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October 3, 2011

Husker Buzz: Rex makes his voice heard

Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead is generally a "lead by example" type of guy, but following Saturday's 48-17 loss at Wisconsin he felt it was necessary to say a few words.

NU head coach Bo Pelini first addressed his football team on Sunday following the loss to the Badgers, and then it was Burkhead that made sure his message got across to the entire team.

"I wanted to reemphasize the process and the preparation during the week," Burkhead said. "Just focusing on the little details. Those small details are the separation in big games like that."

Junior wide receiver Tim Marlowe said when a guy like Burkhead steps up and says something, everybody is going to listen.

Marlowe said the way Burkhead goes about his business and plays the game of football has everybody's respect in the locker room.

"(Burkhead) is not much of a vocal leader, but leads more with his play," Marlowe said. "It was nice to see him step up yesterday in meetings in give us some words of wisdom. Coming from a guy like him you have nothing to do but listen. Rex is a great leader and I'll follow him any day."

The pressure is on this week, as NU tries to get things back on track at home against an undermanned Ohio State team.

The Buckeyes will be without star wide receiver DeVier Posey and running back Boom Herron this week in Lincoln. Even without them, this should be a game NU wins and the Buckeyes struggling offense could be just what the doctor ordered for the Blackshirts.

"We have character on this team," Pelini said. "Let me tell you, those guys were hurting after the game. There's no one who wants to win more than they do. Like I've said all along and I've told them all along, it's not about 'want to', because yeah you want to do a lot of things in your life. How you go about it allows you to accomplish your goals.

"That means the preparation during the week, that means attention to detail and progressing in a certain manner. If you do those things during the week, than 'the want to' gets taken care off. Good intentions only get you so far. You have to put work behind it and we've got to continue to put work behind it."


Gap between Martinez and Carnes 'wide'

Pelini made it pretty clear on Monday during the press conference that the gap between quarterback Taylor Martinez and back-up Brion Carnes remains "wide."

With that said, Pelini feels like Martinez is trying to do too much and didn't handle the adversity well last Saturday in Madison.

"I thought at times he got impatient and he thinks he has to win the game by himself," Pelini said. "That's part of the growth as a quarterback. You have to let the game come to you. You have to read it. You are not going to make a big play on every down. I think that's just part of the growth at the position."

Martinez addressed the media on Monday, but didn't offer much insight. In a total of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, Martinez took 20 questions and accused the media of "ripping" him.

My response to Martinez on this is he needs to own up. He's the quarterback at Nebraska. There's going to be people each week that analyze your play.

Ask Scott Frost what it was like after the Arizona State loss in 1996 or Jammal Lord during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Is it fun to see fans and media criticize your play? Absolutely not. Nobody wants to get "ripped," but when you are the quarterback at a place like Nebraska you have to realize that comes with the job. Taking it out on the media during a press conference is not going to make the situation better.

What's the difference?

Illinois head coach Ron Zook officially suspended linebacker Jonathan Brown for kneeing Northwestern's Patrick Brown below the belt.

Brown will be suspended for this week's game and the Big Ten Conference came out and supported Illinois in their decision and publically reprimanded him as well.

How was this any different than what happen to Nebraska tight end Ben Cotton during last year's Texas A&M when he was viciously grabbed at in the same area by an Aggie defender?

The ironic thing was a few weeks before that former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe suspended Eric Martin for a helmet to helmet hit but did nothing about this unsportsmanlike act. That doesn't make sense at all.

If you ask me the incident directed towards Cotton was worse than this, because the A&M player went after him multiple times and the official actually threw the flag at Cotton for reacting in the manner that he did and followed it up with a second flag when Cotton disputed the penalty.

For the stat geeks

***Ohio State ranks 111th in the nation in passing offense and 108th overall in total offense with an average of just 308.2 yards per game.

***Don't let OSU's poor offensive numbers fool you. The Buckeyes still have a very solid defensive unit that's ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense and 13th overall in total defense.

***Wisconsin is averaging 48.4 points per game. The next closest team in the Big Ten is Iowa at 37.8 points per game.

***Keep your eyes on Michigan State's defense. Through five games the Spartans lead the conference in every statistical category. They are first in rushing defense (64.0 yards per game), passing defense (109.4 ypg), total defense (173.4 ypg), interceptions (7) and passing efficiency defense (83.4). It also helps that they just played Ohio State.

***Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah still leads the Big Ten by a wide margin in kickoff return yard average. Abdullah is averaging 35.1 yards per return, while the next closest is Michigan State's Nick Hill at 26.9 yards per return.

Around the state

***The Nebraska Shrine Bowl announced their coaches for the 2012 game on Monday. Alliance's Travis Hawk will coach the North squad, while Elmwood-Murdock's Leigh Schmale will coach the South.

Assistant coaches for the North are David City's Cortney Couch, Bloomfield's Jim Dooley and Wahoo's Chad Fox. Papillion-La Vista's Jeff Govier, Platteview's Adam Kuhl and Giltner's Jeff Ashby are the assistant coaches for the South squad. The 2012 Shrine Bowl will once again have an early start date on June 2 to better accommodate the players who go on to play Division I football.

***Lincoln North star junior running back Michael Minter rushed for over 200 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-14 win over North Platte on Friday.

***Crete quarterback Derek McGinnis continues to put up huge numbers for the Cardinals. The last two weeks McGinnis has complete 22-of-26 passes for 590 yards and 7 touchdowns. McGinnis is 24-1 as a starter the last three seasons combined. You have to think some other Division I teams are going to take notice of McGinnis soon. He has the size, arm strength and numbers you want to see right now.


Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.


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