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  1. 2012 Apr 02

    Huskers Made April Fools by B1G's Jester

    1,438 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    It almost seemed too easy, didn’t it?

    The Huskers and their new skipper had cruised along to an 18-9 record, were leading the conference and near the top of the country in offense. What a turnaround by Darin Erstad and his crew!

    Perhaps folks jumped the gun in looking ahead to Nebraska’s NCAA tourney at-large bid chances. Maybe they were too willing to look past a shaky starting rotation or Nebraska itself may have been brushing off a bottom-dwelling RPI opponent that plays in a ballpark more fitting a middle-school than a major college baseball team.

    Regardless of initial projections, Nebraska was badly exposed by a Northwestern pitching staff that allowed only seven runs over their final 21 innings of work.

    The Wildcats Saturday starter, freshman Brandon Magallones pitched brilliantly over eight-plus innings, giving up only three runs, the final two coming when he was out of the game.

    As good Magallones was in Northwestern’s 8-4 Saturday win, junior Zach Morton was better. Morton, who played second base against Nebraska on Friday and Saturday, took the mound on Sunday and threw a six-hit complete game while only allowing one run and striking out three.

    The Huskers never had a chance in the game, falling 6-1 and losing their first Big Ten conference series.

    Saturday’s contest would have been closer, had it not been for Nebraska’s infield developing a case of the errors. The six errors the Nebraska infield served up were costly as Northwestern scored eight runs, and not a single one was earned.

    Nebraska had recently been ranked in the nation’s top ten when it came to fielding percentage. That standing is obviously gone, but an elimination of only a few key errors would’ve swung Saturday’s contest and the series in the Big Red’s favor.

    There were clear signs the Nebraska offense was struggling. Chad Christensen went 1-of-12 with nine strikeouts on the weekend. Northwestern struck out 21 Huskers in the first two games and 24 on the weekend.

    The series wasn’t all bad. Michael Pritchard went 5-of-11 at the dish. Tom Lemke had a solid start on Friday, pitching six innings while allowing just three earned runs and recording the victory.

    Jon Keller only allowed three hits in his 3.2 innings of work on Saturday, but five walks combined with the Nebraska errors allowed six unearned runs. Brandon Pierce and Aaron Bummer followed his effort with 4.1 innings of three hit-ball, but again errors bit them for two unearned runs.

    Even Zach Hirsch pitched well on Sunday, going 5.2 innings and allowing just three earned runs, but Dylan Vogt allowed the Wildcats to blow the game open with three more runs, effectively botching the series.

    While Nebraska’s starting pitching has been a glaring weakness, it wasn’t the issue here. The Huskers have lowered their ERA on the year, and gave up only 10 earned runs (3.33/game) over the weekend.

    Their biggest strengths, both defense and offense, abandoned them in key games and vital situations. It was reminiscent of Mike Anderson’s squads.

    The series loss puts Nebraska a game behind Purdue and two games back of Minnesota, which swept Michigan this weekend. It certainly hurts the Huskers’ RPI, and starts putting to bed any notion of Nebraska receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.

    In some ways, that’s freeing. The Huskers still need to compete for one of the top two seeds in the B1G tournament, but otherwise they can focus on improving down the stretch.

    With Nebraska’s pitching being its primary weakness, the first-round bye that comes with the top two seeds will be crucial for Nebraska’s chances to win the conference competition.

    All in all, this is a good reality check for both Nebraska and its fans. The ghosts of Mike Anderson are still lurking. It may take longer than just one year to rebuild the pitching staff, and instill the killer instinct trademarked by the Dave Van Horn teams that assistant Will Bolt played on.

    AROUND THE LEAGUE:

    Conference standings

    Minnesota - 3-0 (16-13)
    No. 28 Purdue - 4-2 (20-5)
    Indiana - 4-2 (12-16)
    Michigan State - 1-1 (16-8)
    3. Northwestern - 3-3 (10-15)
    Nebraska - 3-3 (19-11)
    Iowa - 3-3 (10-14)
    Ohio State- 2-3 (14-11)
    5. Illinois - 1-2 (15-10)
    Penn State - 2-4 (7-18)
    Michigan - 0-3 (12-16)

    Minnesota (16-13, 3-0 B1G) and Michigan (12-16, 0-3 B1G) sat out league play last weekend, but started their conference play with a series that Minnesota swept .

    Purdue won its series against Penn State, but dropped the finale while Indiana took two of three from the Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan and Ohio State split the first two games, and play their finale today (Monday, April 2).

    Illinois sat out conference play this weekend, as the B1G has eleven baseball playing teams (Wisconsin doesn’t field Division 1 baseball).

    - B-HACKS

    - Chad Christensen’s batting average took a hit this weekend, dropping to .358. Only Michael Pritchard (who went 6-of-11 on the weekend) and Pat Kelly (5-of-12) remain over .400

    - The team batting average has been slowly coming back down, and now sits a .320. Opponents are batting .286.

    - All three weekend starters for Nebraska have ERAs above 4.00, with Lemke, Keller and Hirsch claiming 4.13, 4.17 and 4.65 ERAs, respectively.

    - The team ERA has finally dipped below 3.95. Opponents have a 7.38 ERA. Meanwhile, the Team WHIP is at 1.51.

    - Team fielding percentage dropped to .974 after the six error performance on Saturday. The culprits on the infield, Chad Christensen (.961), Kurt Farmer (.911) and Pat Kelly (.895) also represent the three lowest fielding percentages by position players on the team.

    - Nebraska’s road trip ends Tuesday as they visit Manhattan, Kansas to play Kansas State. The Huskers won the first two games at Haymarket Park to take the overall series.

    - A return to Haymarket Park on Friday marks the beginning of a three-game series against border rival Iowa. The Hawkeyes are coming off a weekend series loss to Indiana. The four-game homestand concludes with the first game of this season’s in-state rivalry series against Creighton.

    - Nebraska has only 26 games remaining before the Big Ten tournament. To be a lock for an at-large bid, Nebraska would need to win 21 of those games, though it could potentially make up several of those wins in the conference tournament.

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    Tags: baseball, northwestern

  2. 2012 Mar 31

    The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast (3/31/12) feat. ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

    1,504 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Explore the Archives

    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring questions and topics submitted by you, fans of the Big Red:

    - Nebraska’s QB recruiting situation
    - The importance of the Husker women’s gymnastics title
    - Can Erstad’s crew keep on keeping on at this pace?
    - The Spring Game on BTN: Good thing or great thing?

    ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg stops by and talks:

    - Taylor Martinez's recently hard work in and out-of-state
    - School vs. school scrimmages
    - Nebraska/Northwestern II
    - Will Nebraska have a better/performance in the B1G this season?
    - Rick Kaczenski and Terry Joseph's impact in 2012
    - Nebraska defensive line play
    - Cam Meredith's upcoming season

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or shoot us a tweet.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice: Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: recruiting, gymnastics, baseball, spring game, taylor martinez, cam meredith, northwestern, rick kaczenski, terry joseph, podcast, podcasts, adam rittenberg

  3. 2011 Nov 18

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 11/18: Taking the Big House's Keys

    1,784 views

    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:

    - Will Michigan State fall to Northwestern and put down the red carpet for Nebraska to waltz into Indianapolis?
    - How well could Jamal Turner duplicate the abilities of Denard Robinson?
    - What has been the cause of Taylor Martinez's improvement
    - The panel's favorite Huskers

    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: @eightlaces
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36
    James: @JamesStevenson

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:

    Rob Kugler's Profile


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    Tags: michigan, michigan state, northwestern, denard robinson, jamal turner, taylor martinez, podcast, podcasts

  4. 2011 Nov 11

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 11/11: Entering an Unhappy Valley

    4,125 views

    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:

    - Was the Northwestern game an issue of a team catching on to Coach Beck's schemes or a bad day?
    - Who's running this defense?
    - The future of Carl Pelini
    - Husker Locker's pre-game music of choice
    - A story about how one of the staff may have had something to do with musical changes in Memorial Stadium

    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: @eightlaces
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36
    James: @JamesStevenson

    More info on the Husker Locker intro voice:

    Rob Kugler's Profile

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    Tags: northwestern, tim beck, carl pelini, blackshirts, memorial stadium, podcast, podcasts

  5. 2011 Nov 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mucho Hooch-O - Penn State Under the Microscope

    1,396 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The eleventh edition of Mucho Hooch-O, an audio blog by Husker Locker's own Greg "Hooch" Mehochko, features a regular cornucopia of content.

    Hooch praises those who shined in the Northwestern/Nebraska game, takes a look at the Penn State situation, the lack of Jamal Turner on the field and the Blackshirt quandary.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Follow Greg a.k.a. Hooch on Twitter: @thehooch36
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    Tags: northwestern, penn state, jamal turner, blackshirts

  6. 2011 Nov 08

    Husker Heartbeat 11/08: Stealing Nebraska's Signals, Turner's Work Ethic and Surviving 28 Turnovers

    1,054 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Northwestern was apparently unable to steal Nebraska's signals during last Saturday's game

    - Defensive tackle Chase Rome is eager to step up and reinforce a depleted defensive line

    - Wide receiver Jamal Turner says he needs to improve his work ethic to see the field more often

    - The Nebraska men's basketball team overcomes 28 turnovers to topple Doane College

    - NU Volleyballer Lauren Cook "freaked out" before making a 911 call following her automotive accident

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: northwestern, chase rome, jamal turner, basketball, lauren cook

  7. 2011 Nov 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against Northwestern

    2,397 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    “Maybe we overlooked Northwestern for Penn State.”

    These brutally honest words were uttered by Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez following last Saturday’s 28-25 loss to Northwestern. For fans, the game was a shock. Just before kickoff, Nebraska controlled its Big Ten destiny.

    With a tiebreaker over Michigan State, Indianapolis didn’t seem so far away. By 6:00 PM, things had changed in Memorial Stadium. Fans saw a very different team than the one seen against Michigan State. There were five main areas Husker fans needed to keep an eye on. What did they end up seeing?

    1. Stopping Dan Persa, But Not Kain Colter

    One of the most important things Nebraska’s defense needed to do on Saturday was stop Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa. While the Wildcats use the dual-quarterback approach, it was clear Persa was going to play most of the game as backup Kain Colter watched from the sidelines.

    Things changed in the second quarter when Eric Martin delivered a big hit to Persa, injuring his left shoulder and removing him from the game. It was a very similar scenario to when Ohio State’s Braxton Miller was injured during Nebraska’s recent heroic victory over the Buckeyes.

    However, while familiar, this scenario played out much differently. Colter, a good friend of Nebraska’s Kenny Bell, stepped in and ran like the wind. He proved to be too much for the Blackshirts’ front seven as Northwestern picked up chunks of yardage play after play. It wasn’t pretty and Nebraska showed once again that its defense is a weak link.

    2. A Shaky Secondary (For Some)

    It would be unfair to call the performance of Nebraska’s secondary last Saturday a big flop. In fact, most of the secondary played well.

    The standout player was clearly Austin Cassidy, who intercepted a pass and ran it back for a huge momentum swing in the Huskers’ favor. It was a shining moment for a senior safety that has been battling adversity throughout the season.

    However, the rest of the secondary overshadowed Cassidy’s big plays, and not in a positive way. Through the struggles, Stanley Jean-Baptiste was noticeably absent, while Lance Thorell continuously got scorched.

    Even more surprising, Alfonzo Dennard played a little softer than usual. After such an emotional win against Michigan State, fans saw defensive backs that were clearly worn out. On a positive note, the heart and determination is still there.

    3. Poor Clock Management

    By the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, quarterback Taylor Martinez was poised to make another comeback. He was throwing perfect short passes that were resulting in big gains.

    He then dug down deep and scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. If Martinez had more time left on the clock, he could have scored again, but time was a luxury that Nebraska did not have.

    Northwestern managed the clock phenomenally well on Saturday. The Wildcats knew that the more time they used on offense, the tougher it would become for Nebraska to score.

    With the way the Blackshirts were playing, it was far too easy for Northwestern to run down the clock. As for Nebraska, too much time was wasted. Whose shoulders does this massive error fall on? Unfortunately, this was an issue for the entire team, both offense and defense.



    4. Continued Pressure on Rex Burkhead

    I-Back Rex Burkhead had 15 carries by the end of the first half on Saturday. It was essentially a consensus among the Husker Locker crew's game day thoughts that Burkhead should only have had 15 carries by the end of the game.

    However, it was immediately clear in the first quarter that the game plan mirrored the one against Michigan State: Give the ball to Burkhead.

    While effective against the Spartans, this strategy was ineffective for a couple of reasons. The first being that Burkhead was still tired coming off a 35-carry game against Michigan State.

    It was imperative that Burkhead received a week to rest. Nebraska has three true freshman running backs that easily could have stepped in and taken on more responsibility. All three would watch from the sidelines for the most part.

    The second reason handing the ball to Burkhead was ineffective was due to the offensive line's struggles. With both offensive tackle Yoshi Hardrick and center Mike Caputo limited by injuries, the line often found itself allowing Northwestern big holes that forced Martinez to scramble or Burkhead to get hit.

    There was no room for Nebraska’s stud I-Back to run, who even uncharacteristically fumbled the ball for the first time since the 2010 Holiday Bowl.

    It was at this point that fans saw offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s stubbornness rear its ugly head once again. The game plan was ill-advised and Northwestern took full advantage. With a quarterback throwing a perfect game, the need to hand the ball to Burkhead was baffling.

    Many still point to the fact that it is Beck’s first season as offensive coordinator, but fans will only buy that for so long. Beck needs to stick to what works and go with it. It may not always be what was envisioned originally, but Nebraska saw an offense that can adapt when given the opportunity last Saturday. It simply wasn’t.

    5. An Active and Involved Crowd

    Regardless of last Saturday’s outcome, Nebraska fans were loud and active throughout the game. Constant “Husker Power” chants filled the walls of Memorial Stadium and fans were often on their feet. It was a positive moment for those continuously criticized for not being involved enough.

    The Big Ten is filled with stadiums full of tradition and fans that love their home-field advantage. While not quite on the same level as some, Nebraska fans are starting to find their footing.

    With the help of “Take Back Gameday,” the Cornhusker faithful are taking steps in the right direction. Given the way the crowd reacted against Northwestern, it would be hard to believe Memorial Stadium won’t be rocking against Iowa.

    However, a large criticism would be the amount of fans that chose to leave early based on the score. Those individuals missed an amazing touchdown pass from Martinez to Kenny Bell. It may not have given the Huskers a win, but it was a sight worth seeing. It is unfortunate so many missed it live.

    Nebraska fans are now the biggest Iowa Hawkeye-backers for one week. With a Michigan State loss to Iowa, it could put the Cornhuskers back in the driver’s seat for a Legends division title.

    While a challenge, it is far from impossible. If there is anything Nebraska fans have learned about the Big Ten so far, it is that there are no guarantees. Any given week, a new team could be at the top. Will Nebraska find its way back? As always, time will only tell.

    Join Erin and the other Husker Locker writers on the new and improved forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: taylor martinez, kenny bell, dan persa, kain colter, northwestern, eric martin, blackshirts, austin cassidy, alfonzo dennard, lance thorell, stanley jeanbaptiste, rex burkhead, yoshi hardrick, mike caputo

  8. 2011 Nov 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Evolution of The Nebraska Way

    3,722 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Fans toss the term around like crumpled pieces of paper that eventually find their way to the bottom of a wastebasket. A constant reminder that how things are done at the University of Nebraska are carried out differently or are unique to our state and school.

    Included are: How to treat players, the media, those who to cheer for and how to adhere to it. This is “The Nebraska Way.”

    Somewhere along the line, one very important aspect was lost: How to win using The Nebraska Way. Saturday’s 28-25 loss to a Northwestern team that had far inferior talent than the Big Red (at least on paper) was a glaring example of the issues this team has. The more maddening, almost incomprehensible, other issue is the acceptance of performances like this.

    Some Nebraska fans say that a national championship wasn’t a realistic goal with this team, which is fair. However, with the loss to Northwestern, we made sure that two years are still relevant to Cornhusker football history:

    1999: The last time Nebraska fans bought conference championship shirts. In San Antonio, the Huskers took care of the Texas Longhorns and earned a Fiesta Bowl appearance.

    2002: The last time Husker fans paid for tickets to a BCS bowl game. Even though that team was arguably undeserving of appearing in the national championship game, Nebraska was in the national spotlight.

    The Nebraska Way includes excellence in player recruitment and development. Where has this gone? Ask yourself that as you see Ciante Evans whiff on defending a slant route resulting in an 81-yard touchdown scamper by the visiting team.

    Ask this again as Lance Thorell is torched time after time, and wonder why players such as Corey Cooper, Courtney Osborne, or Stanley Jean-Baptiste sit on the sidelines. Using your depth to maximize your attack on offense, this is The Nebraska Way.

    Where has this commitment gone? It seems a fair question to ponder as Ameer Abdullah, Jamal Turner, Braylon Heard and Aaron Green sit on the sideline as an obviously hurting Rex Burkhead gets bulldozed into a line that provided no daylight. Why is Tyler Moore not logging minutes as Yoshi Hardrick plays on a busted wheel?

    The Nebraska Way also includes taking every game seriously and to strategize accordingly. To be out-schemed, out-coached, and embarrassed on your home turf by a team that quite honestly had no business being on the same field with Nebraska is simply appalling.

    Don’t discredit Northwestern entirely, though. Pat Fitzgerald realized that Nebraska was to be had, kept his foot on the gas pedal and did what Mike Krzyzewski‘s Duke basketball teams are famous for: Running plays that work until the other team proves they can stop them.

    There were bright spots for Nebraska, of course. Taylor Martinez’s passing was a pleasant surprise, as was the play of defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler. However, there are no truly great performances in losses.

    That’s a shame, because the quarterback that several call a liability (author included) was an asset last Saturday, and his performance will be nothing but a random statistic as time rolls on.



    There should be rage over this loss. The defeat in Madison brought screaming, berating, and other rants to sports talk radio, message boards, and social media outlets. However, the tepid, melancholy response to this past weekend’s results is wide-spread.

    This, my friends and enemies, is the scariest thing of all. A sign that after years of expecting conference titles, bowl games played in January and double-digit win totals every season, the Nebraska Cornhusker fan base has come to a point where we’re alright with it.

    Much like we’re alright with a Blackshirt “tradition” that has gone from 11 black practice jerseys hanging in lockers two weeks before the season opener to 20 being handed out come Halloween.

    There was much talk about a Big Ten title in July and early August. That has changed to hoping the Capital One Bowl still is interested in a team that may get one more loss in the next three weeks. However, the feel good crowd will point out that if 2011 ends with nine wins, that result was good enough for Tom Osborne.

    Tom Osborne would have made this 2011 squad realize that there cannot be a single game taken lightly. Even against a team with their sights set on the Pinstripe or TicketCity Bowl. Coach Osborne would have also taken ownership of what happened in front of 85,000-plus first and foremost.

    Then there’s the matter of several students demanding better or even more seating from Osborne that couldn’t make a 2:30 PM kickoff or be bothered to stay around with ten minutes to go as their team needed them.

    How will the Take Back Game Day movement address that little matter? Can’t be beat? Won’t be beat? Do they know if their team was beat in the first place?

    Finally, Osborne would have realized the issues with this team over the last two years. The inability to stop dual-threat quarterbacks, an offensive line and play calling that can easily be liabilities, and the steadfast refusal to start playmakers who, while young, still give Nebraska the best chance of winning.

    There’s no reason to hold anything back in November. Teams that win constantly put the best 11 out on the field. Does anyone think the 1995 national championship season happens if Ahman Green is held back at all?

    Imagine that happening now and you see the frustration some have with Turner, Ameer, Braylon and SJB among others riding the pine.

    Welcome to the new Nebraska Way where losing games that should be afterthoughts are tolerable. Where handing out 20 Blackshirts eight games into a season, three or four losses, and a late December bowl game is considered a successful campaign. Where wins are a team effort, but losses are under-addressed, excuses are made and promptly accepted.

    For the foreseeable future, get used to your surroundings, Husker fans. Take in the atmosphere, and accept it for better or worse.

    Do you feel that The Nebraska Way has been watered down? Discuss it in the new and improved forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: the nebraska way, bcs, ciante evans, lance thorell, corey cooper, courtney osborne, blackshirts, capital one bowl, tom osborne, ahman green, stanley jeanbaptiste, ameer abdullah, jamal turner, braylon heard, aaron green, rex burkhead, tyler moore, yoshi hardrick, northwestern, pat fitzgerald, taylor martinez, baker steinkuhler

  9. 2011 Nov 06

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Northwestern

    2,298 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    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

  10. 2011 Nov 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Northwestern

    1,542 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    Coming off an emotional win, Nebraska looks to improve and continue their path to the Big Ten Championship Game. While Northwestern is not looking like much of an threat to Nebraska, there are still things fans need to be on the lookout for.

    1. Stopping Dan Persa/Kain Colter

    Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa will be a good test for Nebraska’s defense. While it has been argued that Persa is not what he used to be pre-injury, he will still be a challenge for a Cornhusker defense that struggles against a mobile quarterback. If Persa is back to 100 percent, he will test Nebraska in preparation for a much more mobile quarterback like Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

    What fans need to be on the lookout for against Persa is how the Nebraska front seven responds to Northwestern’s rushing offense. Right now, the Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in total offense. This will put the defense in a tough spot to make big plays. If the defensive linemen can continue playing like Blackshirts, Northwestern should not be a big issue.

    2. A Standout Secondary

    The Nebraska secondary looked stellar against Michigan State last Saturday. It was clear that senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back to his old self, while the rest of the secondary stepped up big. It was an all-around shining moment for a struggling defensive backfield.

    However, the secondary has shown too many weaknesses at this point to assume it will be easy to control Northwestern’s pass game. The Wildcats’ passing offense is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten with an average of 244 yards per game. Persa also has a 75 percent completion rate, 1,251 yards through the air and only three interceptions coming into today.

    Fans will be looking for the Cornhuskers to play to the level they did last week. It will be interesting to see if the secondary can continue to earn their Blackshirts, or if Michigan State was a one-hit wonder thanks to Kirk Cousins’ immobility.

    3. Clock Management

    Nebraska has really stepped up in the last couple of games and taken control of the play clock. While having the ball more than their opponents, the Cornhuskers have been developing long drives that not only wear down the clock, but also typically result in points. This is a big step forward for a Nebraska offense that struggled to keep the ball for too long in 2010.

    Today, the Cornhuskers need to continue that pattern of smart clock control. Long drives will keep the ball away from Northwestern and Persa. If Nebraska can continue its good habits when in possession of the ball, the score shouldn’t even be close.

    4. Less Pressure on Rex Burkhead

    While Nebraska fans would love to see a huge game from the junior I-Back, this would be a good week to let the workhorse rest. Coming off of cramps during the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game, Burkhead needs to save his legs for the upcoming weeks. Games against Penn State and Michigan will require him to make a lot of big plays; a game against Northwestern does not.

    Keep an eye out for the younger running backs to get more playing time and experience this week. Between Aaron Green, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard, Burkhead can take a break this week and let the freshman handle some of the load. Will he still be in most of the game?

    Most likely, but don’t expect every ball to be handed to him. Every game matters to Bo Pelini, but this one matters a little less when looking at the big picture as far as Burkhead’s concerned.

    5. An Active and Involved Crowd

    Memorial Stadium was rocking against Michigan State last Saturday. Will the same Cornhusker fans show up against Northwestern? While the more hyped games, such as Ohio State and Michigan State, have brought an electric atmosphere to Memorial Stadium, it will be important to note how the crowds react to Northwestern.

    If the game is a blowout, the crowd should still be involved. While Memorial Stadium is arguably classier than Camp Randall, there is something to be said about Wisconsin’s constant fan involvement. If Nebraska fans can replicate the excitement from Michigan State, it will be a big factor.

    The Big Ten is full of tradition. Nebraska has theirs, but one thing that has been talked about all season for improvement is fan involvement. It has been improving greatly over the last couple of games, but it will be interesting to see how the fans treat this game. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little experience for a team that is about to step into an unfriendly Happy Valley next week.

    Ultimately, Northwestern shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Nebraska. The game will provide some good growing opportunities, while also allowing some areas of the team to rest. It will be a fun game to watch, as the battle of the “NUs” takes place. Fans are guaranteed that.

    What are you watching for as the Huskers take on Northwestern? Tell us all about it in our new forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: northwestern, dan persa, kain colter, rex burkhead, wisconsin, camp randall, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard

  11. 2011 Nov 05

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Week Ten Predictions

    1,801 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Each week, the Husker Locker staff will predict the winners of games around the Big Ten and ones under the brightest spotlights, not to mention the Cornhuskers'. We'll be keeping a tally to find out just who is the preeminent prognosticator of college football at Husker Locker.

    Week Ten: (Predicted winners in bold)

    Brandon
    Last Week: 8/14 (57.1%)
    Overall: 98/133 (73.7%)

    Northwestern vs. Nebraska
    Minnesota vs. Michigan State
    Indiana vs. Ohio State
    Michigan vs. Iowa
    Purdue vs. Wisconsin
    LSU vs. Alabama
    Vanderbilt vs. Florida
    Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
    South Carolina vs. Arkansas
    Arizona State vs. UCLA
    Texas Tech vs. Texas
    Missouri vs. Baylor
    Southern Miss vs. East Carolina
    North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
    Army vs. Air Force
    Troy vs. Navy

    Brian
    Last Week: 8/14 (57.1%)
    Overall: 90/133 (67.7%)

    Northwestern vs. Nebraska
    Minnesota vs. Michigan State
    Indiana vs. Ohio State
    Michigan vs. Iowa
    Purdue vs. Wisconsin
    LSU vs. Alabama
    Vanderbilt vs. Florida
    Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
    South Carolina vs. Arkansas
    Arizona State vs. UCLA
    Texas Tech vs. Texas
    Missouri vs. Baylor
    Southern Miss vs. East Carolina
    North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
    Army vs. Air Force
    Troy vs. Navy

    Greg
    Last Week: 9/14 (64.3%)
    Overall: 87/133 (65.4%)

    Northwestern vs. Nebraska
    Minnesota vs. Michigan State
    Indiana vs. Ohio State
    Michigan vs. Iowa
    Purdue vs. Wisconsin
    LSU vs. Alabama
    Vanderbilt vs. Florida
    Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
    South Carolina vs. Arkansas
    Arizona State vs. UCLA
    Texas Tech vs. Texas
    Missouri vs. Baylor
    Southern Miss vs. East Carolina
    North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
    Army vs. Air Force
    Troy vs. Navy

    Erin
    Last Week 9/14 (64.3%)
    Overall: 91/133 (68.4%)

    Northwestern vs. Nebraska
    Minnesota vs. Michigan State
    Indiana vs. Ohio State
    Michigan vs. Iowa
    Purdue vs. Wisconsin
    LSU vs. Alabama
    Vanderbilt vs. Florida
    Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
    South Carolina vs. Arkansas
    Arizona State vs. UCLA
    Texas Tech vs. Texas
    Missouri vs. Baylor
    Southern Miss vs. East Carolina
    North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
    Army vs. Air Force
    Troy vs. Navy

    James:
    Last Week 9/14 (64.3%)
    Overall: 19/30 (63.3%)

    Northwestern vs. Nebraska
    Minnesota vs. Michigan State
    Indiana vs. Ohio State
    Michigan vs. Iowa
    Purdue vs. Wisconsin
    LSU vs. Alabama
    Vanderbilt vs. Florida
    Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State
    South Carolina vs. Arkansas
    Arizona State vs. UCLA
    Texas Tech vs. Texas
    Missouri vs. Baylor
    Southern Miss vs. East Carolina
    North Carolina vs. North Carolina State
    Army vs. Air Force
    Troy vs. Navy

    Have some predictions of your own? Tell us about them in the new forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Brian: @btbowling
    Greg: @thehooch36
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @JamesStevenson

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    Tags: predictions, northwestern

  12. 2011 Nov 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things the Huskers Must Do To Be Big Ten Champs - No. 1

    1,173 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Ryan Donohue

    - Keep the Momentum

    Through a record-setting comeback, a well-placed bye, a conference cupcake, and a gritty home win over a top 10 team, the Huskers have built themselves quite the upswing in momentum.

    The mission is to keep that momentum from turning into a pendulum that drops Nebraska back down to its post-Wisconsin slump.

    It’s incredibly unlikely Northwestern will spoil the Huskers’ charmed stretch. The following weeks, with back to back road games against Michigan and Penn State, are fine candidates to rain on the Big Red parade.

    Nebraska must not forget this October – and that includes the Wisconsin shellacking – because it’s what fired them up and put them back in the top 10, and in control of their own destiny in the Legends Division. Northwestern should be easy pickings, offering a chance to improve even more on defense and continue to find rhythm on offense.

    Then Nebraska faces its big road tests. Do these Huskers have the mettle to walk into the Big House in Ann Arbor and deliver a loss to a good team with a great quarterback in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd? Can they do the same in Happy Valley, a place that was not so kind to Nebraska the last time around?

    If Tim Beck continues to manage offensive game plan well and the Pelini brothers show that the Blackshirts are back – which won ‘t truly happen until November 12 against Mr. Robinson – then Nebraska will more than earn its shot at all the marbles.

    It didn’t seem possible one month ago, but that was before the Huskers heated up. They need to keep crank that heat up in cold, unfamiliar stadiums. The sweet reward will be a crack at the inaugural Big Ten crown in the warm, cozy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium and toting a conference championship home for the first time in 12 years.

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    Tags: wisconsin, mcihigan, penn state, denard robinson, northwestern, lucas oil stadium, big ten

  13. 2011 Nov 04

    Husker Heartbeat 11/04: Blackshirt Evolution, The No. 2 Cornerback and Iowa-Neb Trophy Chosen

    2,975 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - The Blackshirts have evolved as a motivational tool thanks to Bo Pelini

    - The starting cornerback spot opposite Alfonzo Dennard is still up in the air

    - Northwestern cornerback (and Omaha, Nebraska native) Tim Weak is looking forward to his homecoming

    - The "Corn Bowl" has been voted as the student exchange trophy for the Nebraska-Iowa series

    - Lance Thorell continues the tradition of eight-man football players who've earned Blackshirts

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    Tags: blackshirts, alfonzo dennard, northwestern, tim weak, corn bowl, iowa, lance thorell

  14. 2011 Nov 02

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Blackshirts Aided By Beatdowns and a Break From Stiff Competition

    2,009 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Last Monday, 20 (that’s twenty, not a typo) Nebraska defenders found black practice jerseys in their lockers. Eight defensive linemen and nine defensive backs were among those honored in Bo Pelini’s tweaked version of the Blackshirt tradition.

    While the Huskers certainly earned the right to their black practice jerseys after dominating Michigan State, the resurgence on defense may have as much to do with the competition as with the Blackshirts actually improving.

    There’s no question that Nebraska’s defense has statistically improved since the non-conference schedule. After the debacle at Wisconsin, Nebraska’s was ranked No. 68 in pass defense, No. 58 in pass effeciency defense, No. 64 in total defense and No. 73 in scoring defense.

    Heading into the game against Northwestern this week, those rankings have improved to No 12 in pass defense, No. 23 in pass efficiency defense, No. 29 in total defense and No. 33 in scoring defense.

    That’s some massive improvement. Bo Pelini’s defenses are known for gelling over the course of the season, as players learn to trust each other and the system in his Zone Pattern Match defense.

    For example, the 2010 defense had improved from No. 35 to No. 12 in total defense from the third to the tenth week of the season. The 2009 team improved from No. 50 to No. 9 in the same category.

    The last two seasons prove that Bo Pelini defenses improve during the middle of the season, evolving into the fearsome units he is known for coordinating. The 2011 Nebraska squad seems to be following this pattern, but the competition faced during October is decidedly different than what was seen in the Big 12.

    In 2009 and 2010, Nebraska faced two teams ranked No. 2 in total scoring (Texas Tech in 2009, Oklahoma State in 2010). They usually had another date with a Top 25 scoring outfit (Missouri in 2009 and 2010).

    Unlike those seasons, the 2011 Blackshirts have padded their stats since the Wisconsin game, playing against the Nos. 108, 110, and 66 scoring offenses in Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State, respectively.

    Neither Ohio State (No. 111 passing offense) nor Minnesota (No. 108 passing offense) featured any sort of significant threat against the Huskers’ secondary. Even Michigan State, despite star quarterback Kirk Cousins, was merely average in both total offense (No. 66) and scoring offense (No. 58).

    Aside from the first half against Ohio State, Nebraska did what it should have done against the offenses it faced: shut them down. Over the last ten quarters of play, Nebraska has only given up 24 points. That’s good defense no matter how you slice it.



    The big question that remains going into the November contests is if the Blackshirts can contain a mobile quarterback. Nebraska was exploited early in the season by slippery signal-callers.

    Ohio State’s Braxton Miller gashed the Huskers for big gains before his second half injury. Wisconsin, Washington and Fresno State used rollouts and plays designed to get their quarterbacks on the move and into space effectively.

    Much like Michigan State, two of Nebraska’s upcoming opponents, Penn State and Iowa, don’t feature much mobility at the quarterback position. The real test for the improved Blackshirts will be Northwestern and Michigan.

    The first mobile quarterback will be Northwestern’s Dan Persa. Hampered by an injured Achilles’ tendon, he hasn’t quite returned to his 2010 form. Last week against Indiana, he still rushed for 41 yards on four attempts with his longest gain being 22 yards.

    The Wildcats’ change-up option at quarterback, Kain Colter, is more of a runner than a thrower, and accounted for 38 yards on five attempts gaining 20 yards on his longest run. Northwestern doesn’t sport much of a defense though, which should reduce pressure on the Blackshirts.

    The biggest test will be in two weeks in Ann Arbor. Nebraska will face one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Michigan junior Denard Robinson. “Shoelace” leads the Wolverines in passing and rushing, and is averaging over 100 yards on the ground in his last seven games. If Nebraska can contain Robinson and limit his running ability, they have a chance to win at the Big House.

    For the Cornhusker defense, being able to defend a mobile quarterback will be paramount during the November stretch if they want to win the Legends Division. Given that dual-threat quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Russell Wilson lead two of the three teams that could hypothetically oppose the Huskers in the conference championship game, a conference title may rely on that improvement, as well.

    The Blackshirts have come a long way since that fateful night in Madison, but to win the inaugural Big Ten Championship, they’ll have to step up and prove they can to shut down the conference’s highest-octane signal callers and offenses.

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    Tags: bo pelini, blackshirts, northwestern, dan persa, denard robinson, kirk cousins, kain coulter, ohio state, wisconsin, penn state, iowa, washington, braxton miller, fresno state

  15. 2011 Nov 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Press Conference Notes (Post-Michigan State)

    1,486 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    - On Sunday, Nebraska junior setter Lauren Cook was arrested for driving with a suspended license and fleeing from an accident just before noon. John Cook began the press conference by releasing a statement on the issue, as well as confirming his daughter is still on the team.

    - “Days like this, I wish my kid was a sorority girl. It wouldn’t be that big of an issue then,” Cook said.

    - Cook briefly discussed whether Lauren would play this weekend or not: “We’re working through with how we are going to resolve that. We have procedures in place.”

    - Bo Pelini started the press conference by saying this weekend’s game versus Northwestern will be a nice test for the team, “(Northwestern) has a well though out offense…they do some things that are fairly unique.”

    - For those who believe Pelini had a hand in the defense's performance this past weekend, the head coach said: “I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it takes to play a good defense.”

    - Pelini also talked about the process of attaining individual team goals saying, “You hope that each week you get a little bit better.”

    - Pelini fielded several questions about the Blackshirts, which were handed out Saturday after the game: “I think it’s a great tradition and it’s something we have embraced.”

    - “I don’t really care what people outside think,” Pelini said about the past traditions on Blackshirts. “When you feel the time is right, you go for it.”

    - When asked about his starting quarterback, Pelini said, “I think Taylor has come a long way.”

    - Pelini also praised Martinez’s game management saying, “He’s got that deep voice, like a 70-year-old man when he’s out there.”

    - Pelini finished the press conference by talking about Rex Burkhead and his much needed rest: “He’s actually feeling pretty good today, but we’ll limit him, especially early in the week.”

    - Brandon Kinnie talked about Martinez and his leadership: “It’s been great. It’s been good seeing him grow.”

    - “The tempo is finally coming around,” Kinnie said about the offense.

    - Kinnie said the team has come a long way and the losing to the Badgers brought them together. He also noted it inspired the team to work harder: “After the loss to Wisconsin, we knew we had to win out to get to the Big Ten Championship.”

    - Rex Burkhead admitted he is sore today. When asked where he is the most sore, he said, “Definitely legs, that’s where you get hit a lot during the games.”

    - “I love being out there. I love playing and competing with the guys,” Burkhead said about his team and playing with them.

    - While Pelini spoke about not completely overhauling his mechanics, Martinez said, "I think I have one of the quickest releases in the nation - a lot of coaches have told me that."

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    Tags: lauren cook, john cook, bo pelini, northwestern, brandon kinnie, taylor martinez, rex burkhead

  16. 2011 Oct 16

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions – Bye Week

    5,429 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The original defensive game plan thrown at Wisconsin may work well against Michigan. Robinson’s a great runner, but is an incredibly inaccurate passer.

    - Michigan State’s going to be a tough bunch to beat. Kirk Cousins and Edwin Baker are a cut above what Ohio State brought to town

    - Still not sure if Penn State’s home-field simply doesn’t offer that big of an advantage or if fans have been that apathetic this season.

    - Without running back Mike Trumpy, it’s hard to think that Northwestern has the talent necessary to outlast the Cornhuskers.

    - Did the outcome of yesterday’s slate of games seem just plain weird to anyone else?

    - Florida and Auburn should both be ashamed of yesterday's display.

    - Who had Kansas State sitting at 6-0 halfway through the season in their pool?

    - Usually bye weeks are somewhat refreshing, but this one felt odd. Oh well, back to action as Nebraska takes on a Golden Gopher squad in a game that provides three levels of entertainment: The game, the final score, Jerry Kill’s post-game quotes.

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    Tags: michigan, michigan state, minnesota, jerry kill, kansas state, florida, auburn, edwin baker, denard robinson, penn state, mike trumpy, northwestern

  17. 2011 Jul 01

    Big Ten Preseason Rankings – Legends Division: Part One

    6,711 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Let’s have a look at how the Legends division will flesh out in 2011. The competition in the will be fierce with arguably four teams able to be top dog.



    6. Minnesota

    The 2010 season was a rough one for the Minnesota Golden Gophers who finished with a 3-9 record overall and a 2-6 record in the Big Ten. By the end of the year, head coach Tim Brewster was dismissed and Minnesota was sitting at the bottom - again. Unfortunately, 2011 does not look to be much better for the Gophers.

    While new head coach Jerry Kill is a good fit for the job, he has a tough row to hoe. Minnesota kicks the season off in Los Angeles with a match-up against Southern Cal that almost guarantees to be ugly. While the Golden Gophers will play Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin at home, don’t expect TCF Bank Stadium's home-field advantage to mean much.

    The bright spot is quarterback MarQueis Gray and the nine starters that are returning on defense. With a new coach, senior leadership and potentially strong players, Minnesota has the opportunity to improve. Unfortunately for the Gophers, that development will take more than just one season to bear fruit.

    Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 150/1



    5. Northwestern

    In 2010, Northwestern was an average team. Finishing the year at 7-6, the Wildcats went from a team that won its first five games to a team that lost 35-21 to Penn State after leading 21-0. The offense failed to convert big plays into points and the defense gave up far too many yards in big games. 2010 can only be considered a disappointing year for head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

    Things should be different for the Wildcats in 2011. Northwestern will be returning nine offensive starters, seven defensive starters and two specialists. The talent will be there especially with quarterback Dan Persa who may be one of the conference’s best quarterbacks.

    Fitzgerald will still have a lot of work to do, but Northwestern shouldn’t disappoint. Some even believe that the Wildcats have an outside shot at the Big Ten title. While the odds of that seem low due to the competition in the Legends division, it would be a mistake to overlook Northwestern in 2011.

    Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 40/1



    4. Iowa

    The 2010 season was nothing short of interesting for the Hawkeyes. Rumors ran rampant towards the end of the season of drug use eventually leading to the dismissal of Iowa’s all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

    Shortly after 2011 began, 12 Hawkeye players were hospitalized with kidney ailments that were linked to workouts. It seemed like the drama would never end for Iowa who concluded the season 8-5 in regular play and 4-4 in Big Ten play.

    In 2011, the Hawkeyes should be able to position themselves as a potential contender for the Big Ten championship game. While only returning ten starters from 2010 which is the second-lowest in the nation, Iowa will be looking to fresh talent to face new Big Ten rival Nebraska.

    Iowa lucks out in 2011 with both Wisconsin and Ohio State left off the schedule. While the Legends division will be wide open and Iowa tends to thrive in low-pressure situations, it will still be a year of growth for the team. An 8-4 season seems very realistic for the Hawkeyes.

    Odds of winning the Big Ten Championship: 25/1

    Having already predicted the Leaders division standings, who will stand on top of the Legends?

    Leaders 4-6, Leaders 1-3

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    Tags: legends, minnesota, golden gophers, northwestern, wildcats, iowa, hawkeyes, pat fitzgerald, jerry kill, big ten, big 10

  18. 2011 May 25

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Blackshirts vs. The Big 10 - Part 2

    4,400 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Husker Locker's Brian Towle

    We began an overall look at Nebraska’s upcoming conference opponents last week with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. Today, we look at two more with one being a large question mark and the other a potential pesky team to pick off.

    Minnesota: Jerry Kill was named the Gophers’ new head coach on December 7, 2010 after leading Northern Illinois to three consecutive bowl berths and a MAC title game appearance. Kill put together a solid resume at NIU as he coached the Huskies to a top 25 ranking in rushing, scoring and total offense. At the same time, his defense was in the top third of national rankings in scoring, rushing, passing and total defense.

    Kill’s taking over a team that was admittedly anemic at times checking in at No. 89 in scoring offense and No. 98 in total defense. There’s a lot of promise with the current roster, though. Marqueis Gray was a bright spot at times last year at wide receiver, but he’ll be taking snaps at quarterback for the Golden Gophers this season.

    The running of Duane Bennett is considered another positive. This team did win their last two games against an underachieving Illinois team in Champagne and a great victory against Iowa at home. One of Minnesota’s stinging defeats from last year was Kill's very own Northern Illinois squad coming into TCF Bank Stadium and beating Minnesota 34-23 on September 25.





    Watching NIU film from last year, it will be interesting to see if Kill continues to spreads out his receivers. The Huskies loved to bring the tight end in creating a hybrid H-Back position. In terms of blocking, there doesn't seem to be much difference from what Nebraska does. The Cornhuskers should be able to stop this offense well and having game film pile up during the season will help Nebraska figure out how to best contain Gray.

    Expect Bennett to be used even more than last season as he’s shown big game ability such as his 187-yard performance versus Middle Tennessee State last year. The offensive line has only two starters returning, so pass protection could be an issue for the Gophers.

    Defensively, Minnesota only returns one starting player from the secondary in cornerback Troy Stoudermire, but have a combination of seven players coming back that help man the front seven.

    This could be a lucky year for Nebraska to draw Minnesota away from home. Kill has shown that he can turn programs around in a short time. However, the lack of an offensive line and an inexperienced secondary spell out only a marginal improvement this year. Expect Minnesota to be better than their 3-9 record last year but not by much. It'll be fun to see how Kill can maximize his playmakers versus Pelini's defense.

    Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald did very well last year with his Wildcat squad making it to a New Year’s Day bowl game. Sure, it was the TicketCity bowl vs. Texas Tech, but he also notched wins versus Iowa and at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats did jump out to a 21-0 lead in Happy Valley, but did eventually drop the game to the Nittany Lions 35-21.

    This team always seems to play hard for Fitzgerald on both sides of the ball. They may not have the best players in the Big Ten, but they make up for it by being smart and working their tails off. One of Northwestern’s trademarks is that they’ll play you very hard on the road hence the first half against Penn State last season.



    The Wildcats have perhaps the most underrated returning quarterback of the conference in Dan Persa. He was out with an injured Achilles’ tendon through the spring and only took part in non-contact drills. Persa threw for over 2,581 yards while running for an additional 519 yards in 2010.

    Northwestern has been hurting for rushing yards primarily due to their more "traditional" spread look with 3-plus receivers. The Wildcats return nine players from an offense that averaged almost 27 points per game yet didn’t blow anyone away with yardage numbers.

    On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats return seven players from a defense that got torched at times (35 in a half versus Penn State, 70 total versus Wisconsin). Northwestern lost some experience at linebacker, but Fitzgerald has been pleased with their resolve as a group to get better. One thing that seems to be consistent with the Wildcats’ defense is that once the opposing offense finds something that works, it usually continues to work.

    Northwestern gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter against Michigan State, 21 in the first quarter and 14 in the fourth against Illinois, 35 in the first quarter against Wisconsin, and 14 in the second and third quarters against Texas Tech.

    If Fitzgerald and his crew were anywhere but Northwestern, he would probably be one of the top 10 coaches in the country. The fact that he is at a school that doesn't usually get the most athletic kids in Illinois hurts.

    Nebraska has a big talent advantage that should tilt this contest in the Huskers’ favor. A word of warning: Given the schedule, if Nebraska has an off day this could easily be an upset. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely, but South Dakota State looked like a cream puff at this point last year, too.

    Tags: minnesota golden gophers, northwestern wildcats, jerry kill, pat fitzgerald, marqueis gray, dan persa

  19. 2011 May 25

    Did You Know?: Big Ten Edition Number One

    3,413 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska Cornhusker fans are often regarded as some of the most knowledgeable in the country and we here at Husker Locker want to keep that trend going. Whether you’re in Lincoln for the tilt against Ohio State or heading out to Ann Arbor this season, here are a few nuggets of information that you can take with you to impress the Cornhuskers’ new Big Ten brethren.

    DID YOU KNOW?:

    - Illinois head coach Ron Zook played defensive back for University of Miami (OH) Redhawks from 1973-1975.

    - Indiana was introduced to the game of football by Arthur B. Woodford who originally came to teach the Hoosier student body about political and social sciences.

    - Michigan Stadium a.k.a. The Big House had artificial turf installed in 1969. It was named "Canham's Carpet" after Don Canham, Michigan’s athletic director at the time.

    - The Michigan State Spartans used to be known as the Michigan Agricultural College Aggies

    - The Minnesota Golden Gophers also played in a venue known as Memorial Stadium from 1924 to 1981. During this stretch, Nebraska went 16-19 versus the Gophers. However, the Cornhuskers haven’t lost to Minnesota since 1960.

    - Northwestern had a player grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Tailback Darnell Autry was on a 1995 issue.

    - Not only did Ohio State once have Lou Holtz on staff, but the Buckeyes were eventually defeated by Holtz’s South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2001 Outback Bowl.

    - Like Nebraska, Purdue’s first bowl appearance was in the Rose Bowl. Unlike the Cornhuskers, the Boilermakers were victorious over their opponent, Southern California.

    - 2011 marks Joe Paterno’s 45th season as Penn State’s head coach. When he took over the Nittany Lions’ program, you could secure a car for just over $2,400.

    - Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium was a training ground for the United States’ Civil War. It wouldn’t see its first football game until November of 1917.

    For more tidbits and fun facts, follow us on Twitter: @HuskerLocker and on Facebook

    Tags: illinois, indiana, michigan wolverines, michigan state spartans, minnesota golden gophers, northwestern wildcats, ohio state buckeyes, penn state nittany lions, purdue boilermakers, wisconsin badgers

  20. 2011 Feb 10

    BIG TEN RECRUITING RUNDOWN: No. 11 Northwestern

    1,531 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It's never easy to recruit to Northwestern, but Sam digs deeper to find NW landed pretty solid recruits - including one skill player who could be a big star. Get a 30-day free trial of Locker !

    Tags: recruiting, big ten recruiting rundown, big ten, northwestern

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