BY TODD NEELEY
The NCAA announced a stiff penalty against Ohio State receiver Devier Posey and three other players, forcing the receiver to sit out this week’s game at Nebraska, according to a statement from the NCAA.
Ohio State University football student-athlete Devier Posey must sit five games and repay benefits after receiving approximately $720 from a booster for work not performed, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. Posey also accepted approximately $100 in golf fees from another individual, which is a preferential treatment violation.
Three additional Ohio State football student-athletes – Marcus Hall, Melvin Fellows and Daniel Herron – will miss one game and must repay benefits after receiving pay for work not performed from the booster. Herron and Fellows both accepted approximately $290 in excess pay while Hall received $230 in overpayment. In its decision, the staff noted the overpayment occurred over an extended period of time.
The withholding condition cannot be used during a medical hardship period. The withholding conditions for Posey and Herron are in addition to the five-game suspension each previously received for other rules violations.
Reinstatement decisions are independent of the NCAA enforcement process and typically are made once the facts of the student-athlete’s involvement are determined. This is typically well in advance of infractions decisions.
BY TODD NEELEY
I’m not totally buying into the hype.
Pundits have given Nebraska hardly a chance against Wisconsin in Madison Saturday, but in all the excited fog surrounding the game is a dose of reality.
There are plenty of reasons to believe the Huskers have a shot to beat Wisconsin.
Sorry to upset the Russell Wilson apple cart here, but tell me one time early in this 2011 season that the Badger quarterback has had so much as a hand in his face.
Yeah I didn’t think so.
Wilson will face a much more athletic, physical defense than he’s faced all season. Wisconsin has barely broken a sweat in going 4-0, but things will change with Nebraska coming to town.
The Badgers may not face a better, more physical, faster team this season unless they play in the national championship game.
The Blackshirts will need to come to play this week, but defending Wisconsin is not impossible.
Week in and week out the Nebraska defense was challenged by the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas and Texas Tech.
Let’s face it, Nebraska hasn’t lived up to its standards in 2011 – they rank an embarrassing 52nd in the country in total defense. These are the kinds of numbers that once got Craig Bohl fired as defensive coordinator, and proof that Husker coaches are pounding on their
defenders in practice.
Bo Pelini has a history of making adjustments on defense, and usually has that unit peaking by midseason. The fact that Nebraska hasn’t played very well on that side of the ball yet means its best game is yet to come.
It would be a great week to put it all together.
Setting all the hype and history aside, Nebraska has a clear path to its first Big Ten win.
First, the Nebraska defensive line must get a push against a mammoth Wisconsin offensive line – one of the biggest at any level of football. This means Husker all-American Jared Crick has to somehow find a way to re-establish the line of scrimmage two to three yards in the Badger backfield, forcing Russell Wilson to run. The guy is a better passer than he is a runner.
If Nebraska can force Wisconsin into third and long, then the Huskers can bring the heat and get hits on Wilson.
Nebraska has to make the Wisconsin defense make decisions on the perimeter. The Badgers have to be made to choose between containing Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead – making the option the perfect play to run against what appears to be a good, but fairly slow defense.
Nebraska has a lot of speed at receiver and will need to take shots downfield and exploit holes in a Wisconsin zone defense.
NU has been outstanding on special teams with kicker/punter Brett Maher and kick returner Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska will need to win the field position battle to put pressure on the Wisconsin defense and these guys can make a huge difference.
The Huskers have to force at least two turnovers in this game. Simply put, Wisconsin hasn’t made mistakes and that will have to change. Conversely, Nebraska has to hold onto the ball – they laid the ball on the ground four times at Wyoming last week. What’s more, Nebraska has to not beat itself with dumb penalties.
If you watch Russell Wilson during his days at North Carolina State, he had plenty of games when he made knuckleheaded mistakes with the ball – proving defenses can get to him.
Finally, Nebraska can’t allow the Wisconsin offense to just pound away in the running game and control time of possession.
Though Husker fans are up in arms about Nebraska’s slow defensive start that may be the silver lining heading to Madison – this is a Nebraska team that hasn’t come close to reaching its potential on defense.
The Nebraska offense has improved significantly from game one – finally finding an identity that includes a power running game and a big-play quarterback. NU holds a speed advantage on both sides of the ball and Nebraska’s special teams have been special, Wisconsin’s not so much.
With all the talk about how NU is facing a balanced and disciplined team in a hostile environment, you’d swear Nebraska has yet to play in the kind of atmosphere it will see at Camp Randall Stadium.
Nebraska fans remember well playing at Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Washington, Oklahoma, you name it. Kids come to Nebraska to play in the big games on a big stage with a lot on the line.
Wisconsin has been good, really good, but championships aren’t won by playing softies. So far the Badgers have been playing weekly scrimmages, but this week they face an opponent that will punch them in the mouth – win or lose.
Is Wisconsin ready for Nebraska?
BY TODD NEELEY
There’s nothing better than offensive linemen who trash talk.
At Nebraska’s weekly football press conference in Lincoln Monday senior offensive tackle Jermarcus “Yoshi” Hardrick talked about the choice words going back and forth between Nebraska’s offense and Washington’s defense in Lincoln Saturday.
Nebraska beat the Huskies 51-38, on the heels of a power running game and 31 second-half points.
Anyway, check out what Yoshi had to say about the play of guard Seung Hoon Choi in his first start for the Huskers, near the bottom of this transcript:
On what he knows about Spencer and Jake Long
“I think they come from a real close family. They’re very close to each other. They started to show their true selves to the team. They like to have fun. They work very hard. I like Spencer a whole lot. He’s very physical. A lot of people know a lot about Spencer. He’s a walk-on that’s starting. I think he’s worked very hard to get to where he got. Jake is a very physical tight end. He’s big. I think he’s going to be good in the long run.”
On if he saw Spencer coming up the depth chart
“I talked to him in the spring. I told him, ‘you keep working and I think I’ll see you up there with us playing on Saturdays.’ I think he just took it and ran with it. When he got the
opportunity to run with the ones he never looked back, and now he’s started
three straight games.”
On the biggest difference with the line last week
“I think we rotated a lot of bodies in. We had a lot of fresh legs. I think we subbed every two series. We didn’t get a chance to get tired. We ran a lot of no-huddle and we wore them
down. When they got tired we just went fast and faster. I think that was (Strength)Coach (James) Dobson’s preaches us: not getting tired is going to help us get through the season.”
On if he likes the subs or would rather be on the field every play
“I think all of us would rather be in there the whole game. If helping the team means keeping a lot of fresh legs in there. All of us play different styles. We rotate four tackles and three guards. Just keeps a different attack coming in and fresh legs. It’s going to help us down the road and keep a lot of people fresh.”
On how his hand is doing
“Hand’s great. I think I get the stitches out this week. I’ve played with it. I haven’t missed a day of practice, and I’m going to practice this week.”
On if that’s the most painful thing he’s gone through
“No. Not at all. Probably when I broke my hand the first time. This is just stitches.”
On how hard it’s been for Alfonzo Dennard to be out the first three games
“I know on the sideline when I talk to him and stuff, I can just see it in his eyes that he wants to be out there. He kept running past me in the game and playing a lot of jokes on me like he was getting ready to go in and things like that. I think he’s just been waiting on to just get a chance to be back. Every day he talks to me and says, ‘I can’t wait to put a receiver out of bounds.’ He’s just ready to bring the physical back and return the Blackshirts, I guess.”
On focusing on Wyoming
“I just think we have to do something different that hasn’t been done here. Just competing every day. Taking a different outlook on things. We got to do something different if we want something different. We just have to look at it as getting better every day and every game and I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
On if he could see center Mike Caputo focused before the Washington game
“I saw a different Caputo. I know every day in meetings Coach (Barney) Cotton made a lot of jokes. He made a lot of jokes about the Holiday Bowl that Caputo didn’t play very well against
a big nose guard. I think that was very personal. He didn’t talk a lot in practice this week. He had a chip on his shoulder. I texted him right before the game and we text like three or four texts apiece. I just felt during the texts he was ready to play. I think like the third or fourth play of the game I saw 74 lying back by the linebackers. He just looked at me, and I figured it
was going to be a good game.”
On how it feels to have the offense shine
“I know there were a lot of jokes going around last year that we didn’t hold up to good as a team. The defense was always talking about the slack they had to pick up for us. I just think we can throw jokes back now, but I don’t know, we just got to keep winning as a team. I just think they’re struggling right now, but it’s going to get better. We’re still young on D. Very young on D. Playing a lot of freshmen and sophomore corners. All we can do is get better.”
On if he felt the offense tested the defense in the offseason more than previous years
“I felt in the spring, when the new offense came in, we were way more aggressive with the defense. We’d come off, we’d run side to side, we’d run north to south. We can go five wide and we can just do a lot and they couldn’t tell what we were doing. I felt that the offense had to be better if we could finally move the ball on the defense because usually at practice the defense is just like a shut down and we don’t get nothing.”
On Seung Hoon Choi’s level of confidence in the huddle and on his performance
“I think it was probably the funniest game I’ve ever played. I think I heard him talking like every
play. Just saying something like, ‘come on boy, what are you going to do now? Are you going to call me a fat Asian again?’ Him and 74 they were going at it, they were talking the whole game. It was so funny. I didn’t know what to do. Every time we heard somebody he was like ‘uhh uhh uhh uhhh’ just making a lot of noise. He texted right before the game. The O-line they call me Yogodi. It’s just a joke. He texted me right before the game saying, ‘Yogodi, I’m ready to go.’ I texted him back, ‘it’s tomorrow’. I think he was just very amped just to play.”
On if anybody told him to quiet down
“No. Actually, I joined him a couple times. We had a little fun out there. It’s all about having fun. We’d come to the sideline and talk about what we said to somebody and what they said to us and what we were going to say when we went back out there and things like that.”
On if Washington kept their reputation on being a team that likes to talk
“Oh yes. 74, 11, 28 a couple of numbers I know that, it doesn’t matter what was going on in the play, they were just calling my number out a couple of times. I think it was 92 who was on Choi a couple times. They were just going back and forth. Choi, I didn’t know he talked that much. Every play when we’d break the huddle he just kept saying stuff, “come on boy, come on, come one,’ He’d talk very funny. I don’t know. It was just different.”
Nebraska will face a power-packed schedule in its first season of Big Ten basketball, as the league released the remainder of its 18-game conference schedules Wednesday afternoon. In addition, the Big Ten also set broadcast information and start times for Nebraska’s home non-conference games which were announced in August.
The Huskers, who bring back four starters from a team that won 19 games and reached postseason play for the third time in four seasons, will be tested in Big Ten play with 12 games against 2011 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, including home-and-home matchups with NCAA qualifiers Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois and Penn State. As a conference, the Big Ten was second only to the Big East in conference RPI in 2010-11 and nine of its 12 members, including the Huskers who joined on July 1, reached postseason play a year ago.
The Huskers will also receive unprecedented exposure in the 2011-12 season, as all 18 conference games will be televised nationally either on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or BTN. The Huskers will make a 15 appearances on BTN this season. BTN, which reaches more than 80 million homes across the country, will have 13 conference tilts as well as non-conference games against Oregon and Rhode Island. In addition, six additional games will be streamed live on BTN.com during the season. Currently, 27 of the 29 regular-season games have been set for broadcast with the only remaining games at USC and at Creighton.
Nebraska opens conference action with a flourish, hosting Wisconsin at the Devaney Center on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m. in an ESPN2 national telecast before welcoming Michigan State to the Devaney Center on New Year’s Eve at 2 p.m. on BTN. Those two games start a stretch of six straight games against NCAA Tournament teams, as the Huskers also travel to Ohio State (Jan. 3, BTN) and Illinois (Jan. 7, BTN) before hosting Penn State (Jan. 11, BTN) and wrapping up the stretch at Wisconsin on Jan. 15 (BTN).
Nebraska will have nine home Big Ten contests at the Devaney Center, including contests against Indiana (Jan. 18), Ohio State (Jan. 21), Minnesota (Feb. 5), Michigan (Feb. 8), Illinois (Feb. 18) and Iowa (Feb. 29). Season tickets are available for purchase for as little as $99 by calling (800) 8-BIGRED or by visiting Huskers.com.
The Huskers also makes trips to Iowa (Jan. 26), Northwestern (Feb. 2), Penn State (Feb. 11), Purdue (Feb. 22), Michigan State (Feb. 25) and Minnesota (March 3) during the 2011-12 campaign. Nebraska will play seven teams (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin) twice while Indiana (home), Michigan (home), Northwestern (away) and Purdue (away) are Nebraska’s single-play opponents this season.
With the previously announced non-conference schedule, Nebraska will play 22 of its 30 scheduled games, including the Big Ten Tournament opener, against BSC level opponents. The Huskers non-conference schedule includes home matchups with Oregon and Wake Forest and a trip to USC.
Fresno State will have to reshuffle its offensive line ahead of its game at No. 10 Nebraska this week in Lincoln, according to the Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/09/05/2526294/bulldogs-lose-center-helepiko.html.
Starting center Richard Helepiko will be out with an ankle injury, the Bee reported.
The Bulldogs will start 6-foot-5, 310-pound redshirt freshman Cody Wichmann at right tackle.
Sophomore Austin Wentworth, who started at right tackle against California last week will slide over to right guard. Senior Leslie Cooper, who was the starting right guard, will start at center.
Junior Matt Hunt and senior Bryce Harris will stay in their original starting spots at left guard and left tackle, respectively. Junior Trevor Richter will serve as the No. 6 lineman in the rotation.
This is not good news for Fresno State. Nebraska’s defensive line is proving to be deep, fast and aggressive, led by Jared Crick and Cameron Meredith.
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Bulldogs, and this should be a significant factor Saturday night.
“We spent yesterday really evaluating ourselves. I’ll say this, after that game, that was a tough one to go through, but it’s a lot better to see that there is a lot of room for improvement.”
“I thought we did a very good job against the run game against Cal, except we did not do well on a couple option plays. As far as their tailback, except for the one run of about 30 yards, which give them credit they executed that very well, but other than that I thought we did very well against the run game.”
“Offensively, we probably should have run the ball more looking back at it. We did run the ball successfully and Robbie Rouse played at a very high level. Except for one eight-yard loss, he would have had close to 100 yards. Other than that he averaged 5.2 per carry.”
“After looking at last week, I really think we can make the improvements that we need to make. We’ll have to make them real, real fast this week because this team we’re playing is a very good team on defense. Cal was the top defensive team in the Pac-10 last year, and Nebraska is probably one of the better defensive teams in the country.”
“We are going to get a huge, huge test this week, so we are going to need to play at a very high level. We have to be very disciplined with our eyes, especially on defense against the option.”
“On offense, it’s going to be a matter of execution and we are going to have to be on top of our game. With that, it is with great excitement that we go into this game. We are going to have to be at the best we’ve been in some time against Nebraska, so there’s plenty of things as coaches and players to work on to meet that goal and to go into Nebraska with a game plan to win this game.”
Key’s to victory
“First of all on defense, we are going to have to play with great discipline and we are going to have to play assignment football when you play a triple option team. On offense, we are going to have to establish our run game.”
How big of a test will this game be?
“We get a great test this week. This is as tough a test as you want from an offensive and defensive standpoint. They are very, very physical up front. They are a very big team and we need to really be zeroed in on this game. ”
What do you need to do this week?
“The measuring stick this week is we are going to play against a very fast team this week, a team that executes at a very high level on offense. We’re going to have to execute at a very high level on defense because they will be able to make big plays if we don’t execute correctly. We are going to have to play at a very, very high level.”
What positives did you take away from the Cal game?
“There were some real positives from the game. I thought our punt team did real well. We won in the punting game and [Cal’s punter] is the best in the Pac-12. We won the change of field position on punts and kickoffs. So, we did a good job. We blocked two kicks. We ran the ball well and stopped the run well, so there are some positive things that we can take away from that game. We had some individuals that played well and when I name the names of the guys that played well, those guys have all played in a lot of football games. Bryce Harris and Robbie Rouse played at a very high level. Logan Harrell, Chase McEntee and Travis Brown played very, very good games. Those are veteran guys and we needed them to step up. Now the surrounding cast – we got good players, but we need to play better. We got to play better with our eyes and we got to execute better. If we can get that thing going, which we will, I still believe we can be a very good football team.”
On Derek Carr
“I think as the year goes on we are going to find out that Derek Carr is a very good quarterback. He’s stepping into the box with his first two games against two very talented defenses, so his room and margin for error is very small. The people around him got to step up to and that’s what we need to do.”
What were some of the things you liked about Derek Carr against Cal?
“I thought he did a good job getting the ball out of his hand fast and I thought he stood in the pocket well.
What do you do to prepare for the crowd noise this week?
“We’ll practice Wednesday and Thursday in the stadium. Crowd noise has really never been a problem with us, but we’re going to have to do something this week going off of silent counts and all that stuff. Candlestick was loud last weekend and our fans were awesome.”
On shifting from playing Cal to Nebraska
“It’ll be a different challenge this week. This is a more physical type of challenge, and they run extremely well. It’ll be a great challenge for our team and it’s the kind of game you really look forward to playing. I know our players are looking forward to this game.”
On running back Robbie Rouse’s performance against Cal
“I thought Robbie Rouse did really well. He averaged over five yards a carry against the team that led the Pac-10 in total defense last year. He played very, very well. Robbie played like a veteran guy, he’s a good runner.”
From Nebraska sports information:
The Nebraska football team practiced for over two hours on Monday afternoon inside the Hawks Championship Center. The Huskers are coming off a 40-7 win over Tennessee at Chattanooga and after practice, offensive coordinator Tim Beck spoke to the media about the team’s offensive performance last Saturday.
“We didn’t play very well,” Beck said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes. We did a lot of things that we haven’t done since last spring. It blows my mind. We just made a lot of mistakes.”
Beck was optimistic that the players were taking their performance just as seriously as the coaches were and that they have the right mindset about improving. Beck also confirmed that Saturday’s offense was one of slow tempo.
“We didn’t want to give them too much to handle on the first day,” Beck said. “They did well with tempo and substitutions and the different cadences that we used. There weren’t a lot of assignment busts necessarily, in the skill area. We just didn’t execute.”
Beck believes better execution will help a talented offense come closer to reaching its potential.
“I have a lot of confidence in our players,” Beck said. “I believe they’re good players and that they have a lot of talent. We just didn’t display the expectations of myself or our staff, and I think even some of the team and certainly the tradition of Nebraska.”
Beck then spoke on what he expects from Fresno State and the improvements he hopes to see the Huskers make from week one to week two.
“They’re fast,” Beck said of Fresno State. “They’re aggressive and will be a challenge, for sure. But the good teams make a lot of changes. The players finally see what we see. They get a chance to go out there without us standing there behind them and in the huddle and now maybe they realize that they don’t know it all. Now some of the nerves and jitters are gone and they can go out there and just play.”
The Huskers host the Bulldogs on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
From Nebraska sports information:
With just four days remaining until the kickoff of their 2011 season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers continued with their preparations for Tennessee-Chattanooga on Tuesday afternoon. Nebraska practiced outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass practice fields in full pads for just over two hours.
Following practice offensive coordinator Tim Beck spoke to the media about this afternoon’s practice, quarterback Taylor Martinez and the offense.
“It was a pretty good practice today,” Beck said. “It wasn’t bad. At the end a little bit, I think we lost our focus, but we have to continue to push through that, but overall not bad. I think the guys are ready to play somebody else for a change.”
Starting quarterback Taylor Martinez is learning a new offense where he is able to make more decisions than the previous offense. Beck spoke about how he and Martinez need to be on the same page.
“We work together and that’s the thing in this offense. Taylor and I almost have to have the same brain,” Beck said. “We have to be thinking a lot alike and we do. He’s a sharp young guy when it comes to the game of football. He can get it.”
Beck also said he told Martinez to just let the offense run its course.
“Let the offense run itself. Don’t force things,” Beck said. “Don’t feel he has to go out and play at a certain level of the offense. If he just runs the offense, everybody will get what they need to get. He doesn’t need to force throws, or runs, or decisions. Just play the game, just like he’s been doing all fall.”
The Huskers will kick off their season in Memorial Stadium against the Mocs on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 CT. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Continue to check back to Huskers.com for all your Husker news.
The University of Illinois announced the eighth and final group of players on the All-Decade Team Thursday, with quarterbacks Kurt Kittner and Juice Williams rounding out the 31-player team. The squad, which honors Illini who played between 2000-10, was compiled by a combination of fan voting and input from Division of Intercollegiate Athletics staff.
Kittner is one of the most prolific passers in Illinois history, holding the schoolrecord for career (70) and single-season (27) touchdowns, and ranking second in career passing yards. A four-year starter, he ranks second in career total offense (8,880 yards) and second in career completions (682). Kittner also ranks eighth in the Big Ten in career passing touchdowns and his 27 TDs in 2001 is tied for seventh in conference records. He broke the UI record for career starts by a quarterback with 39 – which Williams broke in 2009 with 44 starts – and had 14 games with over 250 passing yards, including six with over 300 yards. He was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Awards in 2001 and was a Heisman Trophy candidate that year.
He led the Illini to an out-right Big Ten title in 2001 and the 2002 Sugar Bowl, and to a victory in the 1999 MicronPC.com Bowl, and was named an honorable mention All-American byFootball News in 2000. Kittner was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001 and an honorable mention pick in 1999. He was a fifth-round selection of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2002 NFL Draft and enjoyed a three-year NFL career. He currently serves as the football analyst for the Illini Sports Network radio broadcasts.
Williams led the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl and broke the school record for total offense with 10,594 yards, which ranks sixth in Big Ten history. He broke the UI record for career rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,557 and holds the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-best season rushing marks by a QB. Williams also holds the school record for season total offense yardage with 3,892 yards in 2008, and stands third in UI records with 8,037 yards. His 56 career touchdowns stand second behind Kittner, and his 22 TD strikes in 2008 rank third. He ranks eighth in career passing efficiency and his 138.1 efficiency rating in 2008 is third-best in UI history. His 3,173 yards in 2008 rank fifth in school history and he holds the third- and fourth-best single-game yardage figures.
His five TDs against Missouri on Aug. 30, 2008, are tied for second-most in a game in school history, and he broke Kittner’s record for most career starts by a quarterback with 44. Williams led Illinois to the Big Ten passing title in 2008 and to the Big Ten rushing title in 2006 and 2007. He also led the Big Ten in total offense and ranked seventh nationally in total offense in 2008. He ranks sixth on the UI career rushing record list with 2,557 yards and was an honorable mention Freshman All-American byThe Sporting News in 2006. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2008 and honorable mention laurels in 2007 and 2009.
The Illini open the 2011 season by hosting Arkansas State at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. It is the first of five consecutive home games and eight total home games, the most in Memorial Stadium history. Season and single-game tickets are available at http://www.athletics.illinois.edu/tickets/.
Kurt Kittner, QB
Juice Williams, QB
Mikel Leshoure, RB
Rashard Mendenhall, RB
Pierre Thomas, RB/KR
Arrelious Benn, WR
Brandon Lloyd, WR
Walter Young, WR
Michael Hoomanawanui, TE
Jeff Allen, OL
Jon Asamoah, OL
Luke Butkus, OL
David Diehl, OL
Martin O’Donnell, OL
Tony Pashos, OL
Will Davis, DL
Corey Liuget, DL
Brandon Moore, DL
Chris Norwell, DL
Derrick Strong, DL
J Leman, LB
Brit Miller, LB
Jerry Schumacher, LB
Martez Wilson, LB
Alan Ball, DB
Vontae Davis, DB
Kelvin Hayden, DB
Kevin Mitchell, DB
Eugene Wilson, DB
Jason Reda, PK
Steve Weatherford, P
BY TODD NEELEY
Is it just me or is there a renewed sense of urgency for Nebraska football?
The Huskers’ struggles on offense in 2010 have been well-documented. Nebraska arguably could have won two Big 12 titles in consecutive seasons had NU been even remotely productive in moving the ball.
The overarching theme coming out of Nebraska fall camp has been a youth movement across the board. Taylor Martinez is the only veteran at quarterback, and he’s just a redshirt sophomore. Behind junior Rex Burkhead at I back is a stable of freshman running backs in Aaron Green, Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah. At wide receiver freshmen Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner are likely to play a lot, and now this from the Lincoln Journal Star Friday.
Freshman offensive lineman Tyler Moore is in the hunt to start at tackle, http://dld.bz/amYxe. This is significant for two reasons. First, the O line was a penalty machine in 2010, and became famous for melting down at inopportune times. Second, Nebraska couldn’t consistently pound the ball at teams when it needed to last season.
Moore isn’t the only young lineman to enter the discussion this fall. Freshman Jake Cotton has turned heads as well. At the least Nebraska will be playing more freshmen up front, and we could see a couple of them starting.
Although Bo Pelini has said he’s hesitant to play freshmen, his willingness to put the best guy on the field at any position, regardless of class, points to a coaching staff trying to push all the buttons it can to get the offense rolling again.
We’ll see if it works.
Playing freshmen comes with its fair share of risk. Most young guys are not ready for Division I football. So either Nebraska really has been masterful in its recruiting efforts in the past few seasons, or the offense still is full of question marks.
I tend to think the latter is the most likely scenario.