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  1. 2011 Dec 12

    Husker Heartbeat 12/12: Major Money in Play for DC, Bell and Moore Named to All-Freshman Team and Helu Hits One Hundred (Again)

    2,375 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Nebraska might shell out a large chunk of change for their new defensive coordinator

    - The Huskers are headed to Orlando, but it's all business to them

    - Kenny Bell and Tyler Moore make BTN.com's Big Ten All-Freshman team

    - Women's Nebrasketball sets a record with two teammates scoring 30+ in the same game last Saturday

    - Roy Helu cranks out another 100-yard game as one of the Washington Redskins' lone bright spots this season

    - We're giving away a flat screen TV and other great prizes when you sign up for FREE on the Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: kenny bell, tyler moore, roy helu

  2. 2011 Dec 05

    Husker Heartbeat 12/05: Carl Pelini to FAU Prepped, Capital One Travel Tips and Helu Hits One Hundred (Again)

    2,907 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Florida Atlantic is primed and ready to name Carl Pelini its new head coach

    - Capital One Bowl-goers should take to the skies, then hit the road

    - Shatel: Doc Sadler pins his basketball team's to Creighton on his technical foul faux pas

    - The Lady Husker roundballers knock out Texas Pan American

    - Former Husker Roy Helu adds another 100-yard game to his resume

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    Tags: florida atlantic, carl pelini, capital one bowl, doc sadler, creighton, basketball, roy helu

  3. 2011 Nov 29

    Husker Heartbeat 11/29: All Big-Ten Huskers, Pelini on the Road and Helu Named Starter

    1,766 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Rex Burkhead, Lavonte David, Alfonzo Dennard and Brett Maher were all given first-team Big Ten honors

    - Pelini and company turn their attention to recruiting during their period of rest

    - Thanks to the Huskers' victory over Iowa, Habitat for Humanity will be building a house in Omaha

    - The Nebraska volleyballers' first test in the NCAA tournament, Jackson State, is psyched about the wild setting they'll be facing

    - Former Husker Roy Helu, Jr. is officially the Washington Redskins' starting running back

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: rex burkhead, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, brett maher, bo pelini, iowa, volleyball, roy helu

  4. 2011 Nov 07

    Husker Heartbeat 11/07: Blackshirt Talent Infusion, Marlowe's Meaningless Touchdown and Helu's Redskin Record

    2,086 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - The Husker defense needs a talent infusion

    - Wide receiver Tim Marlowe's first touchdown catch wasn't worth the end result to him

    - Junior Ray Gallegos and senior Andre Almeida will both be sitting out Nebraska's exhibition game against Doane College.

    - The Lady Huskers dominated UNK in their exhibition game

    - Former Husker Roy Helu, Jr. sets a Redskins record for most receptions in a game

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: tim marlowe, ray gallegos, andre almeida, roy helu

  5. 2011 Oct 18

    Husker Heartbeat 10/18: Maher's Patient Waiting, NU-MSU Start Time and Could Burkhead Equal Helu?

    5,270 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Junior kicker Brett Maher anxiously awaits his next opportunity to shine

    - Michigan State vs. Nebraska will air on either ABC or ESPN

    - Shatel: Nebraska sticks with tradition over other school's option to glitz things up

    - Jean-Baptiste looks for continued improvement after making a splash versus Ohio State

    - Doc Sadler wants Nebrasketball's offense to be a driving force

    - Does Rex Burkhead grade out similarly to former Husker Roy Helu Jr. for the NFL?

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: brett maher, stanley jeanbaptiste, doc sadler, rex burkhead, roy helu

  6. 2011 Oct 14

    Husker Heartbeat 10/14: Pelini Chastises Booing, Devaney & Osborne Ranked and Helu Breaks NFL RB Mold

    7,757 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Bo Pelini: Memorial Stadium is no place for booing

    - The Legends division race may result in a photo finish

    - The bye week has been the perfect opportunity for the Huskers to heal, adjust and refocus

    - Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne ranked as two of the top college football coaches of all time

    - Ex-Husker Roy Helu is a different type of NFL running back

    - The new hoops/wrestling training facility is officially open

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: bo pelini, roy helu, bob devaney, tom osborne

  7. 2011 Mar 01

    Husker Heartbeat 3/1: Mixed NFL Combine Results

    9,963 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

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


    *A minor calf injury keeps Pierre Allen out of the NFL Combine while Ricky Henry and Keith Williams struggle as well.

    This morning, Prince Amukamara ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the Combine while DeJon Gomes ran a 4.48 and Eric Hagg ran a 4.68.

    *Ahman Green will play in the CFL with Montreal.

    *Elmo - former Nebraska secondary coach Phil Elmassian - heads back to Purdue. Good for him. NU can roast his DBs now.

    *Denard Robinson makes Jeopardy!

    *And now a picture of Gene Chizik feeding bottled milk to a calf draped in a Cam Newton jersey.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, pierre allen, roy helu, prince amukamara, ricky henry, keith williams, eric hagg, dejon gomes

  8. 2011 Feb 28

    Husker Heartbeat 2/28: Spring FB Creeping Closer

    1,515 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

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


    *Will Bo reconsider more than just his take on the Husker offense? That and more in the Husker Monday Takes.

    *LJS Sipple chats Mike Ekeler, the new Indiana defensive coordinator who concurs that Big Ten offenses are much different than Big 12 offenses.

    *As for Big Ten offenses, BRN takes a nifty look at how the 2010 NU offense and 2007 Kansas offense would have stacked up in the league rankings.

    *ESPN offers a Big Ten spring football primer. The Nebraska writeup:

    New vision on offense: Nebraska likely will have a championship-level defense in 2011, but will the offense bounce back from a poor finish to last season? Tim Beck is the man pegged to get things back on track. Coach Bo Pelini promoted Beck to offensive coordinator, and Beck will begin to implement his vision for the unit this spring. Nebraska figures to stick with the spread, but what version Beck wants to use remains to be seen.

    The quarterbacks: Taylor Martinez stiff-armed the transfer rumors, and in January said he looked forward "getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back." The big question: Will he also get his job back as Nebraska's starting quarterback? Martinez can help himself with a strong spring, but Cody Green also is in the mix and things could get very interesting if Bubba Starling decides to stick with football rather than pursue a pro baseball career.

    New faces on staff: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired three new assistants: Corey Raymond (secondary), Ross Els (linebackers) and Rich Fisher (receivers). Raymond takes over a talented group that must replace three standout players, including cornerback Prince Amukamara. It'll be interesting to watch Fisher, who most recently coached in high school and also served as a golf teacher, as he transitions back to big-time football.


    *Prince Amukamara makes his case for being a top ten prospect at the NFL Combine.

    “Who's your best friend?” asked former Nebraska safety Eric Hagg, who snuck into the media area.

    Amukamara looked at his longtime pal, smiled and replied: “My best friend is Eric Hagg.”

    Playing practical jokes and having fun with teammates is usually Amukamara's trademark.

    “He's just naturally a funny person. That's what God gave him,” Hagg said. “Everybody thinks he's funny. He lights up the room.”

    Amukamara, while remaining very businesslike in many of his answers Sunday, slipped in a couple of witty remarks to the amused media contingent.

    Asked if he follows mock drafts or draft projections, Amukamara replied: “I'm not someone who Googles themselves.”

    He was later asked if he expects to have an immediate impact in the pros. “That is my plan,” he answered. “I'm definitely not trying to redshirt in the NFL.”


    It's good to see Prince - and Hagg, for that matter - haven't changed much.

    *Meanwhile, Roy Helu's huge day the Combine puts him the "riser" category according to Sports Illustrated.

    *Nebraska holds its first Junior Day for recruiting. Considering NU is looking at a class of 13-15 next year - unless some major defections occur - this was a small, intimate gathering of players.

    *Bo gives a pep talk to the NU men's tennis team - read that again - which helps the Huskers beat Wisconsin on the road.

    *Tom Shatel likes the sports city Omaha has become in late February.

    *After a rather crushing loss to Iowa State Saturday, Husker Hoops Central - where the Descartes and Foucaults of the NU hoops program go to discuss the state of the program - asked a very salient question: What do you expect from Nebraska's program? Some of the answers are excellent.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big ten, bo pelini, tim beck, mens hoops, ljs sipple, tom shatel, prince amukamara, roy helu, eric hagg, recruiting

  9. 2011 Feb 28

    Podcast 2/28: Roy and Niles at the Combine

    678 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, roy helu, niles paul, baseball, softball, mens hoops, womens hoops, mens tennis, track and field

  10. 2011 Feb 27

    Husker Monday Takes: Bo, Beck, Roy, Carl and Doc

    6,691 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Six takes as the Nebraska men's basketball bandwagon makes a stop in Ames to let off roughly three-fourths of its passengers (we'll get there; football, as always, is first):

    ***No word on when NU head coach Bo Pelini will address the full media about spring practice, but one of the first questions has to be this: If offensive coordinator Tim Beck is overhauling the offense, is Bo taking a fresh look, after three years, at how he manages the Huskers as a whole? We're not talking fan and media relations stuff here, but nuts and bolts stuff:

    1. With the booming feet Alex Henery and Adi Kunalic out of the picture, will Bo carve out a larger role for coaching special teams dynamics, striving to improve in areas like kickoff coverage and punt return? John Papuchis – who just took on the added responsibility of recruiting coordinator – is the key man right now.

    2. Does Bo reconsider how captains are selected, perhaps opting for a “season captain” scheme rather than the rotate-a-cap that rewards a wealth of upperclassmen but fails to anoint a handful of “voices” above the rest?

    3. Can Bo figure out how to keep spring and fall camps physical without losing multiple starters and backups on the offensive line? NU's OL was no deeper at the end of 2010 than it was in 2009 – and that was the source, we've heard more than once, of the Huskers' offensive woes.


    If those questions appear “off the table,” just check the radical moves Bo is allowing Beck to make on offense. I don't care how skilled Rich Fisher and John Garrison are as teachers; they're new. Beck, Ron Brown and Barney Cotton are shouldering a significant load. There's an advantage to that – fewer cooks in the kitchen – but it's a significant shift from having five offensive coaches with years of experience in the room. As NU prepares for a new conference, it'll change everything about the way it does business on offense. That's bold – and a mark of what Bo's willing to change for the long-term good.

    A Pelini hallmark is on-field flexibility. Remember that.

    ***Speaking of leadership, how refreshing was it to hear Beck declare his top priority for quarterback?

    “He's got to be a great leader,” Beck said last week. “He stands in front of the huddle, talking to the guys and telling them we believe in our system and convincing those guys that, no matter what, we're going to have success. And that comes through leadership.”

    Bingo. Talk about putting that whole room on notice.

    But it's a practical reality, too. If Beck intends to speed up NU's tempo to warp speed (or even half that), the quarterback has to think quick, talk loud and shift on the fly. It involves a sense of urgency that requires a commanding, persuasive persona. While a no-huddle, check-with-me offense – if that is indeed what Beck is installing – reduces a player's audibling responsibilities, it increases their traffic management. And their sense of timing after the snap. “Knowing the moment” is part of leadership that Taylor Martinez and Cody Green both lacked last year.

    ***Carl Pelini knew precisely what he wanted when he pushed for his brother Bo to hire Ross Els away from Ohio – a technician as the linebackers coach, a guy who can help NU shore up its run fits for an improved rush defense in the Big Ten. It's the substance over splash, but early returns, I'm hearing, are good. Els is meat and potatoes for a defense that already had plenty of exotic, playmaking flavor.

    ***Roy Helu made some serious noise at the NFL Combine Sunday. He blasted off a 4.42-second time in the 40. A 36.5-inch vertical jump. He was tops among running backs in the short shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.

    In other words – he's the guy, at long last, Nebraska fans always figured Marlon Lucky would be.

    The kid just did himself a big favor for the NFL Draft; if a team finds his unique personality a good fit, don't be surprised if Helu slides into the late second/early third round. He's a big-play runner with top-end speed and superior moves. I loved how, throughout his career, he could set up defenders with his shoulders dipping one way while his hips began to shift back against the grain. Helu could “square up” into a hole so quickly – and he's not a small guy. It takes incredible balance to do it without losing stride – Adrian Peterson does it as well as any NFL back above six-foot that I've ever seen – but Helu has that talent.

    Now if he can stay healthy. And not fumble. It's his only two weaknesses. And in the NFL, they are the two of the biggest weaknesses a running back can have.

    ***Counting down the Big Ten's top 40 recruits from the 2011 class – these are my rankings, not some service - reveals some interesting numbers:

    Nebraska 11 players
    Ohio State 9
    Iowa 5
    Michigan 4
    Penn State 3
    Indiana 2
    Michigan State 2
    Illinois 2
    Northwestern 1
    Wisconsin 1


    Am I a homer or what? Doesn't seem like me. NU's number will drop to 10 if Bubba Starling chooses Major League Baseball.

    Here's 40-31 of the countdown. You'll find my list contains more quarterbacks than conventional rankings because, well, quarterbacks are more integral to a college team's success than a four-star tight end, aren't they?

    I can say this: Two players from the same team occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

    We start the 50 Huskers to Know for spring football, too. Four current walk-ons made the list – the highest of which is punter Brett Maher. Just two former walk-ons – Mike Caputo and Austin Cassidy – made the list.

    The talent profile at Nebraska is changing.

    ***After Nebraska basketball's 83-82 loss to Iowa State, I read the always-dependable Omaha World-Herald write-up of the game and found three surprising quotes:

    Doc Sadler: “I didn't think we had the urgency we needed. As much as we were playing for, we fell into the trap of trying to outscore them.”

    Lance Jeter: “We say we want to go to the tournament. But we didn't play like it the first half. It's really frustrating.”

    Toney McCray: “It was obvious we weren't playing hard on the defensive end. This was such an important game, and it didn't seem like we were into it until the last 10 minutes of the second half.”

    With so much on the line, in a hostile atmosphere, against a team it had only beaten by a single point in January– and NU was lethargic about its game with the Cyclones?

    This was Sadler's Holiday Bowl. NU is the better team. But a devastating loss to Kansas State – an unspoken rival of Nebraska's these last couple years, a team worthy of the Huskers' respect (and elbow grease) for its style of play – left this team limping, just a little, heading into Hilton Coliseum. Then the Huskers hit a few 3-pointers, smelled a shootout...and inexplicably went along with it. Why? Why did Nebraska play the same kind of loose game at moribund Texas Tech, which also resulted in a one-point loss.

    You may not like the Huskers' grind-it-out-until-it-bleeds style of play. But it wins games. It darn near beat Kansas and Kansas State – two teams that could be destined for long runs in the Big Dance, the way they're playing. It did beat Texas A&M and Texas. And yet, against the Big 12's two worst teams, the Huskers abandoned that approach to play pick-up hoops in a college gym. And that lack of discipline will keep NU out of the NCAA Tournament. Two stinking, one-point losses to two pretty stinky teams.

    In 2008, it was a couple of two-point home losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M that kept the Huskers out of the Dance. But those setbacks were different in two respects:

    1. A&M and OSU were Tourney teams, and darn good ones at that.
    2. The Huskers had little depth and even less height.


    That Nebraska team overachieved just to give itself a chance at a NCAA bid.

    This NU team is about where it should be – minus two road wins against bad teams.

    I called for 20 wins before the year started. I'll still call for it. I'm not surprised the Huskers are on the doorstep of 20. I'm surprised their defense didn't show up for 30 minutes in Ames.

    Sadler's job is hardly on the line. He's not going anywhere soon, unless some SEC school unearths just how skilled of a defensive coach he really is and tries to woo him away. But I feel like I'm watching Sadler try to resurrect NU hoops the way Bill Snyder pulled Kansas State football out of the dregs.

    Pillow-soft non-conference schedule. A strong eye toward JUCO players for quick, effective fixes. The perpetual search for the “one guy.” It took Bill Snyder eight years to find Michael Bishop. Until 1997, when Bishop led the Wildcats to a 11-1 regular season record, K-State mostly kicked around in second-tier bowl games – the equivalent of the NIT back then – and occasionally put a good scare in Nebraska.

    How long before Sadler discovers his program-changer? And how long before Nebraska stops blowing road games to overmatched league foes? That's one thing Snyder's teams rarely did.

    Tags: husker monday takes, roy helu, doc sadler, bo pelini, ross els, carl pelini, marlon lucky, tim beck

  11. 2011 Jan 25

    Husker Heartbeat 1/25: Roy, Niles, BJax and Star Rankings

    2,030 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

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


    *Niles Paul making some waves at Senior Bowl practices. More mentions includes some positive talk of Roy Helu, who, as we've said before, pretty much has everything if he can hold on to the ball.

    *Former Husker I-back Brandon Jackson makes the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.

    *Why star rankings in recruiting classes are a useful measure for success. The latest rankings from three different services.

    *A UConn booster wants his money back because the Huskies didn't hire the right football coach for him.

    *Will Colonel Reb live at Ole Miss after all?

    Tags: husker heartbeat, roy helu, niles paul, brandon jackson, recruiting

  12. 2011 Jan 12

    YEAR IN REVIEW: RB Report Card

    556 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Who grades out best? It's a tie! Why? Sam explains...check it out with a 30-day free trial of HLP!

    Tags: report card, year in review, rex burkhead, roy helu, tim beck, tyler legate, tray robinson, lester ward, collins okafor, austin jones

  13. 2011 Jan 09

    Husker Monday Takes: Why Bo Stays Put

    1,487 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Six quick takes while you defrost in your cubicle or sled down the biggest hill in town:

    ***Bo Pelini stays on the Nebraska horse in this latest edition of the college football coaching carousel. That's my prediction – unless the NFL comes knocking. And if NU had won the Big 12 title and the Fiesta Bowl this year, there might have been a good chance that we're talking about the Denver Broncos instead of the LSU Tigers.

    But it didn't, and I suspect Bo feels a sense of unfinished business now. He'd be leaving the Nebraska rebuilding project before true completion. Plus, he's close to taking the Huskers back home to the Big Ten. The prospect of trolling his old stomping grounds for recruits and program-defining wins must be alluring. Bo's a Big Ten character at heart – all grit, no grease – and he has to dip a toe in those Great Lakes just once, doesn't he?

    Even if Michigan plucked Les Miles from LSU, I think the Tigers pursue an offensive mind. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher. Auburn offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn. Or – and wouldn't this be a hoot? – Oregon's Chip Kelly. There hasn't been anything too wrong with LSU's defense since coordinator John Chavis took it over; facing better offenses this year, the Tigers finished No. 8 in total defense. Nebraska is No. 12

    At any rate, LSU will have the money – and the promise of terrific, practically-ready-made recruiting classes – to attract just about anybody. Piles of cash can change a man. If they didn't, they wouldn't exist.

    But if Bo doesn't enjoy answering to the media up here, how would he enjoy a conclave of boosters down there? The halls of power are longer and more foreboding in the SEC than they ever have been at NU.

    Now, Michigan – why would it hire Miles, a head coach more lucky than good? Because the Wolverines want a splash after Jim Harbaugh spurned them for a big pile of money and one of the worst jobs in the NFL at San Francisco. Miles is a splash, all right – a big cannonball who would absorb tons of scrutiny and criticism from the minute he arrived in Ann Arbor. He'd have less of a grace period than the maladjusted human snit fit who just left the place, Rich Rodriguez.

    UM would be smarter to grab San Diego State's Brady Hoke, who'd come in, put his head down and get to work rebuilding a pro-style offense.

    ***Time and head coaching jobs are running out for offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. If he doesn't land one – and Bo doesn't fire him from his current post – one of his primary jobs for spring is to find some kind, any kind, of short passing game that can thwart a blitz.

    West Coast Offense guys usually rely on screen and shovel passes to the do trick. I never saw a shred of evidence that Taylor Martinez – or Cody Green, for that matter – could execute them. NU hardly tried to alleviate an opponent's blitz with anything other than a quick slant – which Oklahoma and Washington took away at the end of the year.

    Did you notice how many screen passes Green Bay and Philadelphia used in Sunday's NFL Playoff game? That Nebraska couldn't use the best play in Bill Callahan's book – ever – in 2010 is another indictment of Watson – or someone's – inability to teach guys basic staples, and have them execute accordingly. Martinez darn well should be able to sell a screen pass. If not him, Green. If not him, Kody Spano. Brion Carnes. Someone.

    Splitting reps with Marlon Lucky and Quentin Castille, Roy Helu caught 25 passes in 2008. He caught five this year – four fewer than Castille did two years ago. Or the same number Correll Buckhalter caught in 2000. This is not progress.

    ***Noticed the confident interviews from both NU quarterback recruits - Jamal Turner and Bubba Starling – last week. Neither were terribly shy about zeroing in on Martinez's struggles. The kids see chum in the water, in the form of all those awful sacks T-Magic took in Big 12 Championship and Holiday Bowl. They'll close their yaps once they hit the Husker weight room.

    Martinez, meanwhile, released an e-mail statement through his father, Casey, reiterating that he was returning to Lincoln for his sophomore year.

    Speaking of time, those 15 minutes of playing coy with the press is just about up.

    His on-field weaknesses exposed, Martinez will be in a furious battle for his starting job this spring, and if he chooses to conduct it under complete radio silence, that's his call. But he will have missed an opportunity to establish himself as a leader.

    Taylor be wise to look around. There aren't any “Bill Callahan” quarterback recruits in the program anymore. It's all Bo guys. And Carnes, Turner and Starling were recruited precisely for their dual-threat skills. Martinez will no longer corner the market on running talent. He can establish himself as a vocal presence, though. But to do it, he'll have to ditch the personal public relations officer.

    ***If Niles Paul runs a boffo 40-time at the NFL Combine he could zoom up the Draft charts. There's still NFL value in a one-gear deep threat who can stretch a defense. Paul isn't a particularly crafty receiver, but he's a good enough blocker to keep a corner honest.

    But he has to post the number. And we're talking sub 4.4. I've heard Paul is more than capable of it.

    As for Mike McNeill, watch how New England uses its tight ends in the Playoffs. McNeill isn't as good as Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez – who have combined for 86 catches and 16 touchdowns - but he's not too far from their class. Some team will take a chance on him.

    Husker junior-to-be Kyler Reed has more pro potential than either one of them.

    ***Ohio State is still the best of the Big Ten, the one league team with enough consistent playmakers – soon-to-be suspended or not – to beat an upper-tier SEC team, which Sugar Bowl foe Arkansas was.

    And for all the criticism heaped on quarterback Terrelle Pryor – much of it courtesy of ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who sets aside objectivity for this kid, playing for his alma mater – No. 2 is pretty darn dangerous. Maybe not the top overall prospect in college football – as recruiting services once tabbed him – but, well, he's a winner. He's been nails in three straight bowl games now. He's beaten Michigan three years straight. Led game-winning drives at Wisconsin in 2008 and Iowa in 2010. And that's in an offense that doesn't suit his talents.

    I still like Michigan State as the fave in the Big Ten next year.

    ***Auburn over Oregon Monday night. Why? Both offenses are predicated, to some extent, on the gimmick of their design, and both defenses have had a month to prepare for it. All things equal, give me the SEC athletes and a defensive head coach (Gene Chizik) over Kelly. The key to UO's attack is really its playaction passing game, which keeps safeties from cheating up to support the run, but AU has enough speed to combat it.

    Look for Cameron Newton to feast all night, followed by his declaration for the NFL Draft by week's end. The NCAA stuff aside, Newton could be another Big Ben in the League, or another Akili Smith. He certainly has the joy of a leader. Or is that naivete?

    *Two former standout football players – Caleb Walker and Lance Jeter – made the biggest difference for the Nebraska men's basketball team Saturday night in a 63-63 win over Iowa State. Athleticism translates to every sport; Walker and Jeter were the two best athletes on the floor – for either team – all night.

    Tags: husker monday takes, bo pelini, shawn watson, taylor martinez, big ten, mike mcneill, niles paul, bubba starling, jamal turner, brion carnes, kody spano, roy helu, mens hoops, lance jeter, caleb walker

  14. 2011 Jan 04

    YEAR IN REVIEW: The 10 Best Offensive Plays

    3,141 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    It began with one incredible, explosive play after another. It ended with something considerably less.

    But the 2010 season for Nebraska's football team was full of memorable offensive plays. The ten best, with a full helping of Taylor Martinez.

    The Debut: NU's third offensive play of the year. Martinez's first carry. He faked to Roy Helu, saw a hole in Western Kentucky defense, zipped through the first and second levels and outran three WKU defenders to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown. The Memorial Stadium crowd its approval for the play. The Martinez era at Nebraska – all of its ups and downs – had begun.

    Quick Strike: On the Huskers' second offensive play of the first Washington game, Martinez executed a playaction fake to Rex Burkhead, eluded the Husky pass rush and located wide receiver Mike McNeill, who caught the ball, streaked toward the sideline, and jumped for the pylon as he soared out of bounds. He hit it with the football; yet another acrobatic play from the senior McNeill.

    T-Magic in a Flash: NU extended its 28-14 lead over the Huskies to 35-14 on a single play to start the second half, as Martinez ran the zone read to perfection. He held the fake to Helu an extra beat, sidestepped one UW linebacker, and zoomed 80 yards for a touchdown. Just like that.

    T-Magic on the Dash: Third-and-long in a still-competitive game vs. Kansas State. NU dials up a quarterback draw that's blocked like dream by guards Keith Williams and Ricky Henry. Martinez gets the first down, then turns on the jets, accelerating toward the end zone. Another 80 yards. Just like that.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 1: With the offseason help of former NU offensive line coach Milt Tenopir, the Huskers installed a double-pull counter sweep play that repeatedly worked throughout the year. The first time it hit: In the Washington game. Helu took the handoff and followed the convoy of guard Ricky Henry and center Mike Caputo to the secondary, where he flew by all pursuers for a 65-yard touchdown.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 2: The same play in the Kansas State game. Same big hole. Same Helu acceleration. For a 68-yard touchdown.

    Helu-Goodbye, Part 3: NU's first offensive play in the Missouri game. A backside zone read play. Helu reads the kick-out block of Ben Cotton, sets up corner Carl Gettis with a quick dart inside, then lays Gettis to waste with another quick move to the outside. Touchdown from 66 yards away. He'd score two more in this game from 73 and 55 yards.

    Killer Kinnie: Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie wasn't a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but he was Martinez's favorite target throughout the year, and he made his share of runs after the catch. The best of them was Nebraska's first touchdown in the Oklahoma State. He caught a slant, slipped two tackles and streaked to the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown.

    Kyler Up Top: Husker tight end Kyler Reed caught a series of big touchdowns throughout the year, but the prettiest came in the Oklahoma State game as NU led 34-27. Martinez set up OSU's defense with a playaction, found Reed streaking behind his man in the secondary, and delivered a good pass to the end zone. The sure-handed Reed came down with it.

    Callahan Special: Shawn Watson dusted off one of his old boss's favorite plays in the Colorado game, a halfback toss pass. Out of an ace bunch set, Cody Green flipped the ball back to Rex Burkhead, who rolled hard to his right. As he he was approaching the sideline, Burkhead threw a perfect pass to receiver Brandon Kinnie for a 26-yard touchdown. Burkhead would throw two more touchdown passes later in the year before his final two passes – out of the Wildcat – ended in disaster.

    More Year In Review Features
    The Best in Pictures, Part 1, Highlights and Lowlights, Ten Best Defensive Plays, Ten Best Offensive Plays

    Tags: year in review, taylor martinez, roy helu, kyler reed, brandon kinnie, rex burkhead, cody green

  15. 2011 Jan 01

    The Plain Truth about Nebraska's Offense

    13,865 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    At the Hall of Fame of sportswriting cliches, in the “What a difference a year makes” wing, is the old line about a “tale of twos.” Two quartes. Two halves. Two seasons. Whatever.

    As much as anyone loathes dialing one of these up, these lines are cliches for a reason.

    At some point, they were true.

    And in the case of Nebraska's offense in 2010, it really was a case of two seasons.

    The one with a healthy Taylor Martinez.

    And the one with an injured Martinez and Cody Green.

    That's not exactly surprising to NU football fans who watched the Huskers lose three of their last four games.

    But just the sheer division of attempts truly does break the season in half.

    I distinctly remember Martinez's injury just before halftime of the Missouri game. He tried to beat a Tiger defender to the sideline for the big play instead of darting back inside for the first down. It's what Martinez always did. What he does even now. He got hit hard in the leg. It looked like his knee, frankly, but as he fell to the turf, his ankle rolled and twisted.

    At that moment in time, here were NU's offensive season statistics. That's roughly 7 ½ games.

    Total: 467 plays, 3,495 yards, 7.48 yards per play
    Rushing: 323 for 2,196 yards, 6.79 yards per carry
    Passing: 86-144 (59%) for 1,299 yards,15 yards per completion
    Avg NCAA Rank of Opponent Defense: 81st

    And the stats after Martinez got hurt, or 6½ games, plus five plays at the end of the Missouri first half:

    Total: 449 plays, 2,079 yards, 4.63 yards per play
    Rushing: 311 carries for 1180 yards, 3.79 yards per carry
    Passing: 77-138 (55%) for 809 yards, 10.5 yards per completion
    Avg NCAA Rank of Opponent Defense: 71st

    Stunning, yes? It's literally a season split in two.

    Now, for something disturbing.

    Here are the stats for the last 6½ games of the 2009 season, when NU's admittedly offense retreated into a candy-coated shell and let its otherworldly defense win games. Shawn Watson called it the “Apollo 13” offense because, just as astronauts were on the dark side of the moon, NU was riddled with injuries at every position except receiver.

    Total: 397 plays, 1,675 yards, 4.21 yards per play
    Rushing: 272 carries for 970 yards, 3.56 yards per carry
    Passing: 67-125 (53%) for 729 yards, 10.8 yards per completion
    Avg NCAA Rank of Opponent Defense: 43rd

    When you consider the caliber of defenses NU played in 2009 vs. 2010, folks, that's the same offense. The offense Husker coaches assured Nebraska fans would never see again.

    But NU was 6-1 over its last seven games in 2009. Just 4-3 this year.

    What changed?

    Nebraska's defense. Just barely. But just enough.

    Remember how small the defensive margin of error was last year in several games?

    It was just as small this year. And the defense wasn't quite as good.

    To the numbers:

    The last 6 ½ games of 2009:

    Total: 457 plays, 1840 yards, 4.02 yards per play
    Rushing: 173 carries for 576 yards, 3.32 yards per carry
    Passing: 118-264 (44%) for 1,288 yards, 10.9 yards per completion

    Now the last 6 ½ games of 2010:

    Total: 431 plays, 1,948 yards, 4.51 yards per play
    Rushing: 254 carries for 919 yards, 3.6 yards per carry
    Passing: 92-187 (49%) for 1,062 yards, 11.5 yards per completion

    Subtle changes. But enough to make for two more losses.

    What a difference a year makes.

    Worth noting, of course, is that Nebraska's three best defensive performances in 2009 were vs. Oklahoma (No. 23 offense nationally), Texas (No. 29) and Arizona (No. 58).

    In 2010, NU's bottom line greatly benefited from giving up 87 total yards to Kansas (No. 113) and 262 yards to Colorado (No. 78).

    The opponents in 2010 were softer. The defenses were weaker. Aside from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and linebacker Philip Dillard, NU didn't really lose any impact players. And one could argue Lavonte David filled Dillard's shoes – and then some.

    What happened?

    Martinez's injury did. But how could a single injury to a redshirt freshman who had started all of seven games – and would start several more – make such a difference?

    Just a few thoughts:

    *A 70/30 run/pass split before the injury more or less continued after it – without the dynamic, explosive speed from Martinez. Watson attempted to substitute in the Rexcat for Martinez's running game, and while the formation worked well in the Iowa State game, it played to diminishing returns as the season wore on. It was wholly ineffective – and directly led to Washington's first touchdown – in the Holiday Bowl.

    *The absence of a consistent passer. Martinez lacks polish, Cody Green lacks accuracy, Zac Lee lacks health – led to the waste of one of NU's strongest position groupings, wide receiver and tight end. Nebraska four potential NFL talents - Niles Paul, Mike McNeill, Brandon Kinnie and Kyler Reed – and only Reed's talent was used to its full extent. Kinnie approached his potential, while Paul and McNeill weren't used often enough.

    *The offense only worked with Martinez. Green rushed just 26 times for 96 yards. Lee was better running the zone read than Green, who frequently held his reads so long it invited the defense to converge on both Green and the running back.

    It's possible that Brion Carnes would fit this attack. Jamal Turner and Bubba Starling certainly do. But Green does not.

    *Feast or famine. Nebraska had just 15 drives of 10 plays or longer in 2010 – and 9 of those ended in field goals. Think about that for a second.

    After Martinez's injury, NU had just 5 plays of 30 yards or longer. Roy Helu accounted for three of them – long touchdown runs in the Missouri and Oklahoma games, plus a 31-yarder vs. Texas A&M. Martinez had just one – and it was a 34-yard pass to Mike McNeill in the Big 12 title game.

    I've talked quite a bit about the subplots. But those are the raw numbers. Sometimes stats lie. I don't think those do.

    Join Husker Locker now! It's free!

    Tags: shawn watson, taylor martinez, cody green, bo pelini, zac lee, roy helu, rex burkhead

  16. 2010 Dec 15

    NU/NFL Draft Rumblings

    1,945 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Out the corner of his eye – or perhaps in the back of his mind – of course Prince Amukamara has to pay a little attention. The AP and Sports Illustrated first-team All-American knows that several NFL Draft scouting services – whether you put stock into them or not – have the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder listed as a certain first-round pick.

    CBS Sports' NFLDraftScout.com tabs Amukamara as its No. 1 overall prospect. Mel Kiper has Amukamara at fifth on his latest Big Board. NFLDraftDog.com puts him at No. 6. ESPN's Scouts, Inc. ranks him No. 8.

    Pick any “guru” you wish, and the Prince is coming up with a healthy chunk of change. Presuming a work stoppage doesn't gum up the negotiation process.

    “I still hear people say where I'm projected of going,” the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year said Wednesday. “But I am not focused on it.”

    There's a Holiday Bowl still to play. Finals to finish. And, once the January hits, training to begin.

    He has an invite to the Jan. 29 Senior Bowl - the ESPN-televised, post-grad pony show that NFL scouts prefer to attend - as do several other Huskers, according to Amukamara: Roy Helu, Mike McNeill, Keith Williams and Niles Paul.

    Amukamara is the highest-ranked the of 12 or so NU seniors who could have a shot at the NFL in 2011 – or short of that, the UFL. NFLDraftScout ranks ten Huskers in its top 250 prospects – guys likely to be taken in the seven rounds of the April draft:

    Wide receiver Niles Paul (No. 56)
    Wide receiver/tight end Mike McNeill (No. 73)
    Defensive end Pierre Allen (No. 88)
    Running back Roy Helu (No. 109)
    Kicker Alex Henery (No. 151 and the No. 1 kicker)
    Safety Eric Hagg (No. 202)
    Guard Keith Williams (No. 210)
    Guard Ricky Henry (No. 239)
    Safety Dejon Gomes (No. 247)


    Out of the bunch, Hagg and Henery could be the most intriguing prospects.

    Hagg, a hybrid linebacker/safety in Nebraska's Peso defense, has a long, slender build – 6-2, 210 - that most resembles a wide receiver. He covers well enough to play defensive back but tackles running backs and wide receivers aggressively, too. Defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders has said more than once that if he was building a defense, he'd begin with Hagg.

    He just may not fit easily into a NFL position.

    “I think it kinda hinders me but it can help me at the same time,” Hagg said.

    NU's Team MVP said he has “no clue” where he might land in the Draft, or which teams would be interested. He said he'd talk to Husker defensive coaches in the upcoming weeks to figure it out.

    “It can give you anxiety attacks so I try not to think about it,” said Hagg, who admitted he takes a look at projections every now and then.

    Henery appeared unconcerned about his draft slot. Scheduled to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, he's a dual kicker/punter prospect with a 60-yard leg and uncanny accuracy.

    “They love him,” head coach Bo Pelini said of NFL scout

    He's almost too good; the few kickers taken in the upper rounds of the draft rarely turn out to be the best, although the Oakland Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski – a former first-rounder - remains one of Al Davis' better picks during the last 15 years. Most teams prefer to try out a glut of kickers, find the right free agent fit, and ride that guy until he gets a case of the shanks.

    “I won't worry about that process until after the bowl game,” Henery said with his usual calm. “I'll push it all until after the end of the year and not wonder 'What if?' It'll take care of itself.”

    Tags: nfl draft, prince amukamara, niles paul, mike mcneill, pierre allen, roy helu, alex henery, eric hagg, keith williams, ricky henry, dejon gomes

  17. 2010 Dec 11

    Helu, Henery, Hagg Nab Husker Honors

    1,486 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska's football team handed out its own awards Saturday at a banquet in Lincoln, with Roy Helu winning Offensive MVP, LaVonte David winning Defensive MVP, Alex Henery winning Special teams MVP and, in a bit of an upset, Eric Hagg winning overall Team MVP.

    The 2010 captains were Helu, Henery, Pierre Allen and Prince Amukamara.

    Henery won the Guy Chamberlain Award, presented annually to the Husker senior who exhibits the qualities of Nebraska All-American Guy Chamberlin. Safety Rickey Thenarse won the coveted Tom Novak award, presented to a Husker player who's had "had a successful Cornhusker career while overcoming odds and adversity."

    The full list of awards:



    Full List of Award Winners:
    2010 Team Captains— Roy Helu Jr. (Offensive), Prince Amukamara (Defensive), Pierre Allen (Defensive), Alex Henery (Special Teams)

    Team MVP – Eric Hagg
    Special Teams MVP – Alex Henery
    Offensive MVP – Roy Helu Jr.
    Defensive MVP – Lavonte David
    Guy Chamberlin Trophy- Alex Henery
    Tom Novak Trophy – Rickey Thenarse
    Fischer Native Son Award –Niles Paul
    Walk-on MVP – Joe Broekemeier
    Lifter of the Year – Rex Burkhead
    Character Award – Rex Burkhead, Eric Hagg, Thomas Grove
    Pat Clare Award – Ricky Henry
    Bobby Reynolds Award – Adi Kunalic
    Scout Team Offensive MVP – Kenny Bell, Yusef Wade
    Scout Team Defensive MVP – Colin McDermott
    Burnell Student Manager Scholarships – Tanner Dunbar and Paul Belz

    Get terrific deals for the Holiday Bowl!

    Tags: alex henery, roy helu, eric hagg, prince amukamara, pierre allen

  18. 2010 Nov 30

    Huskers Clean Up in Big 12 Awards

    1,223 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Even if the Big 12 office seems primed to slight the Nebraska football team at every turn, the league coaches Tuesday more than took care of the Cornhuskers – with the noted exception of kicker/punter Alex Henery - with the release of the All-Big 12 awards.

    Six Huskers made the All-Big 12 first team: Defensive end Pierre Allen, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker LaVonte David, Peso Eric Hagg and offensive guard Ricky Henry. Five Huskers – including Henery – landed on the second team. Six more were named to the honorable-mention squad.

    In a nod to his sheer dominance - without the usual statistics to back it up - Amukamara won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year despite not catching an interception this year. Opposing teams only dared throw toward him 45 times this year, completing just seven passes. Amukamara had 13 pass break-ups, too. He's only the second cornerback to win the award – Kansas State's Terrence Newman won in 2002 – and the third Husker overall after defensive end Grant Wistrom (who won in 1996 and 1997) and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (who won in 2009).

    Amukamara beat preseason favorite, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who finished the season leading the Big 12 in sacks.

    David won Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. David finished with 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and 10 pass break-ups. Quarterback Taylor Martinez won Offensive Freshman of the Year despite missing the equivalent of two league games. Martinez amassed 2,409 yards in just 297 plays.

    On the Big 12's second team, Henery was named both the punter and the kicker. OSU's Dan Bailey beat Henery for Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team kicker despite Henery having a better field-goal percentage for the season and his career. Henery is poised to become the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Running back Roy Helu, defensive end Cameron Meredith, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard, and wide receiver/kick returner Niles Paul joined Henery on the second team.

    Huskers named to the honorable-mention bunch were: Running back Rex Burkhead, center Mike Caputo, defensive back Dejon Gomes, Martinez, defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler and offensive lineman Keith Williams.

    Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy won Coach of the Year, while OSU receiver Justin Blackmon unsurprisingly won Offensive Player of the Year. Colorado's Nate Solder won Offensive Lineman of the Year while Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal won Defensive Lineman of the Year.

    Every Big 12 team was represented on the first or second team except Kansas, which had a scant three players named honorable mention.

    Tags: big 12, prince amukamara, lavonte david, taylor martinez, ricky henry, pierre allen, jared crick, alex henery, dejon gomes, alfonzo dennard, keith williams, mike caputo, rex burkhead, eric hagg, roy helu, niles paul

  19. 2010 Nov 02

    Podcast 11/2: Marlborough Wins Big 12's Triple Crown

    376 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Join Husker Locker today - it's free!

    Tags: podcasts, taylor martinez, alfonso dennard, soccer, morgan marlborough, volleyball, roy helu

  20. 2010 Nov 01

    HUSKER MONDAY REVIEW: Mizzou

    5,749 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Bo Pelini followed one of the worst losses of his coaching career – the increasingly hand-to-figure setback to Texas – with his two best wins as a Nebraska head coach.

    And he just might have the 2009 goat – offensive coordinator Shawn Watson – to thank for it.

    One year ago, some Husker fan clung to a metal fence in the bowels of Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium and screamed to no one in particular how much Watson stunk. Pelini still conducted his post-game presser, but when he finished, he went looking for that joker, who, of course, got the hell out of Waco several minutes before.

    No such jeers this Halloween. Watson's offense saved the Huskers' bacon at Oklahoma State two weeks ago, and his superior plan produced 256 yards and 24 points against a top-tier defense in just one quarter Saturday.

    Yes, Missouri adjusted to Nebraska's new formations, and NU struggled to move the ball against the wind. But when the Huskers needed a third-quarter touchdown, they got it. When Watson needed to bleed almost nine minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter, he called the right combination of plays, and trusted Roy Helu and his offensive line to do the rest.

    Nebraska is No. 17 in total offense. No. 12 in scoring offense. No. 6 in rushing offense. No. 25 in passing efficiency. And those numbers – with four games against poor defenses coming up – are bound to rise.

    Some of that is Taylor Martinez. The kid's special as a runner, and a good enough passer.

    But Watson had to coach him up, too, showing Martinez the ropes – and how to stay off of them - in a single spring, summer and fall camp. While also revamping the running game. Juggling two other quarterbacks. Managing a confident, hungry, but inconsistent group of wide receivers. Dealing with what has amounted to, thus far, season-ending injuries to offensive linemen Mike Smith and Marcel Jones. And facing the inevitable criticism that comes his way every time Nebraska's offense falters just a little bit.

    Think about the job that Watson's done so far in 2010. Is it worthy of a few more looks from BCS-autobid conference programs for head coaching jobs? Yes. But Watson may be waiting it out with some his colleagues - especially defensive coordinator Carl Pelini - for some of those openings.

    On with the review:

    Five Players We Loved

    Defensive tackle Jared Crick: With eight tackles, a hurry and a sack, he flashed some real potential as a 3-4 defensive end Saturday, if you ask me. Crick is a better outside rusher because he can set up a tackle with that quick first step, then blast back inside with a strong bull rush when the tackle overcompensates. NU may not use that 3-2-6 defense again this year – or ever – but Crick gave NFL scouts something to chew on. He could still use one more year in college.

    Cornerback Ciante Evans: He needs to fight off blocks a little better when a quarterback is loose and scrambling, but Evans is a cold-blooded baller as a cover corner. He rarely allowed his man to fight back across his face on deep routes, and his positioning took away that back-shoulder throw, too. Evans has learned Marvin Sanders' lessons quickly, using the sideline as an extra defender.

    Safety Dejon Gomes: He was everywhere and did a little of everything against Missouri's spread offense. He's a keystone of NU's defense; take him out, and the Blackshirts just aren't the same.

    Running back Roy Helu: He now owns the school's rushing record and he's about to eclipse 3,000 career yards. And yet Helu is likely to leave NU without ever being first-team all-conference. One of the most underrated players in Husker history. His big runs Saturday were more than just the beneficiary of good blocking – especially that third score from 53 yards. That's not a cut many backs can make, and even fewer can accelerate so quickly out of it.

    Kickoff specialist Adi Kunalic: Seven kickoffs, seven touchbacks. Rotten field position for Missouri all afternoon. Kunalic's best game in a big moment. Kudos.

    Three Concerns

    Taylor Martinez's injury: Perhaps it goes away immediately and Martinez is leading touchdown drives at his dad's old stomping grounds in Ames next week. In fact, I'd guess Martinez wouldn't miss that game for anything. But how effective will he be? So much of his talent is based on his explosive running ability. If he can't accelerate to top speed is his usual blink of an eye, how does that affect NU's offense while he's out there?

    Horrible Big 12 officiating: I'd expect an apology of some sort from Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson this week, as the zeebs plum missed Blaine Gabbert's fourth-quarter fumble by pretending that his forward progress had been stopped. Gabbert was never moving forward on the play; NU safety Courtney Osborne blasted the kid into next week – I heard Full House Dad Ed Cunningham didn't like that – and Gabbert fell backward until his shoulder blades met the turf.

    Why doesn't the crew just make up words along with the calls? After further review, the play is a blooney blup blarhar, first down Missouri.

    Trap Games: Nebraska has two in the next three weeks. First NU heads to Ames, where Cyclone fans will be plenty fired up for one last shot at the Huskers. On Nov. 20, watch out for that game at Texas A&M. Aggie coach Mike Sherman is rolling the dice with a quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-back-to-quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and it's working. I give A&M a puncher's chance at beating Oklahoma this week. If so – watch out.

    Three Questions

    Does Nebraska risk resting Martinez for two weeks to get him ready for the stretch run? If Martinez' dad, Casey, hadn't played at Iowa State years ago, and I'd say yes. As it is, Martinez will want a game inside the Jack Trice wind tunnel, and this will be his only chance. But if NU grabs a comfortable lead – sit the kid and turn it over to Zac Lee, and perhaps some Rex Burkhead Wildcat.

    Do Osborne and Austin Cassidy keep their starting safety jobs? And if so, do Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith lose the Blackshirts they earned? For folks who know the program, Osborne has the physical talent and hitting ability to be a stud. But he doesn't know the scheme like Smith does. Cassidy, meanwhile, probably gives the Huskers less in pass defense, but more than Thenarse against the run. If only Thenarse had truly learned how to tackle.

    Could a one-loss Big 12 champion actually face Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl? Well, somebody has to play the Big East champ, and Pitt has the inside track. The Fiesta Bowl has the last pick of all the Bowl Championship Series sites, and pundits widely believe that the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls will want no part of the Big East, which routinely lays an egg in the BCS.

    The Big 12's best hope is Nebraska, which could shimmy its way to No. 2 with an unlikely sequence of dominoes toppling just so. The biggest obstacle, frankly, is Boise State stumbling along the way. It just doesn't seem likely.

    Tags: mizzou game, husker monday review, ciante evans, dejon gomes, roy helu, jared crick, adi kunalic, courtney osborne, austin cassidy, taylor martinez

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