Category Archives: Big 12 Preseason

Playing Freshman at Nebraska Could Signal Trouble, or Solid Recruiting

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.

Nebraska Picked to win North, Some Surprises in Preseason Poll

Real shocker here. Nebraska is the unanimous choice to repeat as the north division champion while Oklahoma has been selected first in the south in the 2010 Big 12 Football Preseason Poll, voted on by media representatives who cover the conference, according to the Nebraska sports information department.

The Cornhuskers received all 26 first-place votes and totaled 156 points. Missouri placed second, followed by Kansas State, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa State.

Preseason polls are guesses, but it would not be a surprise to see Colorado finish a bit higher than this in the north, as CU returns nearly all of its starters from last season. It will be interesting to see if Kansas State was a one-season wonder. Bill Snyder did well with a team that arguably had the lowest expectations of any team heading into the 2009 season.

NU has been selected to win the north nine times and captured the division title in seven of those seasons. The Huskers have won outright or tied for the north crown on eight occasions and went on to become Big 12 champions in 1997 and 1999.

OU compiled 16 first-place votes in the south to finish with 146 points. Texas received the other 10 top votes and placed second with 140 points. Texas A&M was third ahead of Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

The Sooners lead the Big 12 with six conference championships (2000, ’02, ’04, ’06, ’07, ’09) and seven appearances in the title game. They have been picked first in the south eight times in the media preseason poll and finished the season at the top in five of those years.

Let’s face it, on a national scale OU has been largely overlooked in favor of media darling Texas — even without Colt McCoy around. What’s more, I think the writers are flat wrong about Oklahoma State. Yeah, the Cowboys need to replace quarterback Zac Robinson, but they have recruited well down there and always have a lot of talent. I could be wrong, but I’d put OSU above Texas Tech in the south, and the Cowboys could even sneak by Texas A&M into third. We’ll see….

The preseason All-Big 12 team will be released Thursday.

2010 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll
North Division
1.   Nebraska (26) – 156
2.   Missouri – 125
3.   Kansas State – 79
4.   Kansas – 70
5.   Colorado – 61
6.   Iowa State – 55

South Division
1.   Oklahoma (16) – 146
2.   Texas (10) – 140
3.   Texas A&M – 97
4.   Texas Tech – 68
5.   Oklahoma State – 53
6.   Baylor – 42

Our Preseason Big 12 Football All-Conference

Hard to believe we’re nearing the end of summer and getting ready to kick off the season. So what better time than to debut our preseason Big 12 all-conference football team.

Without further ado:

By Brandon McDermott

OFFENSE

QB – Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)- Great mobility — above-average arm — always on the run (bad Oline) — could upset both OU and Texas to play in the conference title game. Compiles 3,579 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year.

RB – Daniel Thomas (Kansas State)- Very versatile, shifty, an ex-Florida commit only played the position for a few years. Has tons of upside. Some say he is a Lawrence Phillips clone. Time will tell.

WR – Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma)- One of the best in the league with the ball in his hands in the open field. Led the Big 12 in yards per return at 15.87 that was a lead by more than three yards. Also was fourth in catches and yards last year. Look for him to have a big senior year.

WR – Uzoma Nwachukwa (Texas A&M)- Had 701 yards on 40 catches a 17.7 per catch average. Nwachukwa has very good speed and quickness, solid size and is an excellent route runner  and he is a true sophomore. Looks to be the biggest threat for Jerrod Johnson and the high-flying Aggies attack.

WR – Niles Paul(Nebraska)- Had 40 passes for 796 yards — a 19.9 yard average. Big threat for a team that looks to take over the game on the ground. Best blocking wide receiver in the Big 12.

TE – Mike McNeill (Nebraska)- Will be used in more of a slot type player — but should put up big numbers, hoping to overcome an underwhelming year statistically speaking.

OL – Nate Solder(Colorado)- Started career as tightend, switched to tackle great year last year bright spot for the Buffies, only non senior on first team all Big 12 all-conference team.

OL – Kyle Hix (Texas)- Could be great right tackle. Looks to have huge year.  Needs to improve on blocking fast rush ends.

OL – Ricky Henry(Nebraska)- Rough and tough like former Husker Richie Incognito but with a sharper mind. Could be a great guard at the next level. Has a mean motor.

OL – Stephen Good (Oklahoma)- A tackle with punishing force, really excels as a running blocker and is also skilled at finishing blocks. He has mastered pass-blocking and the ability to protect the quarterback. His teammates say his great attitude is infectious and he plays to win.

OL – Ryan Miller (Colorado)- Has nasty streak, has great footwork, and extends arms very well. Needs to get stronger but could be a longtime NFLer.

OL – Tim Barnes (Missouri)- An anchor for the Mizzou team. A senior is a clog in the middle for a spread team that flings it around a little. He has good hands and good feet. Strong as an ox.

DEFENSE

DL – Von Miller (Texas A&M)- The athlete to watch this year in the Big 12, he will have nutso stats. Won’t get 17 sacks again but should hit 10. Unbelievable athletic ability as pass rusher but also has great leaping ability.

DL – Jared Crick (Nebraska)- He has decent agility and quickness and is getting better at good pass rush techniques. Crick showed that he can be a disruptive force.  He is going to face more double teams this season and he needs to find ways to make plays.  Should have solid season.

DL – Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma)- Good against the run, can run the entire line of scrimmage, very solid pass rusher 11 sacks last year.

DL – Sam Acho (Texas)- Had eight sacks in 2009, great pass rushing skills, will be an inside linebacker in the NFL. Next in line as Texas great defensive line play.

LB – Travis Lewis (Oklahoma)- Great tackler. Superb sideline to sideline speed. Instincts are off the charts. Should have monster year.

LB – Drew Dudley (Kansas)- Had 88 tackles last season, including 8 1/2 for loss a sturdy consistent cog for the Jayhawks.

LB – Brian Duncan (Texas Tech)- On several preseason watch lists. Will look to take the Tech defense to the next level after the departure of McNeill.

LB – Will Ebner (Missouri)- Probably best middle backer in the league, quiet off the field ferocious on it.

LB – Keenan Robinson(Texas)- Starting to come into his own. Has great football speed. Nice size and above avg tackling ability.

DB – Prince Amukamara (Nebraska)- Has perfect size. Very physical. Good tackler. Top-end agility and balance are what make him great.

DB – Aaron Williams (Texas)- Pure ability alone makes him the best prospect for the NFL. May not have crazy stats but that is only because they won’t be throwing his way.

DB – Quinton Carter (Oklahoma)- Had four picks last year. Has great size for a safety. Decent tackler great football speed.

DB – Blake Gideon (Texas)- Best safety in the Big 12, will look for big year with Earl Thomas gone.

Kicker – Alex Henery (Nebraska)- Will go down as best kicker in Husker history.  Alex Henery was 24-of-28 in 2009, converting 7-of-8 from 40-49 and 2-of-5 from 50-plus.

Punter – Tress Way (Oklahoma)- Has big booming foot. Should get chance at the NFL.

PR/KR – Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma)- Best player with the ball in his hands in the Big 12.