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  1. 2011 Feb 21

    Husker Monday Takes: Boss Pelini and Bubble Talk

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Six strong takes as Nebraska fans actually begin to look at the location of NCAA Tournament games. Weird.

    ***He's Boss Pelini. That's what I took Friday night from Bo Pelini's 15-minute interview on the “Sports Nightly” radio program. And that's a good thing.

    After Thursday's odd announcement of his revamped coaching staff – from a cell phone on a golf course - Pelini explained Friday with more depth – although not a lot of depth – how and why he hired four new assistant coaches to lead NU into its inaugural Big Ten season.

    “In the end: Do they see things the way I see it?” Pelini said told Husker play-by-play voice Greg Sharpe, who did his best to touch all the bases. “I know I got that in the staff that I hired...we're all on the same page. That's No. 1 in my book.”

    Pelini's defensive hires – Corey Raymond and Ross Els – certainly reflect that. Bo said it took “one call” to hire Raymond; that was a no-brainer in Bo's eyes. He also revealed that Els had spent a couple offseasons chatting with and Bo and Carl Pelini about defensive philosophy. In other words, Els had rather informally sold himself before knowing the job was even open.

    If you want to be in Bo's inner circle on defense, you'd better be a part of his playbook club first. Raymond and Els were.

    The offense seems murkier. I'm not sure what Bo “knows” about collegiate offense, but he appears to want a smaller playbook that's easier to execute and involves “more audibling.” I took that to mean NU would use a sideline “check with me” system that allows the offensive coordinator to read the defense from the press box, radio down a play change to the conductor, who then signals in a new play. You have to operate some version of no-huddle to do that, though. Calling the original play in the huddle and viewing the defensive alignment eats up too much of the play clock.

    If Bo means the more traditional kind of “audibling” - where the quarterback reads the defense and alters the play himself – then Taylor Martinez has some work to do in the spring. Martinez is still my favorite heading into (and out of) camp because his upside is so impressive. For all his mistakes during the last half of the year, he's still the kid who made one great play after another in the Oklahoma State game, when the Blackshirts took the afternoon off.

    No joke: If Martinez hadn't been on-point that day – and NU had lost its second straight game – I'm not sure where the season would have headed after that. When thinking about the Husker quarterback race, keep asking this question: Out of these handful of guys, which ones can figuratively win a game on their own? Martinez frankly did in Stillwater; he had help, yes – but his spectacular play was the difference. Cody Green, meanwhile, managed a handful of victories.

    The choice is, if you will, between the 2007 and 2009 national champs – LSU and Alabama thrived with defense, a power running game and managerial QBs – and the 2008 and 2010 national champs – Florida and Auburn relied on their superstar Heisman QBs. Either can work – but it's hard to have both.

    I keep hearing about a “power running game” and wondering which tailback can fill that role. Rex Burkhead is a good runner inside the tackles, but he's not a straight power guy. Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah won't be. Might the guy be C.J. Zimmerer, who signed out of Omaha Gross two years ago and hasn't done much since?

    That's for us to ask and Bo to solve. He's made bold choices with his offensive staff, who will likely get a heavy dose of Bo's input throughout the spring and summer. Will the new crew be Diet Dr. Pepper or New Coke? We shall see.

    ***One move that should pay off: Putting Ron Brown in charge of running backs. Brown is outstanding at teaching ball skills, ball security and toughness at any position. Good call by Bo to reinvigorate the position. Burkhead – with Brown's coaching – should make an excellent combination.

    ***How can John Papuchis handle coaching defensive ends and special teams and serving as recruiting coordinator at the same time? With a healthy raise, we're sure.

    Papuchis is the perfect choice to replace Ted Gilmore as RC. JP is organized, driven and willing to go after the big recruiting whale. He doesn't settle, and that attitude will rub off on his co-workers. For awhile there, the Solich-era comfort with late-in-the-game recruiting for so-so talent appeared to be seeping into the Bo Pelini regime. Papuchis and Beck helped drive the needle in the other direction, and it paid off in this recruiting cycle, as Bo himself closed one of the biggest targets on the recruiting trail in Todd Peat.

    ***As gut-wrenching as it might have been to watch, the near-collapse in Nebraska's 70-67 upset of No. 2 Texas will probably become the best, most memorable part of the win.

    With every reason to fold, NU didn't. The Huskers played an excellent final minute of basketball never allowing UT to penetrate into the lane or grab an offensive rebound. After losing an 11-point in the previous 33 seconds, that final minute was a testament to Nebraska's fortitude.

    Some second-half plan by Doc Sadler, too. Folks who occasionally attend one of Sadler's practices already knew it, but that decisive 24-9 NU run was proof of Doc's ability to adjust and scheme against a great team - the best team, frankly, I've seen all year. UT has Final Four toughness and talent. That Texas team Nebraska beat two years ago wasn't in the same league as this one.

    In five meetings against him, Doc thoroughly outcoached Rick Barnes in four. Throwing out last year's 91-51 debacle in Austin, Nebraska lost to UT by 1 and 4 points, and twice beat the Horns by 3. Now consider the talent disparity between those two teams for a second. Staggering.

    And yet the grind doesn't end. Kansas State – finally working itself into fighting shape after cutting a lot of dead weight – visits Wednesday. Road games at Iowa State and Colorado are no gimmes. The home game with Missouri is the one that should worry Husker fans most; Mizzou is close – closer than you think – to putting it all together. The Tigers could make a Elite Eight/Final Four run.

    With a 62 RPI as of Sunday according to realtimerpi.com, NU has to reach 22 wins one way or another just to be in that NCAA Tournament last 4 in/last 4 out conversation. Because of a soft non-conference schedule, anything short of that is am excellent NIT resume.

    ***So, presuming the Huskers continue to make it interesting, here's some teams to root for – and against – to help NU's Big Dance chances.

    Root for: Texas A&M (Nebraska beat the Aggies); Texas (Ditto); USC (Ditto, plus the 15-12 Trojans just completed a road sweep of Cal and Stanford and host Arizona next); Hofstra (Ditto; these Colonial contenders could still its conference tournament); Vanderbilt (Huskers lost to the top 20 'Dores, but can't hurt, can they?)

    Root against: Baylor (79 RPI); Oklahoma State(59); Boston College(45); Colorado State(47); Michigan(57); Penn State(61); Virginia Tech (64); Miami (65); Marquette(68); Alabama(77); and any upset-minded Cinderella in a mid-major conference.

    ***At 10-1, Nebraska softball is back among the best programs in the country, and it took Rhonda Revelle getting two of the nation's best recruits out of California to do it. Taylor and Tatum Edwards are twins. Taylor has already set a NCAA record for consecutive games with a home run. She knocked one out for the sixth straight game Sunday and she's slugging over 1.000 for the season. Tatum, meanwhile, pitched a shutout Sunday and hit a three-run homer of her own.

    NU is one of the better hitting teams in the country, with a .320 team batting average and a .394 team on-base percentage. And pitcher Ashley Hagemann is a consistent-enough ace.

    Tags: husker monday takes, bo pelini, coaching search 2011, mens hoops, doc sadler, softball, taylor edwards, tatum edwards, ron brown

  2. 2011 Feb 21

    Podcast 2/21: NU Softball on Fire!

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, bo pelini, baseball, softball, womens hoops, mens hoops, tennis, wrestling, gymnastics

  3. 2011 Feb 18

    Podcast 2/18: Big Weekend Preview

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mens hoops, womens hoops, wrestling, gymnastics, tennis, track and field, softball, baseball

  4. 2011 Feb 14

    Podcast 2/14: Valentine's Weekend Roundup

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mens hoops, womens hoops, wrestling, gymnastics, tennis, track and field, softball

  5. 2011 Jan 26

    Husker Heartbeat 1/26: Recruiting, BCS, and Strange Stuff at Iowa

    5,672 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.


    *The Huskers still hotly pursue a kicking prospect. NU's down to the No. 3 or No. 4 guy on its list now. Says something about the walk-on guys who are already in the program, doesn't it?

    *Nebraska has the No. 2 recruiting class in the Big Ten.

    *College football teams made a record amount off of the BCS this year.

    *The hits just keep on coming for the Iowa football team after 12 players were hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis. That's overwork of your muscles. How did that happen? Like this:

    The exact details of the workout that might have led to this are unclear. Iowa players did recently participate in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work.

    It’s a drill the Iowa program has used in the past, according to sources. It’s a fast-paced workout that a former player described as the “worst experience in your life.”

    NCAA rules allow winter workouts for football and they are industry standard.

    At around 6:45 Tuesday evening, UI sports information sent this, “The Hawkeye football players admitted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were all participating in NCAA allowable winter workouts. The symptoms, for which the student-athletes are being treated, are likely related to those workouts.”


    Iowa needs to have a good, quiet month real, real, real soon.

    *More recruiting fun...this time between Egg Bowl rivals, regarding Facebook.

    *The Nebraska baseball and softball teams prepare for new indoor facilities that will help them compete.

    "We're Nebraska. If we're going to compete in baseball and softball, we're going to have to have one of the best," baseball coach Mike Anderson said of the facilities. "You can't compete in a northern climate without something like this."

    How'd Nebraska make a bunch of CWS without them in the early 2000s, then, Mike?

    *NU's still ticked off by its loss at Texas Tech. Especially considering the team had to watch the game again right afterward.

    *NU Board of Regents is set to move the Husker volleyball team to the Devaney.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, recruiting, bcs, mens hoops, baseball, softball

  6. 2010 Oct 04

    Podcast 10/4 NU Hooks Horns

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, volleyball, soccer, cross country, kansas state game, softball

  7. 2010 May 27

    Husker Heartbeat 5/27: The Mayor, The Mess at Kansas, and Phil Steele's Bold Prediction

    657 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.

    Cool? Cool!


    *What a mess at Kansas, where a major ticket scandal has rocked the athletic department, and the highest-paid AD in America, Lew Perkins, was apparently clueless about it.

    *Excellent piece from Lee B recounts how ISU basketball coach Fred Hoiberg almost went to NU - to play quarterback. He’s the grandson of a former Husker basketball coach, too.

    *Sean Yost wants to prove he can pitch after a rough 2010.

    *After a terrible year of prognostications in 2009, Phil Steele takes a wild flyer on Oklahoma as No. 1- allegedly.

    *Just because NU’s softball season is over doesn’t mean Rhonda Revelle stops coaching.

    *Texas has had conversations about becoming independent in football.

    *AOL’s John Walters writes a compelling piece about the brokenness of college football, and whether it can be fixed.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, baseball, softball, lee b, iowa state, phil steele

  8. 2010 May 24

    Podcast 5/24: Baseball Brooms and Seattle Softball

    460 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball

  9. 2010 May 21

    Podcast 5/21: NU Baseball Ends Season, Tourney Time for Husker Softball

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball, track and field, gary pepin

  10. 2010 May 17

    Podcast 5/17: Baseball Swept, Softball Ekes into NCAA Tournament

    386 views

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, connie yori

  11. 2010 May 14

    Husker Heartbeat 5/14: Javelins, Softballs, Bouzos, Borders and Bush

    468 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.

    Cool? Cool!


    *Doc Sadler and Connie Yori applaud the new Haymarket Arena plans. Well, of course they did, but they’re admirably restrained in their expectations.

    *Adam Wolkins has emerged as one of the best javelin throwers in NU history.

    *If the NCAA finds Reggie Bush to have been ineligible in 2005, Tom Shatel wants to strip him of the Heisman Trophy.

    *Nebraska softball’s Ashley Guile just might be the best hitter in the Midwest.

    *The bigger offers were about to pour in for Aaryn Bouzos.

    *Kansas’ Lew Perkins threatens to endthe Border War with Missouri for good if Mizzou leaves the conference. Well - that’s the implication of his words, isn’t it?

    Tags: husker heartbeat, haymarket arena, doc sadler, connie yori, softball, track and field, tom shatel, reggie bush

  12. 2010 May 14

    Podcast 5/14: Husker Tennis Heads to NCAAs

    356 views

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, track and field, softball, recruiting, aaryn bouzos

  13. 2010 May 10

    Podcast 5/10: Brooms and School Records

    352 views

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball, track and field

  14. 2010 May 07

    Podcast 5/7: Weekend Preview

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball, track and field

  15. 2010 May 03

    Podcast 5/3: In Lemke, A Ray of Light

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, tom lemke, softball, track and field, tennis, epley bullock

  16. 2010 Apr 30

    Podcast 4/30: Crunch Time for Baseball, Softball

    535 views

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, softball, tennis, track and field

  17. 2010 Apr 29

    Podcast 4/29: Thomas Headlines NU Seminar

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    Tags: podcasts, softball, clarence thomas

  18. 2010 Apr 28

    Podcast 4/28: Hawkeyes Add to NU's Woes

    478 views

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    Tags: podcasts, baseball, connie yori, softball, wbb

  19. 2010 Apr 26

    Podcast 4/26: The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

    429 views

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    Tags: podcasts, nfl draft, baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis, track and field, natalie willer

  20. 2010 Apr 23

    Podcast 4/23: Weekend Preview

    357 views

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    Tags: podcasts, ndamukong suh, track and field, softball, baseball, tennis, volleyball

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