Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:58 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Nebraska.
Spring Practice Starts: Sunday, March 4
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Returning Starters: Seven on offense, seven on defense, both specialists.
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Finding replacements on defense. The Cornhuskers may have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also four pretty big departures that need to be replaced. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Jared Crick are all gone. That's one key player on each level of the defense and none will be easy to replace. Though having Cameron Meredith on the defensive line will make the loss of Crick easier to absorb. That being said, Dennard and David were two of the best defenders in the Big Ten last season. It's not easy to just plug in new playmakers of that caliber, and as if the job wasn't hard enough, Nebraska will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season. John Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator after Carl Pelini left to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.
2. Rediscovering the T-Magic. Taylor Martinez's first two seasons as Nebraska's quarterback have been a bit of a roller coaster. He was able to stay healthy last year, but he also completed only 56% of his passes, which was actually lower than the 59% he completed as a freshman. Martinez's yards per attempt went down over a full yard as well. Some of this was likely due to it being Martinez's first year in Tim Beck's system, and Nebraska is hoping Martinez will improve in his second season under Beck. In fact, if Nebraska wants to make a serious run at a Big Ten championship in 2011, they'll need him to. So it's important for Martinez to have a strong spring and make sure that the Cornhuskers head into the summer with a clear cut leader at the quarterback position.
3. Giving Burkhead a breather. Rex Burkhead had a great season for Nebraska in 2011, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to making the All-Conference team. While there's no reason to believe Burkhead won't have another solid season in 2012, Nebraska would be better served to find a bit more depth at running back to keep Burkhead fresh. In Nebraska's first 8 games, Burkhead averaged 110.25 yards per game, but that number dropped to 95 yards per game over Nebraska's final five contests. The Huskers went 2-3 in those games. So if backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can show that they're capable of taking some carries this spring, it could go a long way in the fall.
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Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:25 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:26 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
With Spring Practice only a few weeks away, USC head coach Lane Kiffin had three open coaching spots and little time to fill them. As of Sunday, he had filled two of the spots, hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to coach linebackers and Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders to coach defensive backs, according to multiple reports including the LA Times.
The pair replace Joe Barry, who left to coach linebackers for the San Diego Chargers, and fill a void left after Willie Mack Garza resigned as the secondary coach right before the 2011 season.
Hazelton spent six years with the Bison, the last two coordinating the defense and won the FCS championship last season. Sanders spent only two months at Florida Atlantic, following Carl Pelini from Nebraska where he served as defensive backs coach for four seasons and sent several players to NFL. In addition to his stop in Lincoln, Sanders also served as defensive coordinator for two seasons at North Carolina.
The school has not officially confirmed the hires but numerous recruits were told during USC's Junior Day on Sunday.
The Trojans begin spring practice on March 6th. Kiffin still has to find a replacement for wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, who left to take the same position with the Oakland Raiders.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Nebraska defense took a major hit on Wednesday, as senior defensive tackle and All-American candidate Jared Crick was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Crick had been All-Big 12 over the last two seasons, and was named the Big Ten preseason defensive player of the year by league media. The unfortunate announcement was made by coach Bo Pelini in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“I feel extremely bad for Jared,” Pelini said. “He is a young man who has represented this program in a first-class manner throughout his career.”
The loss hits Nebraska especially hard, as Crick had been a bright spot on an otherwise underachieving defensive line. As a whole, the Nebraska defensive line had registered just 7.5 tackles for loss on the entire year, with Crick contributing 2.5 of TFLs. As a whole, the Nebraska defense is currently ranked 80th nationwide in rushing defense, an effort that begins with the line. Without Crick, those numbers could continue to suffer.
What's especially shocking is that Nebraska wasn't just supposed to have a good defense this year, it was supposed to have the best defense in the Big Ten. That hasn't been the case by any stretch even with a completely healthy front four, so unless Crick's injury forces the rest of the defense to elevate its collective game in response (a plea that DC Carl Pelini has undoubtedly already made to his players), the Husker defense looks extremely vulnerable for the rest of the season.
Crick is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by senior Terrence Moore, though sophomore Thaddeus Randle and freshman Chase Rome are also now in line to see increased snaps.
Posted on: March 15, 2011 5:17 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 5:35 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
College football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Nebraska, who opened spring camp on Saturday.
Spring Practice Question: Does Nebraska have the firepower to win its division in its inaugural Big Ten season?
If there's ever an ideal time for a college football program to join a conference, it's when that conference is in a state of flux; at the very least, then, everybody is going through an adjustment period, so the new team is in something of a similar boat. If Nebraska makes it to its very first Big Ten Championship Game this year, well, so will its theoretical opponent.
Of course, getting to that game is far more of a challenge than anything else; one bad weekend can put a team into also-ran status when it comes to a division title, so Nebraska has its work cut out for it coming into the 2011 season. Yet then again, on those terms, so does everybody else in the (sigh) "Legends" division, and Nebraska may have the upper hand on personnel in the division.
Yes, there are three Big Ten teams that won at least 11 games last season. Two are in the (sigh again) Leaders division. Nebraska basically has to contend with a reeling Michigan program in the first year of the Brady Hoke era, a Michigan State team that was embarrassed by Alabama and the Hawkeyes in 2010 and won an unsustainable amount of close games, and an Iowa squad that loses a ton of NFL-caliber experience from a five-loss 2010 team. Northwestern might contend for a bowl game again, but Minnesota won't, and that's it for the division. Hardly a murderer's row.
Moreover, Nebraska returns a wealth of offensive talent. QB Taylor Martinez, or "T-Magic," is back after winning the 2010 Big 12 Freshman of the Year award, quashing several transfer rumors in the process. Yes, Bo Pelini blew up at Martinez late in the season last year, and there's always the fear that some strife could potentially linger and cause problems down the road, but there's also little indication that such a rift still exists. Martinez had his chance to make a new start and decided against it. Sure, problems may exist under the surface, but that's at least a manageable situation, and coaches can (and often do) live with that type of arrangement. Big Ten defenses should expect to get a heavy dose of T-Magic in 2011, and that is bad news for Nebraska opponents.
The main strength of the Cornhusker defense is going to be on the interior, led by surprising senior returnee DT Jared Crick. That is to say, the secondary is a major point of weakness, with CB Prince Amukamara, SS DeJon Gomes, and FS/SS/LB/MVP Eric Hagg all needing to be replaced. That's a job easier said than done, especially with an elite draft prospect like Amukamara and a team leader like Hagg, but rising seniors Alfonzo Dennard and Courtney Osborne are going to be given the keys to the secondary. Both are high-level players; if defensive coordinator Carl Pelini can build quality and depth around them, this defense could be just about as scary as last year.
The bottom line is that Nebraska is not only a contender for the (sighhhhhh) Legends division crowd, it's practically a favorite. The Huskers are, on paper, better-loaded than anybody else in the division and set to make a run at the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Bad and unexpected things may happen along the way, but the spring status quo seems to indicate that fans in Lincoln should set high expectations for the 2011 season. Don't go booking hotel rooms in Indianapolis quite yet -- this is still college football, where all hell can break loose anywhere at any time -- but it would be safe to expect at least 10 wins in 2011 as long as the Husker team stays relatively healthy.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 2:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Signing Day at Nebraska was plenty celebration-worthy when it came to the actual signing: the Huskers inked one of the Big Ten's best classes, and maybe the program's strongest since the 2007 haul that netted Prince Amukamara and Jared Crick.
But that didn't keep one local columnist from calling the day "awkward" and "uncomfortable" for Bo Pelini and the Huskers all the same, thanks to some questions swirling around the makeup of the Nebraska coaching staff.
Those start with the status of current Husker secondary coach Marvin Sanders. New Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson said Wednesday that Hoosier assistant Corey Raymond would be departing Bloomington for Lincoln to join Pelini's staff, and what's more, he'd be coaching the secondary. So where does that leave Sanders? Pelini :
"I'll address any staff questions at another time ... This is not the time or the place."Given that "is this coach a member of your staff?" isn't exactly a complicated question, it's fair that the situation itself is complicated. Sanders was also a no-show at a recruiting event Wednesday night, though offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore were also missing-in-action, sparking (still unfounded) rumors that Pelini had decided to initiate a more comprehensive staff overhaul.
Adding more fuel to the fire: per the above-linked Lincoln Journal-Star column , Pelini has already spoken to Oregon assistant and former Husker quarterback hero Scott Frost about potentially making to move to Lincoln.
But where Sanders looks likely to be on his way out (and the under-fire Watson may follow), another coach looks likely to be on his way in. Ohio linebackers coach Ross Els -- assistant to former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich and a former colleague of current Husker defensive coordinator Carl Pelini when Pelini was on staff at Ohio -- has emerged as the leading candidate to replace previous linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, who left Lincoln to coach at ... wait for it ... Indiana.
It's a tangled web the situation here is weaving. But there's a chance it becomes more tangled still before we know exactly who'll be coaching the Huskers in 2011.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 12:43 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 1:31 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Hey look! It's Nebraska news that doesn't involve either Bo Pelini or Carl Pelini apologizing for their behavior. Though that doesn't mean it's good news. Bo Pelini made the announcement on Wednesday that Nebraska's leading receiver Niles Paul hurt his foot during practice on Tuesday, and he's not going to be available for Friday's game against Colorado.
"His status for the rest of the season will be evaluated," said Pelini in a statement.
This could have a huge impact on the Nebraska offense against Colorado. There's still no word on whether Taylor Martinez will be available to play in the game, and Nebraska's offense has already struggled mightily since he hurt his ankle. Plus, when Martinez is out of the game, the 'Huskers can't rely as heavily on the ground game, and need to throw more to move the ball consistently.
Something that isn't easy to do if Paul is out of the game. He not only leads the team with 39 receptions for 516 yards and a touchdown this season, he also serves as the team's top return man on special teams. Making matters worse? The three names behind Paul on the depth chart -- Curenski Gilleylen, Tim Marlowe and Khiry Cooper -- don't have a single reception to their name this season.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 5:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has already apologized for the way he acted during Saturday night's loss against Texas A&M, that behavior generally consisting of testing the boundaries of the human ear drum and vocal chords. Well, Bo wasn't the only member of the Pelini family who acted somewhat regrettably on Saturday night.
Carl Pelini got a bit handsy with a cameraman following the game, and when I say handsy, I mean he went after the cameraman and knocking the camera out of his hands. If you don't believe me, check out the video here.
Well, much like his brother did on Monday, Carl wanted to let everybody know he's sorry on Tuesday.
“I apologize for the events that occurred after Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M," Carl Pelini said in a statement. "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."
While there may be no physical damage to the camera, there's no word on what kind of emotional distress the camera felt due to the incident.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 2:47 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Pelini brothers -- Nebraska head coach Bo and his assistant, Carl -- are two of the most notoriously irascible coaches in the sport, high-strung past the point of parody and quick to unload on whoever's in front of them. And that's when things are going well. Things did not go well tonight for the Huskers, who dropped a 9-6 contest to Texas A&M in a game that featured 16 penalties called on Nebraska for 145 yards (both school records) while the Aggies saw two such calls. Two.
The disparity in calls kept Bo Pelini in a state of near-constant froth all game long, but while Bo spent plenty of time in officials' ears all night long, he saved his worst outburst of the night for his own quarterback, Taylor Martinez :
It's worth pointing out that Bo was mostly restrained in his post-game conference, although he was clearly still fuming over the game, asserting that his team had only given up six points on the night.
Meanwhile, Carl wasn't quite as noticeable in his reaction to the game, though one popular Aggies website is claiming that he reacted far worse than Bo ever did today. TexAgs.com reports that a cameraman of theirs was on the field immediately after the game, when Carl Pelini knocked the camera out of his hand, breaking the camera. Here's video of the incident:
Obviously, it's not immediately evident from the video by itself that the website's version of the events actually happened, though it does seem clear that the camera gets knocked down a couple seconds after it catches Pelini's attention (he's the one in the black that turns toward the camera at 0:08). The lack of sound makes it hard to completely absolve the cameraman of any active role in the encounter, but still: that's no way for a coach to ever act.