Huskers Hope to Lean on Reed in Passing Game

The Nebraska football team continued two-a-day sessions of fall camp with a two-hour practice inside the Hawks Championship Center on Monday morning. Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck said the team is practicing hard as it starts another week of fall camp and prepare for a second practice Monday afternoon.

“Guys are playing hard,” Beck said. “I’m really pleased with the effort offensively. We’re obviously still making mistakes; a young football team is going to do that. We’ll keep coaching them hard and keep demanding perfection from them. I think they understand that. They’re working hard and I like what I see so far from them as a group.”

The Huskers will look to Kyler Reed as playmaker on the Husker offense in his junior year. At 6-3 and 230-pounds, Reed has great speed, which adds an explosive element to NU’s tight end corps.

“Kyler has been doing very well,” Beck said. “He has picked up a lot from where he left off (in the spring). He is working hard on continuing to improve his blocking and certainly is a weapon in the passing game. I’ve been really pleased with what Kyler is doing so far.”

Beck spoke about where the offense is now and where he is looking for it to go in the coming weeks of fall camp.

“I’m pleased, we’re still a young football team,” Beck said. “We have a lot of young players. You’re playing with a lot of guys who are still learning the game of football and learning our offense. It’s a combination of two things or some of those things for those guys. Again, I think the effort, the will and the want-to is there. The toughness has been there, I’ve been really pleased with that. We have to improve our consistency. We’re inconsistent at times and we have to keep being disciplined.”

The Huskers will await the announcement this evening from incoming freshman Bubba Starling, who will decide between signing with the Kansas City Royals or playing at Nebraska.

“To be honest, it is between him and his family,” Beck said. “We’re supporting whatever he does. He is such a great young man and comes from a great family. Whatever he does, we’re behind him all the way.”

Nebraska returns to the practice field this afternoon for its second two-a-day workout of camp.

Huskers Conduct First two-a-day of Fall Camp

BY TODD NEELEY

OK, this is full of generalities and not much in the way of news, but here it is — a Nebraska release on the first day of two-a-day practices for the Huskers:

The Nebraska football team kicked off its first two-a-day session of fall camp with a two-hour practice inside the Hawks Championship Center on Friday morning. The team will practice again on Friday afternoon before wrapping up the first week of camp on Saturday.

Defensive Coordinator Carl Pelini met with the media following the morning practice and talked about the staff’s plans for the first two-a-day of fall camp.

“We had a physical practice,” he said. “It’s our first two-a-day and guys came out ready to go. We had a real physical day. It won’t be quite as physical, more assignment-oriented this afternoon. We’ll lighten up on their legs a little bit in the afternoon – still go hard, but maybe not quite as physical in terms of how we approach it.”

Pelini also talked about how the defense is progressing and how much of the defensive playbook has been installed.

“We’ve got our whole package in,” Pelini said. “In different days, (we’re) trying to focus on different aspects of it, maybe lean toward a certain place, but it’s all in and just honing it up now. We’re probably a week ahead of where we’ve ever been at this point. But the guys, they know the system better, they’re more experienced with it and they picked it up fast and they’re handling it pretty well. (There are) still some busts out there, but we’d rather correct it full speed than teach it on the chalkboard.”

Pelini credited the fast progression to the work the players put in over the summer, particularly the veterans among the group.

“It was amazing just day one how advanced we were just from the summer drills and the veterans coaching the young guys through those drills and the knowledge of our coverages and our blitz packages,” he said. “They were very advanced for a first day.”

With the defensive system already in place less than a week into camp, Pelini says that frees up time to work on specific details that usually aren’t addressed until the week of the first game.

“You get the whole defense in, then you have time to get into your checks and your special stuff that you typically don’t get into before game week,” Pelini said. “We’re already into some of our checks and some of our adjustments that in the past we hadn’t gotten to until the week of the first game.”

While the veterans have played a pivotal role in the defense being ahead of the curve, the newcomers have also done an excellent job of picking up the system, according to Pelini. When asked specifically about Daimion Stafford, a newcomer at safety, Pelini was complimentary of the transfer from Chaffey College in California.

“He’s picking it up really fast,” Pelini said of Stafford’s understanding of the Huskers’ defensive system. “It’s amazing how well he’s playing and how much he does understand. I knew that when I was recruiting him that what they did at (Chaffey College) coverage-wise was not the same, but conceptually pretty advanced for a junior college. He came in with a lot of background knowledge, and it’s just applying it to how we do it.”

Huskers Practice in Full Pads

The Nebraska football team held its first full-padded practice of fall camp on the Ed and Joyanne Gass
practice fields outside of the Hawks Championship Center on Wednesday. Head Coach Bo Pelini provided an update on the first five practices of camp after the workout.

“Today, on all sides of the football, we didn’t play up to our standards,” Pelini said. “I didn’t like today; I’ve liked everything up to today. Hopefully we take today as a learning experience. There was just too much inconsistency.”

Despite the disappointing practice, Pelini is confident that the team is moving forward.

“You get to that point, four or five days into fall camp where their legs start to get a little bit heavy,” Pelini said. “I think mentally, everything we’ve installed is starting to wear on our guys, but this is the time you have to be mature as a football team and be strong and play through difficult times.”

Pelini said the players that have struggled the most are the younger ones and added that the defense is ahead of the offense at this point during fall camp.

“Offensively, we’ve struggled, because obviously we are ahead defensively,” Pelini said. “That’s how it’s always worked; you should be ahead defensively. We have some veterans, some guys who understand what we’re doing, there were just sometimes we didn’t show good composure out there as a football team. That’s part of the deal, though, and hopefully it’s a learning process.”

Pelini added that seeing the players in full pads for the first time helped him to better evaluate their performance on the field.

“The evaluation is an everyday thing,” Pelini said. “You have to be able to practice in different tempos and gear; that’s part of the deal.”

Nebraska returns to the practice field on Thursday afternoon, with its first two-a-day session of camp scheduled for Friday.

Is A&M Moving to Southeastern Conference?

Is A&M moving to the SEC? This from Twitter: 
 
Football Rumor Mill
fbrumormillFootball Rumor Mill

 
Texas A&M likely to dump Big 12, move to SEC #Aggies http://t.co/9WF2iya

Gammons Goes off on Deep end on Nebraska/Starling Situation

BY TODD NEELEY

Apparently baseball guru Peter Gammons went off on Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini and his handling of the Bubba Starling situation on Twitter Monday night, saying that Pelini was “threatening” Starling when it came to his decision between signing with the Kansas City Royals and staying at NU to play quarterback (I’ll have more on this saga later.)

“Bo Pellini going off on and threatening Bubba Starling is great news for the Royals,” Gammons Tweeted. (Nevermind that he hasn’t figured out how to spell the head coach’s name at this point, but I digress.)

Clearly Nebraska wants to keep its prized recruit from Kansas, but the reality is Starling could make $10 million by signing with the Royals. But to claim Pelini has been threatening in any way is out of bounds.

Pelini addressed the issue in a statement Monday night.

“As I discussed Saturday, Bubba Starling, his family and I are all on the same page, and have been throughout this entire process. Bubba has a lot at risk. We are all aware of that, and everyone involved is comfortable with how the situation is being handled.

“I have a complete understanding of how this situation works, and from the outset we have supported Bubba and his family as they make a very difficult decision. All of our interactions as a staff with Bubba and his family have been nothing but supportive, and have been very respectful from both sides. Any information contrary to that is not accurate. It is disappointing that media would comment on the situation without talking to any of the primary parties involved.”

Stay tuned.

Big Ten Teams to Play Nine Conference Games Starting 2017

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten announced today that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season.

Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division.

The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.

The 116th season of Big Ten football kicks off with prime time home games for the defending Big Ten co-Champions, with Wisconsin hosting UNLV on Thursday, Sept. 1, and Michigan State facing Youngstown State on Friday, Sept. 2. The conference’s remaining 10 teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 3, including Nebraska’s first official game as a member of the Big Ten. Conference play will begin on Saturday, Oct. 1, and will feature divisional play for the first time. The champions of each division will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX Sports. The winner of the title game will earn the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

Huskers Filling out Future Football Schedules

The Nebraska football program has announced the addition of two home football games to future schedules, one each in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The Huskers will take on Arkansas State in Lincoln on Sept. 15, 2012. The matchup with Arkansas State is an addition to a non-conference schedule that also includes a Sept. 1 opener against Southern Miss in Lincoln and a Sept. 8 trip to UCLA. Nebraska has one remaining opening on its 2012 non-conference schedule.

Nebraska faced Arkansas State in 2009, with the Huskers winning 38-9 at Memorial Stadium in the only meeting between the two schools. The Red Wolves were 4-8 in 2010 with a schedule that included road trips to Auburn, Indiana and Navy. ASU competes in the Sun Belt Conference and has also had recent road trips to Iowa, Louisville, Texas A&M, Texas, Alabama and Tennessee.

The 2013 schedule is now complete with the addition of a non-conference contest with South Dakota State on Sept. 21, 2013. The game will be the second meeting at Memorial Stadium between the two schools, after Nebraska defeated the Jackrabbits, 17-3 last fall in Lincoln. The South Dakota State game was Nebraska’s closest non-conference matchup in the 2010 campaign.

South Dakota State finished the 2010 season with a 5-6 record, but won five of its final seven contests. SDSU finished the 2009 season with an 8-3 record and this fall the Jackrabbits will face another Big Ten foe when they travel to Illinois on Sept. 10.

The addition of South Dakota State completes a Nebraska 2013 non-conference schedule that also includes matchups with Wyoming (Aug. 31) and UCLA (Sept. 14) in Lincoln, and a road trip to Southern Miss (Sept. 7).

Nebraska Associate Athletic Director for Football Operations Jeff Jamrog said agreements in principle have been reached to fill the remaining 2012 opening and two openings on the 2014 schedule. Jamrog is hopeful those contracts will be completed in the next six to eight weeks, at which time they would be publicly announced.

Iowa, Nebraska Annual Football Game to Honor American Heroes

Some play for axes, little brown jugs and even a milk can. Others engage in “battles” and “holy wars.” Still more play for cups of a myriad of shapes and sizes and names.

On the last Friday of November in Lincoln, Neb., the football teams from the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska will square off in the first of what is expected to be a long and competitive and entertaining rivalry between one of the Big Ten Conference’s original member institutions and the league’s most recent addition.

And, while the goal is the same as other “trophy games” – win the struggle on the gridiron and claim the trophy — the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers won’t use their annual meeting to determine ownership of football bragging rights for the Corn Belt exclusively. Instead, they will use the national stage that will be Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium or Iowa’s historic Kinnick Stadium each autumn to honor citizens of their respective states who are, according to Webster’s Dictionary, “admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities,” and they intend to work with a partner to do a good deed of their own.

Representatives of the two institutions unveiled their plan for “The Heroes Game” Friday morning, hours before the Big Ten Conference celebrated the start of its 116th season of football — the first which includes the Cornhuskers as a member institution of the nation’s oldest and grandest intercollegiate athletics conference.

The institutions plan to honor one citizen of Iowa and one citizen of Nebraska prior to each Heroes Game for their extraordinary act. These heroes will be nominated by friends, neighbors or co-workers and will be guests of the two teams at the game where they will be honored on-field during game day. Each will also have their name and hometown etched on the to-be-created Heroes Game trophy.

“We believe that the people of Iowa and the people of Nebraska are very much alike in many ways. Both believe in an honest day’s work, the importance of community and family, and both love college football and their football heroes. We also know there are citizens of our states doing exceptional things every day and we think they are deserving of some recognition and we look forward to using this game to do that,” said Tom Osborne, director of athletics at the University of Nebraska.

The first “Heroes Game” is still months away. It will be played the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, Nov. 25. However, that event is already larger than life for the fans of the two teams. UI and NU officials are counting on that interest to drive another piece of “The Heroes Game” puzzle: The opportunity to use the “Heroes Game” to raise funds for a non-profit organization in each state. The beneficiary of the efforts initiated in support of the first two “Heroes Games” will be the Iowa and Nebraska chapters of the American Red Cross.

“There’s little doubt that the football game between Iowa and Nebraska will have the full attention of our fans and fans across the country. In fact, in our state it’s been a topic of significant discussion for our fans since the official announcement of the expansion of the Big Ten last year. So, to have the opportunity to work with our friends at Hy-Vee and a new friends at Nebraska to channel that energy into support for something as deserving as the American Red Cross efforts is exciting,” said Gary Barta, the UI’s director of athletics, who also noted the prominent role the American Red Cross is playing as the states of Iowa and Nebraska deal with the flooding caused by the swollen Missouri River.

As the title sponsor of the “Heroes Game,” the institutions will look to the leadership of Hy-Vee, one of the nation’s top 20 supermarket chains and top 50 private companies in the United States, to spearhead the fund-raising efforts that will be staged annually and to take a lead role in creating activities that bring the event to life across the two states.

And, Hy-Vee is uniquely positioned to help the UI and NU achieve their goals. The company boasts annual sales of more than $7 billion and 233 locations throughout the Midwest, including more than 160 locations in Iowa and Nebraska. It also has a wealth of sports marketing experience with a resume that includes partnerships with NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals, in addition to the staging of the annual Hy-Vee Triathalon.

“With the ‘Hy-Vee Heroes’ game, we have a truly unique opportunity to not only provide support for two legendary football programs but also an event we believe will from year one a ‘classic’ post-Thanksgiving rivalry game. We also have the opportunity to use this annual event to recognize some incredible people, doing incredible good in Iowa and Nebraska,” said Randy Edeker, president of Hy-Vee, who noted that Hy-Vee employees are excited about partnering with the American Red Cross and providing support for all the great work they do. The Heroes Game is the 14th “trophy game” in the history of the Big Ten Conference.

The institutions will work with their multi-media partners – Hawkeye Sports Properties, a property of Learfield Sports, and Husker IMG Sports Marketing – to expand support of the event and of the non-profit organization that will benefit annually from the efforts of everyone involved.

Pelini Meets Big Ten Media in Chicago

Head Coach Bo Pelini spoke with members of the media for 15 minutes on Thursday during the first session of the Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago. Pelini will field more questions in a less formal session on Friday, while Husker players Rex Burkhead, Jared Crick and Lavonte David will also meet with the media.

On Thursday, Pelini touched on a variety of topics, including the progression of quarterback Taylor Martinez, his teams transition into the Big Ten and the outlook for this year’s team.

Huskers.com will have additional content from the first day of Big Ten Football Media Days later this evening, including additional video coverage of the event.

Bo Pelini Press Conference
Big Ten Media Days
Chicago, Ill.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Transcript courtesy of the Big Ten Conference (BigTen.org)

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Coach Bo Pelini from Nebraska. We’ll have coach make an opening statement and then open the floor to questions.

COACH PELINI: We’re looking forward to the upcoming season. It’s great to be here today. I brought with me Rex Burkhead, our running back, Lavonte David, and Jared Crick, the players representing us today.

We’re excited. We’re excited about the season. We’re opening up here practicing in a little over a week. We’ve had a great off-season. We’ve needed it. We required a lot of work because of obviously our first year coming into the Big Ten. We basically had 11 new opponents on our schedule which creates a little bit of a challenge for our football team and our kids.

But our kids are excited. It’s going to be an honor to be a part of this conference, to be a part of the tradition, all the things that the Big Ten represents, the tremendous institutions we’re going to be joining in the conference and playing against this year and into the future. We’re looking forward to that.

It’s great to be here at our first Big Ten Media Day.

THE MODERATOR: Time for questions.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the progress of Taylor Martinez over the summer and early fall, and the depth at quarterback?

COACH PELINI: We feel really good about where Taylor is. He’s had a great off-season. He had a tremendous spring. He’s had a phenomenal summer. I think he’s engaged as a leader. I think he’s really taken it upon himself to grow in that area. I think he’s becoming a tremendous leader on our football team, holding his teammates accountable, holding himself accountable. I think he’s poised to have a great year.

We feel great where we are at the quarterback position. We have a young man who stepped out in the spring as a backup in Brion Carnes. Cody Green choosing to leave, he made a decision that he thought was best for him and his future. We decided to back him on that. We wish him the best of luck.

With Brion, we have Ron Kellogg, Bubba Starling. You all know he’s a baseball kid, somebody who has a tough decision that he’s going to be facing here in the coming weeks. We’ll see how that all plays out. We brought another walk-on in.

We feel good about where the depth is. You can never have too many, we all know that. But we feel real good about the quality of our players and the type of kids we have playing the quarterback position for us. We’re real excited about it.

I mentioned the walk-on that we have, we have Joe Broekemeier, we now have his younger brother (Tyson) coming in and we think he’s going to be a nice addition so we’re excited about it.

Q. As you said, you have nothing but new teams on the schedule this year. Basically zero familiarity with the teams you play. How do you prepare for them? Do you watch tape?

COACH PELINI: Yeah, we prepare like we do any other time. We always find the new teams on our schedule. We put a little bit more time into those. Obviously we have 11 of them this year. That required a lot more time. It creates a greater challenge for us.

But at the end of the day, I feel great about the preparation we’ve had. That started for me way back in February, our staff. We put a lot of work in. we feel good about where we are in that process. I think it will continue right up until we kick it off next week.

But we’ve got a lot accomplished in this off-season and I think we’re ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Q. Given your program’s style of play, how do you feel the Big Ten is a better fit for Nebraska than the Big 12?

COACH PELINI: I don’t know if it’s about style of play or anything else. We feel like we can line up and play against anybody in the country. We’re going to do our thing. We’re going to play our way. Obviously you have to make some adjustments according to who you’re playing in a particular week. But we feel like our style, the type of kids we recruit, the type of football team we put on the field can fit into any conference.

Is the style of play a little bit different? In some ways yes, in some ways no. Football is football. You’re going to win by the basics, the fundamentals. If you’re good at those things, you’re going to win football games, no matter who you’re playing, no matter what conference you’re in.

I do understand that in this conference there are going to be quality athletes, quality coaching. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.

Q. You have two players on the defensive side of the ball. With your defense, do you feel this unit could be potentially as good a defensive unit as you’ve had the opportunity to coach?

COACH PELINI: Well, we’ll see. We have a good group coming back. Lavonte and Jared Crick. Alfonzo Dennard, I think is as good a corner as there is in the country. I think we have depth that we haven’t quite had up until now.

There’s a lot of things that play into that. I’ve been really fortunate to be around some defenses that have been pretty stout, accomplished some great things. Do we have the opportunity to do that? Yeah. But it’s going to come through a lot of hard work and a level of commitment that allows our football team to get better on a daily basis.

There’s a lot of things that make you become good. It’s not just talent. It’s about character, it’s about leadership, it’s about chemistry, all those things. Ultimately coming with your lunch pail every day and going to work. I think if we do that, we have the opportunity to be pretty formidable on that side of the football.

Q. You said in some ways your style of play will be a little different. Can you elaborate?

COACH PELINI: I’m not quite sure that’s what I meant. I mean, we’re going to play against some teams where the style might be a little bit different than we’ve seen in the Big 12. The style of play might be a little bit different.

We’re going to do what we do and we’re going to do it well. We’re not really going to adapt what we do to the conference. We’re going to hopefully make the conference adapt to what we do.

Certain things have allowed us to have success on the defensive side of the football. We’re going to do that. We’re changing some things offensively. There are going to be some things that are obviously the same, but there are going to be some things that are new wrinkles. You’ll see that as the season wears on.

But at the end of the day to be successful in this game, yeah, you have to adapt to your opponents. But you have to line up and do what you do well. You have to execute your football. If we continue to do that, we’ll be fine no matter who we’re lined up against.

Q. Whether it’s on the field or off, what would you say are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between the Big Ten and the Big 12?

COACH PELINI: Well, ask me that a year from now, I’ll have a better idea. Having not gone through the conference schedule yet, it’s hard to say.

I think the leadership in this conference is tremendous. I obviously played in this conference. I grew up in Big Ten country. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything that the Big Ten represents.

So to me it’s an honor to be a part of this, to be a part of this conference. I think if you look at the tradition, the academic integrity, all the things that I believe our program at the University of Nebraska stands for, I think we fit right in with this conference. Tremendous football, tremendous athletics, a tremendous commitment to academics, and doing things the right way. That’s what this conference is all about. That’s what it represents.

So obviously I believe Nebraska is a tremendous fit.

Q. You’re getting quite an initiation in the Big Ten going up to Camp Randall, if not the most hostile environment in college football, then Ohio State at home. How do you prepare for something like that?

COACH PELINI: You just take care of yourselves. Obviously the schedule makers didn’t do us any favors in our first year, did they? We have a tough schedule ahead of us.

But you go week by week. We always talk about in our program the process. The process is going to lead us to have an opportunity to have success. If we continue to do that, we get better as a football team week in and week out, day to day, we’ll be just fine.

I played in Camp Randall before, I understand what Ohio State brings to the table, the rest of the teams that are going to be on our schedule. It’s not going to be easy. But we knew that going in.

Our football team understands the challenges that are going to be presented to them. I think they’re ready to meet those challenges. It’s going to be great.

You want to play against the best. You come to play college football to be challenged, trying to be the best you can be. You do that by playing against tremendous opponents, great coaching, a great environment. We’re going to have all that in year one. I think our football team is looking forward to it and our fan base is looking forward to it.

Q. You mentioned your commitment to doing things the right way. Are you bothered at all by some of the things that have occurred across the landscape the last few years?

COACH PELINI: Yeah, obviously. You don’t like things to happen. A couple things happen here and there, next thing you know the media, you all pick it up, you run with it. Sometimes I think you tend to exaggerate the difficulties that come up where that’s the minority. The majority is, you know, things don’t happen.

Let’s talk about the tremendous academic accomplishments that are happening across the country, the kids that are all doing things the right way. That’s what we should be focused on.

But, you know, let’s face it, we live in a day and age where something happens, it’s going to be on the airwaves for sometimes weeks, not just days, but weeks. So, you know, that becomes glorified instead of glorifying all the tremendously positive things going on in college athletics.

Let’s face it, I don’t live with my head in the sand. In this day and age, we all understand that’s the way it works. We’re under the microscope all the time. You have to be on guard all the time. You have to make sure you do things the right way so your institution doesn’t fall into that category.

Q. For the Big Ten fans that aren’t as familiar with the play of Taylor Martinez, tell us what makes him such a special player and what types of things you’d like to see him improve upon this fall?

COACH PELINI: I think Taylor has all the tools you look for. He’s very fast. He’s quick. He gets to top speed in a hurry. He can make all the throws. He can do really everything you ask a quarterback to do. He has good arm talent. He can throw the ball outside.

He has a long way to go in his decision making, just his knowledge of the game overall. With more experience, he’s going to continue to get better.
It was interesting because last year he had such tremendous success early on that everybody wanted to jump ahead. The pressure went up in a hurry. People were talking Heisman candidate, all those things. He was two, three games into his career, which was crazy. Then he got hurt later on in the year.

But the young man is committed. He’s tremendously talented. He has an opportunity to finish up his career. He has obviously three years left to play. He’s going to be a tremendous player not only this year, but I think he’ll continue to get better as the year goes on and throughout his career.
Just got to let him develop. That’s where we are right now. He is a much more prepared quarterback right now than he was a year from now. A year earlier he was just getting started. We had no idea what we even had going into camp. Now he has a year under his belt and I think he has the opportunity to take his game to another level.

But you got to earn it on a daily basis. He has a lot of talent around him, a lot of talent pushing him. So he’s going to have to be on his Ps and Qs to withstand all that competition.

Q. There’s always a culture to every conference. It might be geography, ethnicity, a variety of things. What do you see as being the Big Ten’s culture in that respect?

COACH PELINI: When I think of the Big Ten, I think of class, I think of tremendous tradition. Like I said, I think of integrity. I think that’s what the Big Ten has represented for a very long time.

You look at the academic accomplishments throughout the conference. To me it serves as a model, and it’s why I feel so great about us being a part of the conference. I think it serves as a model for the rest of college football. That’s why it’s such an honor for us as an institution for us to become a part of it.

I think maybe I’m a little bit biased because I said I played in this conference, grew up in the area. But I think you see the other conferences strive to be what the Big Ten is. That’s why it’s so great to be going into our first year.

Nebraska’s Martinez Named to O’Brien Watch List

Nebraska sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez picked up his second watch list recognition of the summer on Friday, as he was named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch List.

The O’Brien Award recognizes the nation’s top collegiate quarterback, and Martinez was a semifinalist for the award in 2010. He comes off a freshman campaign where he threw for 1,631 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 950 yards and 12 scores.

Martinez nearly became the third freshman quarterback in FBS history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season. He finished the 2010 season with five 100-yard rushing games, including a NU quarterback record 241 yards against Kansas State. Martinez became the first Husker quarterback to rush for 100 yards and throw for 300 yards in a game at Oklahoma State, when he ran for 112 yards and completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns in a win over the Cowboys.

Martinez is one of three returning semifinalists from Big Ten teams, joining Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, and is one of six Big Ten quarterbacks on the O’Brien Award watch list.

Burkhead Named to Doak Walker Watch List Junior running back Rex Burkhead became the latest Husker to earn preseason recognition, as he was named to the Doak Walker Award watch Friday afternoon.

Burkhead comes off a sophomore season when he rushed for 951 yards and seven touchdowns, while also completing three touchdown passes out of the wildcat formation. Burkhead totaled three 100-yard games while splitting time with All-Big 12 performer Roy Helu Jr. in 2010. Burkhead rushed for a career-high 129 yards in a win at Iowa State. In addition to his running and passing exploits, Burkhead also hauled in 15 catches out of the backfield in 2010.

He is one of seven Big Ten running backs on the 51-member Doak Walker watch list, which is presented to the nation’s top running back.

Huskers on 2011 Watch Lists

Bednarik Award – Alfonzo Dennard, Jared Crick, Lavonte David Butkus Award – Lavonte David Doak Walker Award – Rex Burkhead Lombardi Award – Jared Crick, Cameron Meredith, Lavonte David Mackey Award – Kyler Reed Maxwell Award – Taylor Martinez Nagurski Trophy – Alfonzo Dennard, Jared Crick, Lavonte David O’Brien Award – Taylor Martinez Outland Trophy – Jared Crick Rimington Trophy – Mike Caputo Thorpe Award – Alfonzo Dennard