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: December 6, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Liberty Mutual Insurance has announced the 25 finalists for the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. Spread across all four divisions of NCAA college football, the 25 coaches were selected via fan voting at CoachOfTheYear.com, as well as (per a National Football Foundation statement) "an objective scoring model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame."
"Each coach was among the top 15 in fan votes in his division to qualify for the model, which considers, among other criteria: wins, team penalties, on-field sportsmanship, academic achievement by the student-athletes, and commitment to charitable endeavors," according to the statement.
"Each of the 25 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year finalists is an example of what it means to be a true leader both on and off the field," said Archie Manning, Chairman of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. Manning spoke to our Eye on NFL Pick-Six Podcast about the award and other topics.
Fans that visit CoachOfTheYear.com can vote daily for their favorite coach between now and Dec. 22. The four winners will be announced the morning of the BCS championship game.
The finalists are:
Football Bowl Subdivision:Each winner will receive a $50,000 donation from Liberty Mutual to the charity or charities of his choice, as well as a $20,000 scholarship grant in their name to their school's alumni association. So, seriously, college football fans: don't forget to vote.
Tags: Archie Manning, Bill Maskill, Bill Snyder, Bobby Petrino, Brady Hoke, Chris Mussman, Coach of the Year, Dabo Swinney, Glenn Caruso, Jerry Hinnen, Jerry Moore, John Wristen, Keith Emery, Lance Leipold, Les Miles, Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Mark Hudspeth, Mark Richt, Mike Gundy, Mike London, Nick Saban, Peter Rossomando, Rob Ambose, Rob Ash, Scott Underwood, Stan Zweifel, Steve Johnson, Tim Beck, Tom Gilmore
Posted on: May 30, 2011 1:54 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football's quarterback carousel just keeps on spinning.
This time, the team going for a ride is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Multiple outlets have reported that Huskers backup Cody Green has requested his scholarship release from the Nebraska coaches and will be transferring soon.
Unlike many backup quarterbacks who head elsewhere to find playing time, Green will arrive at his new school with quality experience in big-time football. A class of 2009 four-star recruit out of Dayton, Texas, Green nearly won the starting job as a true freshman and would eventually start the Huskers' road game at Baylor. Though he lost out on the 2010 starting position to Taylor Martinez, as a sophomore Green started a pair of wins against Iowa State and Colorado as Martinez sat out with an ankle injury. For his career, Green has completed 66-of-162 passes for five touchdowns with three interceptions.
So Green should be a big addition to whatever program might add him to the roster. (One local columnist has already speculated Green could be interested in replacing Kellen Moore at Boise State.) But as for how big a blow his departure will be for the Huskers, it largely depends on how well Martinez responds to his ongoing ankle issues and an awkward spring, one capped by an iffy 4-for-13 performance in the Nebraska spring game. Green's decision leaves the Huskers with just two scholarship quarterbacks, Martinez and redshirt freshman Brion Carnes. (Blue-chip recruit Bubba Starling could be a third, but he's expected to forgo college football in favor of pro baseball.) If Martinez is hurt again or struggles to the point of a benching, Bo Pelini will have no one else available who's ever thrown a college pass.
Then again, if Martinez returns to his 2010 form, adjusts to new coordinator Tim Beck's offense and stays healthy, the backup will be an afterthought--which is likely why Green has asked for his release in the first place. And experience or no experience, Carnes may not be all that bad an option off the bench anyway; he connected on 11-of-15 passes in the spring game and averaged better than 10 yards an attempt.
So the Huskers should be able to weather Green's departure. But the emphasis there is on "should"; if Green's absence leads to trouble at the quarterback spot, the inaugural Big Ten "Legends" division race--one in which the Huskers are likely the tentative favorite--will be thrown wide open.
Posted on: May 6, 2011 3:01 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every Friday we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.
FOUR LINKS ...
1. It hasn't exactly been a state secret, since it's a matter of simple addition, but it wasn't until this post at SEC blog Team Speed Kills this week that we realized that Vanderbilt has seven quarterbacks legitimately battling for the Commodores' starting quarterback position (and six of them on scholarship). And we thought Notre Dame was overrun. (Though, like the Irish and Dayne Crist, we'll be surprised if the current favorite -- Larry Smith -- doesn't hold onto the job as expected.)
2. Since we spent so much time yesterday informing you of games re-scheduled to Fridays, how 'bout another? USC and Colorado will play their first-ever Pac-12 conference game Friday on ESPN2, Nov. 4, instead of Saturday Nov. 5. We're not sure the Trojans really need the boost in exposure of a Friday night Boise State special, but no doubt Larry Scott (and his billion-dollar quest to break his conference out of the regional-network prison they've been confined to the last few seasons) approves.
3. It seems perhaps a little ... tactless for Jim Delany to welcome Lincoln as the Big Ten's new Green Bay when his conference already includes such "charming smallish town" candidates as West Lafayette and Champaign, but no doubt the Huskers won't mind the comparions between their successes and the Packers'.
4. You noticed Oregon honoring the armed forces at their spring game last Saturday, right? If not, well, they did, but the highlight had to have been this speech from Chip Kelly after the game:
AND THE CLOUD ...
Nebraska looks poised to introduce a substantial pistol element to their new Tim Beck- directed offense, which should be good news for Taylor Martinez if the Huskers can make it work ... BYU receiver Cody Hoffman was arrested recently on failure-to-appear charges after he left a speeding ticket unpaid ... Also appearing in the police blotter was Colorado signee Nelson Spruce, arrested for marijuana possession ... former Navy players talk about the death of Osama Bin Laden ... receiver Brandon Felder has transferred from North Carolina home to Pitt to help care for his ailing grandparents; Felder redshirted last fall ... We're told by the first line of this story not to ask, but we're going to anyway: Why were Penn State's original uniforms pink and black? ... and for all the lonelyhearts in Gainesville, have we got the site for you.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:22 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As Nebraska prepares for a new beginning in the Big Ten, there are plenty of changes being made to the football team. One of the largest changes is that Tim Beck is no longer coaching the running backs, but will now be running the entire offense. Which means that he's going to have to find a quarterback to run that offense.
For most of 2010, that was Taylor Martinez. Unfortunately, while Martinez had some transcendent games that quickly earned him the nickname of T-Magic, he also had to battle through his fair share of bad games and injuries. Plus, with a new offensive coordinator around, just because Martinez got the most playing time at quarterback last season, he isn't guaranteed of anything in 2011. According to Beck, Nebraska's quarterback competition is wide open.
“Obviously, with Taylor and Cody being veterans and having played in games and been around a little bit more, they're further advanced because of that. There's no question,” Beck told the Omaha-World Herald. “And that gives them an edge up. After three days, that's probably where we're at.”
Still, just because Martinez and Cody Green have an edge over the younger Kody Spano and Jamal Turner, that doesn't mean Spano and Turner don't have plenty of time to make an impression. As Beck made clear later, he's going into this job with a clean slate.
“I don’t want any preconceived ideas. I want to make my own evaluations on them based on what I need them to do. So that’s what we’ve been doing.”
In other words, while Martinez's experience gives him an edge at the start, and may get him more reps early, unless he takes advantage of them, he could easily begin losing them to Green or the others.
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Shawn Watson is out and Tim Beck is in as Nebraska's offensive coordinator. But what does that mean for the Huskers' offensive schemes?
Beck's not saying just yet, but it sounds like some big changes are poised to be rung in:
"I can't give away all my secrets," the new Husker offensive coordinator said Tuesday night during the Sports Nightly radio program.Two questions Beck's statement begs:
1. What does starting over mean exactly? In 2010, the Huskers were predominantly a spread-option team in the mold of Oregon or Rich Rodriguez's West Virginia teams, and for about half a season, had a similar amount of success; the scheme turned Taylor Martinez from an unknown redshirt freshman into a Heisman candidate in the space of about six weeks.
But the offense flagged badly down the stretch, resulting in a late-season slide and Watson's departure-slash-Beck's promotion. If Beck lives up to his threat to start entirely from scratch, the offense may look more like the pass-first aerial attacks that Beck coordinated at Missouri State way back in the late '90s and helped Mark Mangino develop at Kansas a few years later.
Going from last year's run-first-run-second offense to that kind of scheme would close a 180-degree shift, meaning that Beck may try and maintain some of the zone read looks from 2010 to help ease the transition. But then again, if what he really wants is a single-identity offense that's "consistent throughout" the playbook, Beck may go whole hog with the change and simply deal with the inevitable growing pains. And as for the player that might experience the bulk of those pains, the other question is ...
2. How would "starting over" affect Martinez? Not kindly, one wouldn't think. Though efficient when called upon though the first half of the season, Martinez only averaged 125 yards passing per-game and struggled late in the year when trying to throw the Huskers out of deficits. Even given Martinez's unquestioned status as the Husker's most explosive playmaker and highest-profile offensive talent, a move to a pass-centric offense might still open the door for 6'4" junior Cody Green to take over the offense.
This is another reason to think Beck won't entirely fulfill his "start over" mandate; like Al Borges at Michigan with Denard Robinson, to do so would be to intentionally minimize the strengths of his offense's greatest weapon. With so much doubt surrounding precisely how Beck plans on moving the Huskers forward, few spring camps are likely to be more scrutinized ... and Beck's comments have only made the mystery that much more intriguing.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 11:09 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In today's edition of "As the Nebraska Coaching Roster Turns " (or "General Huskpital," if you prefer), we find that the long-rumored alterations to the Husker coaching staff -- the departure of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson foremost among them -- are now all but official, according to this report from the Omaha World-Herald :
Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini has completed his revamped coaching staff, according to a source close to the program, though he’s waiting on university protocol to make an announcement ...
The defensive additions you know about already ; Corey Raymond will coach the secondary and Ross Els the linebackers. And one element of the offensive reshuffling is all but a done deal, as the World-Herald reports that running backs coach Tim Beck is "the leading candidate" to take over as the Huskers' offensive coordinator and play-caller after Notre Dame assistant Ed Warriner chose to stay in South Bend. The identity of the two new assistants, however, appears to be still up in the air.
But where does that leave Watson? At least Pelini appears to be making an effort to find his soon-to-be-former assistant a soft landing:
Meanwhile, the source said, Pelini is working to help land offensive coordinator Shawn Watson a job in the NFL.
So that's nice. Maybe not as nice as letting Watson keep his job (or telling recruits up front that he was in the process of reshuffling the staff), but it's something.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 3:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So you remember that job opening at Nebraska for an offensive coordinator that Bo Pelini had no idea about, yet was seeking out candidates for? Yeah, that one. Well, former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost had emerged as a candidate for the job last week, but the word is that Frost is going to stay at Oregon where he is currently a receivers coach.
It seems that even though Pelini doesn't know of any job opening, that didn't stop him from meeting with Frost over the weekend about the possibility of Frost coming back to Lincoln. It seems the deal-breaker was that Frost didn't want to come back to Nebraska unless it was for the offensive coordinator position, but that's not what Pelini was offering.
No, it seems that Pelini is preparing to give that job to current running backs coach Tim Beck, though Pelini has also spoken to former Kansas offensive coordinator Ed Warinner about the position as well. That is, if the open position actually existed. Which it doesn't, right coach Pelini? Wink, wink.
As of now, current offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore have not been relieved of their duties -- at least not publically -- but all indications are that they will be in the near future.