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  1. 2011 Dec 19

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Eleven Blackshirts Was Enough


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brett Baker

    One of the things that I love about college football is the history and traditions that make each program special. Among my favorites are Ohio State's Buckeye helmet decals, Michigan's winged helmets and Texas A&M’s "12th Man.”

    However, the Blackshirts are at the top. I love explaining the history and the meaning to opposing fans and what it represents, or at least what it used to represent. It used to represent excellence and exclusivity. For years, only the starting eleven were granted the honor. Those days appear to be gone.

    Under Pelini’s reign there have been some changes to the tradition that haven't set well with many fans, most noticeably the number of Blackshirts that are handed out when they eventually are. This year, the number was anywhere from 16 to 20. Nobody really knows for sure.

    I understand the argument that the defense is more specialized now than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. There may be 15 guys that start regularly depending on the game's opening package. I comprehend it, but when it comes to handing out Blackshirts, I don't buy it.

    With that in mind let’s have a look at a true Blackshirt team where only the Huskers’ top eleven defenders will get the coveted garment.

    In alphabetical order:

    Defensive end Jason Ankrah - Playing opposite Cam Meredith, it has to be tough to draw attention, but Ankrah has more than held up his end (pardon the pun).

    Linebacker Will Compton - As the 2011 season wore on, the better Compton played. After recovering from an early ankle injury, he was as stout and dependable as anyone on the defensive unit.

    Defensive lineman Jared Crick - Knocked out with a season-ending injury against Ohio State, this future NFL first-rounder maintained a presence on the sidelines and remained an emotional leader.

    Linebacker Lavonte David - If it made any sense, I'd give him two or three Blackshirts. His effort was so high that it seemed like that many Davids needed to be on the field to equal his productivity.

    Defensive back Alfonzo Dennard - Out from under the sizable shadow that was cast by Prince Amukamara, Dennard was a force to be reckoned with after bouncing back from early injury.

    Defensive back Andrew Green - With Dennard out for the first three games of the season, a large amount of pressure fell on Green's shoulders. He struggled early on, but eventually got his feet under him and became a valuable member of the secondary.

    Kicking specialist Brett Maher - Breaking with tradition for this one. Alex Henery should have been a Blackshirt for his last three seasons and so should Maher for his first. He was an absolute weapon punting the ball.

    Defensive end Cameron Meredith - By any measure his motor and intensity were an integral part of this year’s defensive unit. His non-stop energy could always be counted on for a memorable play or two.

    Defensive lineman Terrance Moore - Thrust into the starting lineup due to Crick’s injury, Moore held his own and then some.

    Defensive back Daimion Stafford - With a booming hit in the season's opening game, Stafford announced to the world that he was a big hitter who was ready for the prime time.

    Defensive lineman Baker Steinkuhler - As stout as they come. The Steinkuhler name has meant a lot to Nebraska football and the junior defender has only begun to add to the family's legacy.

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    Tags: blackshirts, jason ankrah, will compton, jared crick, lavonte david, alfonzo dennard, andrew green, brett maher, cameron meredith, terrence moore, damian stafford

  2. 2011 Nov 21

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Michigan


    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Offensive MVP: Film not found. Nebraska junior quarterback Taylor Martinez completed nine passes out of 23 and was sacked three times. The Huskers’ star running back Rex Burkhead gained only 36 yards on 10 carries (how did he only have 10 carries?!). The offense lost two fumbles. If we were forced to give an MVP out, we’d give it to the sweet triple read option play. You know the one.

    The play where Martinez read the defensive end, handed off to Burkhead who then read the corner and pitched to Freshman I-back Ameer Abdullah who waltzed in for a touchdown. Did you get the feeling that ESPN color analyst Urban Meyer will be running that play against Nebraska next season as the head coach of Ohio State?

    Defensive MVP: If there was a silver lining to last Saturday’s game, it was the amazing play of senior linebacker Lavonte David. It was a career day for David, finishing with an eye-popping 17 tackles (14 solo). While spying Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, he combined with safety Daimion Stafford for a sack, and had 2.5 tackles for a loss.

    Special Teams MVP: The unit that directly led to Nebraska’s implosion doesn’t deserve an award this week. We would’ve considered junior kicker/punter Brett Maher had he not bobbled the snap on what eventually was a blocked punt. He was money otherwise, hitting a 51-yard field goal, and averaging 46 yards on six punts.

    Michigan MVP: Michigan junior quarterback Denard Robinson completed 11 of 18 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed 23 times for another 83 yards and two more touchdowns. He single-handedly outscored the Huskers, and constantly broke the Blackshirts’ backs with well-timed runs and passes.

    Texas A&M Redux: Just over one year ago, Nebraska took an infamous trip to College Station. Conspiracy theorists in the crowd will recall quite a few questionable calls in that game. The curse of Novembers' past followed the Huskers to Ann Arbor. Early in the game, Michigan completed a 46-yard pass to wide receiver Roy Roundtree after he pushed off of All-American cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

    Later, wide receiver Tim Marlowe was tackled on third down before a pass arrived, but no flag was thrown. When Nebraska was trying to make a late comeback, the referees flagged Nebraska’s special teams for roughing the kicker, even though he’d barely been touched by the Cornhusker rush. The referees certainly didn’t cost Nebraska the game, but they tilted the odds in Michigan’s favor even more.

    Stubhub Award: Internet-service providers certainly saw an uptick in Husker fans heading to online ticket broker Stubhub.com during the second half of the game. Instead of buying tickets to the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, the Husker Faithful were listing their tickets on Stubhub, hoping to gobble up some Turkey Day spending money. If you’re a Michigan State fan planning your trip, you should check the hotels in Indianapolis. A number of rooms likely became available as of last Saturday.

    Nebraska Loves the Option So Much: …that it tries to run it on defense too. When defensive tackle Terrence Moore intercepted an attempted screen pass by Denard Robinson, he returned it 10 yards before attempting to pitch it out to a nearby teammate. He was ultimately ruled down before the pitch, but it was one of the Cornhuskers’ best option plays of the day.

    The Corn Bowl?: The Huskers have a short week ahead. They play the Iowa Hawkeyes bright and early in Lincoln on Black Friday at 11:00 AM. It’ll be the final home game for the Nebraska seniors, as they play for an ugly wooden trophy with a bowl of corn on the top (fans certainly didn't vote for that base).

    The sad thing is that the trophy will only be seen by the Innocents Society and is better than the game’s other stakes with the winner claiming third place in the Big Ten Legends division. A loss would likely banish the Huskers to the Insight Bowl (held at another House of Husker Horror: Sun Devil Stadium). Talk about a step back from 2009 and 2010.

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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, terrence moore, ameer abdullah, lavonte david, daimion stafford, brett maher, alfonzo dennard, denard robinson, roy roundtree, tim marlowe

  3. 2011 Nov 20

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Michigan


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Holy regression, Batman! T-Magic morphed back into Taylor Martinez as doubt clearly flooded his decision-making processes.

    - Rex Burkhead only ran the ball 10 times and no one should be upset. That Superman’s legs actually work at this point in the season is a miracle.

    - Aside from Brandon Kinnie’s waltz into the end zone, all that can really be said is potential doesn’t make catches.

    - This offensive line’s banged up something awful and it’s starting to show. Michigan has a solid front four, but there was severe confusion and limited mobility among the big uglies.

    - Kenny Bell’s second half-opening fumble perfectly illustrated the Huskers’ day with one play.

    - Will Compton is continuing to develop as a solid Big Ten MIKE linebacker.

    - Lavonte David is an NFL linebacker. His draft stock is rising every week.

    - Terrence Moore runs the option with a pitch to Eric Martin following a tipped interception? Someone wanted to make SportsCenter in a bad way.

    - Brett Maher is apparently Rex Burkhead’s cousin from Krypton’s nearby solar system. Take a beating, walk it off, boom a punt across the length of the field.

    - There seemed to be so much confidence going into this game before Brady Hoke remembered that Denard Robinson is, in fact, very fast.

    - What is it with teams from Michigan faking injuries against Nebraska? Is the Big Ten really so slow that they can’t keep up?

    - Perhaps the most entertaining part of the game (for Husker fans, anyway):

    - Bowl Prediction of the Week: Gator Bowl vs. Florida

    Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces
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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, brandon kinnie, kenny bell, will compton, lavonte david, terrence moore, eric martin, brett maher, brady hoke, denard robinson

  4. 2011 Nov 18

    Husker Heartbeat 11/18: Moore Gutting Out Family Loss, Compton Relishing Role and Nebrasketball Faces Rough Stretch


    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Defensive tackle Terrence Moore is playing with the passing of his father in the back of his mind

    - Linebacker Will Compton is making the job of being a Big Ten linebacker look easily

    - Wide receiver Tim Marlowe continues to take advantage of opportunities as they come

    - Doc Sadler's bunch is going to find out what they're made of over the next several games

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    Tags: terrence moore, will compton, tim marlowe, doc sadler

  5. 2011 Oct 24

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against Minnesota


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    A common sentiment by Gopher fans before kickoff last Saturday was, “Nebraska is going to destroy us.” Minnesota fans had already thrown in the towel before the game had even began. For Husker fans, confidence wasn't so easy to muster. Even though Nebraska was a 24.5-point favorite going into Saturday’s game, fans had a number of worries.

    Could the defense survive without senior Jared Crick? Will quarterback Taylor Martinez make big plays, or will he revert back to old habits? Questions plagued Husker fans. What did fans ultimately see Saturday?

    1.) A Step towards a Dominant Defense

    The defense had one mission last Saturday and that was to stop Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray from running. They managed to do just that, but some major question marks remained.

    One of the biggest head-scratchers was why there was never any real pressure put on Gray. While Minnesota's running game was stopped, there were no sacks against the Gophers. Gray also never appeared rushed to make a decision. This alone is worrisome, considering that many Nebraska’s remaining opponents will be much more dominant on offense.

    There were still bright spots for the defense on Saturday. Lavonte David continued to be a strong, vocal leader, the secondary stepped up and Nebraska held Minnesota scoreless until halftime. It wasn’t a perfect game and it wasn’t a completely dominant performance, but it was a step in the right direction.

    2.) Defensive Line Unity without Crick

    While Jared Crick’s presence on the field will be missed, Saturday afternoon proved that the senior is not the only necessity for the defense’s success. The leadership Crick provided during his playing days at Nebraska gave way to a new group of men who will be more than capable of holding down the fort up front. Between Chase Rome and Terrence Moore, the talent is there.

    Minnesota helped to provide experience that the line will need before facing the Michigan State Spartans this Saturday. While the Gophers’ offense isn’t the toughest, it gave this unit an opportunity to work out the kinks left by Crick’s absence.

    With No. 94 on the sidelines as a player coach, the line should have no issues adjusting. It’ll take a little time, but with some confidence under their belts, they have an opportunity to be stronger as each game passes.

    3.) Stability in the Secondary

    While the secondary still has a lot of work to do, Saturday breathed some life into the cornerbacks and safeties. TCF Bank Stadium was a good testing ground for a struggling secondary to find their footing once again. It was not pretty during the whole game, but their efforts showed a step in the right direction.

    Lance Thorell got a chance at cornerback on Saturday and played arguably one of his best games. Austin Cassidy picked up a fumble and ran it into the end zone for a defensive touchdown, something Nebraska fans have seen little of this season. Harvey Jackson even saw some time at safety, collecting four solid tackles in the fourth quarter.

    Again, the performance wasn’t always crisp, but it showed far more stability. For a secondary that has been plagued by poor play all season, this contest was a good one to build confidence and get back on track before Michigan State.

    4.) Continued Growth on Offensive Line

    Despite the fact that a group of Nebraska’s offensive line was stuck in an elevator for nearly 45 minutes Friday night, the frustrating situation had little affect on the unit's play. Led by senior offensive tackle Yoshi Hardrick, the offensive line was dominant and united. This group continues to grow each and every week, making the offense more efficient and stable.

    For quarterback Taylor Martinez, the big men up front are providing more time to make decisions. It is no surprise the Nebraska offense managed a time of possession advantage over Minnesota (31:52-28:08). As the line continues to play with confidence , the offense will improve week by week and play efficiently, which will help against stout teams like Michigan State.

    5.) A Convincing Win

    Nebraska fans were able to walk away from Minneapolis feeling good for two reasons: A big win and a dominant crowd. Looking around the stadium, it was easily half-red and “Go Big Red” chants drowned out the Gophers’ attempts at crowd noise. What some are calling “Memorial Stadium 2.0” took on a bigger meaning for Cornhusker fans: Nebraska is on its way back.

    While it would be somewhat of an exaggeration to call the 41-14 victory over Minnesota “big,” it was definitely a performance worth applauding. Martinez played a very smart game that resulted in long drives.

    Even if every series didn’t result in points, proper ball management made Saturday’s win so convincing. While Nebraska’s wide receivers did drop a number of potential catches that could have resulted in more scores, 41 points on the board isn’t a stat worth being upset over.

    With Minnesota now behind Nebraska, it is time to look forward to Michigan State. With the Spartans’ win over Wisconsin, this weekend’s contest may the biggest of the year thus far for Nebraska. Will the Huskers be able to keep up? If Saturday’s game against the Golden Gophers proved anything, it’s that Nebraska has the will to win and the talent to do so. When they can properly execute, that is.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: taylor martinez, jared crick, marqueis gray, lavonte david, chase rome, terrence moore, michigan state, harvey jackson, austin cassidy, lance thorell, yoshi hardrick

  6. 2011 Oct 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things to Watch For Against Minnesota


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    After a record-breaking comeback win over Ohio State, the Nebraska Cornhuskers couldn’t have headed into a bye week at a better time.

    The opportunity to rest was sorely needed for a Nebraska team that had faced plenty of scrutiny from both media and fans alike just one week before. The Cornhuskers took the time off as an opportunity to go home, bond with each other, and relax.

    With the mini-vacation over, it is time for Nebraska to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. While many fans views today’s game as a “second bye week”, it is important to never overlook the underdog. With a 24.5-point spread in Nebraska’s favor, what should fans be looking for today?

    1.) A Dominant Defense

    Before anyone touts Nebraska’s defense over Minnesota’s too much, it is important to note that the Gophers are actually ranked one spot higher in rushing defense nationally (No. 74).

    For the Cornhuskers, this means that the defense needs to step up big time following the loss of Jared Crick. Today’s game is not going to be a cakewalk. It is going to take a fair amount of dominance to keep the Gophers from scoring much.

    With Lavonte David settling in as the defense’s primary leader, it is key that the Huskers rally behind him. A group that has often been lacking a spark is set up to prove themselves against a weaker Minnesota offense.

    With David’s leadership, Nebraska fans will be looking for overall dominance throughout today’s game. It is up to the defense to determine how good they want to look following the bye week.

    2.) Defensive Line Unity

    The loss of Jared Crick was a huge shock to both the Nebraska team and fans. A strong leader, Crick’s season-ending injury is one that brought about immediate concern from fans about the future of the 2011 defensive line. While his loss is notable, the talent to remain competitive despite Crick's absence is there.

    With the likes of Terrence Moore and Chase Rome, the line has enough depth and experience to easily fill Crick’s void. While the outstanding senior will be missed on the field, his presence will still be felt on the sideline as he is allowed to travel with the team for the rest of the season.

    What is important for the defensive line against Minnesota is for them to show unity. The linemen need to prove they are just as much of a unit today as they were two weeks ago to both themselves and the fans. With Crick stepping up as a leader on the sidelines, the rest of the line has the opportunity to show they are not only strong, but united as one.

    3.) Stability in the Secondary

    It has been no surprise to see the Nebraska secondary struggle against opponents each week. While Alfonzo Dennard’s return was positive for the secondary, he is still rebuilding confidence on the field thanks to the late beginning to his senior year.

    Regardless, Dennard’s leadership is prominent. When Stanley Jean-Baptiste checked into the game against Ohio State, Dennard made it clear to him that he had only one thing to do and that was to play hard. Jean-Baptiste took those words to heart and came up with a huge interception for Nebraska late in the fourth quarter.

    Going into today’s game against Minnesota, the secondary doesn’t need to do anything other than find stability. The little things are what will ultimately make the biggest difference for the remainder of the season. Safety Austin Cassidy will be looking to make better reads and improve his play.

    Expect to see Jean-Baptiste rotate in and out with Andrew Green. It won’t necessarily be pretty for Nebraska every time Minnesota opts to put the ball in the air, but as long as the secondary finds stable ground, this outing should be much more positive than many were in the first half of the season.

    4.) Continued Growth on Offensive Line

    The first half of the season caused a spotlight to be shined on a major strength of this Nebraska team – the offensive line. Led by senior Yoshi Hardrick, this group has proved it is a force to be reckoned with.

    They need to continue to prove just how dominant they are against the Golden Gophers. At this point in the season, it would not be too much to expect near-perfection from this bunch.

    The offensive line has spent the first half of the season finding its identity, which they’ve clearly found. Bringing down opponents while giving quarterback Taylor Martinez time to throw has been incredibly valuable for Tim Beck’s new offense.

    While the Gophers’ defense should not provide too much of a threat, the linemen still need to grow. As this unit surely knows, the perfect never rest until their better is best.

    5.) A Convincing Win

    While Minnesota should not necessarily be overlooked, it is unlikely the Gophers beat Nebraska. With another away game dominated by traveling Husker fans, TCF Stadium will feel like a second home for the Nebraska faithful. A convincing win would sit well with the expected turnout.

    Even after the comeback win against Ohio State, Nebraska still seems to be lacking an overall identity. A big win over Minnesota will bring back the confidence that may have been lost on the road against Wisconsin. While the rest of the Big Ten has room for potential upsets, one won’t happen in Minneapolis. Look for a big win today against the Golden Gophers – The Nebraska Cornhuskers are ready for one.

    The bye week was a nice break for both the team and fans, but it is time to get the second half of the season underway. How will the Huskers finish out the season? Today will be a big first step in answering that question.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: jared crick, lavonte david, terrence moore, chase rome, stanley jeanbaptiste, alfonzo dennard, aaron gren, austin cassidy, yoshi hardrick, tim beck, taylor martinez

  7. 2011 Oct 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Minnesota Game Day Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week's game all season long.

    This week:

    What does Nebraska need to work on versus Minnesota both offensively and defensively?

    Brian: Offensively, the Cornhuskers need to do what they have done so far. Let the line earn their ribeyes and stuffed baked potatoes on this one.

    Defensively, get better in base formations and find out if SJB is what the other side of the secondary needs.

    Erin: Offensively, Nebraska just needs to work on playing consistent football. If the offense can replicate the second half of the Ohio State game for an entire game, they will be a force to be reckoned with. For me, it's not about improving the talent or play ability, it's about improving the consistency.

    On the defense, it's going to be all about the secondary. I'm aware Jared Crick is out, but our line will be just fine. Guys like Terrence Moore and Chase Rome will fill the void nicely. The secondary is where the improvement needs to be focused.

    With Stanley Jean-Baptiste's new role at cornerback, it will be crucial for the secondary to rotate players around and find the right fit. Minnesota shouldn't give the defense too much of a struggle, so the secondary needs to take this as an opportunity to grow.

    Greg: Create turnovers on defense. This game gives the Huskers the opportunity to dominate, and they need to do more than just claim a moral victory on defense. From the offense, let's see a perfect game from the offensive line. If they are solid, the offense will have a good day.

    James: Offensively, the biggest opportunity for Nebraska is to continue working on its passing game. Getting Taylor more comfortable in the pocket, going through his progression, and hitting his dump off man will be critical for offensive success against Michigan State and Penn State's strong defenses.

    Defensively, containing and sacking Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray will be the main thing I'm looking for. Nebraska's defensive line hasn't always done the best job in contain against quarterbacks like Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson.

    Furthermore, both the defensive line and linebackers have missed plenty of tackles either in the backfield, or after the quarterback has taken off. Limiting those mistakes will be important with perhaps the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the country still on the schedule in Michigan's Denard Robinson.

    Brandon: On offense, the Cornhuskers need to work on their rhythm and basic fundamentals. Starting with ball-handling and crisp blocking to effective short and long-range passes, Tim Beck needs to call a game that gets these guys clicking heading into next week.

    On defense, the obvious answer is finding a replacement for Crick whether it’s a lone individual or by committee. What’s more important is strengthening the defensive line as a whole. Nebraska’s going to be facing some punishing rushing attacks including Michigan State’s next week. They need to find a way to at least slow opponents' ground games down.

    Another obvious statement is the secondary, but not just getting Stanley Jean-Baptiste live game action. It would be advisable to work other safeties in as this is going to be the final game on the schedule where Carl and Bo can experiment.

    Will the number of Taylor Martinez's passes outnumber Rex Burkhead's carries?

    Brian: It should, but at the same time, the number of carries by Green/Abdullah/Heard should out number Rex's. Keep Burkhead healthy for the upcoming stretch.

    Erin: I hope not. I have my fingers crossed that it is a nice balance. The ball should only go in the air when it needs to.

    Greg: The only way that happens is if Rex has a massive first half and Bo opts to spell his legs in the second half. Otherwise, all running backs should have a field day.

    James: Yes. From the coach and player comments during the bye week, Rex was pretty nicked and bruised up from being Nebraska's workhorse. The Huskers will need him against stiffer competition, and will utilize the three freshman running backs to carry some of the load and gain experience.

    To further lock this in, Minnesota has one of the worst passing defenses in the conference and country. If there was ever a time to give Taylor Martinez additional reps in the passing game in live game action, this is it.

    Nebraska will need balance against the better defenses they have yet to play, and its borderline criminal how few touches Jamal Turner and Kyler Reed have been getting.

    Brandon: Honestly, I believe so. Minnesota’s a poor football team and if there’s any defense for Taylor to practice his passing against, it’s the Golden Gophers'. I’d look for every range of pass from short out routes to heaves over the Minnesota secondary to Kyler Reed.

    This is also a game where Rex can afford to get some rest. You’ll see him out there, but it’s hard to think that Abdullah, Green and Heard won’t see time, especially if Heard is fully recovered.

    What are three things that Nebraska needs to have seen as a result of this game?


    1.) 400-plus yards rushing. Let the big dogs on the line eat.

    2.) Memorial Stadium North. Revive the memories of Notre Dame Stadium in 2000.

    3.) A good ol' behind the woodshed stomping. Minnesota is not good at all. There’s no reason that past the first 10 minutes of action that this game should be close. These are the games before the Callahan era that we’d just look at them and say “My decent is better than your better."

    Nebraska needs to put their foot on the Gophers' throats, run them out of the building, and get that swagger back before Michigan State comes to down. Put something in Sparty’s head.


    1.) An offensive showing similar to the one against Ohio State. Can the Huskers keep improving? This week will show us.

    2.) A powerful defense. Our defense has been lacking its luster and spark. Someone like Lavonte David has to be tired of it. Can he get the team fired up for good? Let's hope so.

    3.) A big win. I don't think anyone wants to see this game be a close one.

    Greg: I'll let Erin tackle these in her "5 Things to Look for" column.


    1.) Nebraska needs to see Brion Carnes get plenty of playing time in the fourth quarter. He's still just an ankle injury away from being the starter, and he needs more playing experience. This also means Nebraska needs to put Minnesota away early.

    2.) The defense beginning to gel by holding Minnesota to their season average of points, or less. Minnesota benefits from the return of a healthy Gray, but has been averaging 18 points a game thus far. Nebraska is averaging giving up 21. I'd like to see the Huskers hold a team UNDER their season average. This Minnesota team scoring in the high 20s would concern me.

    3.) A set rotation on defense. It's been a merry-go-round in the defensive backfield. Daimion Stafford has played safety and corner, Eric Martin's been at linebacker and defensive end, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste is now playing cornerback.

    Nebraska needs some stability on the defensive roster to help this unit come together and trust each other. The loss of Crick probably hurts this though, as Nebraska will now be tinkering with a defensive line that hadn't blown anyone away even with Crick.


    1.) Confidence on Defense: There needs to be a sense that there is improvement no matter how small. Some momentum will do this unit a world of good. That said, if Minnesota covers the spread, that should be considered a red flag.

    2.) An Effective Passing Game…From Two Quarterbacks: There’s absolutely no reason that Brion Carnes should be on the sidelines in the fourth quarter of this game. There’s no logic in having Martinez under center if Nebraska leads by 35, especially when Carnes needs live action badly if No. 3 goes down.

    3.) Jean-Baptiste Solidify Himself: This could be filed under No. 1, but there needs to be a solid No. 2 opposite Dennard. Even if SJB can be the primary cornerback in a rotation, it would be a step up from the current status quo.

    What is your prediction for Nebraska's final record including any post-season play?

    Brian: If this team can get to 9-3, it’s a successful season. After all we have seen, unless something changes, running the table isn't realistic. There will be one, maybe two losses somewhere down the line.

    Erin: Nebraska will go 9-3, and will be in Indianapolis facing Wisconsin again. I'd even say Nebraska has a post-New Years bowl game to look forward to such as the Capital One Bowl on January 2nd.

    I would be willing to change my overall record depending on whether or not the defense can find its swagger. If they can ignite that spark, our team could be lethal. Until I see that, I'll stand by 9-3.

    Greg: I don't think this team, the way it stands now, is a one-loss team. If they were to face Wisconsin again in Indianapolis, I don't see where enough improvement has been made to beat the badgers. 11-2 with a bowl win.

    James: 10-3 - Without some improvement defensively, I think Nebraska splits the Michigan games, and drops one more to the trio of Northwestern/Iowa/Penn State. They miss the inaugural Big Ten Championship, but a nice trip to the Gator Bowl and a surprising win over an SEC team like Florida is just what the Huskers will need to finish out the season.


    At this point, Michigan State appears to be a toss-up, but the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins and running back Edwin Baker along with a stout defense doesn’t bode well.

    Northwestern’s Dan Persa is hobbled and the Wildcats’ leading rusher is out. Michigan’s Denard Robinson will be difficult to be kept in check, but if he can be forced to pass, Nebraska has a solid chance. Penn State’s best weapon is Beaver Stadium and Iowa…well, is Iowa.

    I think the Cornhuskers drop two of those games. If I had to guess, I’d say Michigan State and Michigan simply due to Sparty’s defense and Robinson’s speed. That puts Nebraska at 9-3, but missing out on the Big Ten Championship Game which we may be seeing a preview of this evening with Wisconsin at Michigan State.

    Expect Nebraska to go to the Gator Bowl to face Georgia ending on a 9 or 10-win note.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: stanley jean baptiste, alfonzo dennard, jared crick, terrence moore, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, austin cassidy, jamal turner, kyler reed

  8. 2011 Oct 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: For the Cornhuskers, Buckeyes Have Become Cardinals


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    The stage had been set. The Nebraska Cornhuskers were under the brightest of spotlights, including headlining ESPN College GameDay, and being featured in the primetime ABC game. What followed was absolute humiliation of Nebraska on every level, live and in high-definition.

    While Southern Cal walked into Lincoln and pummeled the Cornhuskers, Wisconsin had the privilege of doing so in friendly confines. Nebraska and Ohio State haven’t met since 1956, but the significance of this week’s game is eerily similar to one four years ago against the Ball State Cardinals.

    For those who have seared the Callahan Era from their brain for completely understandable reasons, allow a brief refresher. An upstart Ball State squad came into Lincoln following the Huskers’ drubbing by the Trojans in 2007 and hope was high among the Nebraska faithful for an immediate rebound.

    The results were less than encouraging. Nate Davis, Ball State’s upstart sophomore quarterback, torched the Nebraska secondary to the tune of 422 yards. The Cornhuskers would deny the upset bid thanks to a Bo Ruud pick-six and Maurice Purify touchdown catch. Nebraska had their own “free agent” in former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller who performed well, throwing for 438 yards and three touchdowns.

    Following the heroics that saved the Huskers further embarrassment, Nebraska would drop six of its next seven games. The head coach was promptly removed following a shootout during the final contest of the season, and the rest is history. Bo Pelini finds himself in a position not unlike that 2007 squad, except the pieces to this season’s puzzle are scattered a bit differently.

    In 2007, Keller was far from perfect, but he did manage 2,422 yards passing and 14 touchdowns. He also set Cornhusker records for passing accuracy and single-game yardage. In 2011, Nebraska has sophomore Taylor Martinez delivering more passes that result in eventual scores for the opposition thanks to a 5-4 interception-to-touchdown ratio.

    Perhaps what’s most concerning about the 2011 squad is that prior to the season, this defense appeared loaded. With Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard all returning, fans likely anticipated black practice jerseys being handed out by now. Five games into the season, the Cornhusker defense is giving up 377 yards per game.

    To be fair, Nebraska didn’t have those three talented athletes all healthy and on the field at the same time until reaching Madison. Unfortunately, even their presence didn’t affect a vastly superior team across the board nearly enough. The loss to Wisconsin is behind Nebraska and now comes a very crucial game for the Cornhuskers.

    Neither Ohio State’s Joe Bauserman nor Braxton Miller is going to be confused for Nate Davis circa 2007. In addition, three very talented players in running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey and offensive lineman Marcus Hall had their suspensions extended as of yesterday. While Las Vegas’ coffers were promptly filled following this news, Ohio State’s cupboard isn’t entirely bare.

    The good news for Nebraska is that this game presents an opportunity for a massive shift in morale and direction for the entire 2011 season. Pelini and company have the necessary talent to bounce back on both sides of the football, but changes are necessary for Pelini’s “process” to begin an upward trend. If the Cornhuskers are going to have a successful inaugural season as a member of the Big Ten, it’s time to erase the drawing board and start from scratch.

    While there’s little doubt Taylor Martinez will start against the Buckeyes this week, the call to relieve him in favor of another option, be it Brion Carnes or Rex Burkhead, needs to be made. Burkhead has proven to be a rock at running back. This is one position where Cornhusker fans know they have a reliable leader and talented corps.

    Jamal Turner is being sinfully underutilized. There’s no reason that he should be held back any longer. It doesn’t matter if he’s used as a wide receiver, quarterback or even running back. Turner needs to be on the field, as all playmakers should be. Nebraska’s offensive line is quite reliable overall. The work of John Garrison and Brendan Stai is clearly meshing well with what Barney Cotton already had in place.

    On defense, the Cornhuskers may want to consider moving the versatile Jared Crick to the outside opposite Cam Meredith and plug the middle using Steinkuhler, Moore, Randle and Rome. Unfortunately, Sean Fisher doesn’t look like he’ll ever regain his old speed which necessitates one of three things: Move Daimion Stafford to linebacker, a Peso-style hybrid, or burn David Santos’ redshirt.

    Despite only having one game under his belt, Alfonzo Dennard wasn’t attacked much by Wisconsin. The same can’t be said for the rest of the secondary. Where is Antonio Bell or Josh Mitchell? At this point, is giving P.J. Smith or Courtney Osborne truly not worth a shot? Yes, the defensive backfield is still a work in progress, but as it stands, it’s hard to comprehend why the coaches wouldn’t start mixing up personnel until they find a group that clicks.

    If these changes are made and an absolute commitment is made by Tim Beck to stick to an effective game plan (See: First quarter vs. Wisconsin), Nebraska will very likely avoid a record mirroring 2007’s. However, if there is little to no shakeup, Taylor Martinez remains under center, and square pegs keep being slammed against round holes, the Buckeyes are good enough to beat the Cornhusker team seen last Saturday in Camp Randall Stadium.

    A 41-40 win over Ball State in 2007 was an ominous sign of things to come. If Nebraska’s first Big Ten home game is a loss, the difficult challenges that Nebraska faces this week may be welcomed in comparison come this Sunday.

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: ball state, taylor martinez, tim beck, bo pelini, jared crick, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, david santos, daimion stafford, baker steinkuhler, terrence moore, thad randle, chase rome, jamal turner, john garrison, brendan stai

  9. 2011 Jul 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Predicting the Blackshirts – Weakside Defensive Tackle


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    A Bo Pelini-led defense is salty and vicious. Only a select few can call themselves starters and are rewarded by being part of a Nebraska tradition that spans over four decades. A simple black practice jersey denotes some of the nastiest young men in the country. We look into the crystal ball and see what's to come for the 2011 Blackshirt unit.

    Weakside Defensive Tackle

    While Jared Crick has the strongside spot locked up, his running buddy on the interior defensive line isn’t cemented. Baker Steinkuhler started every game at this position last year, but his performance seemed to plateau as the season went on. Players like Terrence Moore and Thad Randle appeared to be giving a more spirited performance.

    Assuming that all three progress, the job’s likely Baker’s to lose, but Moore was coming on strong towards the end of the year. Steinkuhler finished 2010 with 46 tackles (15 solo and four for a loss), 3.5 sacks and two pass breakups. Moore started only once, but managed 16 tackles (four solo and three for a loss), one sack and one fumble recovery. Randle played in 12 games for Nebraska last season as a third string role when Steinkuhler and Moore needed a rest or in specific packages.

    Steinkuhler’s main challenger is Moore. The only physical difference between these two is size as Steinkuhler has three inches on his rival for the starting gig, but this battle will be won by who has the strength and focus to move around some of the nation’s largest offensive linemen. Fall camp and the first few games are going to decide the rightful owner of this Blackshirt.

    2010 was Steinkuhler’s first entire season as a starter. As he seemed to run out of gas towards last few games, Moore’s physicality helped him stand out. He proved to be an effective compliment to Crick, but can he be counted on for the majority of a game’s duration? As it stands, Baker will likely walk into the season as the favorite to wear the coveted jersey. However, Bo isn’t a fan of handing them out before he feels his men have earned them, so don’t be surprised to see Moore’s number where Baker’s was expected.

    Projected Blackshirt: Terrence Moore

    Other Predicted Starters: Strongside Defensive End, Strongside Defensive Tackle

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: baker steinkuhler, terrence moore, thad randle

  10. 2011 Jul 08

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Predicting the Blackshirts – Strongside Defensive Tackle


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    A Bo Pelini-led defense is salty and vicious. Only a select few can call themselves starters and are rewarded by being part of a Nebraska tradition that spans over four decades. A simple black practice jersey denotes some of the nastiest young men in the country. We look into the crystal ball and see what's to come for the 2011 Blackshirt unit.

    Strongside Defensive Tackle

    This spot’s where you need a mauler and no one on Nebraska’s defensive line can match Jared Crick’s intensity. In 2009, Crick wreaked havoc alongside then-senior Ndamukong Suh. Now it’s his turn to end his Cornhusker legacy on a high note.

    The Cozad, Nebraska native has an impressive resume. He’s tallied 145 tackles (68 solo and 32 for a loss), 19 sacks while accounting for 26 quarterback hurries. When the Cornhuskers travelled to Baylor in 2009, the Bears heavily underestimated Crick who set single-game records for both sacks (five) and tackles for loss (seven).

    He’s been named to several post-season award watch lists, pre-season All-America boards and may very well boast a number of honors after the year’s through. The future looks bright for the 6’6” 285-pound monster. Crick’s considered one of the best overall prospects in next year’s NFL draft. Should he be able to go toe-to-toe with some of the best offensive linemen that the Big Ten has to offer, an NFL franchise selecting him in the first round seems likely.

    While he has teammates like Terrence Moore to help him take a breather, Crick will hold onto his Blackshirt until the day he graduates.

    Projected Blackshirt: Jared Crick

    Other Predicted Starters: Strongside Defensive End

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: jared crick, terrence moore

  11. 2011 Mar 16

    50 HUSKERS TO KNOW: No. 26


    By HuskerLocker

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    The 50 Huskers to Know returns for the 2011 spring season! We count down the players you absolutely have to watch heading into spring football, culminating with No. 1 during NU's spring break.

    The spring list, remember, is about players who are currently in the program, with an emphasis on redshirt freshmen and sophomores who might not have played much yet; in the fall, you'll see a list with more projected starters and incoming contributing recruits.

    Not included on this list is wide receiver Khiry Cooper, who spends the spring with the Husker baseball team.

    No. 26 Defensive tackle Terrence Moore

    We thought the Louisiana native would make a strong push at unseating starter Baker Steinkuhler last fall. While Moore played in 13 games, logged a sack and a tipped a pass that led to Courtney Osborne's interception in the Big 12 Championship, he was too inconsistent against the run to eat too much into Steinkuhler's minutes. Moore thus became a valuable backup who got the start in the Holiday Bowl – due to Steinkuhler's suspension for a DUI arrest – and was part of front four that got mashed repeatedly by Washington's offensive line.

    Moore remains a dangerous, quick-off-the-ball pass rusher. If his technique and leverage improves against the run, he'll get more playing time.

    See all 50 Huskers! No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27

    Tags: 50 huskers to know spring 2011, terrence moore

  12. 2011 Jan 18

    YEAR IN REVIEW: DL Report Card


    By HuskerLocker

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    Sam starts on defense with the line. How was life without Ndamukong Suh? Find out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: year in review, report card, jared crick, pierre allen, cameron meredith, baker steinkuhler, thad randle, jason ankrah, terrence moore, kevin thomsen, josh williams, chase rome, jay guy

  13. 2010 Dec 23

    Husker Heartbeat 12/23: San Diego Swamp and Jamal Turner Rising


    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.

    *Heavy California rains have left Qualcomm Stadium under water just one day before the Poinsettia Bowl.

    Check out this quote:

    Later, Poinsettia Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski sought to dampen speculation the soaked field wouldn't be ready for Thursday's game.

    “The field will be ready," he said. "The ground crew will be working all night long. There might be a few soft spots where water sunk in, but the field will be ready.”

    Not terribly encouraging when you consider the field will be torn up for the Poinsettia - and far from perfect for the Holiday Bowl.

    *Jamal Turner, Nebraska's QB recruit enrolling in January, doesn't lack for confidence - or speaking skills. To quote:

    Turner said he welcomes the competition from Starling — who may opt for a pro baseball career instead of the chance to play at Nebraska — not to mention Martinez, NU freshman Brion Carnes and others.

    “I’m a competitor,” Turner said. “I know how good I am.”

    He studied the Huskers closely this fall and watched in person during losses to Texas and Oklahoma.

    Turner’s assessment? Nebraska lost only when it beat itself.

    He said he was impressed with Martinez but considers himself a different breed of player.

    “I’m looking forward to getting up there and learning from him — and seeing if maybe he can learn from me,” Turner said. “I’m a little more fancy.”

    *What happened to safety P.J. Smith's playing time after the Oklahoma State game? The OWH doesn't seem to know, although it suggests a position move could be in the making.

    Our take: Smith is a talented football player who needs to go 100 miles per hour all the time - like Courtney Osborne does.

    *Terrence Moore hopes to fill Baker Steinkuhler's shoes for the Holiday Bowl. We thought Moore might beat Steinkuhler out for the starting job; didn't happen. He's still a better pass rusher.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, jamal turner, holiday bowl, pj smith, terrence moore

  14. 2010 Sep 30

    Non-Conference Report Card - DL


    By HuskerLocker

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    HL's Samuel McKewon breaks down the defensive line player by player. Who's had the biggest season thus rar? Whose play best fits the Pelini scheme? Find out with a 30-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: report card, pierre allen, jared crick, baker steinkuhler, cameron meredith, thad randle, terrence moore, josh williams

  15. 2010 Aug 27

    50 HUSKERS TO KNOW: No. 21


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Our 50 Huskers to Know series returns for the fall, as we count down the key players on Nebraska’s 2010 team. Check back throughout fall camp for the countdown, and scroll to the bottom for links to the whole list.

    No. 21 Terrence Moore, 6-3, 285, DT, Jr.

    This low-to-the-ground tank has been through two difficult years with injuries - especially in 2009, when Moore struggled to overcome a nasty, nagging turf toe problem.

    But Moore was, as it turns out, paying attention for much of that time. He befriended Ndamukong Suh, shadowed him to some extent and learned some of the key trick that we think will make Moore a dangerous player - and a better pass rusher than you may expect.

    Moore’s a quick player - quicker than Baker Steinkuhler - but his technique has needed a little work over the years. He’ll be a tough guy to block against the pass, but, given his size, he’ll have to anchor down against the run.

    Carl Pelini has indicated that Moore, Steinkuhler and Thad Randle will play quite a bit during the non-conference season, and the best one of the bunch will probably log the most snaps next to defensive tackle Jared Crick. We like Moore by a nose (tackle). Although, to be fair, Steinkuhler has more experience and Randle, having gained some necessary weight, is very intriguing.

    See all of the Huskers: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22

    Tags: 50 huskers to know fall 2010, terrence moore

  16. 2010 Aug 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: 7 'Prove It' Players on Defense


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    The Blackshirts don’t have many questions, and thus fewer players have less to prove. But we still pinpointed a few, with an emphasis on a certain position in between the defensive line and secondary.

    Cornerback Anthony Blue: He’s more than two years removed from a serious knee injury. It’s time for Blue, as fast as any corner on the team, to trust his knee and get more aggressive in Bo Pelini’s scheme.

    Linebacker Sean Fisher: He’s more athletic than fans realize and plenty sharp about his assignments, but Fisher needs to sit in the hole better, take on blockers, get lower and attack the ball carriers. He’s better sideline-to-sideline right now than he is in the box.

    Linebacker Eric Martin: This exciting, physical player is deadly in an isolated spot, but to play consistently he’ll have to refine his technique and better read his keys at the position.

    Defensive tackle Terrence Moore: This tank of a nose tackle needs to produce, big time, in 2010. He’s a better fit for that nose role than lanky Baker Steinkuhler, and if Moore is healthy - and ready to do some damage against the run, Nebraska’s defensive line actually can be better than last year’s bunch. Because Moore is a good pass rusher.

    Strong safety P.J. Smith: By all accounts, Smith is expected to roll right into Larry Asante’s old role without much of a hiccup. But Smith also had to bring that “enforcer” aspect that Asante was known for in 2009. The secondary needs a thumper; Smith is the biggest, best candidate.

    Free safety Rickey Thenarse: Count on him to make his share of big plays for the Blackshirts. Now he needs to eliminate the mental errors that open the door for the opponent. Last time around for this senior.

    Linebacker Alonzo Whaley: The sophomore made a big move in spring and is poised to challenge Fisher for playing time. Whaley arguably has the most athleticism of any Husker ‘backer; it’s about nailing down the finer points of the defense and staying in position.

    See also: 8 Prove It Players on Offense

    Check Out Our Full Big 12 Preview: Big 12 Coaches, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Offensive Lines, Defensive Lines, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, Commentary, 12 Best Players, Ten Overrated Players, Ten Underrated Players

    Tags: football, fall camp, sean fisher, anthony blue, eric martin, terrence moore, pj smith, rickey thenarse, alonzo whaley

  17. 2010 Apr 23

    SPRING IN REVIEW: Defensive Line


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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

  18. 2010 Apr 18

    Commentary: About Those Blackshirts...


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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

  19. 2010 Apr 05

    Husker Heartbeat 4/5: T-Mo, T-Mart, Barney's Boys, Lew and Bursting Bubbles


    By HuskerLocker

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

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

    Cool? Cool!

    *Excellent story in the LJS about tackle Terrence Moore in particular and the defensive line as a whole.

    *The guy everybody thought would be a good safety at Nebraska - Anthony West - finally is one.

    *Shatel gets blunt about the offensive line. I like it.

    *Some chatter about the great mystery of NU football, Taylor Martinez, as coaches and teammates praise the kid. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s what teammates and coaches do. Whether Martinez is actually worthy of it - we’ll see.

    *Another Texas Tech quarterback is hurt.

    *A Notre Dame offensive line recruit gets drunk and mean on spring break and falls from a hotel balcony to his death. A tragedy on a number of level, the greatest of which was this: It so easily could have been prevented.

    *Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins was paid $4.4 million last year. For what? God only knows. The money had to go somewhere, right?

    *USA Today directly addresses the growing cost of college athletics in a lengthy report. You know how the housing bubble burst? Same thing’s about to happen.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, terrence moore, anthony west, taylor martinez, notre dame, tom shatel, barney cotton

  20. 2010 Mar 15

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 17


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    DT Terrence Moore, 6-3, 285, Jr.

    Moore struggled with foot injuries throughout the 2009 season, and qualified as one of the few defensive disappointments of the year. He’s explosive with his first step, but needs to refine his technique and learn how to fight off blockers once he’s engaged. A bit undersized, but strong. If Moore is healthy, he - not Baker Steinkuehler - is the preferable fit at the nose tackle. His lack of useful experience to this point in his career is a demerit.

    Want All 50 Huskers? Join Husker Locker for free!

    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, terrence moore

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