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  1. 2010 Apr 26

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Special Teams

    3,507 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Special teams

    Spring Summary: The primary intrigue would appear to be whether Adi Kunalic will take his red shirt in 2010, or use his final season of eligibility as Nebraska’s kickoff specialist. That issue may be decided over the summer. Alex Henery will be the kicker and punter again; in the punting game, Henery has to worry about being consistent over being spectacular. Expect Niles Paul or perhaps Rex Burkhead to be the punt returner. Both are dangerous.

    Big Mover: Tim Marlowe isn’t “moving” up, per se, but, based on his work in the Spring Game, he’s the kickoff returner along with Paul. Fine with us. Marlowe’s OK in the role.


    More to Prove: Kunalic missed two 52-yarders in the Spring Game that might have helped his case as the 2011 kicker. No issues on the distance, though.


    Wild Card: The same as the top freshman to add.


    Freshmen to Add: Running back Braylon Heard, whom we suspect will get a long look at kickoff returner. NU typically uses a couple freshmen on the coverage or return units; in 2008, it was Alfonzo Dennard, while in 2009, it was Eric Martin.


    Injuries: Justin Blatchford is off the coverage teams because of a torn-up knee.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Figuring out which freshmen can contribute and staying healthy.

    Spring Reviews on Linebacker Defensive Line, Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, adi kunalic, alex henery, niles paul, tim marlowe, rex burkhead

  2. 2010 Apr 26

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Secondary

    4,569 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Secondary

    Spring Summary: For all the grumblings we heard about the defense taking its lumps in spring scrimmages, only on a few plays did the Huskers look out of place in the Red/White Spring Game. Prince Amukamara was beaten twice by friend and teammate Niles Paul - but one of those catches was clearly offensive pass interference on Paul, while the other was a trick play. Alfonzo Dennard locked up his guy most of the afternoon despite giving up a touchdown. Can’t argue with the safety work of Dejon Gomes, P.J. Smith, Eric Hagg or Austin Cassidy, either. Anthony West seemed to take well to his position change, while Rickey Thenarse appears recovered from a torn ACL. Given the depth all over the secondary, this is Nebraska’s strongest position - as it must be in the pass-happy Big 12.


    Big Mover: Cassidy, who is a legitimate backup to Hagg, and should see plenty of playing time in the non-conference season before Hagg gets most of the snaps in the Big 12 campaign. Cassidy is big like a linebacker but can run like a safety. Pencil him in at Peso for 2011.


    More to Prove: West has all the physical tools to be a gifted safety. He should have been moved earlier, but now he has to play a big dose of catch-up. Thenarse continues to learn and master the playbook in his fifth season.


    Wild Card: Thenarse. He’s a big-time playmaker who struggled with consistency. Nebraska has to find the time and place for his talents.


    Freshmen to Add: The big name is safety Corey Cooper, who looks headed for strong safety or perhaps the Peso. Defensive backs Harvey Jackson, Ciante Evans and Joshua Mitchell are almost-guaranteed redshirts. Bronson Marsh, a grayshirt, may or may not join the team in the fall.


    Injuries: Andrew Green sat out most of spring camp. Walk-on Justin Blatchford tore up his knee in camp; he was a valuable special teams guy.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Staying humble. Don’t get too big of a head, Husker secondary.

    Spring Reviews on Linebacker Defensive Line, Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, austin cassidy, prince amukamara, eric hagg, anthony west, dejon gomes, pj smith, peso, andrew green justin blatchford, corey cooper, recruiting

  3. 2010 Apr 23

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Linebacker

    6,234 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Linebacker

    Spring Summary: One linebacker position was taken away and turned into a safety/Peso back role, so that leaves four major contenders - Will Compton, Sean Fisher, Alonzo Whaley, Eric Martin - for the middle and weak side spots. While each had good springs, Fisher and Whaley took the best foot forward - Whaley had to, or else risk being lost in the depth chart. Fisher was reportedly quicker and more aggressive. Compton was told to trust his instincts better, but he was uneven in the spring game. Martin flew around as expected but was out of position at times while Whaley played fast, determined and downhill. Those four will battle throughout fall camp for playing time. Behind them juniors Matt Holt and Mathew May battle injuries that keep back their athleticism, while Micah Kreikemeier still hunts for a true position now that the strong side linebacker role is gone.


    Big Mover: Whaley. Tremendous agility and above-average speed, Whaley worked on his upper-body strength in the offseason to better defend against the run.


    More to Prove: In our book, Martin, who is the most gifted of the four linebacker, and the most honest about his shortcomings in the film room. If Martin holes up in North Stadium this summer, NU may have its heir apparent to Phillip Dillard.

    Wild Card: May. If he can ever get healthy, he brings beaucoup speed to the role.


    Freshmen to Add: Lavonte David is a JUCO transfer who spent a few days at spring camp to learn the defense. He’s almost too small - but he’s expected to contribute right away.


    Injuries: May and Holt, and Kreikemeier missed the spring game with a locked-up elbow.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Get in that film room, Martin. For Whaley, keep lifting. For Compton and Fisher, don’t stop believin’.

    Spring Reviews on Linebacker Defensive Line, Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, alonzo whaley, will compton, sean fisher, eric martin, mathew may, matt holt, micah kreikemeier, lavonte david

  4. 2010 Apr 23

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Defensive Line

    5,658 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Defensive Line

    Spring Summary: Ndamukong Suh is gone, and so is Barry Turner, but there’s a lot left over to build with. The best of the bunch is obviously defensive tackle Jared Crick, a gifted, bullish two-technique that could be NU’s best interior pass rusher in years. Defensive ends Pierre Allen and Cameron Meredith may comprise, once the season begins, the best pass-rushing end duo in the Big 12 North; Allen, finally healthy after suffering from a painful turf toe last year, could be high NFL Draft pick in 2011. The big question is at the nose tackle spot, where Baker Steinkuhler and Terrence Moore will try to platoon to replace Suh. Their play in the Red/White Spring Game wasn’t bad, but they’ll need to get stronger and stand their ground better once the season begins. Backups include undersized-but-quick Thad Randle, natural rush end Josh Williams, big-bodied redshirt freshman Jason Ankrah at the other end spot, walk-on Justin Jackson and true freshmen Chase Rome and Jay Guy, who enrolled early. With Carl Pelini and John Papuchis teaching in tandem, expect this line to be terrific, if different from the 2009 version.


    Big Mover: Randle, who gives NU a variety options as a versatile player. He’s a pass-rushing threat and potentially a guy who can play a little end on third down pass rushing situations.


    More to Prove: Moore, who was hurt most of last season. He’s strong enough, and the right size, but his technique needs to improve.


    Wild Card: Jackson, a blue-collar type who has the strength to hold up against the run. Watch for him in goalline situations.


    Freshmen to Add: Donovan Vestal, Tobi Okuyemi, Walker Ashburn and Jake Cotton figure to be redshirt types. Vestal could grow into an offensive tackle before his career at NU is over.


    Injuries: With Allen now healthy, only Steinkuhler’s occasional back spurs are a minor concern. None of the defensive linemen missed spring practice.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Staying healthy and polishing technique.


    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, jared crick, baker steinkuhler, terrence moore, pierre allen, cameron meredith, chase rome, jay guy, thad randle, josh williams, carl pelini, john papuchis

  5. 2010 Apr 21

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Offensive Line

    7,662 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Offensive line

    Spring Summary: Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and offensive line coach Barney Cotton met with two groups in the offseason: Oregon’s staff and former Husker line legend Milt Tenopir. The result: A simpler scheme, more pulling, wider splits and a new aggressive mindset. Now Nebraska needs to stay healthy. Is that a sure thing? Frankly, no: Guard Ricky Henry sat out all of spring, and tackles Yoshi Hardrick and Mike Smith missed the spring game with injuries. Hardrick’s broken hand will take time to heal and it’ll affect how much lifting he can do in the offseason.

    But, overall, spirits are up. Brent Qvale and Jeremiah Sirles are terrific young talents, Mike Caputo looks like a capable heir apparent for Jacob Hickman at center - having Hickman as a volunteer coach probably helps - while the right tackle position seems more solidified with Marcel Jones and D.J. Jones. And left guard Keith Williams remains a solid NFL prospect.


    Big Mover: D.J. Jones, who re-sculpted his body for his senior season and might be the favorite to start at right tackle heading into the fall. If he were to solidify his starting job, Marcel Jones just might get a look at left tackle. Hardrick’s progress was slowed by a broken hand, but his work ethic is contagious.

    More to Prove: Brandon Thompson. A gifted, physical sophomore, Thompson needs to get in the mix for playing time soon before he’s overcome by redshirt freshmen.


    Wild Card: Hardrick, who’s raw, but willing to punish. He could be a weapon in a power running game. Yes, a weapon - he wears out defenders with his motor.


    Freshmen to Add: Mike Moudy and Andrew Rodriguez. Both look the part, and both will probably redshirt anyway. Moudy is a sleeper recruit.


    Injuries: Henry missed all of spring, and Hardrick will have a tough summer ahead of him in terms of upper-body lifting. Mike Smith struggled with injuries, which is nothing new for him.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Don’t get in freak weightlifting accidents?

    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, mike smith, keith williams, brent qvale, jeremiah sirles, yoshi hardrick, ricky henry, mike caputo

  6. 2010 Apr 21

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Quarterback

    9,645 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Quarterback

    Spring Summary: As Zac Lee walked around the practice field in khaki shorts for all of spring, Cody Green and Taylor Martinez worked with the No. 1 and No. 2 units while Kody Spano and LaTravis Washington worked with the lower units. In the Red/White Spring Game, Martinez flashed his running talents while hitting a few big passes while Green hit a few bigger passes. Read more about it here and here.

    Big Mover: Martinez. Against conventional thought and odds, he’s made his move in the quarterback race. He still has to fix his throwing mechanics a little more and manage the offense in a game situation, but his biggest boosters - The Brothers Pelini - are the right guys to have in his corner. T-Mart is open for business.

    More to Prove: Lee. Let’s set aside his one decent game in the Holiday Bowl and get right down to it: Is he willing to conform to the new mold of NU’s offense and run the ball consistently and effectively, or does he want to hang in the pocket and play NFL quarterback? It does matter to his future at Nebraska. Lee has to execute the offense as scripted and called. Is he ready to run the ball ten times per game?

    Wild Card: Martinez. With his throwing mechanics, he’s a risk in this offense right now. But we’re betting he gets a good, long look at the position.


    Freshmen to Add: Brion Carnes, who is mobile enough and shows some pretty good talent as a passer. Carnes is a true dual threat, but he’s not the runner Martinez is.


    Injuries: Lee is rehabbing from elbow surgery. Kody Spano continues to make the mental and physical return from two ACL tears.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Martinez has to continue to polish his throwing motion. Green has to get in the film room and work on his accuracy. Lee has to get ready to be tested in the fall. He will be the frontrunner for the starting job, but the coaches will make their expectations of him very clear as it pertains to running the ball.

    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring in review, taylor martinez, zac lee, cody green, latravis washington, kody spano, shawn watson

  7. 2010 Apr 20

    Bo Hints at Long, 3-Man QB Race

    1,174 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    A dose of coachspeak or pigskin prophecy?

    Time will tell, but Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini pointed Monday to a three-man quarterback race at NU between Zac Lee, Cody Green and Taylor Martinez that could extend well into fall camp - and potentially into the season.

    And Pelini appeared comfortable with that reality.

    “It’s a good position to be in,” Pelini said during the Big 12 Coaches’ spring teleconference. “We have three guys who we feel are capable and good football players. Competition will hopefully bring out the best in everybody. I’m looking forward to the race. Let the best man win. It possibly could be a combination of guys.”

    Pelini said the QB competition “could go on for awhile.”

    “I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” Pelini said. “We’re going to do what we feel is necessary to win football games.”

    Sophomore Green and redshirt freshman Martinez dueled throughout spring, culminating with their performances in the Red/White Spring Game. Martinez flashed as a talented runner, gaining 60 yards on nine carries. Green threw for 155 yards, with a 72-yard touchdown to Will Henry.

    Lee, a fifth-year senior, sat out spring rehabbing from elbow surgery. Pelini said Lee should be throwing “soon.”

    “I don’t really know the timeframe,” Pelini said. “It’s for the doctors. When’s he able to go, he’s able to go.”

    Although Lee watched “a lot of game film” and took mental repetitions in practice, Pelini said “there’s no substitute for actually doing it yourself.”

    Pelini’s comments were a part of ten-minute interview that will likely serve as Bo’s parting shot for spring. Not one to give frequent interviews in the offseason, Pelini will be heading this week with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson to speak at Ohio State’s coaching clinic.

    Other thoughts on Bo’s mind:

    On using the loss to Texas as motivation for 2010: “Obviously we were close. I think guys are just hungry. People are anxious. They came here to win championships. That hasn’t happened yet…I look at the things we didn’t do in that game. We didn’t win because we didn’t earn it. In the end, I’m hungry to win a championship.”

    On linebacker Alonzo Whaley, who led all tacklers in the Spring Game with nine: “He had a good spring. He’s in the mix. Just like all of them, he’s got a ways to go. He’s doing good things.”

    On the Big 12 North rising to challenge the South: “All the recent Big 12 championships have been won by the South, so until the North does something about it then we’re not going to be all the way back. We’re about winning championships.”

    Who do you think will win the job? Talk about it here!


    See also: Spring Reviews on Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, cody green, taylor martinez, zac lee, alonzo whaley, big 12, texas, shawn watson

  8. 2010 Apr 20

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Tight End

    4,241 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress is yet to come.

    Position: Tight End

    Spring Summary: Still loaded, even with Mike McNeill’s half-move to wide receiver. Nebraska finally has a stable of impressive blockers in sophomore Ben Cotton, junior Ryan Hill, senior Dreu Young and walk-on Mychael McClure. McNeill remains a threat when he lines up there, and sophomore Kyler Reed is a more assertive, experienced player - retaining all of the talent he’s flashed since his arrival at NU. Walk-on Brent Wells could be a nice player down the road, too.


    Big Mover: Reed. With injuries to Cotton and Young in camp, Reed got a ton of repetitions with the first team. He took advantage of them, and should be a better pass-receiver in 2010.


    More to Prove: J.T. Kerr, a redshirt freshman. Kerr came to NU to be a combo blocker-short yardage pass catcher, but we’ve yet to see the kind of expected progress.


    Wild Card: Hill, who will line up at fullback some, but can also be a nice pass-catching option down by the goal line. Nice player.


    Freshmen to Add: Chase Harper from junior college. Much will be expected from Harper, who appears to be the most physically gifted tight end NU’s had since Matt Herian.


    Injuries: Young will battle chronic back issues for the rest of his career. Cotton missed a good chunk of practice, but some of that was precautionary. Cotton is a tough kid and a leader.


    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Get healthy, stay healthy, and stay on track. And wait for Harper.

    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, ben cotton, dreu young, chase harper, brent wells, mychael mcclure, ryan hill

  9. 2010 Apr 19

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Running Back

    8,217 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Following the 2010 spring camp, Nebraska now looks back at the progress made by each position group - and what progress still needs to be.

    Position: Running Back

    Spring Summary: Nebraska altered its running game to more sudden, downhill attack, which suited sophomore Rex Burkhead’s running game, but required a slight change in style from senior Roy Helu. Helu appeared more decisive and bullish in the spring game. Tray Robinson is NU’s clear No. 3 - for now. He didn’t get many carries in the spring game, but he brings 230 pounds and surprisingly good outside speed for that size. Overall, this is the strongest offensive position group of the four. Coach Tim Beck should be a happy man.

    Big Mover: Burkhead, who looked every bit of Nebraska’s top running back in the spring game. He was especially dangerous when paired with quarterback Taylor Martinez. Both of them are quick-twitch, hard-running athletes who get North/South in a hurry.

    More to Prove: Lester Ward’s long strides and upright running style just don’t seem to fit the direction of Nebraska’s offense. He did little on Saturday.

    Wild Card: Austin Jones will never be a starter at Nebraska, but he’s a nice utility guy when the injury bug bits. He showed off a variety of baseline skills - including good hands in the receiving department - in the spring game.

    Freshmen to Add: Braylon Heard, assuming he qualifies. Heard is a true home run hitter. Elusive-yet-decisive, Heard is a nearly perfect fit for the new direction of NU’s running game.

    Injuries: None of note.

    How to Spend Summer Vacation: Helu and Burkhead will push each other, we’re sure. Meanwhile, watch for a potential transfer. Nebraska’s backfield is awful crowded, and Jones, as a walk-on, appears ahead of a few scholarship guys.

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    Spring Reviews on Quarterback, Offensive LineRunning Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, rex burkhead, roy helu, tray robinson, tim beck, austin jones, lester ward, collins okafor, braylon heard

  10. 2010 Apr 18

    Commentary: About Those Blackshirts...

    4,900 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Stop worrying about the defense.

    (How’s that for starting a column in midstream?)

    I know you, Husker fan. You drank in the gorgeous afternoon along with the Kool-Aid, high-fived somebody when Niles Paul made his great grab, exclaimed “that’s Osborne’s play!” after the bouncearooski, texted your buddy that Taylor Martinez is the next flavor of the month, and then, in the bar or on the drive home, you began to chew on the inside of your cheek.

    Wonder. Think. Worry.

    And in the coming days, sure as garbage companies heinously overcharge to throw your grass clippings in a truck, some scribe or talking head will pick through the scraps of Saturday’s Red/White Spring Game, walk to the microphone, tap it for clarity, and construct a counter-argument that will linger through summer:

    That NU’s defense, giving up 677 yards Saturday - and getting its share of tread marks in two scrimmages - is a potential weakness. Or, at the very least, nowhere near as strong as last year’s version, as Bo Pelini so confidently stated during the winter.

    To quote the TBS-bound Conan O’Brien: Keep cool, my babies. Thrice.

    1. NU didn’t field a first-team defense on Saturday. At best, it was half of a first team. The chemistry of the two-deep is good - but it’s not that good. Especially after 15 practices.

    “Communication is a big part of our defense,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “Without that, you see a lot of open plays.”

    Said safety Dejon Gomes: “The offense did a heck of a job, but the Spring Game is kinda different. Half the guys you’re playing with is on the other team. The chemistry’s a little off.

    2. Carl and Bo Pelini rarely dialed up blitzes. When they did, the Red or White offense, save a few examples, didn’t handle it well. The Brothers Pelini weren’t looking for sacks; they wanted to see how quarterbacks Cody Green and Taylor Martinez handled basic coverages.

    3. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson overhauled the offense for this spring. And some of the stuff he installed isn’t easy to stop on the first drive.

    That’s probably why Nebraska’s running it.

    In Bo Pelini’s many years as defensive coordinator, he’s probably figured out what he doesn’t like to defend, and it involves a running quarterback, power football, a downfield passing game, multiple running backs, and a dash of the Wildcat.

    In short - a mish-mash of the offenses that gave Bo the most heartache when he was at LSU in 2007: Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas.

    Watson - with Bo’s input - appears to have given the offense a run-first identity. And NU’s smallish defense - a Cosgrove collection it isn’t - is a bit prone to a quick-hitting, downhill running game.

    Do the Huskers have to address that by continuing to build its defensive line? Absolutely. It’s not there yet. Neither Baker Steinkuhler nor Terrence Moore were exactly dominating Saturday - although Steinkuhler fought off blocks pretty well for a man of his length.

    But ends Cameron Meredith and Pierre Allen were in fine form. Meredith screamed off the edge once; another time he bulled his way to the quarterback on an inside twist. Allen, hobbled for much of 2009 with the mysterious-yet-debilitating turf toe, looked stronger and quicker. Josh Williams had a sack, too.

    And an opposing quarterback isn’t going to enjoy throwing against Nebraska. Expect blitzes from all angles - with a variety of terrific athletes - to account for the loss of Ndamukong Suh.

    Safety Matt O’Hanlon once told me Bo and Carl were an encyclopedia of blitzes. It made his head - and those of his teammates - spin, how quickly they rattled them off. O’Hanlon recounted how, in 2008, Bo called a timeout to keep New Mexico State from scoring a late touchdown, walked out on the field, and modified one his classic “Casino” blitzes right on the spot, pointing at players and giving them their assignments, sandlot-style.

    On the next play, O’Hanlon grabbed an interception. Just like Bo told him he would.

    And NU’s secondary - Rickey Thenarse, Gomes, Amukamara, Eric Hagg, Anthony West - is a perfect army to deploy to in 2010

    Hagg - one of the Huskers’ best blitzers - said the defense hardly concentrated on those schemes this spring. That’s for fall, when the two-deep becomes more clear, and there’s only, say, 30 players - instead of 60 - to refine and hone for the season.

    Where Nebraska coaches imagined themselves weak - linebacker - may account for the most growth in the spring. The light went on for Sean Fisher and doubly so for Alonzo Whaley, who played fast and downhill in the Spring Game. Will Compton had a nice pass break-up, and Eric Martin, well, flew around. If he puts all the keys and schemes together - watch out.

    Beyond that - there’s a track record with the defense. From the end of that 2008 Oklahoma game until this moment, you’d be hard-pressed to locate a more dangerous, predatory defense outside of Alabama. Since that awful night in Norman, NU’s has been a sack and turnover machine, regardless of the yards allowed. Fissures and cracks have been papered over by Suh and an opportunistic secondary.

    Suh may be gone. But the secondary remains. And Bo and Carl have only scratched the surface of their creativity.

    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: 5 Questions for Summer, Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, bo pelini, carl pelini, prince amukamara, dejon gomes, eric hagg, cameron meredith, pierre allen, will compton, alonzo whaley, sean fisher, eric martin, josh williams, terrence moore, baker steinkuhler

  11. 2010 Apr 18

    5 Burning Questions for Summer

    6,500 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    School’s out for sum-mer! School’s out for-

    Well, not really. There’s still classes and stuff for the Nebraska football team. But the pigskin version of school turns into an independent study until August.

    So pardon us a moment of Alice Cooper. Even if, we’re sure, Husker football players will be carrying around pencils and playbooks every day, all the time, until fall.

    Here’s five questions to ponder over pool and park season in Nebraska. Maybe, if we remember, we’ll bother to revisit these after we’ve seen “Inception” a couple times (look it up.)

    When does Zac Lee return to throwing full-time, and how well does he throw? Two questions for the price of one! We presume the answers are “next month” and “just fine.” Then again, it’s elbow surgery. It’s a serious enough to await the final results.

    Whither attrition? Players leave. It’s part of the college football business. But that number may be small, given an exciting 2010 to come. Don’t expect Bo Pelini to kick anybody out of the door. He may not exactly bar the door, either, for a few players buried on the depth chart.

    How hotta the blotter? It’ll be a summer of expectant electricity in Lincoln regarding the Husker football team; players could make their rounds about town like once and future mini-kings. Bo would prefer - and I suspect he’ll get - a quieter profile from them.

    Does Nebraska keep the recruiting momentum? Last summer, NU hit the recruiting doldrums in June and July. The Huskers have retooled a bit in the recruiting office, and the next three months could bring 3-5 verbal commitments. Watch the defensive side of the ball.

    Who’s the workout warrior? No way to know that, of course, until players reconvene in August. But some player - maybe several of them - will take James Dobson’s teachings to the next level, and return to fall camp like the next coming of Phillip Dillard.

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    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, zac lee, recruiting, james dobson, bo pelini

  12. 2010 Apr 17

    SPRING GAME: Photos, Stats and Notes

    3,409 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Related photos

    Click on the Photo Album below for pictures.


    Buy Your Copy of the 2010 Spring Game - at a discount! - right now! Click here!

    Here's final stats to the game.

    A quick scoring summary is below...

    ***Check back for notes***

    1 2 3 4 - Final
    White 0 10 6 0 - 16
    Red 7 7 0 7 - 21

    1st quarter
    RED - Tyler Legate 6 pass from Taylor Martinez, 8:41
    (Alex Henery kick; 10 plays, 52 yards, 6:19)
    2nd quarter
    WHI - Adi Kunalic 33 field goal, 14:45
    (5 plays, 54 yards, 1:20)
    RED - Brandon Kinnie 36 pass from Taylor Martinez, 9:52
    (Alex Henery kick; 8 plays, 72 yards, 4:45)
    WHI - Will Henry 72 pass from Cody Green, 6:13
    (Adi Kunalic kick; 6 plays, 79 yards, 3:31)
    3rd quarter
    WHI - Adi Kunalic 21 field goal, 9:29
    (4 plays, 7 yards, 2:05)
    WHI - Adi Kunalic 32 field goal, 0:53
    (11 plays, 48 yards, 6:33)
    4th quarter
    RED - Ryan Hill 1 pass from Kody Spano, 7:28
    (Alex Henery kick; 13 plays, 69 yards, 8:18)

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010

  13. 2010 Apr 17

    SPRING GAME: Six Red Team Standouts

    6,030 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Six players on the Red team who made an impact Saturday:

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: Well, the kid can run. Naturally and aggressively. The passing game, aside from a few basic throws, really needs work. Martinez can’t force the ball into tight spaces, or simply throw it up for grabs. But there is a lot of raw material with which to work.

    Running back Rex Burkhead: Ran with purpose, momentum and terrific forward lean. He’s neck-and-neck with Roy Helu for the starting I-back job in our book.

    Running back Austin Jones: A fumble aside, Jones epitomized what these spring games tend to be about: A guy down the depth chart who puts every ounce of effort into a handful of plays. Jones had a nice 15-yard run, a 14-yard catch and a 35-yard kickoff return. He even ran over defensive back Dejon Gomes. A triple threat kind of day. He certainly appears to be NU’s fourth-string running back.

    Quarterback Kody Spano: Whether he ever takes a meaningful snap at NU is still unknown, but Spano probably handles the passing pocket about as well as any Husker quarterback. He seems to be moving a little slow out there, but he processes reads quickly, and makes nice throws. He completed 7-of-8 passes for 66 yards.

    Tight end Kyler Reed: Four grabs for 47 yards. The acceleration is still there. The ball skills are there. Needs to make it happen in the fall.

    Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie: Only had the one catch for 36 yards - but it went for a touchdown thanks to his effort and refusal to be tackled. Inside the team, coaches are pleased with Kinnie’s growth as a player.


    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, brandon kinnie, taylor martinez, kyler reed, rex burkhead, kody spano

  14. 2010 Apr 17

    SPRING GAME: Six White Team Standouts

    6,175 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Six players on the White team who made an impact Saturday:

    Wide receiver Niles Paul: The best player on the field Saturday. Against an All Big 12 cornerback in Prince Amukamara, Paul consistently got open and made two highlight reel catches. He certainly bailed out Cody Green and Mike McNeill on balloon-like throws.

    Linebacker Alonzo Whaley: He was a touch out of control, but Whaley played downhill all afternoon, spiking hard into the offensive backfield. He probably won’t eclipse Will Compton, who also made his share of plays, but Whaley has shaken off a so-so redshirt freshman campaign.

    Safety Rickey Thenarse: He still knows how to stick his nose in there, doesn’t he? Thenarse was all over the field - and sometimes not in the right spot - but he brings the wood, plays with passion, and has a nose for the football - hence his interception.

    Wide receiver KC Hyland: Three catches for 57 yards as one of the scrubs. Give this walk-on, now a sophomore, another year. He may play a role for these Huskers in 2011. Good hands.

    Defensive back Dejon Gomes: Aside from a play in which he got trucked by Austin Jones, Gomes attacked the line of scrimmage and made good coverage decisions.

    Defensive end Pierre Allen: Quietly excelled at holding down his gap, finishing with six tackles. Allen was explosive and showed off a strong first step. He’s back - with an interesting 2010 to come.



    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, alonzo whaley, rickey thenarse, dejon gomes, niles paul, kc hyland, pierre allen

  15. 2010 Apr 17

    SPRING GAME: Commentary: Jury Still Out on QB

    8,613 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Call Clint Eastwood. Nebraska’s offense has a couple of shotguns - the regular 12-gauge and a nasty little sawed-off version - to sell him. And the occasional fullback belly.

    You didn’t see a bunch of NU’s retooled running attack in the Red/White Spring Game. But you saw enough to know this much: It’s quicker, more aggressive and more dangerous than last year. It’s power spread stuff, a hybrid of Florida, Oregon, Baylor, West Coast stuff and old-school Tom Osborne.

    “And then we’re coming up with our own twist,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said.

    The line splits are wider. The targets and blocking assignments are simpler. The running backs - especially Rex Burkhead but even Roy Helu - are more decisive. Sweeps and veer plays and counters. A seven-yard shotgun formation and a quick-hitting four-yard formation, which offensive line coach Barney Cotton wanted to make sure was not called the Pistol.

    Well, call it effective, either way, for the Red/White Spring Game - to the tune of 259 rushing yards.

    “We studied football hard this winter,” Watson said. “We had a great winter. Our kids are grasping it. We sat down to make things easier, faster. More aggressive attitude. They did a great job. I’m talking our offensive line, our tight ends. Our receivers are huge.”

    And when redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez is the guy running the zone read, that defense is on skates. Heck the White Defense, for several drives, was doing the roller derby, waiting for Martinez to finish his three-card Monte with Burkhead before picking a poison to tackle. More often than not, Martinez was a step ahead of the defenders, scampering with his short, choppy strides into green space.

    “We had him 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-8, and he just kept drives going,” safety Rickey Thenarse said.

    “Very explosive,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said “I love when the ball’s in his hands. It’s really exciting.”

    Said Watson: “He can put a foot in the dirt and go.”

    But can Martinez win 10 or 11 in 2010? Can he win a Big 12 Championship? Can he, with his quirky throwing motion and chasm of inexperience, really storm the fortress and win the starting job?

    Maybe. But he’ll have to storm uphill to do it.

    Watching Martinez force two passes into coverage - one of which was intercepted, while the other should have been - gives any frequent shopper at T-Mart pause. Plus: Is he a leader? Can the team follow him into a national title chase? The kid won’t talk to the media once before the 2010 season opener - how does he handle the camera and tape recorder crush?

    Martinez is a weapon. No doubt. But is he the side dish? Or the whole side of Big Red beef?

    Cody Green’s play raised more questions than it answered. Green tossed two decent deep balls to Niles Paul and Will Henry, but otherwise looked like the same shaky passer from the Holiday Bowl. Too often with Green, it’s Niles or bust. Great when Niles gets open. Not so much during the season, while No. 24 is bound to get double coverage every time he smells a slant pattern.

    Unfair? Maybe. Green’s a high-energy guy who’s better when he gets in a rhythm. But he struggles to find the rhythm. Green rushed five times for 12 yards. His zone read fakes were fine; his ability to elude tacklers was not.

    Fans who expected a dazzling, confident Green didn’t get one.

    Which leaves Zac Lee.

    He dressed in a jersey and khaki shorts Saturday, and spent the day with headset watching from the sideline. Rehabbing this spring after elbow surgery, he didn’t give interviews this spring; if Lee has his way, he won’t be giving any this summer, either.

    “I think Zac feels like he missed a lot,” Watson said. “When you miss reps, you miss a lot. He’ll have to make up for it. And he knows it.”

    And yet the San Francisco senior remains the leader at the summer turn. He’ll have to earn the starting job, but, based on the current evidence, he’s the only passer in the lot who can win a game when the defense puts a plug in that shotgun run.

    “You’ve got to be able to throw the ball,” Watson said. “Balance comes from throwing the ball.”

    That’s Lee.

    In his next breath, Watson said this: “But you have to be able to run, too. Because that gives you another element. It’s just a simple game of math, really. With the quarterback added to the running game, defensively they’re down a hat.”

    That’s Martinez.

    Green appears to be a blend of both.

    If Lee could sharpen his running skills. If Martinez could somehow read and process coverage he won’t see until the fall. If Green could simply play to the level of his tools and personality.

    If.

    See you in August.


    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: 5 Questions for Summer, Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, cody green, shawn watson, taylor martinez, zac lee

  16. 2010 Apr 17

    SPRING GAME: T-Mart's Grand Opening a Success as Red Nips White

    5,296 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Even without a Nebraska uniform, Ndamukong Suh found a way to dominate Saturday’s Red/White Spring Game with his $2.6 million gift to NU - which included a cool $2 million for the strength and conditioning program.

    “I specifically asked that this gift be used to help other future Huskers as they train in the strength and conditioning center,” said Suh, soon to be picked in the top five of the 2010 NFL Draft. “This incredible facility helped me earn all the honors I was so privileged to receive this past season, and I believe this gift can help make this facility the very best in the country.”

    The game itself? Oh, it was on, with the Red (pants!) nipping the White 21-16 in front of 77,936 fans at a sun-splashed Memorial Stadium. Unveiling a retooled, shotgun-based power running game - mixed with a deep playaction passing attack - the offenses chugged up and down the field, racking up 677 total yards.

    “We’re pleased with how we’ve come along,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “We’ve been constantly evolving. That’s my job. That’s our job as an offensive staff.”

    The Red and White defenses, trapped in a vanilla base for much of the game, suffered at times but often bowed its back at the right moments, forcing two 52-yard field goals - both missed by Adi Kunalic - and two turnovers during the game. The White standouts appeared to be Alonzo Whaley (nine tackles) and Rickey Thenarse (seven and an interception) while the Red got three tackles and a sack from reserve defensive end Josh Williams.

    Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez semi-delivered on the considerable media hype entering the game by throwing two touchdowns to give the Red a 14-3 lead. He passed for 79 yards and rushed for 60, working a deft, quick zone read with backfield mate Rex Burkhead, who rushed for 36 yards on the game’s first two drives. Martinez forced two passes, one of which was tipped by Alfonzo Dennard and intercepted by Brandon Kinnie.

    But the White, aided by a 72-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Cody Green to senior Will Henry, scored the next 13 points. Green was hot-and-cold as a passer, finishing 7-of-15 for 155 yards and the touchdown. While Green hit Niles Paul for a 48-yard gain, he badly overthrew tight end Mychael McClure for a sure touchdown and threw behind two other receivers. Green rushed for 12 yards.

    “We got to go out there and basically executed the things that Coach Watson and the offensive coaches wanted to be executed,” Green said.

    The plan, Watson said, was only to play Martinez and Green one half. They did, with Green holding the slight edge in total yards - thanks to two long passes - while Martinez appeared to be the better, more comfortable runner. Neither were able to move the ball in two-minute drills.

    Pelini and Watson wouldn’t even consider declaring a leader between the two for the Spring Game or spring camp in general; that would go against, Watson said, “fair competition.” Incumbent starter Zac Lee joins the fray next fall after spending the spring recovering from elbow surgery.

    “Everything gets earned,” Watson said. “It’ll be clear who the starter is whenever it reveals itself. I have no timetable on it.”

    Said Pelini: “Everyone is in the race for the starting job. There are no starting jobs locked down right now. Competition is on; this is just a small part of the evaluation.”

    In the fourth quarter, sophomore reserve Kody Spano, limited to handoffs and basic passing plays, nevertheless led a 13-play, 69-yard touchdown that culminated with his one-yard pass to Ryan Hill, accounting for the final score. With a running clock for much of the second half, Husker fans were out of the stadium in time for four o’clock high tea.

    Paul was the game’s offensive standout; he caught five passes for 103 yards, including a leaping, one-handed grab on a trick “bouncearooski” play in which Green threw a backwards pass to tight end Mike McNeill, who heaved the ball to Paul, drifting behind corner Prince Amukamara. Paul and Amukamara were matched up most of the day; No. 24 beat No. 21 several times.

    “Prince came up to me after the game and was like, ‘You may have won the battle, but you didn’t win the war,’” Paul said. “I told him that was the war for spring ball, so the battle’s over.”

    As is spring camp, which to a Husker, should be marked as progress and growth for the 2010 season.

    “I like the things that we were able to get done,” Pelini said.

    Said Green: “We had a heck of a spring. We went out there and basically had 15 games because we went out there and just got after it. That’s the only thing you can ask for an entire team.”

    Said defensive tackle Jared Crick: “We’re wanting to come out with a product better than where we ended last year going into fall camp. I think we’re there so far.”

    What awaits them - and fans - is a long summer of working out and waiting, as Nebraska continues to collect accolades, high preseason rankings and media-based hype, with one question still hanging in the air: Who is this team’s starting quarterback?

    SPRING GAME COVERAGE: Game Story, QB Commentary, Red Team Standouts, White Team Standouts, Photos

    Tags: spring game 2010, springtime with bo 2010, cody green, taylor martinez, ndamukong suh, rex burkhead, brandon kinnie, kody spano, ryan hill, shawn watson, bo pelini, rickey thenarse, alonzo whaley

  17. 2010 Apr 16

    SPRING GAME: Breaking Down the Red/White Rosters

    3,179 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Now that the rosters for the Red/White Spring Game have been officially set, we break down which team has the advantage at each position:

    Quarterback: The White team features Cody Green and presumed third-stringer Ron Kellogg, while the Red team offers up Taylor Martinez and Kody Spano. Green’s experience and seasoning gets the nod here, although it will be interesting to see him match up directly with Martinez. Edge: White

    Running back: The White gets Roy Helu and Tray Robinson, while the Red workhorse will be Rex Burkhead with a compliment of reserves (Austin Jones, Lester Ward). But the Red team also gets fullback Tyler Legate and H-back Ryan Hill. Close one, but you know what? Edge: White

    Tight end: Red gets Ben Cotton, Kyler Reed, Hill and walk-on Brett Wells, who had a nice spring. The White counters with “adjuster” Mike McNeill, Dreu Young and Mychael McClure. Hill’s arguably the best blocker while Reed is an emerging weapon. Edge: Red

    Wide receiver: Red gets Brandon Kinnie, Curenski Gilleylen, Will Henry and Tim Marlowe. White team gets the big weapon, Niles Paul, plus McNeill and Antonio Bell. Neither set the night ablaze. Edge: Red

    Offensive line: Red gets Keith Williams, Marcel Jones, Brent Qvale, Cole Pensick and Jesse Coffey. The White gets Mike Caputo, Jeremiah Sirles, D.J. Jones, Brandon Thompson and Nick Ash. Experience and quality performance is on Red’s side. Edge: Red

    Defensive line: Red gets Baker Steinkuhler, Thad Randle, Cameron Meredith, Chase Rome and Josh Williams. White gets Jared Crick, Pierre Allen, Terrence Moore, Jay Guy and Jason Ankrah. This one isn’t close. Edge: White.

    Linebacker: Red gets Will Compton and Eric Martin. White counters with Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley. The lights came on for both Fisher and Whaley this spring, we’ll go with them in an upset. Edge: White.

    Defensive backs: Red gets Prince Amukamara, Anthony West, Eric Hagg, P.J. Smith, Seth Jameson and Lazarri Middleton. White counters with Dejon Gomes, Alfonzo Dennard, Anthony Blue, Dijon Washington, Rickey Thenarse, Courtney Osbourne and Austin Cassidy. Toughest of the bunch. Edge: Red

    Special Teams: If actually comes to this, the red team gets Alex Henery as both punter and kicker and Rex Burkhead as the punt returner. The white team gets Adi Kunalic as kicker, Brett Maher as punter, and Niles Paul as punt returner. Edge: Red, obviously.

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring game 2010

  18. 2010 Apr 16

    SPRING GAME: 5 Burning Questions

    752 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Five questions worth asking - in hopes of an answer - heading into Saturday’s Red/White Spring Game:

    Just how vanilla? Is there a hint of flavor in Nebraska’s offensive plays, or does NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson rest on what the Huskers were able to accomplish in a couple scrimmages. The blocking schemes and philosophy have changed since we last saw this team. Nebraska can’t simply ignore all of what it’s been working on for the sake of privacy. Or can it?

    Does the empire strike back? NU’s defense took its licks in the spring scrimmages; does a dialed-down offensive package allow Carl Pelini’s bunch to deliver a few licks of their own? Nebraska’s new-look offensive line is bigger, stronger and more athletic than the 2009 version, so it may not be so simple.

    Which quarterback makes a statement? And by “which” we mean Cody Green or Taylor Martinez. There is a chance - remote, but plausible - that Martinez blows the doors off with some spectacular run, but our money is on Green having the best chance to step forward - or fail to close the gap on Zac Lee, who, in our eyes, is still the starter of this team.

    Does Nebraska have two starting linebackers worthy of Phillip Dillard’s one-year legacy? Yes, two. NU plays enough pro-style teams on the road in 2010 (Washington, Texas A&M, Kansas) that it can’t just rely on its dime defense. With Texas reconsidering a power game and Colorado building what could be a very potent offense, the play of Will Compton, Eric Martin, Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley should be of some interest to Husker fans.

    Is the Peso a pretty picture? Moreover: Will you even notice if it isn’t? Count on Eric Hagg to get the job done. We’ll see about Austin Cassidy.

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, bo pelini, spring game 2010, taylor martinez, cody green, eric martin, alonzo whaley, sean fisher, will compton, shawn watson, zac lee

  19. 2010 Apr 16

    SPRING GAME: 10 Players to Watch

    1,622 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Almost 100 players could see playing time in the Red/White Spring Game.

    But here’s the guys you absolutely want to keep an eye on Saturday. A mixture of unproven talents - and counted-upon guys with still something to prove.

    Center Mike Caputo: How does he handle the line of scrimmage? How well does he exchange with a variety of quarterbacks? More importantly, how does he control that initial jam from the interior defensive line. Reports said Caputo had a solid camp, and he’s the easy frontrunner to replace Jacob Hickman. On Saturday, he can cement his starting role even more.

    Wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen: We’ll see if No. 11’s spring comeback tour continues on Saturday or slows down at the finish. We heard so much about Menelik Holt, you’ll recall, last spring, only to watch him get blanketed by walk-on cornerbacks in the spring game.

    Quarterback Cody Green: I’m watching for the confidence that comes with experience. What does that look like? Good footwork. A consistent release point. Throwing to someone other than Niles Paul. Buying time instead of bailing out. If Green can manage his emotions - he can manage the offense.

    Linebacker Eric Martin: It’s no secret that “Caveman” knows what to do with a ball carrier once he gets there. It’s his path to getting there that bears worth watching. If Martin is taking wide, extended routes to the ball because he misread the play or got held up by a blocker, consider it a poor day for the sophomore.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: You knew he’d make the list. His goals are simple: Make the throws he’s been asked to make and don’t try too hard. Watch for tosses over the middle especially. Just how well can Martinez see over that massive offensive line?

    Defensive back Lazarri Middleton: In our eyes, the most promising of the young defensive backs. He’ll get his chance more in the second half of the game.

    Defensive tackle Terrence Moore: Nebraska’s going to need this kid badly in 2010; I just don’t buy NU consistently trucking two 6-foot-6 interior linemen (Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler) out for 40, 50 snaps together each game. Moore needs to be explosive and disruptive.

    Defensive tackle Thad Randle: He’ll be at a 50-pound disadvantage for most of the afternoon, but if he’s the explosive, savvy player Carl Pelini’s made him out to be, Randle could be a redshirt freshman surprise.

    Running back Tray Robinson: His role last season was so narrow - run hard between the tackles - that Husker fans may have a misconception about his talent. Be prepared to be surprised. NU running backs coach Tim Beck really likes this kid. Saturday, you may find out why.

    Safety Anthony West: A handful of Husker insiders argue West always should have played safety. He’ll get a long, loving look at the position Saturday. Carl Pelini and Marvin Sanders will be looking for aggressive tackling and an understanding of coverage. Remember - West got roasted by Wes Cammack in last year’s spring game for a long touchdown.

    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, spring game 2010, mike caputo, anthony west, eric martin, tray robinson, taylor martinez, lazarri middleton, thad randle, cody green, curenski gilleylen

  20. 2010 Apr 14

    SPRING FB COMMENTARY: Rebuilding a Bridge to Bo

    951 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The best story of Nebraska’s spring camp sported a Kobe Bryant jersey, a new tattoo and a diamond-studded watch worth more than my annual salary. The giant man inside those accessories, Carl Nicks, waited anxiously for a meeting with a man he barely knew.

    The starting left guard for the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints had come Wednesday to tell Bo Pelini he was sorry. To rebuild a bridge he burned.

    “The way I left, it was bad,” Nicks said. “I felt I needed to do it. It was long overdue.”

    In January 2008, Nicks had just exhausted his eligibility at NU. Bo had just taken over.

    “Football season was over, we weren’t going to a bowl game,” Nicks said. “I figured was I going to get drafted so I said ‘I’m just going to focus on football, not even go to class and just work out.’”

    In March 2008, he was arrested for refusing to leave a disorderly house during a party raid.

    Not long after that, Pelini barred Nicks from NU’s pro day workouts. Character questions about an affable, easygoing kid suddenly cropped up.

    Nicks slipped to fifth round of the Draft. His talent and skills probably called for the third round.

    It worked out, of course - Nicks started 19 games for New Orleans last year and isn’t likely to forfeit the job soon - but some thought Bo was petty for making an example of Nicks. Bo had his reasons - setting the tone on skipping class, for one thing - but the punishment seemed extreme.

    At the time, Nicks agreed.

    "For about a good three or four months, I had blamed Bo for it," he said.

    But he gets it now.

    “I screwed the school with the scholarship, burned a lot of bridges, a lot of bad blood,” he said.

    Once Nicks reached the NFL, he saw his teammates, and how warmly they regarded their alma maters. Although he “always had a good connection with the players,” matters with the new coaching staff were unresolved.

    Then New Orleans won the Super Bowl. As it happened, Nicks said he knelt down on the turf prayed. He thought about his trials in life. High school. College. Bo's banishment.

    Set it right, he told himself.

    So Nicks knew he was coming to Saturday’s Red/White Spring Game. He flew in Wednesday and called Wince Morris, NU’s assistant director of football operations.

    Can I come to practice? I want to talk to Bo.

    “For Bo to be like, yeah, come down after all that was a good sign for me,” Nicks said.

    They didn’t talk long. Practice and all that.

    “I thought it was real important for me to say, ‘You know what, I made some mistakes in the past,’” Nicks said. “‘I’m older and wiser and I’m here to apologize and I respect what you’re doing and I respect the decision you made then.’”

    Bo was “real respectful, nice, very open to what I had to say, very honest,” in response, Nicks said. A good first step.

    It says something for Bo, of course. Says something for Nicks, too.

    But it says even more about college football.

    See, Nicks is an accomplished man at the highest level of the game. A millionaire. Better yet, a winner. But Wednesday he was just a teammate of some of the Huskers on the field: Mike Smith. Keith Williams. Jacob Hickman, who’s doing a bit a volunteer work. An ex-Husker, reconnecting with family, which included reporters who smiled and joked and shook his hand.

    It felt like what it was: A homecoming.

    And even though you’ll be told, hour after hour, second after second, that college football is a big, soulless business for winners, losers, trophies, weight rooms, practice facilities, TV contracts, conference realignments and some unholy union called the BCS, it isn’t really about that.

    It’s about this: “Without me playing at Nebraska, I don’t know that I would have went to the NFL.”

    And this: “Whatever I’ve got to do to make it right so I can be a part of this school, I’m going to do it.”

    And this: "I always want to be affiliated with Nebraska in a positive way and I'm the first guy saying, 'Go Nebraska.' Nebraska shirt every Saturday."

    And this: “Once you sweat, struggle and cry with some of these guys, they’re going to be your teammates forever.”

    Yeah, they’re just Nicks’ words.

    But they’re Nebraska.


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    Tags: springtime with bo 2010, bo pelini, carl nicks

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