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  1. 2012 Mar 14

    NEBRASKA SPRING FOOTBALL: The Offensive Line Shell Game

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Chris Labenz

    With many of Nebraska’s key starters from the 2011 season moving on, the Huskers must start laying a foundation that’ll carry through spring, summer and fall.

    Who’ll make the cut following the Spring Game and be in position to start the season as top dogs?

    Likely Post-Spring No. 1s

    Offensive Tackle:

    Jeremiah Sirles, Jr., Tyler Moore, So.

    Sirles and Moore both enter the 2012 season with starting experience. Last season, Sirles was the primary backup to Yoshi Hardrick at the left tackle spot, while Moore was in a constant battle with Marcel Jones for the starting right tackle position.

    Moore showed flashes of his raw ability, but the coaches had him on a short leash. This was emphasized when he was yanked following a false start penalty on Nebraska’s first offensive play against Wisconsin.

    In 2012, both of these big men will be called on to shore up the tackle spots on an offensive line that has been inconsistent under Barney Cotton.

    Assistant offensive line coach John Garrison has added strong teaching ability to the unit, and has stated that both Sirles and Moore can play either tackle spot if necessary. Look for Sirles to start out on the left side while Moore anchors the right.

    Offensive Guard:

    Spencer Long, Jr., Seung Hoon Choi, Sr.

    Long's may not be a household name, but both players and coaches have stated that the junior guard is the Huskers' best all-around offensive lineman. At this point, he appears to be in the driver’s seat to start at left guard.

    Choi had fans buzzing about his fiery play following his start against Michigan State in place of Andrew Rodriguez. While he performed well, the Husker walk-on was inconsistent during the rest of the season.

    This left many wondering if his starts were an attempt on the part of the coaches to drag some passion out of A-Rod. The Aurora, Nebraska native is acknowledged across the staff as having amazing potential, but for some reason, he lacks the desire to tap into it.

    Whatever the reason, he will have to be even more motivated this spring to unseat Choi. In a classic battle of motivation versus apathy, Choi will go into fall camp No. 1 on the depth chart at right guard.

    Center:

    Cole Pensick, Jr.

    Pelini and company find themselves in a tough spot this year with the departure of Mike Caputo. While never a superstar, he possessed strong leadership and was relied on heavily by the other linemen for proper calls.

    Despite being aware of Caputo’s obvious graduation, Pelini didn't address the center position through recruiting. Apparently, he decided that someone who could anchor the offensive line was already on the roster.

    Due to lack of depth in the middle, Cole Pensick will get a strong look for the starting role as he’s the only player on the roster with any in-game experience, subbing in for Caputo on rare occasions.

    Pensick may not be the most heralded member of Nebraska’s offensive line, but he will have to elevate his play immediately for the unit to improve.

    Should the spring, summer and fall be beneficial in all aspects including strength and conditioning, look for this to be Nebraska's starting two-deep against Southern Miss:

    First String –

    LT: Tyler Moore, So.
    LG: Spencer Long, Jr.
    C: Ryne Reeves, RFr.
    RG: Ryan Klachko, RFr.
    RT: Zach Sterup, RFr.

    Second String –

    LT: Jeremiah Sirles, Jr.
    LG: Andrew Rodriguez, Jr.
    C: Cole Pensick, Jr.
    RG: Seung Hoon Choi, Sr.
    RT: Jake Cotton, So.

    Nebraska didn’t recruit athletes like Reeves, Sterup and Klachko to sit on the bench. If the trio of highly-regarded redshirt freshmen can pick up Tim Beck’s system and develop with the strength and conditioning crew, there’s no reason that they can’t push for serious playing time this fall.

    What this projected first group lacks overall experience, they make up for in elite athletic ability. Behind this tremendous bunch, Beck’s high-speed system could thrive at getting to the second level of a defense to free up holes for Rex Burkhead and Aaron Green.

    In addition, Moore and Sterup have the sort of size, arm length and quickness that give defensive ends fits. They’d provide more than adequate protection for Taylor Martinez on obvious passing downs, an area where the Huskers have severely struggled over the past few seasons.

    Reviewing the projected second string, you’ll notice names with some experience that can play efficiently enough to justify heavy rotation.

    This leads to fresh legs in the fourth quarter, a trait that was common under offensive lines of the Osborne era. This second unit would give with the first teamers consistent challenging battles during practice, increasing competition and forcing starters to be game-ready seven days a week.

    It's not to say that Pensick, Choi and Sirles won't earn solid minutes, or that Rodriguez won’t finally have the light bulb turn on this spring. Instead, it’s a sign that Nebraska has managed to recruit some very talented linemen under Bo Pelini.

    Any further excuses cannot continue to justify their poor play during the season. It’s time for Nebraska’s offensive line to truly earn back the “Pipeline” nickname, and there are players on the roster who have the ability to make that happen.

    Much like Andrew Rodriguez, the entire unit has plenty of potential. It’s up to the coaching staff to ensure that this translates to results on the field, perhaps stealing some thunder away from Big Ten brother Wisconsin’s vaunted big men in the process.

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    Tags: jeremiah sirles, tyler moore, spencer long, seung hoon choi, cole pensick, ryne reeves, ryan klachko, zach sterup, andrew rodriguez, jake cotton

  2. 2012 Mar 11

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Knee-Jerk Reactions (3/11/2012)

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Seeing Sadler go was necessary, but damn hard to watch. What made it harder to watch wasn’t Doc breaking down or the obvious desire to succeed, but how Tom explained the situation. It was like watching a funeral. The death of a good man’s efforts.

    - In brighter news, how Erstad’s sluggers are an entertaining bunch to watch if nothing else. A fun 8-8 tie after being down six runs was fun, but Cal tipped it with experience. Yesterday was complete and utter revenge.

    - It was beautiful.

    - Spring ball starts with nothing staggering to report. If no one else gets severely injured between now and mid-April, that’s about the best anyone can hope for.

    - Consider those who got the opportunity to talk shop with Bill Belichick extremely envied.

    - If Lavonte David actually ends up being the Husker taken highest in the draft, look forward to the career of Michael Rose. He has the same work ethic.

    - He was also at practice yesterday.

    - Not really a fan of Pensick at center. Caputo was a special guy. You can’t keep plugging in 275-pound guys in against Big Ten defensive interiors.

    - Slide Spencer Long over to compete with Ryan Klachko and Mark Pelini.

    - Not that Mark Pelini.

    - Digging the implementation of QB cams during seven-on-sevens.

    - Starting to question if Andrew Rodriguez should continue to have a scholarship following 2012 at this rate.

    - PARTING SHOT: If you hadn’t heard, LSU Senior goalkeeper Mo Isom is trying out for the LSU football team ala KaLena "Beanie" Barnes did for Nebraska back in the day. Turns out she’s really, REALLY good:



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    Tags: doc sadler, basketball, baseball, cole pensick, ryan klachko, mark pelini, spencer long, andrew rodriguez, mo isom

  3. 2012 Feb 18

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: The Husker Locker Crew's Weekend Thoughts (2/18/2012)

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Every week, the Husker Locker staff sits down and is presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports.

    This week:

    What Husker football player do you feel has to improve the most this offseason?

    Brian: It’s not so much a player, as an entire group - the offensive line. Guys like Tyler Moore, Spencer Long and Ryan Klatchko need to step up and not only give people like Andrew Rodriguez and Seung Hoon Choi competition for starting roles, but also build depth that the line seemed to lack as 2011 progressed.

    Chris: It’s hard to gauge “improvement” for new guys that will be filling voids this season since we don’t have a lot of evidence of how good they can be in order to make such a conclusion (Zaire Anderson obviously has to play well to fill in for Lavonte David, Mohammed Seisay needs to lock-down one of the corner spots, etc.).

    Looking at players who logged significant time last season, it’s safe to say that Taylor Martinez must take a large step forward in order for Nebraska to have a chance at a Big Ten crown. He was an enigma last year, playing extremely well at some points (Ohio State, Northwestern) and looking completely lost at others (Wisconsin and Michigan ).

    T-Magic is a redshirt junior now with plenty of experience under his belt. Can he overcome his poor decision-making, cut down on turnovers, break the big runs he had in his freshman campaign and improve his completion percentage on longer throws? If so, Nebraska’s offense can be deadly with the skill at running back, tight end and wide receiver, especially with the addition of Jordan Westerkamp.

    On defense, Cameron Meredith needs to improve significantly for Bo’s front four to work properly. Meredith played very well during his sophomore season, but regressed significantly last year. He looked slow and winded by the third quarter of most games which may be due to the staff’s emphasis on bulking up for the rigors of Big Ten play. Whatever the reason, No. 34 needs to be a leader on the defensive line.

    Greg: As far as individual improvement, I'd like to see Chase Rome. He has a ton of potential and he needs to display marked improvement next year.

    Brandon: Ryan Klachko as I feel he’s the next big thing at center, even as a redshirt freshman. At 6’4” 285, he has plenty of time to pack on 5-10 pounds of muscle while keeping his speed.

    I don’t see PJ Mangieri, Cole Pensick or Nick Ash as permanent solutions in the middle of the offensive line. Klachko’s got the physicality, the smarts and the desire to be a great interior lineman for Nebraska. I’m not going to say he’ll be a Rimington Award winner, but he has that level of potential.

    Who comprises your starting 2012 defensive backfield (CB and S)?

    Brian: Mohammad Seisay isn’t coming here to sit on the pine, folks. He’s starting from the first snap of the season on. The other three? Good question.

    PJ Smith should be out there, however the word is that he didn’t quite know what he was doing last year which makes it tough to project him seeing much time. Daimion Stafford has to be considered a lock for a safety.

    To start the season, a combination of Ciante Evans and Andrew Green will be out there. Snaps and experience will dictate who takes the spots by the time Arkansas State comes around.

    Chris: There are so many variables heading into the spring and summer that it's hard to nail down anything definitive. Braylon Heard has been moved to cornerback and brings plenty of athleticism. Mohammed Seisay was one of the most coveted JUCO players last year and should be able to make an impact right away.

    Stanley Jean-Baptiste showed flashes of brilliance when he was healthy. Additionally, Charles Jackson is rumored to have become eligible to enroll at Nebraska after the highly-coveted corner was unable to qualify last season. At safety, only Daimion Stafford played significant minutes last year.

    With all of that in mind, the starters come the first kickoff will likely be Andrew Green and Mohammed Seisay at cornerback with Daimion Stafford and P.J. Smith at safety.

    By the time conference play rolls around, look for a starting group of Heard and Seisay at the cornerback spots with Stafford and Corey Cooper at safety.

    Greg: Seisay and Green at cornerback, Stafford and Heard (who knows?) at safety.

    Brandon: I’ll stick Mohammed Seisay and Andrew Green at cornerback with PJ Smith and Courtney Osborne at safety for now. Green’s spot is up for grabs until the first kickoff and it may not be solidified even then.

    Stanley Jean-Baptiste has an awesome frame for a cornerback and Braylon Heard’s move is intriguing. Everyone and their brother wanted him as a defensive back, including Ohio State. Green did improve as 2011 went along, so he’s getting the spot opposite arguable the roster’s best defensive back.

    At safety, Smith’s not as cerebral as Austin Cassidy was, but he’s a far better athlete and will make more plays resulting in offensive possession, good field position or points. Osborne gets the nod over Daimion Stafford right now simply due to his time in the system.

    Stafford struggled in coverage at times in 2011, but he has an entire offseason to work on his deficiencies. I’d imagine we’ll likely see a mixture of Osborne, Smith and Stafford during the 2012 non-conference schedule.

    Considering the difficulties Connie Yori's team has been facing, how do you see the Lady Huskers' regular season ending?

    Brian: Hopefully this team isn’t hitting a wall. However, after the triple overtime thriller in West Lafayette, it seems that this team has slammed head first into one. Wisconsin comes into Devaney on Sunday. Let's hope the kinks get worked out. If not, keep them away from Doc, at least.

    Chris: In ESPN’s latest projections, Nebraska is listed as a potential No. 6 seed in the women’s NCAA tournament. Three losses in a row spells trouble for the Huskers' chances of making the dance, though.

    The committee likes to take teams that are on a hot streak come tournament time, and while the Huskers have some decent wins to hang their hat on, they’ve struggled at times against top competition.

    Three games remain to finish the year. The Huskers need to win two of these games to feel good about their chances.

    Greg: They'll bounce back and finish strong, complete with a decent showing in the Big Ten tournament.

    Brandon: I wasn't anticipating a three-loss skid out of Yori’s team this year, even in Big Ten play. Must be something in the Gatorade down in Lincoln. Regardless, this team can finish the season strong.

    They’re set up for a potential 2-1 or 3-0 end to the regular season with games against Wisconsin and Ohio State at home with Michigan State on the road bringing them to either 21 or 22 wins.

    Any initial thoughts as Nebraska baseball's season gets underway?

    Brian: All the talk has been wonderful, but eventually you have to walk the walk. Let's see how this team is sitting after their trip to Corpus Christi next weekend.

    Chris: Very excited to start the Erstad era and see how this team stacks up in out of conference play. I’m going out on a limb and saying Nebraska wins the Big Ten in Erstad’s first year through a combination of solid pitching, defense, and small ball.

    Erstad appears to be making all the right moves and saying the right things. However, he has no prior Division 1 coaching experience, so it will be vital for him to rely on his top assistants, and great hires, Will Bolt and Ted Silva.

    As the team takes the mold of its coach, expect a hard-nosed group who plays smart baseball and accomplishes the little things very well which means plenty of wins in the long run.

    Greg: I'm disappointed in the loss to Gonzaga. If this team is going to be successful, they will have to close out games. It'll come together. Baseball is great that way. Go Big Red!

    Brandon: Last night’s loss to the Zags stunk as you always like to see a new coach get his first win right off the bat, pardon the pun, but I think a 2-1 series win would sit with just fine with Erstad. Gonzaga’s no scrub club and it’s going to be beneficial for the Huskers to play a squad of this caliber coming out of the gate as they head down the road.

    Regardless of the loss, I’m excited to see what this team can do. One loss isn’t going to damper that enthusiasm.

    Brandon: @huskerlocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Greg: @thehooch36
    Chris: @chris_labenz

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    Tags: ryan klachko, tyler moore, spencer long, taylor martinez, chase rome, mohammed seisay, andrew green, daimion stafford, baseball, basketball

  4. 2012 Jan 27

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The State of the Walk-On Program

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Many fans often get caught up counting four and five-star prospects when measuring a team’s recruiting success. One of the frequent “advantages” for Nebraska isn’t its ability to bring in the most highly-coveted prospects, but rather the tradition and utility of the vaunted walk-on program.

    While debates rage about the appropriate class size and correct usage of the walk-on strategy, no one can deny that they contributed heavily at Nebraska this past season. These two-star (or less) prospects dot the roster and many eventually earned a scholarship.

    Key players such as offensive linemen Mike Caputo and Spencer Long along with defensive backs Austin Cassidy and Lance Thorell are among these numbers. Of course, there was the immediate impact of walk-on kicking specialist Brett Maher.

    The Huskers walk-on effort is led by Assistant Athletic Director for Football Operations Jeff Jamrog. While some questioned Jamrog’s coaching ability when he was hired in 2007, he has proven himself a solid administrator, receiving high marks for his coordination and handling of several aspects surrounding the football program. One of these is the recruiting of the Cornhuskers’ walk-ons, which is appropriate given that Jamrog was one himself.

    Nebraska looks across the state to find some of the best athletes who either didn’t get an FBS offer or didn’t receive one they felt comfortable accepting. It’s likely that most of these players won’t contribute, but the idea is that if one out of ten each year contributes substantially over two or three years, the Huskers have some extra scholarships in their back pocket.

    Sometimes it’s a matter of convincing these players to stay home instead of heading to a lower division school where they might receive a full or partial scholarship. Nebraska continues to build a substantial walk-on class even this year.

    A great example is Grand Island QB Ryker Fyfe. Ranked as a two-star pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com, Fyfe shined as one of the best quarterbacks in the state during his senior year, and had some light interest from mid-major programs.



    He ultimately decided to walk-on at Nebraska, shunning a scholarship from Nebraska-Kearney. Fyfe brings depth and a unique skill set to the roster. He completed 120 of 204 passes for 1,921 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 746 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading Grand Island to a 9-2 record in 2011.

    Fyfe’s favorite target, two-star wide receiver/safety Sam Foltz, turned down scholarship offers from South Dakota State, South Dakota, and North Dakota to walk on at Nebraska. Some would argue Foltz is a better athlete than Fyfe, and it will be interesting to see which side of the ball he eventually contributes on.

    Other key walk-ons include players like three-star running back King Frazier from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, who also turned down the Dakota Schools. He’s joined by Omaha Burke running back Jordan Nelson, Elkhorn running back Graham Nabity, Omaha Burke fullback Carson Collins, Oakland fullback Taylor Hoffman and Gretna fullback Andy Janovich.

    Perhaps the highest expectations surround the Nebraska walk-on kicking legacy. Kearney kicker Spencer Lindsay was recruited by Barney Cotton and John Papuchis, and will hope to get a transfusion of the ice-cold blood that flows through fellow walk-on Brett Maher veins much like Alex Henery’s before him. Papillion offensive guard Dylan Utter and Aurora center Gerret Johns look to join the group of walk-on offensive linemen that Nebraska either played or started in 2011.

    With 16 total commitments, Nebraska currently has more pledged walk-ons than future scholarship players. The quality of the athletes is impressive despite what their lower-tier offers might suggest. It’s not hard to imagine several of these players making an impact at some point in their careers.

    However, these prospects are walk-ons for a reason. Regardless, Nebraska’s staff has done a fantastic job in locking down this tier of in-state talent and convincing them to forgo other opportunities. While fans and pundits may question the Huskers’ scholarship recruiting, when it comes to walk-ons, Nebraska’s class is five-star quality.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: walkons, mike caputo, spencer long, austin cassidy, lance thorell, ryker fyfe

  5. 2011 Dec 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Huskers’ Party of Five

    2,014 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brett Baker

    Back in August, most Nebraska fans thought come December they'd be making plans for a trip to the Rose Bowl at worst. Obviously, that did not come to pass.

    After two blowout losses and a complete gag against the “other NU”, the Huskers were left with the pageantry of the Capital One Bowl. It's kind of like getting socks for Christmas. Useful sure, but not quite the mega-haul you dream of.

    Rather than coming to grips with the underwhelming feel of this 9-3 campaign, now is a good time to look at what, or in this case who, went right. With that in mind here are my top five most-improved Huskers from the season that was.

    5. Andrew Green - Cornerback

    Having watched this young man play his high school football at San Antonio's Madison High School, there was particular interest in watching his development. Early in the season, he was about as far from this list as a player could be.

    After taking his lumps against Fresno State and Washington before seeing his playing time reduced with the return of Alfonzo Dennard, the redshirt sophomore settled down and became a dependable member of a sometimes suspect secondary. He learned a lot from a healthy Dennard and began to play with the kind of confidence that a cornerback has to have to succeed.

    4. Spencer Long – Offensive Guard

    From walk-on who had never played a snap at Nebraska to second team All-Big Ten, Long has to be among one of the most pleasant surprises of the Huskers inaugural jaunt through their new conference.

    Without Long doing the heavy lifting up the middle or pulling to lead the way for Mr. Burkhead, Rex's numbers most likely wouldn't be as sexy without Long's blocking. The best part is he'll be in Lincoln for two more years and should only improve.

    3. Will Compton – MIKE Linebacker

    After getting a decent amount of playing time following a return from injury in 2010, Compton took full advantage of his increased role this season. Next to Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard, Compton was easily the Huskers’ most reliable defender. At the beginning of the season, the Blackshirts’ biggest problem was not being able to get teams off the field on third down.

    As the year went on this became less and less of an issue in large part due to Compton's play. He would consistently shed blockers and fill holes where ball carriers were trying to go. A solid wrap-up tackler, he'll be the leading force on next year’s defense.

    2. Brett Maher – Kicker/Punter

    To the casual fan, this was probably the first season that they’d heard Maher's name. After having played in 27 games in the past two years, he’s no stranger to the field. That said, when you're the holder for Alex Henery you're probably not going to get noticed if everything goes right, and with Henery it almost always did.

    When Maher trotted onto the turf as Nebraska’s starting kicker for the first time in September, Husker fans had no idea what to expect, in that sense the junior from Kearney wildly exceeded expectations.

    Going 19 for 22 on field goal attempts, a perfect 42 for 42 on PATs and averaging will 45 yards per punt will go a long way towards making you a fan favorite. Being named the Big Ten Kicker and Punter of The Year will only add to that.

    1. Taylor Martinez - Quarterback

    After the Wisconsin game, there were two directions for Martinez to go. Fortunately for Husker fans, T-Magic put that debacle behind him and played really good football from there out. Following a turbulent week of media criticism, Martinez responded by pioneering the biggest comeback in school history against Ohio State. It seems that something clicked for the talented sophomore during that game.

    Rather than trying to win every game on every play, he became the kind of decision-maker that could grind out wins with his head as well as his feet. Statistically, his cumulative numbers in 2011 were almost identical to his numbers in 2010.

    2010:
    Rushing - 1,292 yards / 11 TDs
    Passing - 1,631 yards / 10 TDs / 7 INTs
    Total - 2,923 yards / 21 TDs / 7 INTs

    2011:
    Rushing - 958 yards / 9 TDs
    Passing - 1973 yards / 12 TDs / 7 INTs
    Total - 2,931 yards / 21 TDs / 7 INTs

    Martinez tops this list for some of the things that he didn't do. He didn't take unnecessary punishment, stepped out of bounds after a good gain rather than going one on one with a defensive back and stayed positive with his receivers.

    It's not hyperbole to say that Martinez would have had much bigger passing numbers in the second half of the season if his receivers didn't drop a good number of his chucks. While his throwing style will never be fundamentally beautiful, it can be functional. His receivers have to step up for him to truly succeed.

    If there was one play that solidifies Martinez's top ranking on this list, it was the option pitch to Burkhead at Penn State. At the very last second, he channeled his inner Tommie Frazier and made the perfect pitch that allowed Rex to score what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. It was a thing of beauty that illustrated just how far he'd come.

    There they are, the five most-improved Huskers of 2011. The best part, they will all be back in scarlet and cream next season.

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    Tags: andrew green, spencer long, will compton, brett maher, taylor martinez

  6. 2011 Nov 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Penn State

    3,451 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The score was near-expected. The atmosphere was exactly as expected and yes, it was surreal.

    - The mid-field prayer may be one of the highlights of the entire college football season.

    - If Taylor Martinez can learn how to draw that much attention and provide a pitch off the option like that every time, no one will complain.

    - Someone clearly changed out Rex Burkhead’s batteries. Another game, another 100 yards.

    - When Martinez and Rex switched positions, did it look like they just got curious about what the other’s day was like to you, too?

    - Due to what we’ve been told regarding receivers’ performance habits, Jamal Turner will clearly be starting against Michigan…right?

    - Kinda thinking that a redshirt should’ve been kept on Aaron Green or Braylon Heard.

    - Two offensive guards traveled and went the distance. Bravo Mr. Choi and Mr. Long.

    - That wasn’t a fumble.

    - Will Compton has taken his game up a notch and none too soon.

    - Alfonzo Dennard continues to look better every week. That guy’s gonna make some coin in The League.

    - Take a look at every FBS team around the country and thank your lucky stars for Brett Maher again.

    - An amazing press conference by Bo Pelini. As Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples said, it’s required viewing.

    - Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia.

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    Tags: penn state, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, jamal turner, aaron green, braylon heard, spencer long, seung hoon choi, will compton, alfonzo dennard, brett maher, bo pelini, andy staples, outback bowl, georgia

  7. 2011 Oct 21

    Husker Heartbeat 10/21: David Changing Big Ten 'Backers, Abdullah Not Satisfied and Davison Speaks Out

    5,094 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Senior linebacker Lavonte David is changing how Big Ten linebackers are viewed

    - Spencer and Jake Long arrived at Nebraska as walk-ons and both want to leave as doctors

    - True freshman sensation Ameer Abdullah isn't satisfied with his output on kick and punt returns

    - A look from inside the Nebraska locker room after defeating Ohio State (a can't miss)

    - Former "Flea-Kicker" recipient Matt Davison encourages both leadership and an end to bullying

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    Tags: lavonte david, spencer long, jake long, ameer abdullah, matt davison

  8. 2011 Sep 08

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things to Watch For Versus Fresno State

    3,407 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    After last week's game, Nebraska fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths – one that reminded them of the 2010 season. It wasn’t just the fans that felt uneasy about the win. "We won, but it just felt like it wasn't a great win," senior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie said.

    The Nebraska Cornhuskers now turn their attention to Fresno State. This is the first time that the two programs will meet, but it won’t be the last as they play again in 2014 and 2016. While Nebraska and Fresno State will have plenty to look out for as the season progresses, the Cornhuskers have a few crucial areas to keep a sharp eye on.

    1.) Offensive Line

    The offensive line is young – that’s been determined. True freshman Tyler Moore, walk-on sophomore Spencer Long and sophomore Andrew Rodriguez have been put in roles that demand experience one way or another. With only one game under their belts, UTC provided an opportunity to learn. While most would not wish to call the Mocs a “glorified practice,” it very well may have been for the young talent.

    Fresno State will be another challenge for the young line that is working to gel quickly. Maturing as a team takes time, but when Wisconsin and Ohio State are peeking over the horizon, the Huskers are going to have to find a way to grow up fast. The job is to protect and create holes to run through. Without that protection, plays become rushed and the offense falls apart.

    What will Husker fans be looking for from the offensive line on Saturday? Simple – growth.

    2.) Receivers

    While sophomore Quincy Enunwa downplayed his connection with quarterback Taylor Martinez, it’s hard to ignore the bond that was there. Enunwa caught four passes for 58 yards, leading the receivers in yardage. Even Jamal Turner had a strong first showing, catching a 19-yard pass.

    However, for the positives that were seen, it was far from a perfect performance for the receivers. Senior Brandon Kinnie only caught two balls for a total of seven yards. Many passes were often behind receivers and difficult to catch. At the same time, catchable passes were bobbled and dropped. It was a difficult combination that showed just how much work the receivers have to do.

    To become truly successful, the passing game will need to become a joint effort between Martinez and the receivers. The connection needs to be there with all wide outs, not just Enunwa. Martinez needs to start throwing the ball more efficiently. This combined with extra effort from the receivers should provide continued growth and plenty to cheer about for Nebraska fans.

    3.) Fumbles

    While penalty issues were clearly addressed, fumbles were still an issue for the Cornhuskers in the season opener. Fumbling four times, Nebraska only recovered two. Putting the pigskin on the ground for times in the first game of the season doesn’t speak highly of Nebraska’s ball-handling.

    Fumbling only puts added pressure on an offense that doesn’t need any more distractions. What will it take to keep the ball in the hands of the offense? It’s hard to say, but hopefully the issue can be resolved by Ron Brown sooner rather than later.

    4.) Brett Maher

    The season opener was a big success for kicker Brett Maher. Adjusting for the wind, Maher hit all four of his field goal attempts, clearing one by more than ten yards. Maher also averaged 52 yards on four punts. Coach Bo Pelini was quick to compliment Maher on his strong first outing.

    However, Fresno State is currently leading the nation in blocking kicks. Since 2002, the Bulldogs have blocked an impressive 59 kicks. Fresno State blocked two kicks in last week’s season opener against California alone. These numbers are important for Maher to take note of as he is aiming to create his own legacy at Nebraska.

    Husker fans should be looking for continued maturity with Maher. How he handles himself with the looming possibility of blocked kicks will be telling. Will he fall apart or keep nailing kicks? Saturday’s game will tell us all we need to know.

    5.) Leadership on Defense

    In 2009, Nebraska had a big leader on the field in Ndamukong Suh. Whenever the defense was on the field, Suh’s presence was made known. It was more than his talent that was brought to each play, but also the leadership that radiated from No. 93. Suh’s drive and passion for the team was contagious and it was clear that other players fed off of it.

    During the Post-Suh era in 2010, there was a clear lack of leadership on the defense. When leadership was needed, it appeared as if no one was truly willing to step up. While still very dominant, the defense lacked something in 2010 – a leader. After UTC, two players emerged as strong contenders as the leaders of the defense. Cameron Meredith and Daimion Stafford both showed strong talent and fire. Alongside Jared Crick, Meredith and Stafford have an opportunity to lead the defense to be even stronger.

    Saturday will be a game of firsts and growth. The Big Ten will soon be at Nebraska’s door and the Cornhuskers’ welcoming party won’t be too festive if their big problems don’t get solved quickly. What will Nebraska fans be watching for? A big win that actually feels like one.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: utc, tyler moore, spencer long, andrew rodriguez, fresno state, quincy enunwa, taylor martinez, brandon kinnie, ron brown, brett maher

  9. 2011 Sep 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: What The Cornhuskers Showed Against UTC

    4,502 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Last Thursday, we took a look at what Nebraska needed to show against the Mocs. Now that the game has come and gone, were fans surprised, disappointed or a combination of both? Regardless, there were five key areas that were put under the microscope.

    1.) The Offensive Line

    The line has been a hot topic for fans after Saturday’s game concluded. Concern weighed heavy on many minds, while a brave few offered the opinion that this is just a young team that needed time to gel. It’s true that the line is inexperienced with three unseasoned guys up front – true freshman Tyler Moore, walk-on sophomore Spencer Long and sophomore Andrew Rodriguez. Talent can help make up for lack of experience, but proper execution needs to happen soon.

    More often than not, the offensive line was caught off guard. It wasn’t unusual to find linemen on the ground with defenders rushing by them. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was often left scrambling to make a play when his protection failed. Memories of the 2010 season came flooding back to the Nebraska faithful and by day's end, it was clear that the line was one of the offense’s most glaring immediate weaknesses.

    However, this was Tim Beck’s first outing. With Barney Cotton in the booth and John Garrison on the sidelines, the coaching adjustment may have had some side effects. Attitude of the coaches and players show faith in the system and the resolve to make it work. This offensive line is raw and ultimately, fans need to give them time to find their groove.

    2.) Taylor Martinez

    He’s still growing. After a rough latter half of the 2010 season, many were unsure if Martinez could improve to a beneficial level. Many fans believed the young quarterback simply might not be able to lead his team. On Saturday, a new Martinez walked the sidelines. He often spoke with teammates and was far more vocal than last year.

    His presence on the field, while still shaky, showed some improvement. While Martinez appeared nervous and insecure in the first quarter, there were signs of a more matured athlete. He began to look at all of his receivers and while his passes weren’t stellar, there were drops on the receiving end. With practice and team support, Martinez can prepare himself for a strong season.

    3.) Fumbles and Penalties

    After being ranked No. 119 last year in penalties earned, Nebraska fans were looking for immediate improvement. By game’s end, the Cornhuskers had three penalties – one being a false start. This alone was a dramatic upgrade in performance. While the game may have been cleaner in terms of penalties, fumbles were still an issue.

    Nebraska fumbled four times while recovering two. This was bad enough against an FCS opponent. Teams like Wisconsin and Ohio State will take full advantage of poor ball-handling. Bo Pelini equated a lot of mistakes to first game jitters, but it’s necessary for the Cornhuskers to address this problem repeatedly during practice this week. With the offensive line already struggling, coughing up the football will only make a bad situation worse.

    4.) Kicking Specialists

    Big Red fans can finally breathe easy. There’s life after Alex Henery and Adi Kunalic. Brett Maher proved that not only is he a fine replacement, but that he truly deserves the job. The atmosphere in Memorial Stadium before Maher’s first field goal was one of deep concern. The mood was quickly lifted when Maher hit all four field goal attempts, including ones from 48 and 50 yards. He also averaged 52 yards on four punts.

    What made Maher’s debut even more impressive was the wind he contended with. His first field goal was kicked into the breeze and cleared the crossbar easily 50 yards out. While his stats were impressive, it’s concerning that the Huskers required so many field goals against an FCS squad. However, it’s comforting to know that if necessity calls, Maher can handle it.

    While it may be too early to call him the next Alex Henery, Maher made one thing very clear: He’s got a leg on him and will make Husker Nation very proud.

    5.) Memorial Stadium

    On a day that sure felt like fall had arrived, Memorial Stadium sat mostly quiet. Once the excitement of the Tunnel Walk had worn off, many fans were back in their seats, opting for silence over cheers. When fans would stand, they were scolded. “I can’t see through you,” was a popular phrase. At times, it felt like there wasn’t a game being played at all. Players’ overly-exaggerated motions riled up the crowd, but only momentarily.

    It would be easy to blame this on the fans themselves, but the reason for the silence was out of the crowds’ hands. Media breaks killed momentum that had the crowd standing and yelling. Ads on the Husker Vision screens drowned out crowd cheers. During one segment, the crowd even began to boo. While television timeouts are out of anyone’s control, marketing isn’t. This may be where lost momentum can be replaced – by using pauses in action more efficiently.

    A good place to start would during the upcoming game. It’s time for all fans, not just the student section, to take back game day. When the students start chanting, “Can’t be beat, won’t be beat!” before the fourth quarter, join in. Excitement in Memorial Stadium never hurt anyone, except maybe the opponents.

    The Mocs are in the rear-view mirror and it’s time to concentrate on the Bulldogs. Pelini believes that the team will continue to improve. It’s apparent that fans will hold him to that.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: utc, taylor martinez, andrew rodriguez, tyler moore, spencer long, tim beck, john garrison, barney cotton, bo pelini, brett maher

  10. 2011 Aug 30

    Husker Heartbeat 8/30: Will T-Magic Return?, Crick No. 1 Again and a BTN Announcement Re: UTC/Nebraska

    4,853 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Taylor Martinez can finally show if all of the new praise is legit come Saturday

    - Jared Crick tops ESPN's list of the best players in the Big Ten

    - Spencer Long goes from a long shot to a vital cog on the 2011 offensive line

    - How big of a role will injuries play in Nebraska's football season?

    - BTN announces channels for UTC vs. Nebraska

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: taylor martinez, jared crick, spencer long, utc, btn

  11. 2009 Jul 14

    Rookie Rundowns: Spencer Long

    462 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Just how much can this twin brother help out at a position that needs it: Defensive end? Find out with a Locker Pass!

    Tags: spencer long, hlss, locker pass, rookie rundowns

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