April 2, 2010

Friday notebook: NU set for Saturday scrimmage

Five practices in, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini should really learn something after tomorrow's practice.

Pelini said on Friday that the Huskers would spend nearly all of tomorrow's two hour practice doing live scrimmage work.

"Tomorrow is going to basically be all scrimmaging," Pelini. "It's going to be a good go. We'll roll it out there and let them play. We'll see how much they've learned in that amount of time.

"We'll keep it pretty basic. It's about technique and fundamentals and blocking and tackling and seeing how these young guys have progressed."

One of the positions where Pelini should be able to find out more about is quarterback. With players like sophomore Cody Green and redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez vying for the starting job this spring, Pelini said he's anxious to see how they handle tomorrow's scrimmage.

Through five practices, Pelini said he likes what he's seen from Martinez.

"I think he's done some good things," Pelini said. "He's still learning obviously trying to pick up on the offense, but there are a lot of positives out there and you can say that about the whole group.

"You really look at our team as a whole and you see a lot of good things and a lot of positives, but we still have a long ways to go and that's to be expected, but I like what I see. I like the effort, I like the tempo and there's a lot of good learning going on out there."

Tonight, Pelini and his coaching staff will entertain the 900 high school coaches in town for this weekend's coaching clinic.

The evening will be highlighted by former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden's key note speech. Pelini said he's honored to have the former FSU coach on campus for this weekend's clinic.

"Coach (Jeff) Jamrog asked me who would I want to have as a featured speaker and it was obvious to me that if we could get Coach Bowden to come and he was gracious enough to come," Pelini said. "He's obviously a tremendous football coach and a legend and everything. I think it's great to have him here and an honor to have him here. I'm looking forward to hearing him speak."

- Sean Callahan

Friday practice takes
David takes in practice: Though he won't officially be able to put on the pads until the start of fall camp in August, 2010 linebacker Lavonte David was still at practice on Friday taking in some mental reps. He watched on the field along side his teammates, and NU linebackers coach Mike Ekeler was making sure David understood what the defense was doing by coming over to him and pointing out things to watch for.
Coaches' paradise: Roughly 900 high school coaches from around the state were in attendance for the annual Nebraska Football Coaches Clinic. The two-day event features several breakout sessions with Husker coaches, as well as a variety of guest speakers, including prominent high school coaches from across the country. The keynote speaker of the clinic is former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, who spoke to the group after practice.
Injury update: Along with junior offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick sporting a large cast after breaking his left hand during Wednesday's practce, some players who sat out of today's practice were sophomore tight end Ben Cotton and junior cornerback Lance Thorell.
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team conducted a two-and-half-hour, full-padded practice inside of Memorial Stadium on Friday. The Huskers will get right back to action on Saturday with another two-hour full-padded practice on Saturday.

Hardrick breaks bone in hand

Pelini also went through a string of injury information following Friday's practice. Pelini said that junior offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick broke a bone in his left hand this week, but he'll be able to make it through spring practice with a protective cast.

Pelini said Hardrick is scheduled to have surgery on the hand shortly after spring practice ends on April 17.

"He broke a bone in his hand," Pelini said. "We just casted it up and he's done fine. He actually practiced out there pretty well with it. He really wants to kind of finish up the spring and get all that learning done and we'll just get it fixed after spring ball is over."

Another player that went down with injury this spring is sophomore cornerback Justin Blatchford. Pelini said Blatchford injured his knee and underwent surgery on it today.

"He hurt his knee, but we had good news," Pelini said. "He had surgery today and it came out well. There were a lot of positives coming from the doctors who did the surgery. We expect him to make a full recovery."

Pelini also added that junior linebacker Mathew May most likely won't return to the field this spring, as he's continuing to recover from off-season surgery he had on his groining.

- Sean Callahan

Moore ready to prove himself

For the past three years, junior defensive tackle Terrence Moore has been stuck under the radar. This season, he's intent on changing that and getting himself into the spotlight.

With the shadow cast by Ndamukong Suh now gone, Moore is looking at this spring and off-season as a chance to finally put his skills on display.

"I just tried to come in and work real hard in the off-season, because I know with Suh leaving and (Barry Turner) and some of those guys that had been around here that brought me up under them, they're out of here," Moore said. "It's time for me to step up and take their place and provide some of that leadership. That's just something I've been concentrating a little bit more."

Last season, the New Orleans native's progress was essentially halted due to a handful of injuries, particularly a toe injury that hindered the bulk of the year. Moore said he's still dealing with his toe injury, but proper rehab and rest has allowed him to at least tolerate the pain enough to play.

He said the injuries played a big part in keeping him off the field and becoming more of a fixture in Nebraska's defense in 2009.

"It was real frustrating not being able to get out there and do what you know you can do because something's holding you back," he said. "It was real frustrating, but you know, I just sat back and tried to get myself healthy and deal with it. Deal with it the right way and have a good attitude about it."

Aside from injuries, Moore said the biggest hurdle for him this year is changing the early perception of how NU's defensive line rotation will look come the start of the season. At the moment, many people have already slotted sophomore Baker Steinkuhler as the heir apparent to replace Suh along side junior Jared Crick.

Moore said his goal this spring is to use the opportunity to showcase his ability and make his case to be a starter as best he can.

"I control what I can control," Moore said. "I can't control what people think. I can't control what the coaches think. All I can do is come out everyday, give my all and work hard and show the coaches that I can play and that I can do what they need me to do. That's all I can control, and that's all I try to control. I let everything else take care of itself."

- Robin Washut

Fisher battling at linebacker

With the evolution of the peso defense this spring, one player that lost his position permanently was sophomore linebacker Sean Fisher.

The peso package officially eliminated the Buck linebacker from NU's base defense, which has forced Fisher to move to Mike with sophomore Eric Martin.

Fisher said the elimination of the Buck has made things pretty tight at linebacker this spring.

"Everybody is vying for two jobs instead of three," Fisher said. "If it wasn't for the two separate groups we'd be getting less reps, so people are really scrapping and fighting hard for their reps and getting themselves up the depth chart."

Pelini said he like the competition he's seen from the linebackers this spring.

"Obviously (Will) Compton and (Sean) Fisher have more experience, and I think that has showed at times," Pelini said. "But the young guys, you talk about (Alonzo) Whaley, (Micah) Kreikemeier, (Eric) Martin, really there's a whole slew of them. They're doing good things, but there's still a lot to fix."

-Sean Callahan

Jones quietly makes his case

While other members of Nebraska's offensive line have gotten more than their share of attention this spring, senior tackle D.J. Jones has simply gone about his business.

The competition between Jones and junior Marcel Jones for the starting job at right tackle is as tight as any on the offensive line, but when you ask the Omaha native about the position battle, he simply shrugs it off.

"I'm just going to go out here and do whatever I can to get better everyday," Jones said. "I'm going to do anything possible to get as much playing time as I can and just go from there."

Jones said he hasn't changed anything about his approach this off-season, as he's continuing to put in the same work in the weight room and film room that helped him see action in all 14 games last season, including starts against Colorado, Texas in the Big 12 Championship and Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.

He did say that rather than look at Marcel as a rival, the two have actually made it a point to help each other as much as possible. In the end, both players agree that whoever ends up being named the starter will have definitely earned it.

"We're just trying to compete everyday and do what we can to make each other better," D.J. said. "We help each other out everyday and just try to push each other… It's just about doing your job and basically taking care of what you can take care of and doing what you need to do.

"You go out there and compete as hard as you can and basically just worry about yourself."

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***There's been some talk over the off-season about the potential of Adi Kunalic redshirting the 2010 season so he could be the primary place kicker for NU in 2011. Pelini said it's way too early to speculate if that will happen.

"We are about the here and now and what's best for the team," Pelini said. "How that plays out, I can't look into a crystal ball and have that all figured out yet."

***Moore talked about replacing Suh and what kind of effect it could have on the defense with him gone. Moore insisted that the Huskers would have plenty of players ready to step up and fill the void, including himself.

"I know people might have us taking a little drop off since he's gone, because he was a great player," Moore said. "But we're going to go out and show people that we've got some guys that can step up and fill that spot pretty good. It won't be much of a drop off without him here, though he was a heck of a player."

***Seeing how everyone seems to be talking about Hardrick this spring, D.J. Jones gave his two cents on Nebraska's heralded lineman.

"He's a good player," Jones said. "Really strong. Very athletic. He could do some good things for us. He's going to be a good player."

***Senior wide receiver Niles Paul said one of the biggest things he's working on this spring has been his pass catching consistency and limiting the number of drops and missed opportunities this season.

"Just getting out there and catching the ball," Paul said. "I know I watched plays and I had a few drops here and there during the season where I could have made a big play had I caught it. It's just me focusing on making the catch and not taking off before I catch it."

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