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2008 Oct 14
“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.
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