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  1. 2010 Nov 23

    Carl Clears the Air


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini apologized Tuesday for an incident with a cameraman from TexAgs.com after Saturday night's 9-6 loss to Texas A&M. In releasing a statement, he drastically changed his brother Bo Pelini's explanation of the incident, which had Carl attempting to retrieve a Husker football player from a mob of A&M students.

    Here's Carl's statement:

    “I apologize for the events that occurred after Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M. It was a very emotional situation and the mob scene on the field after the game amplified that. Having been involved in a similar situation in 2003 at Missouri, and in witnessing the situation on the field, I made a poor decision in trying to prevent a reporter from recording the scene.

    I have acknowledged this from the very beginning. Unfortunately, in trying to prevent a scene, I created one. We have been in contact with Brandon Jones and I have apologized to him directly for putting my hands on his camera. I offered to pay for any damages to the camera, but Brandon indicated there were none.

    “Unfortunately, Bo did not have all the facts prior to yesterday’s press conference and wasn’t fully prepared for the question. Hopefully, this statement will erase all doubts about the situation and allow everyone to put it behind us. Again, I apologize for any negative publicity this has caused for our football program, Athletic Department and the University of Nebraska."

    Here's how Bo described the incident Monday at his press conference:

    "There was a player in a group of people trying to get out of it, and Carl saw it and went over to try and pull the player into the locker room. I guess it happened on the way to the locker room, and as he did so apparently he went through the camera to get it, and if something happened to the camera, I know Carl regrets that it happened. That’s what happened and I talked to the player that was involved too.”

    Observations/questions here:

    1. Bo didn't appear unprepared for the question Monday, although he could have been.

    2. How could Bo not possess "all the facts" two days after the incident occurred and a video had emerged of the confrontation?

    3. The incident to which Carl refers at Missouri was a cameraman capturing former Husker Kellen Houston landing a knockout punch square in the kisser of some Mizzou fan. Was Carl attempting to prevent the filming of such an altercation, or an actual altercation between a cameraman and a player?

    4. Who was this mystery player Bo talked to, and was Bo referring to a different situation closer to the locker room?


    Tags: carl pelini, tamu game, bo pelini

  2. 2010 Nov 22

    Bo: Sideline Rants 'Won't Happen Again'


    By HuskerLocker

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    Related video

    Cover photo for the Bo Pelini: I'm Sorry videoWatch video
    Bo Pelini: I'm Sorry
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    Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini apologized at his Monday press conference for his public sideline rants against referees and quarterback Taylor Martinez during NU's 9-6 loss to Texas A&M Saturday night.

    “I got too animated,” Pelini said. “I regret that. I'm sorry about that.”

    Later, he told reporters his sideline antics “won't happen again” after talking NU chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne. Perlman expressed disappointment to two news outlets about Pelini's screaming sessions with Martinez and his repeated tirades against officials, one of which drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

    “The administration is behind me 100 percent,” Pelini said. “They know me and what I’m about and the things I represent – what I've brought to this program. They made that known to me. There's no issues between myself and the administration. I'm not perfect. There's nobody who's perfect.”

    Ditto for Pelini and his players: “I promise you they know this: I got their back. They understand. I expect them to have mine. That means to represent this program all the time, no matter what the situation. When I got animated, I didn't do that. I'm sorry for that.”

    In front more than 100 onlookers – including reporters, athletic department officials and a few stragglers who walked in from a eight-man high school football championship – Pelini, dressed in a black polo and multi-pocketed khakis, addressed the following:

    *His repeated fits of rage against Greg Burks' officiating crew. It flagged NU a school-record 16 times Saturday: “It’s not OK to make it personal. At times, in my quest to fight for the kids on our team, I let it get personal. I regret that.”

    *His 15-second tongue-lashing of Martinez. It occurred the second quarter of the game, after the quarterback had returned from the locker room: “We handled it. I regret that it was on national TV.”

    Pelini would not elaborate on the subject of their conversation, but said that Internet speculation surrounding the content “was completely off base.”

    *A summary status of Martinez's place on the team. He's still on it. He's not suspended. If healthy, he will play Friday vs.Colorado. When pressed if he'd use Martinez's ankle injury as a cover for one-game suspension, Pelini said: “Taylor Martinez is not suspended. If somebody was suspended, I'd say so.”

    Martinez indeed appeared at practice Monday afternoon sporting a boot on his left foot - the opposite ankle of his previous injury. He joked with Pelini - and later offensive coordinator Shawn Watson - at the 17-yard line inside the Hawks Championship Center while the rest of the Huskers stretched.

    Pelini said he spoke to Martinez's father, Casey, “to keep him the loop.” Casey Martinez declined comment to the Omaha World-Herald Sunday night as to Taylor's status with the team.

    Martinez did miss a “team shakeout” stretching session Sunday. Pelini said Martinez was excused from it. Safety DeJon Gomes, one of Martinez's best friends on the team, corroborated that the workout isn't mandatory.

    If Martinez can't play Friday, Pelini said Cody Green is the likely starter.

    *His rebuke of tight end Ben Cotton. The sophomore picked up back-to-back personal foul penalties after Texas A&M defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie – who expressed remorse Monday – repeatedly mashed his groin: “I didn't like that Ben took his helmet off. He knows better than that, and I dealt with it right there. Ben and I were on the same page. Ben was really upset. That needed to be dealt with right there or he was going to get himself in a lot of trouble. I'd rather he'd be upset with me than do something crazy.”

    Said Cotton: “It was kind of hard to stand there with Coach Pelini but he just wants the best for the team. It was a selfish act on my part, taking my helmet off, not thinking straight. He's got our backs and I've got his back. I regret the whole thing.”

    *His brother Carl's dust-up with a cameraman. The NU defensive coordinator grabbed a camera operated by TexAgs.com. Bo attempted to rationalize the behavior: “There was a player kind of in a group of people trying to get out of it and Carl saw it and went over to try to pull the player into the locker room. I guess it happened pretty close on the way into the locker room. As he did so, apparently he went through the camera to get it. If something happened to the camera, Carl regrets that it happened. But that's what happened.”

    Pelini said he talked to the player involved, as well.

    Pictures released by TexAgs.com appear tell a different story, however. A series of photos appear to show Carl Pelini grabbing the camera, wrestling it away from its operator and tossing it to the ground. The only player “in the crowd” appears to be tight end Kyler Reed.

    A second theory emerged from various Husker sites Monday: Pelini may have believed that a cord in the middle of the field was endangering Reed, and that the cord was coming out of the camera.

    Carl Pelini, through a spokesman, said he wouldn't be talking after practice.

    *His standing with Husker fans: “You hope they look at the heart of who you are and what you've done. You hope the people are in your corner. That's what you hope. I bust my butt for this program and these kids and the university. And if I embarrassed anybody by what I did, I'm sorry. But that's as far as I can go. Obviously, I didn't do it intentionally.”

    *His philosophy as a coach. Pelini began his impromptu speech Monday with a quick summary of what he believes and stands for at Nebraska: “I really believe my job is to prepare the young men. It's not to win football games. My job here is to prepare the young men who come into this program for the rest of their life.

    “I make that vow to kids when I go into their home recruiting. I make that vow to the parents. That's what I'm all about. That means accountability, discipline. I'm a very black-and-white and direct person. I feel we've done that. Our kids are representing this great university with respect, with integrity. You don't see our kids out there getting in trouble on ESPN.”

    Gomes, speaking directly after Pelini, stood behind his head coach and praised him for his tenacity on the field.

    “When you see a guy who has that much desire to win, it drives you that much more to go out there and compete at the highest level,” Gomes said. “It's real important for the team. Anytime you have a coach who will go to bat for you in any instance is a great feelig. You want to play for him that much more.”

    Tags: taylor martinez, bo pelini, tamu game, harvey perlman

  3. 2010 Nov 22

    Husker Heartbeat 11/22: Big 12 Conspiracy Theories and Offensive Woes


    By HuskerLocker

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

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

    *OWH's Tom Shatel takes a closer look at penalties called against Nebraska in the Big 12...and the lack thereof against NU's opponents.

    *LJS Sipple examines the negative energy surrounding the program right now.

    *OWH's Dirk Chatelain takes dead aim at Nebraska's offense, and suggests a major overhaul is necessary.

    *The Grand Island Independent calls Saturday's performance a "black eye."

    *NBC argues that Ben Cotton's kicking response was justified.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, tom shatel, dirk chatelain, steve sipple, big 12, tamu game

  4. 2010 Nov 21

    Husker Monday Review - A&M


    By HuskerLocker

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    Reporters who hope to rehash Nebraska's 9-6 loss at Texas A&M with head coach Bo Pelini aren't going to find much of a willing dance partner in Monday's presser. Look for Tunnel Vision Bo. All eyes on Colorado and clinching Big 12 North division title. The veiled injustice of Saturday night can't ruin what was – and still could be – a can't-miss year for the Big Red. Failing to reach to the Big 12 Championship with two consecutive losses to end the season would be a stunning collapse, if not a failure of a season.

    There would be plenty of blame to go around. But no one is particularly keen on visiting that wailing wall. Beating CU on Friday cures most of the ills contracted in College Station. The A&M loss would become a small blight hardly remembered – unless the Aggies somehow win a three-way tie in the Big 12 South and play for the title in Dallas.

    Bo will have to trudge through some queries, though, considering his big boss, NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman, made a public expression of disappointment to the Associated Press Sunday regarding Pelini's sideline behavior toward officials, players and coaches. Bo's never been a choir boy, but Saturday, he may have passed the Rubicon.

    Perlman usually knows the shot, so his minor demurral of Bo's antics – which usurps, to some extent, athletic director Tom Osborne's authority - reads like damage control. But who and what is Harvey protecting? Bo from the Big 12? Bo from boosters? Bo from any further damage to his image?

    Pelini can't stand distractions. But he'll have a week full of them.

    *The Perlman thing.

    *His expletive-laden “conversation” with quarterback Taylor Martinez – and Martinez's brazen response (caught on camera) after Bo walked away.

    *The rumors swirling around Martinez potentially quitting the team that Bo refuted Sunday night.

    *His brother, Carl, had an alleged dust-up with cameraman after the game – more on that in the “Three Concerns” section.

    *He has to decide on a quarterback – without any good options - in roughly 72 hours.

    *It'll be Senior Day, and all the emotions that stirs up for players.

    *And there's a turkey to eat.

    The Huskers are fragile. If you want the real story of Saturday night – more than the “crooked ol' zeebs” – it's this: Nebraska, talented as it is, has guys who struggle to act like they've been there before, even if they have. They feel the pressure. They lose their composure and cool. The moment is too big for them. And some nights, the guys who have the most composure – the Blackshirts, Rex Burkhead, Alex Henery – can't bail out the rest of them. Other nights, Bo, their leader, leads them right over the edge.

    Weeks like this further refine good coaches – and define great ones.

    Five Players We Loved

    Cornerback Prince Amukamara: Played at an elite level and finished with ten tackles. He shut down his side of the field and played clean football all night. Amukamara seems to be trusting his instincts and talent more since the Oklahoma State game. His play appears to be at its very finest.

    Running back Rex Burkhead: Just about the time Nebraska's offense seemed ready to crawl entirely into its shell, Burkhead ripped off a 34-yard run right up the middle of the field. He, not Roy Helu, was the go-to guy down the stretch. Helu's runs have a little more show to them, but Burkhead delivered the dough. Nice pass-blocking, too.

    Linebacker LaVonte David: Did everything and then some. Made tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Saved first downs. Blitzed well. Snuffed out passes in the flat. He should be a lock for 1st-team All Big 12 if anybody's been paying attention. In this league it can be hard to tell.

    Peso Eric Hagg: Blanketed his receivers and made a few nice tackles as well. Hagg will find a place in the NFL somewhere. He'd be the kind of piece that some top-level team picks up in the second or third round and immediately plugs into the lineup for special packages.

    Defensive end Cameron Meredith: His game is coming on as a Husker. Although Pierre Allen and Jared Crick both had more tackles, Meredith played a more consistent game against run and pass. He's not flashy – just steady. NU coaches quietly love his versatility and intelligence; you can build a pass rush around his various skills in 2011.

    Three Concerns

    Game management: From sideline chaos to coaches arguing with players to general confusion over how to best get plays in the game, Nebraska may benefit from returning offensive coordinator Shawn Watson to the field. He provided a calming influence down there and created a natural wall between Bo Pelini and some of the offensive players. NU has lacked offensive focus in a number of games this year.

    OL AWOL: At least for the first half, when Nebraska squandered excellent field position with drive-killing penalties and poor blocking from the offensive line. Not much physicality, less tempo, A&M guys running all over the place unblocked. The Aggies blew up the zone read and a number of the sweep plays. Was the Husker Pipeline unprepared?

    Carl's Camera Conflag: As defensive coordinator Carl Pelini was running off the field, he apparently thought that a camera man from TexAgs.com was trying to get a little too close and personal. The video doesn't support that. Pelini allegedly did “something” to the camera. I say “something” because the stories don't exactly line up. But why is Carl “doing” anything? Hasn't Nebraska learned any lessons from Kellen Houston in 2003 and the Darren DeLone in 2004?

    Three Questions

    Who are the player leaders, and how do they rally the team this week? You'd presume it's the seniors, and it probably is, but someone in that locker room – anyone, really – needs to galvanize these guys in a way the coaching staff isn't. The crown is out there – go get it. And generate the fire without needing Bo to do it. He could use a week off in the motivation department.

    Does NU have a viable and/or healthy quarterback? If Martinez is ready to roll by Friday at anywhere near 100 percent after getting his ankle wrenched again, I'd be stunned. Zac Lee apparently can't throw well enough to play. That leaves Cody Green, who seems to lack confidence and competence. Does Bo give him the nod, or trot a creaky, injured Martinez back onto the field. Sorry, but I'd go with Green, walk-on Ron Kellogg, or senior LaTravis Washington before I watch Martinez stand like stone taking sacks and not being able to push off on his back foot to throw. CU's defense – poor as it may be – will tee off on the kid. Watson has to create a scheme that maximizes Green's talents and gets the ball downfield to NU's big wide receivers. Junk the zone read.

    Can the Blackshirts do it one more time? They've been carrying the Huskers now for two weeks. They'll need one more huge effort to clinch the Big 12 North. The Buffaloes are talented enough to give NU headaches with their scheme and speed. Colorado is a better team than it appears at first blush, having been competitive in five of its last six games.

    Tags: tamu game, husker monday review, bo pelini, carl pelini, taylor martinez, lavonte david, prince amukamara, cameron meredith, eric hagg, rex burkhead

  5. 2010 Nov 21

    NU-A&M: Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our report card after the Nebraska-Texas A&M game!

    OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Running back Rex Burkhead. Ran hard in his home state – especially in the second half – never fumbled, and seemed to give NU that little spark it needed to get over the hump on its second field goal drive. He also pass blocked well.

    DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: LaVonte David frankly made a compelling case for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with a virtuoso performance of 14 tackles, including a sack and three more for loss. He obviously won't get near the publicity, but he's been as good of a defensive JUCO recruit as Cam Newton was on offense. David's really come into his own here. He could be a very exciting player next year.


    QUARTERBACK: D Taylor Martinez couldn't do much after he reinjured his ankle; he had played pretty well on the initial drive, you'll recall, leading NU to a field goal. But it's on Martinez if he insists he's OK to play when he's not really, and if he's going to press himself into service when he can't step into throws or scramble out of trouble, he has to take the hit for the grade. He looked confused in the loud atmosphere, he had to burn timeouts because he wasn't always picking up the plays, and he wasn't remotely an accurate passer. Cody Green threw an interception, nearly fumbled the ball away on an exchange and just generally doesn't inspire confidence in head coach Bo Pelini. You wish Zac Lee had been healthy tonight.

    RUNNING BACK: B Burkhead and Roy Helu both ran with toughness and poise, ripping off some long runs. Neither had much help in the way of holes from their offensive linemen until the second half. This tandem combined for 126 yards against the Big 12's best run defense. You can live with that.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: D The penalties! Oh, the penalties killed Nebraska, and several came right from this spot. Beyond that, the Husker offensive line didn't protect that well on passing plays and rarely created holes – until the fourth quarter – on running plays. It is not fun to watch this bunch try to zone block. They're much better at pulling and trapping on wide plays – even if none of those worked vs. A&M.

    WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: D One costly drop by Niles Paul, two by Brandon Kinnie and 30 yards in penalties from Ben Cotton. On top of that, Ted Gilmore's substitution system has guys getting on the field who have no business being there in a big game, or take too long to relay plays. The lone bright spots tonight were a nice catch-and-run by Paul and Kyler Reed consistently getting open.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: B+ Very good. With a four-man pass rush NU generated plenty of pressure, got to A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill often and gummed up the big holes for A&M running back Cyrus Gray. I thought this unit got a little winded in the second half at times and it showed on some of A&M's longer drives.

    LINEBACKER: A+ David, as often the lone linebacker on the field, was magnificent. The best player out there. Smart, fast, physical – this kid has truly bailed out NU this season. What a recruit.

    SECONDARY: B+ Gave up a few key routes – that 36-yarder to Jeff Fuller stung a little – and committed a couple pass interference penalties, one of which set up a field goal. Eric Hagg and Dejon Gomes probably the best. They were the most active. Corners Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard were their usual stingy selves, but they didn't create any turnovers.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: C Meh. A&M's specials were pretty awful, frankly. Picking up two personal foul penalties from Eric Martin – one on kickoff and kickoff return – was pretty costly to field position. Alex Henery nailed his two field goals.

    GAME MANAGEMENT/PLAYCALLING: D The sideline looked as it was just about to melt down during the game. There's chaos and frustration and I think NU picks up on both feelings. The lack of composure was pretty startling, as the Huskers caved in more than they needed to.

    Tags: tamu game, report card, lavonte david, rex burkhead

  6. 2010 Nov 21

    NU-A&M: Mistakes, Penalties Doom Nebraska


    By HuskerLocker

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    Here's our report card after the Nebraska-Texas A&M game!

    He screamed, cursed, stomped, pointed and roared at the men in the striped shirts. But after the costliest of Nebraska's school-record 16 penalties, a dubious roughing-the-passer call that helped give Texas A&M a go-ahead field goal, NU head coach Bo Pelini glanced briefly to the heavens, as if to ask the pigskin gods: Are you done yet?

    The Huskers' faint hopes for a BCS national title berth certainly are, as they lost 9-6 to the Aggies in front of a school-record 90,079 fans at Kyle Field in College Station. Nebraska committed 16 penalties – including several personal fouls – for 140 yards. Pelini himself picked up the second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of his career for appearing to call the side judge a name. Officials flagged A&M – normally one of the nation's most penalized teams – only twice.

    “You guys can make your own deductions,” Pelini said afterward. “All you gotta do is look at the numbers.”

    Pelini declined, several times, to delve into specifics with reporters. He said he received “no explanations” from referees on specific calls, although ABC cameras captured him having a series of animated conversations with them. He didn't make his players or assistants available for comment after the game, which turned on safety Courtney Osborne's roughing-the-passer penalty during the Aggies' final drive.

    On third down from midfield, Osborne came on a blitz of A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who saw him and and flung a pass deep toward no receiver in particular. Osborne parked Tannehill on his rear but didn't use his helmet to make the tackle. He drew a flag anyway.

    “That hurt us, obviously,” Pelini said. “We were off the field right there.”

    That set up A&M (8-3, 5-2) at NU's 34-yard line. From there, Aggie running back Cyrus Gray carried the ball five times for 32 yards before kicker Randy Bullock trotted on the field for the game-winning 19-yard field goal with three minutes left.

    Nebraska's final drive gained one first down before quarterback Taylor Martinez, who reinjured his tender right ankle, drew an intentional grounding penalty and took a sack. On fourth-and-long, he rolled to his left and threw to slot receiver Mike McNeill, who caught the ball out of bounds.

    The 31,000 students at Kyle Field – some of whom were set up on metal folding chairs – rushed the field moments later. Pelini spoke to reporters for five minutes, called the loss “irrelevant” to NU's hopes of winning the Big 12 North, fended off officiating questions and explained why he reinserted Martinez into the game after he looked so hurt in the first half.

    “If he's healthy, we go with him,” Pelini said.

    Martinez reinjured his ankle when center Mike Caputo, blasted off the lime of scrimmage, stepped on his foot three yards in the backfield. Martinez crumpled to the ground, tried to limp off the field, stopped one yard short of the sideline and, on the instruction of wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, laid on the turf. He left for the locker room minutes later. Cody Green replaced him and was relatively ineffective despite NU enjoying terrific field position. He threw a costly interception in A&M territory just before halftime.

    Before his exit, Martinez led NU to a field goal on its first drive, running for 17 yards on a zone read play and completing all four passes for 43 yards. Kicker Alex Henery nailed a 48-yarder against the wind after penalties on Ricky Henry and D.J. Jones pushed the Huskers back 20 yards. Martinez returned in the second half and also led a field goal drive in the fourth quarter, set up by his 24-yard pass to Niles Paul. It appeared that, on third-and-goal, Brandon Kinnie had drawn a pass interference penalty, but officials, in another one of their strange decisions, picked up the flag and waved the penalty off without much explanation. Pelini went ballistic, as he did much of the night after penalties went against the Huskers.

    Lost in the sea of flags was a strong performance by the Blackshirts, which considerably slowed down A&M's high-powered offense, even if it didn't create any turnovers. NU gave up 310 yards, sacked Aggie quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times, forced seven punts, and gave up just 3.4 yards per carry.

    “To hold them to six points or whatever it was – they got nine, but we held them to six,” Pelini said.

    Tags: tamu game, taylor martinez, bo pelini

  7. 2010 Nov 20

    Guess The Score! NU-A&M!


    By HuskerLocker

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    Put your score and potential offensive and defensive MVPs in the comment box below. Get the score correct and win $20 gift certificate to Lincoln's BBQ4U and a Locker pass subscription through January!

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: tamu game, guess the score

  8. 2010 Nov 19

    Podcast 11/19: Bo Talks Kyle Field


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: podcasts, bo pelini, tamu game, womens hoops, mens hoops, wrestling

  9. 2010 Nov 19

    Scouting Report: Texas A&M


    By HuskerLocker

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    The best scouting report on the Web breaks down why Texas A&M is the toughest matchup for Nebraska this year. Exclusive insight when you get a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: scouting report, tamu game

  10. 2010 Nov 19

    Five A&M Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

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    Five Texas A&M players to watch in Saturday's game vs. Nebraska

    Quarterback Ryan Tannehill:
    The junior replacement of Jerrod Johnson has been good – but he hasn't faced a secondary like Nebraska's unit. Certainly Oklahoma's bunch can't hold a candle. When Nebraska takes away some of his simple, shorter throws and he's forced to stretch the field or progress to his third or fourth read, how does Tannehill perform? NU's defensive backs are, literally, NFL-worthy right now.

    Running back Cyrus Gray: A tough runner for his relatively small frame of 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Gray is forced to carry most of the load now that starter Christine Michael is out for the year. He's good out of the backfield, too, with 23 catches. One of the league's best kickoff returners, to boot. He's a NFL type who can do a lot of things well. Watch for him on third down as a receiver.

    Linebacker Michael Hodges: The unsung hero of A&M's defense, the guy who cleans up when offenses focus too much on Hodges' teammate Von Miller. A good blitzer who also runs well laterally, the 6-foot, 204-pound Hodges looks and plays a lot like a Nebraska linebacker: Smart, fast and instinctive.

    Linebacker/end Von Miller: Getting hot at just the right time, Miller's speed and motor can just wreak havoc on opposing defense. Against the run he's a little undersized and his technique isn't always the best, but defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter can put Miller in so many spots to create pressure on a quarterback. Teams have responded this year with max protect schemes (which work because A&M's secondary is so awful) but Miller still makes his mark.

    Wide receiver Ryan Swope: Yes, Jeff Fuller gets more of the attention, but Nebraska's excellent corners have a tendency to take away outside receivers not named Justin Blackmon. Swope has just as many catches for the year in 61, and he's caught 29 passes since Tannehill took over at Kansas, including a 64-yard back-breaker to finish off Oklahoma. Don't overlook him.

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: tamu game

  11. 2010 Nov 19

    Five NU Players to Watch


    By HuskerLocker

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    Five Nebraska players to watch in Saturday's game at Texas A&M:

    Linebacker Will Compton: A&M's West Coast Offense relies on a tight end and a fullback in some of its formations, and that probably means Compton heads on the field. He has a Blackshirt – but not much playing time this year. Compton could play more than half of the defensive snaps. Next week vs. Colorado, he may not leave the field. We'll see how well he's recovered his speed and recognition skills.

    Safety Dejon Gomes: It seems a little ridiculous that teams would actually “pick” on Gomes, who's one of the best defensive players in the Big 12. But opponents just have nowhere else to go, so they line up their tight ends and bigger receivers against Gomes and see if they can create a mismatch. Don't be surprised if, more than once, Gomes is matched up on A&M's best receiver, big, burly Jeff Fuller, in the slot. Gomes plays with savvy and expert ball skills, but he'll have his hands full.

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez: Whether or not his ankle is 100 percent – it seems unlikely, not that you'd hear a Nebraska coach utter so much as a peep to the contrary – may pale in comparison to the accuracy of his arm. Texas A&M's 3-4 alignment is built to slow down running running quarterbacks – it Baylor's Robert Griffin 20 carries to gain 92 yards – so Martinez will have to hang in the pocket and deliver the same kind of darts he threw at Oklahoma State. Game management, tempo, cool under fire – these are the qualities Martinez must possess in College Station.

    Wide receiver Brandon Kinnie: When it comes right down to it, Martinez prefers throwing to Kinnie than any other player on NU's roster. Kinnie provides the biggest target, he's more reliable near the goal line and teammate Niles Paul is often running the go routes that Kinnie can't run for his relative lack of speed. What Kinnie does is catch balls in traffic and break tackles.

    Left tackle Jeremiah Sirles: He'll often draw the difficult assignment of blocking Aggies' end/linebacker Von Miller, one of the league's purest, most feared pass rushers. Miller's biggest strength is a relentless motor; he doesn't quit just because it looks like an offensive lineman has taken him out of the play. Sirles has to be wary of Miller's various moves, twists and techniques. He'll have a busy night.

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: tamu game, jeremiah sirles, brandon kinnie, taylor martinez, dejon gomes, will compton

  12. 2010 Nov 19

    Five Keys: Texas A&M


    By HuskerLocker

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    They go together like pork chops and applesauce.

    And for awhile there, I thought Bill Callahan's regime at Nebraska was the main course and Mike Sherman's at Texas A&M was the side dish.

    The similarities between the programs are striking. NFL guys who took over tradition-rich programs that had grown bloated and slow on outdated running games. An fierce emphasis on recruiting and throwing quarterbacks. The same director of football operations in Tim Cassidy. The same recurrent problems on defense. They even sounded similar, even if Sherman's New England accent was a bit more pronounced than Callahan's South Chicago tongue.

    Until this last month, Callahan had significantly outperformed.Sherman, who seemed headed for a pink slip from A&M athletic director Bill Byrne after three straight mid-season losses. The last of those, a 30-9 setback to Missouri, was the kind of uninspired performance for which Sherman's Aggies – and Callahan's Huskers – had become well-known. Mizzou only outgained A&M by 38 yards, but the Aggies repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with penalties, drops and inaccurate passes in Tiger territory. The talent was there. The focus was not.

    So Sherman gambled. He replaced his sacred cow, quarterback Jerrod Johnson – the Big 12's Preseason Player of the Year – with wide receiver and backup Ryan Tannehill. On paper, Johnson's numbers weren't awful. But the film – especially in that Mizzou game – told a different story.

    The switch worked. Tannehill – who lacks Johnson's NFL arm but makes up for it in savvy and better decision-making – has engineered a four-game winning streak. The signature win was a no-fluke 33-19 victory over Oklahoma two weeks ago. Then, A&M overcame a 30-14 deficit at Baylor for a 42-30 win.

    Now, the Aggies plan to stage a special “maroon out” - complete with 30,000 student fans - to welcome Callahan's successor, Bo Pelini, to College Station.

    This has morphed into the game I thought it'd be before the year. The one I thought Nebraska just might lose. This one will take everything the Huskers have to win. A bona fide, don't-miss-it big game.

    The keys, please:

    Martinez Moxie: It doesn't necessarily matter if quarterback Taylor Martinez's ankle is 80, 90 or 100 percent. A&M's defense is quick enough to limit T-Magic's breakout runs anyway. Where NU's redshirt freshman must excel Saturday is in delivering the kind of darts he threw at Oklahoma State – and doing it against a better, more diverse pass rush than the Cowboys could muster.

    Ground Games: A&M's West Coast Offense running game – heavily reliant on outside zone and inside counter plays – is designed to set the table for longer playaction passes. NU's rush attack is designed to gash defenses for big gains and force opponents to commit more guys to the box than they want. The rush defense numbers of both teams suggest that A&M's strategy of running the ball might have more success than Nebraska's.

    Linebacker Battle: Pundits widely considered Aggie linebacker/end Von Miller the best defensive player in the Big 12. But NU junior LaVonte David has the better numbers and the same kind of dynamic athleticism that Miller possesses. A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and the Brothers Pelini each like to use their best blitzing weapons in creative ways.

    Yellow Hankies: NU (101st) and A&M (111th) are two of the most penalized teams – from a yardage perspective - in college football. Part of it is aggression. Part of it is reputation. Part of it is execution. This is a phase of the game where you don't want to win the yardage battle. Which team can change the game less?

    The Chess Match: It's Sherman vs. the Brothers' Pelini and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson vs. DeRuyter. These are distinct, idiosyncratic schemes within the Big 12, and since each team only had a week to prepare, we'll see how much of a crash course these men conducted on each other.

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: tamu game, five keys, mike sherman, bill callahan, taylor martinez, lavonte david

  13. 2010 Nov 18

    Husker Heartbeat 11/18: Bo Talks to Sports Illustrated


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

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

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

    *Bo Pelini sits with Sports Illustrated for its "Just Askin" segment.

    *The North Texas Nebraskans are once again raising money to get Husker fans who serve our country to the game.

    *Shawn Watson talks ball security.

    *LaVonte David's classroom commitment makes him such a good player.

    * A closer look at A&M running back Cyrus Gray.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bo pelini, shawn watson, lavonte david, cyrus gray, tamu game

  14. 2010 Nov 18

    Practice Report 11/17: Leaving the Lone Star State - But Still Recruiting Texas


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Even when Nebraska football moves to the Big Ten, Bo Pelini isn't really expecting a drop-off for NU's voracious appetite for recruiting in Texas.

    “There is a lot of talent down there, a lot of people, so there's more to choose from obviously when you're talking about a population base like you're dealing with in Texas," Pelini said Tuesday.

    But, after Saturday's game at Texas A&M – and a potential berth in the Big 12 Championship - the Huskers will be losing one of their selling points: Each year, 1996-2010, Nebraska coaches could guarantee any kid from the Lone Star State that they'd play at least one game in their home state. The rotation went as thus: Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas. With the Big 12 title game moving to Dallas, the chances of playing two games in Texas went up.

    It won't happen again soon. Nebraska will have to play a bowl game or schedule a home-and-home with some team in Texas willing to host the Huskers. Don't bet on any of the old Big 12 South programs biting on such an offer anytime soon.

    Is it hurting this year's recruiting effort? Hardly. NU is making perhaps its biggest killing ever in the state, first landing Arlington quarterback Jamal Turner last January. Since then Nebraska's received verbal commits from four more Texas players, including, most recently, San Antonio running back Aaron Green. Running backs coach Tim Beck, who's plugged into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, has swiped many of the area's best-known players, including Plano running back Rex Burkhead, who turned down a scholarship offer to A&M, among other Big 12 South programs.

    Still, many factors played in NU's favor for 15 years. Regional ABC telecasts that featured Nebraska always played in Texas because it's Big 12 country. Brand recognition was easier because of NU's annual presence in the state. Players looking for that blend of going-away-from-home – but not too far – could find Lincoln as a nice fit.

    The Huskers are bound to see those advantages diminish to some extent. But not too much, Pelini said.

    “Most of the time families now travel,” Pelini said. “It's not that hard to get to Lincoln and to come to games here. Bottom line, you see Big Ten teams recruiting well in the state of Texas. It's not like we would be down there alone.”

    The Big Ten Network, which televises nearly every Big Ten game not picked up by ABC/ESPN, helps. Beck, who used to coach high school football in Texas, does, too. NU's made inroads as some of the state's strongest programs – Klein Collins, Euless Trinity, Southlake Carroll, Denton Guyer, Plano, and San Antonio Madison among them – and those connections don't disappear.

    “We've had good reception down in Texas,” Pelini said. “You hope to continue the relationships that you've had. You have to ask me that a couple of years down the road here, because I think there are a lot of unknowns as to how the move will affect you in a number of ways."

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a two-hour practice inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    Coach Quote: "Any chance we get to pass he just gets better at it...his pressure passing percentage is good. Throughout the whole season he's been really good on those pressure-throw situations, like third down. He's really grasping it. He's not a done project, there's still a ways to go, but he's really coming along " Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on the development of Taylor Martinez's passing game.

    Player Quote: “They're just a very physical team and that shows on film. Very physical front, very physical linebackers. That just definitely shows on film. Similar schemes, I'd say, to Texas, but they're very different.” Left tackle Jeremiah Sirles on Texas A&M's scheme


    *Watson said Nebraska communicates better during road games than at home. Rolling your eyes yet? After all, the Memorial Stadium crowd – dead quiet anyway, according to certain head coaches – is supposed to be dead quiet when the NU offense on the field. On the road, it's just the opposite.

    Here's Watson's rationale: When the Huskers pipe in that artificial noise during the week, he sees improved focus out of his players for practice. And that translates to a better performance in games.

    “There's detail in the mindset,” Watson said. “It heightens when you're away and the crowd can get loud.”

    *Watson also outlined in greater detail Nebraska's method for reducing fumbles and dropped passes:

    -A focus on quarterback/center and quarterback/running back exchanges.

    -A Monday-Wednesday circuit of drills “that emphasizes what can happen in the open field, what can happen in piles.”

    Tight ends coach Ron Brown oversees the ball security program.

    “He watches what's happening and we take what he finds as a focal and we address it in our fundamental work as a unit.”

    *Zac Taylor (graduate assistant) and Randy Jordan (running backs coach) are likely to get a hello from Watson Saturday. Taylor quarterbacked the 2006 NU team that Watson coached on. Jordan coached with Watson under Bill Callahan.

    Watson compared Taylor to another pupil in Joe Ganz. Tough, fiery, competitive and smart.

    “Those two might fight before the game,” Watson joked. “I saw Zac a lot like I see Joe: He's a natural. He was made to coach. He'll be a star in this business.”

    *The Wildcat offense worked efficiently vs. Iowa State. Not so much against Kansas, which seemed prepared for the reads that Wildcat quarterback Rex Burkhead was making. Watson said Nebraska continues to tweak its approach, formations and plays.

    “We're starting to see how people want to defend it,” Watson said. “We're evolving. There's really one way to defend it, and it's pretty universal across-the-board. And it forces a one-on-one with a back on a safety, so if your back is better than their safety you're going to have some chances for breakout runs or productive runs. So there's some things we're evolving with in our package with that. I don't give that away because it's top secret.”

    Next Practice: Thursday

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: practice report, tamu game, bo pelini, tim beck, shawn watson, jeremiah sirles, taylor martinez, zac taylor, joe ganz, recruiting, aaron grea, jamal turner

  15. 2010 Nov 17

    Podcast 11/17: Doc Suspends Brown


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Win Tickets to the Nebraska-Colorado game!

    Tags: podcasts, mens hoops, womens hoops, volleyball, kamyron brown, tamu game

  16. 2010 Nov 16

    Practice Report 11/16: Handling Kyle Field's Crowd


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    To Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, the toughest offenses to defend are the most diverse – the ones that incorporate a running quarterback into the game plan.

    That's not exactly Texas A&M's style. Aggie head coach Mike Sherman's scheme doesn't include a lot of quarterback runs and probably most resembles the West Coast Offense that Bill Callahan used to run at NU. Which is plenty difficult enough.

    “What they do and what Coach Sherman did at the NFL level and at the college level is stress you with formations,” Pelini said. “It's very complex. It's simple for them, but it's complex defending it because every time they change the formation you have different guys doing things that another guy did on a previous play.”

    Much like Huskers' offensive coordinator Shawn Watson will alter personnal and alignment to run the same counter plays – think of his first-quarter adjustments from the Missouri game – Sherman will attempt to create mismatches with bunch formations, spread looks and heavy sets featuring tight ends and fullback.

    The goal: Shift the defense around, or make Pelini put different players on the field, then exploit what's left.

    “He'll study us,” Pelini said. “We'll have to make some changes. We'll have to do a few things a little bit different just to keep him guessing because he'll be doing some things to keep us guessing. It will be a good chess match."

    A&M (7-3) is 12th nationally in total offense and 8th in passing offense. The running game, ranked 52nd at 161 yards per game is steady enough to make defenses respect it.

    And the Aggies have earned that attention during a four-game win streak with a new quarterback, converted wide receiver Ryan Tannehill.

    Sherman gambled on his backup outperforming Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Jerrod Johnson, and he's been right. Tannehill has thrown for 1,109 yards and ten touchdowns in four games, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. A&M has averaged 41.25 points during the streak. More importantly, Tannehill's only thrown three interceptions. Johnson threw nine.

    "I think he's been decisive,” head coach Bo Pelini said of Tannehill. “He's playing well. They have done a good job of coaching him and getting him prepared. I don't think the offense has changed a whole heck of a lot, I just think they're executing at a little higher level right now."

    Tannehill's line keeps him relatively clean. His receivers – led by lanky Jeff Fuller – are a good combination of size and quickness. The running game, paced by Cyrus Gray – starter Christine Michael was lost for the season midway through a 45-27 win over Texas Tech – keeps the Aggies out of third-and-long situations.

    It may lack a dynamic running quarterback – but it has everything else. Including a top-shelf offensive coordinator in Sherman, who directed some of Green Bay's better offenses 2000-2005.

    It's a very well-thought out offense and they stretch you in a lot of different ways,” Bo Pelini said.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a two-hour practice inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    Coach Quote I : "We didn't want to sit him for two weeks. I thought it was important for him to get reps. That's one of the reasons he was in at the end of the football game was to continue to get him some more reps. He hasn't played a ton of football. This is only his first year, so you miss a week you're going to be a little rusty." Bo Pelini on Taylor Martinez playing the entire Kansas game.

    Coach Quote II: "I don't think any of them mean anything, except scoring defense honestly. Everyone has asked me about run defense, pass defense, and pass defense efficiency, all those things.  They don't mean anything. It's scoring defense and keeping your opponent to less points than you score, period. End of story. You give a little to get a little." Carl Pelini on defensive statistics.

    Player Quote: “This is the last stop for me on the Big 12 tour. This is the last place I haven't played at. You know, I'm excited....they're looking good right now. Four wins in a row is good.” Senior tight end Mike McNeill, on his final Big 12 road game

    Player Quote II: “I'm not sure about that one. Next question.” Senior offensive lineman D.J. Jones on Martinez's comments Saturday that it's “my team, no one else's team.”

    Player Quote III: “The funny thing is we work on it all the time. We have drills. We do them every week, every Monday, every Tuesday. We're working on ball security. Obviously, it's something we've got to fix. We haven't been very good at it. We rep it in practice. Strip drills. Contact drills. Punch from behind. You name it, we've tried to work on it. We've just got to lock up the rock.” McNeill, on NU leading the nation with 33 fumbles.”


    *A&M is known for the noise at Kyle Field.

    “I heard it's going to be the loudest place we've played,” McNeill said. “Virginia Tech, I thought, was pretty loud and pretty much the entire game. So it'll be fun to see.”

    How much does that noise affect opponents? We'll see. At Kyle, the fans actually never stop yelling, so, at some point, it becomes white noise and easier to adjust to. It's a bit like seeing in the dark vs. one's eyes trying to constantly adjust to flashing lights.

    Because the Huskers operate almost exclusively out of the shotgun, they have moved to a silence cadence that involves Martinez stomping his foot when ready, center Mike Caputo snapping the ball accordingly, and the team moving on the ball.

    “This year, crowd noise really hasn't bothered us with our silence cadence,” McNeill said.

    Nevertheless, NU would practice with piped-in noise Tuesday and again Wednesday.

    *Linebacker LaVonte David has two favorite players he likes to watch in the NFL. One is former Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, murdered nearly three years ago in a burglary. The other is current All-Pro Patrick Willis for the San Francisco 49ers.

    “He's just a freak,” David said. “I'd watch him at Ole Miss. I used to watch his highlight tapes, the way he'd just – he's just a dog – a nasty football player,” David said. “Aggressive guy. I just like that.”

    Why not Ray Lewis, who starred for the Miami Hurricanes – David's favorite team growing up.

    “Ray Lewis, he's above everything,” David said.

    Next Practice: Wednesday

    Tags: tamu game, practice report, bo pelini, carl pelini, lavonte david, mike sherman, dj jones, taylor martinez, mike mcneill

  17. 2010 Nov 15

    Practice Report 11/15: Bo Bemoans Quiet Husker Crowd


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    During his weekly TV show to review the Kansas game, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini made a small mention of the rather quiet Memorial Stadium crowd.

    Asked to expand Monday after practice, Pelini obliged.

    “I thought it was dead,” he said. “I thought it was disappointing. I felt like I was at a scrimmage.”

    Why was the crowd disengaged? Pelini nodded to reporters.

    “You guys would know better than I would,” he said. “Maybe they expect – I don't know what the deal is. You were all there – what did you think?”

    The press declined to comment.

    Oh yes – NU also practiced Monday for 90 minutes inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center, beginning its preparation for another big road game at Texas A&M.

    “They're a good football team,” Pelini said of the Aggies. “They're well-coached. They've got talent on both sides of the ball. It'll be a good test for us.”

    Much like 2006, Nebraska can clinch a berth in the Big 12 Championship game with a win in College Station. Pelini brushed off such talk.

    “All of our focus is on what we can do today to be better,” he said. “All the things that come with it, that'll take care of itself in time.”

    Pelini said redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez practiced on his ankle with “no problems” Monday after playing every offensive snap in the Kansas game.

    On with the report:

    Particulars: Nebraska conducted a 90-minute practice inside and outside the Hawks Championship Center.

    Coach Quote: "We call them when we see fit. I don't know that we blitzed any more or any less than we did in any game. It was effective. I thought it was a good package going in and the kids executed it well." Head coach Bo Pelini on creating pressure in the Kansas game. NU finished with six sacks.

    Player Quote: “We were a little surprised. We didn't understand what was going on. But that's the coach's decision. Whatever play he calls, we're going to run it.” Wide receiver Niles Paul on Nebraska continuing to throw the ball with 20 seconds left in the game.


    *Eric Martin is on track to contribute at defensive end, Pelini said. Coaches moved Martin from linebacker to end in recent weeks. Martin is close to 250 pounds and certainly packs enough of a wallop on special teams to hold up on the defensive line.

    “We're getting him prepared,” Pelini said. “He could get in there, especially on third down. He's a good football player. We just think he can do a lot for us. He's powerful. He has burst. He can do a lot of different things for us.”

    *Small world.

    From 2000-2002, Bo Pelini worked as a linebackers coach for then-Green Bay Packers coach – and current Texas A&M coach - Mike Sherman.

    And Sherman's been following Pelini's college career – first as a coordinator, and now as a head coach - ever since.

    “He has a great defensive mind, there's no question about that,” Sherman said during the Big 12 Coaches' Teleconference. “I've always considered him to be a smart, intelligent coach. And he always saw the big picture. And I always appreciated that. Sometimes a position coach doesn't always see the big picture, but Bo always did. He's done a phenomenal job. He's a great head coach.

    Pelini returned the compliment a few minutes later.

    “I learned a lot from him,” Pelini said. “He's an outstanding football coach. He's a good family man. You take something from everybody you've been around, Coach Sherman included. He was very detailed. Smart football coach. Has passion for what he does. I have a lot of respect for him.”

    Pelini said he hasn't talked to Sherman this season but he's maintained a “good relationship.”

    *Nebraska jumped all over recruiting JUCO safety Daimion Stafford early, gaining his commitment over the summer. Now Stafford, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, is opening back up the recruiting process, and will look hard at USC and Florida. He'll take official visits to all three schools, including NU for the Colorado game.

    What happened? The Trojans and Gators are playing pretty awful defense this year; that's part of it. Both schools have pretty ferocious recruiting staffs, too. That USC, with its limited number of scholarships, would want to spend one on a JUCO guy speaks to just how quickly Stafford has risen on the charts of game-ready safeties.

    The Huskers, should they lose Stafford's commitment, are still in the running – and perhaps in better position – for Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) safety Wayne Lyons. Word is, too, that NU coaches are very pleased with Corey Cooper, who is currently redshirting this year – and could be in the running to start in 2011.

    With Austin Cassidy expected to get a hard look at Peso, the safety competition would appear to be P.J. Smith, Courtney Osborne, Justin Blatchford and Cooper.

    Next Practice: Tuesday

    Tags: tamu game, practice report, bo pelini, daimion stafford, recruiting, niles paul, eric martin

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