NFL Combine, which helped calm fears about an up-and-down career at Nebraska that included two nagging injuries. His new team, the Lions, are sorely in need of a solid offensive line to protect No. 1 overall pick, Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is destined to start the first game for Detroit next fall.

    Potential draftees Zach Potter, Marlon Lucky, Joe Ganz, Nate Swift and others were not selected.

    Ganz signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay, which drafted Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman with its first-round selection. Ganz twice outdueled Freeman in NU wins in 2007 and 2008. Potter signed a free agent contract with the Jets, while Lucky signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Swift signed with Denver and Todd Peterson signed with Jacksonville.

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    Tags: nfl draft, cody glenn, matt slauson, lydon murtha

  3. 2009 Apr 24

    Assessing NU's NFL Draft Prospects


    By HuskerLocker

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    The NFL Draft is set to begin Saturday in New York at 2 p.m.; the first two rounds should take the long day’s journey into late night, while Sunday brings rounds 3-7.

    While a number of Huskers could be selected in the Draft, none are expected to land on that first day; it could be argued that tackle Lydon Murtha or defensive end Zach Potter stand a rare outside chance of it, be we doubt it. But NU should be well-represented on day two, with as many as five or six players getting drafted, and several more finding free agent contracts, if the chips fall the right way.

    Here’s where we at Husker Locker see the former Nebraska players fitting in over the weekend:

    Position rankings, in order, are by NFLDraftScout, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated (out of a 6.0 scale)

    Offensive tackle Lydon Murtha: 6-7, 309 4.78 40-yard
    Ranked: No. 19, No. 14, and 3.39 (“fence player”)
    Round Projection: 4th-7th

    Our take: Murtha missed the equivalent of a whole season of football, and maybe more, to injuries and illnesses. For a tackle, he plays a little high in the running game, and is better chipping a defender and going to the next level than he is clearing out a single guy. Murtha’s draft workouts, especially at the NFL Combine, were terrific, showing off the athleticism and speed that made him a solid pass blocker at NU. It’s a tackle-heavy draft, which may cause Murtha slide into the middle part of day two. We think, by the end of the fourth round, he’ll be gone.

    Defensive end Zach Potter: 6-7, 280, 4.79
    Ranked: No. 15, No. 27, 3.39 (“fence player)
    Round Projection: 3rd-7th

    Our take: Potter is an intriguing prospect that could, one day, become a pretty good offensive tackle if he so wished. Potter’s biggest advantage – and in some ways a slight disadvantage – is his height, which helps him bat down passes and become a general backside nuisance for smallish quarterbacks. That height, though, could make it hard for him to play inside at a defensive tackle position in a 4-3 defense. Potter is plenty tough and technically sound against the run. He’s not a great pass rusher, but if he can keep contain, he collapses a pocket pretty well. We also imagine Potter interviewed well; he’s a natural leader with a good sense of humor, and he’d fit well in an NFL locker room. We think Potter may drop below Murtha, but the fourth or fifth round is a pretty good guess.

    Running back Marlon Lucky: 6-0, 215, 4.52
    Ranked: No. 26, No. 18, 3.34 (“fence player”)
    Round Projection: 6th-7th

    Our take: If used correctly, Lucky could make some NFL team pretty happy. He’s an NFL third-down back from the minute he enters the league, and arguably the most gifted pass-catching running back in the draft. Lucky makes tough catches, runs well in the open field, and generally doesn’t fumble in the open field, either. Lucky is also a polished enough pass-blocker to stay in for protection. Where Lucky struggles is the carry-for-carry grind that is running the football. He doesn’t attack holes, and in the NFL, you need to. He doesn’t break a lot of tackles. He can seem indifferent, as well, to his play on the field. He can get little, nagging injuries, too, like toe problems or chronic headaches. Lucky’s a bit too fine-tuned, sometimes. But when he’s plugged in, he’s pretty good, and we think a team could nab him as early at the fifth round, if the fit is right. Or he could go undrafted.

    Offensive guard Matt Slauson: 6-6, 313, 5.14
    Ranked: No. 19, No. 10, 3.21 (“practice squad”)
    Round Projection: 6th-free agent

    Our take: Whether or not Slauson gets drafted, we predict he’ll make a team’s final roster come fall, because he’s burly, aggressive and not afraid to mix it up. He can move earth on a short-yardage play, if nothing else, and had the versatility to fit in at guard or tackle. He’s not the fastest guard and probably isn’t your first pick to pull, but Slauson can fill in capably should a starter get hurt. The free agent route may suit Slauson better, for then he can pick his team.

    Quarterback Joe Ganz: 6-0, 212, 4.84
    Ranked: No. 44, No. 23, 2.80 (“free agent”)
    Round Projection: Free Agent

    Our take: Ganz doesn’t have a lot of the physical tools you’d like in an NFL QB, but he knows how the play the position, and for a short guy with only a decent arm, he makes quite a few big plays. Excellent leader, learns and knows the offense, rarely audibles into the wrong plays, and has a sixth sense when he’s scrambling outside the pocket. Ganz occasionally makes bad decisions when rolling to his right, and needs to find a rhythm early in the game, or he struggles. He could fit as a third quarterback somewhere. We think he’s better than Zac Taylor, though, for what it’s worth.

    Linebacker Cody Glenn: 6-0, 244, 4.78
    Ranked: No. 34, No. 27, 3.30 (“practice squad”)
    Round Projection: 7th-Free Agent

    Our take: Had Glenn been a linebacker under Bo Pelini for four years, he would possess the seasoning and smarts he’ll need to overcome his average speed and lack of height in the NFL. But Glenn only got one year, and that was cut short by injuries and a still-mysterious suspension. He’s a natural playmaker who instinctively plays the run pretty well, especially on outside edge plays. Decent pursuer of the ball. Likes playing defense. Glenn remains raw and unpolished, and will need to prove himself, for at least one year, on special teams.

    Receiver Nate Swift: 6-2, 203, 4.64
    Ranked: No. 62, No. 46, 3.10 (“free agent”)
    Round Projection: Free Agent

    Our take: With a couple years of learning some crafty moves on how to get open, Swift could become a decent NFL receiver, because he’s excellent after the catch and pretty comfortable making the tough grab, too. Swift runs solid routes and blocks well. His weakness is simple: As a slot receiver – and that’s what he’ll have to be in the NFL it’s all about slipping into space and getting open. Can Swift beat an NFL cornerback or linebacker doing that?

    Tags: nfl draft, lydon murtha, zach potter, joe ganz, nate swift, cody glenn, matt slauson

  4. 2008 Dec 08

    NU Kicks Off Bowl Prep


    By SMcKewon

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    There were so many cameras and reporters at the end of Nebraska’s football practice Monday that one could have easily figured a scandal had just hit the wires.

    Nope. Just the start of NU’s Gator Bowl prep for Clemson.

    Cornhuskers’ Coach Bo Pelini, who won the 2003 Alamo Bowl as Nebraska interim coach and rattled off three straight bowl wins at LSU as defensive coordinator, is confident the plan he’s laid out is, in his words, “smart” – balancing rest and final exams with the intense workouts NU had in the regular season.

    “I’ve had a lot of success in bowl games since I’ve been back in college football,” Pelini said. “Everybody has a different view, everybody has different philosophies. We’ve put together a schedule we think will work for us.”

    Expect a mixture of Clemson preparation, underclassmen work and conditioning done at the Huskers’ usual tempo.

    “When we come to practice, we come to practice,” Pelini said. “There’s only one way we do things. That’s full speed. I think our guys have grown up in that manner, they’ve developed, they understand what we’re asking of them.”

    Offensive guard Matt Slauson welcomed a plan that kept Nebraska sharp for a month while bowl season unfolds methodically over 20 days.

    “You’ve got a month off,” Slauson said. “It’s hard to focus for a month, so you’ve really got to buckle down.”

    Will the Huskers mix in some fun? Sure. Slauson said he considered the trip a “work vacation” that will include some perks and presents. Slauson said he wasn’t entirely sure which gifts the Huskers would get for their presence in the game, but did involve a combination of “Oakley sunglasses, luggage, a watch, the basic bowl stuff.”

    Tags: matt slauson, gator bowl, bolosophy

  5. 2008 Nov 25

    Hello, Bulletin Board


    By SMcKewon

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    (Above: Nebraska offensive lineman Matt Slauson)

    Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh distinctly remembers it as one of the low points of his career, sitting in a locker room in the middle of the Flatirons, realizing he and his Nebraska teammates wouldn’t be heading to a bowl game after the 2007 regular season.

    “And it was dealt to us at the hands of Colorado,” the junior said. “That’s probably the worst.”

    Oh, yes, some of these NU players are recalling the CU rivalry this week. No, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini isn’t busting out a buffalo head and parading it around. There will not be any screenings of “Dances With Wolves.” And Colorado has toned its approach to the game, too. No more “red letter” game on the schedule.

    But hard Husker feelings over last year’s 65-51 Buffalo victory that sent Colorado to the Independence Bowl and Nebraska to its collective dorm room? You bet. Just hard feelings in general. It’s another year of NU-CU.

    “There’s a little bad blood between us,” Suh said. “There always has been and probably always will be. It’s always a team we want to beat.”

    Especially for senior offensive guard Matt Slauson, who has an “extreme distaste” for the Buffaloes that goes back to when Slauson, a Colorado native, was recruited by then-coach Gary Barnett, who told Slauson’s high school coach CU would only offer a scholarship if every other lineman prospect decommitted.

    When Colorado learned Slauson was considering Nebraska, he said CU “disrespected” the Huskers.

    “Being recruited there a little bit, they recruit guys for one reason only,” Slauson said, “and that's to beat Nebraska. So if you take that away from them, they have nothing.”

    Slauson went further, calling CU “irrelevant” in the Big 12 when compared to Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

    He then admitted it was “bulletin board material.”

    Since 2001, Colorado has played in four Big 12 Championship games. Nebraska has played in one.

    A CU team seeking its sixth win and a bowl berth provides a little extra motivation for quarterback Joe Ganz, who called Friday’s contest “a redemption game.” At 7-4, Nebraska has already qualified and is looking toward a spot in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl.

    “The one thing in our mind is ‘see how they’ll like it,’ sitting at home watching everybody else play like we did last year,” Ganz said. “We have to come out and play our best football because we want to do everything we can to keep them out of a bowl like they did to us last year.”

    Said Suh: “It’s a tremendous opportunity. We’d love to do it.”

    Told of Ganz’s comments, Pelini said “I wish Joe would just worry about Joe.”

    “Everybody’s going to be motivated by during things,” Pelini said. “Different things make people tick…I don’t worry about all that. You can want something as much as you want. Your deeds and how you go about things better equate to accomplishing that goal. Ultimately, that game’s going to be decided between the lines.”

    One notable dissenter among Husker players seemed to be senior defensive end Zach Potter.

    “No, I don’t think so,” Potter said when asked if Friday was a “redemption” game. “We’re a completely different team and they’re a completely different team, too. I don’t think it’s redemption at all. Obviously a lot of people say it’s a rivalry. It is rivalry – because we play them every year.

    “ We’re Nebraska – we get everybody’s best shot. Especially Colorado.”

    Tags: colorado week, matt slauson, joe ganz

  6. 2008 Oct 15

    Welcome Back...


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It was in Ames, Iowa – that cozy, windy, math-minded community north of Des Moines - where Nebraska offensive line Barney Cotton spent one of the best years of his coaching career.

    And we’re not even talking about the three seasons he spent as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator.

    “I volunteered at Ames High School and a got a chance to coach my son,” said Cotton, whose son Ben now plays tight end at NU. “And the other two kids, I never missed a game of theirs. I got a chance to rejuvenate myself and got a chance to realize what coaching is all about.

    “It’ll be good to go back there. That was home for four years.”

    Cotton joined the Cyclones in 2004 when then-coach Dan McCarney hired him. When McCarney was fired in 2006, Cotton was not retained by current coach Gene Chizik. Still, he knows many of the ISU players who will line up against the 3-3 Cornhuskers in Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. contest on Versus.

    After the final gun, he’ll seek some of them out, shake their hands and reminisce a little. Cotton handled a similar situation in 2004, one year after he had been Nebraska’s offensive coordinator under Frank Solich.

    Before that, he said, he won’t think much about it.

    “Too much is made out of playing at old school that you worked at,” Cotton said. “When I worked over there and now that I work over here we were working our butt off just to win the football game. You don’t really worry about who you’re gonna play. At least I don’t.”

    No argument from right guard Matt Slauson.

    “He’s been even-keel all year long,” Slauson said. “He’s put no extra emphasis on this game. Every game seems like there’s extra emphasis on it, because that’s the way it needs to be."

    Cotton’s primary concern has been ISU’s defensive line, which has helped caused nine fumbles so far this year. Ends Christopher Lyle and Kurtis Taylor have combined for seven sacks and 15 tackles for losses, comparable to the numbers compiled by Nebraska’s unit.

    It’s a bunch, Cotton said, that got his team’s attention the film room.

    “You see them playing with a lot of energy,” Cotton said. ‘A lot of times that translates to turnovers. They’re playing very hard – especially their pass rushers.”

    Tags: barney cotton, ames, iowa state, wind, math, matt slauson

  7. 2008 Oct 14

    O-Linemen pay for penalties


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It’s not a night in the box or eating 50 eggs, but Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson are adding a little deterrent for every penalty the o-line accrues in upcoming game.

    The gasser.

    “We had to do some conditioning yesterday,” senior guard Matt Slauson said. “We have to run a half gasser for every penalty in the game. So we had to run six. Down and back. Sideline to sideline.”

    For the 37-31 loss to Texas Tech, that’s three false starts and three holding calls for a little more than 600 yards, for those of you imagining at home.

    For penalties NU coaches see in practice, they will assign up-downs or push-ups. The Huskers’ offensive line had a couple of those to endure Tuesday night. The whole line.

    Slauson joked that he would prefer to do the practice punishment than the running that will come after game penalties.

    "I’m not good at running, especially long,” he said. “I’m good at between 0 and 10 yards. That’s really my cup of tea.

    “Really - all jokes aside, you just have to take the punishment the right way whether it’s easy or not, just because you can’t be having drive stoppers like that.”

    Said left tackle Mike Smith: “Coach Watson says he doesn’t know anything else to do except run us.”

    Smith was called for two consecutive holding penalties Saturday that killed Nebraska’s drive right before halftime. NU trailed 17-7 late in the second quarter, but Niles Paul returned a kickoff 70 yards to the Tech 30-yard-line. On two straight plays, quarterback Joe Ganz completed passes for easy first downs; both were called because of flags.

    The second holding penalty, Smith said, was probably called on him in error because he was never told he held on the play and “officials mess up numbers all the time.” Still, Smith said, he had been caught grabbing the defender’s jersey while Ganz was scrambling.

    The flags didn’t just earn Smith some calisthenics; they also led to a seat on the bench in the second half of the Tech game. Jaivorio Burkes replaced Smith, and was listed at the top guy at left tackle in this week’s depth chart.

    Head coach Bo Pelini cautioned reading too much into the change.

    “(Smith) wasn’t the only one who held,” Pelini said. “We had a number of holding penalties. That’s an area of concern and has been. It’s something we’ve stressed and talked about all week. They creep up. It’s just a matter of having enough discipline so when something breaks down or you start to get beat, you can’t reach out and grab. That’s the bottom line.”

    Aside from the penalties, Saturday’s game represented one of the better performances from Cotton’s unit, good enough to eat up 40 minutes of clock and draw ample praise from Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach. Credit fewer line calls and a bunch who continues to learn under Cotton, whose blocking methods and philosophy differ from the Bill Callahan regime.

    Slauson said he was a little disappointed in only 114 rushing yards; he thought the line had created better holes (it did, actually; backs Roy Helu and Marlon Lucky missed a couple of them). After watching the film, Slauson said that some holes were present on plays in which NU chose to throw swing passes to Lucky or screen passes to Nate Swift or Niles Paul.

    There was also a certain fourth-and-one play in which a hole was conspicuously absent.

    “I watched it on film, and I struggle to see what happened, but there definitely wasn’t a hole there,” Slauson said with a rueful smile. “(Tech) ran a great blitz at the right time. Not everybody on that side executed all the way.”

    No gassers for botched short yardage plays. Yet.

    Tags: eggs, paul newman, matt slauson, barney cotton, shawn watson, mike smith, gassers

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