November 5, 2009

Thursday notebook: Martin too rough for scout team

Most fans already know all about freshman Eric Martin's ability to dish out big hits on the football field.

However, it seems his physical nature has made him more of a liability than an asset in terms of working on Nebraska's scout teams in practice.

Martin said his coaches recently decided to take him off the scout team special teams units he had been working on this season because he was putting some of the starters at risk for injury.

He still is on the Huskers' starting punt block and kickoff teams, but as far as going up against the rest of Nebraska's first-team units, NU defensive line/special teams coach John Papuchis decided Martin would best serve the team from the sideline.

Earlier this week, Martin talked about getting bumped from the scout team units and gave one incident involving starting long snapper P.J. Mangieri as an example.

"(The coaches) don't get mad, they just kind of hope I don't hurt anybody," Martin said. "Like our long snapper (Mangieri), one time I was on punt block going against our starting punt team, and I was supposed to rush him and then just let him go free and then start blocking him down the field.

"Well, I didn't. I kind of peeled off and I waited until he came around and I blindsided him. He was kind of hurt a little bit and dizzy, and Coach JP, he just yells language that shouldn't be said. He told me not to hit him no more. He said he didn't want me taking out the starters, because we don't have that many long snappers."

After being removed from scout team duty on special teams, Martin is now off all scout teams because he was never on scout team defense. For the sake of Nebraska's offensive starters' health, that's probably a good idea.

"I don't think they'd want me on scout team defense," Martin said.

Thursday's practice takes
Heisman gathering: Along with a number of different events celebrating the tradition of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry this weekend, six Heisman trophy winners from both schools will be on hand to sign footballs and photos available for purchase at the Husker Nation Pavilion at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Husker Heisman winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Eric Crouch will join OU winners Steve Owens, Billy Sims and Jason White for the event, which will also make stops in Hastings and Omaha. However, the former players will only be signing the footballs ($149.99) and photos ($75) sold at the event.
Use them both? Following up with what offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said earlier this week, head coach Bo Pelini said he would not be opposed to using both freshman Cody Green and junior Zac Lee at quarterback in a game. "I don't know about alternating them, but I'm not afraid to use both guys in a game," Pelini said on Thursday. "That all depends on how the game's going."
Injury update: Redshirt freshman tight end Kyler Reed (knee) did not practice on Thursday and is doubtful for Saturday's game. However, senior wide receiver Chris Brooks (back) and sophomore cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder) are both expected to play against the Sooners.
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team conducted a two-hour full-padded practice inside the Hawks indoor facility on Thursday. The Huskers will conduct a short walk-thru practice on Friday before getting ready for Saturday's 7:00 p.m. kickoff.

A big recruiting weekend

As could be expected, Nebraska is using Saturday's primetime showdown with Oklahoma as one of its biggest recruiting weekend's of the season, as head coach Bo Pelini said the Huskers are expecting eight to nine official visitors for the game.

While all the attention that comes anytime Nebraska and Oklahoma meet is obviously a big draw, Pelini said one of the biggest reasons for bringing in so many visitors this weekend was because of how many early kickoffs NU has had at home this season.

Of their five home games so far, the Huskers have had just two games kickoff before 6 p.m., which has limited the amount of travel time recruits have to make it to Lincoln for games.

"Obviously with a night game, it allows you to get more guys in," Pelini said. "Because we've played a couple 11:30 (a.m.) games in a row, you've got to find a weekend to get them in."

Running backs ready to bounce back

After four straight disappointing showings, it wouldn't be surprising if Nebraska's running backs were a bit down on themselves this week in practice.

As it turns out, their attitude could be much better.

Despite only averaging 108 yards a game and just three rushing touchdowns since the start of Big 12 Conference play, the Huskers' running backs say they're still as confident as ever that they will get the running game back on track.

"The mentality of the group is what the mentality should be," redshirt freshman running back Lester Ward said. "As a running back, I believe your mentality should be hardcore. That's something that you learn to deal with. That's something that comes with the position. That's the nature of the game. Our mentality is one that's just stay ready. Stay ready at all times."

Running backs coach Tim Beck said the unit has maintained a great attitude throughout the past four weeks, especially this past week of practice. The biggest things the group has been focusing on to get the running game going again has been ball security and paying attention to the smaller details they may have overlooked somewhat in the past.

"The effort's been outstanding," Beck said. "The toughness has been outstanding. It's just things that any young player makes those kinds of mistakes… We're the focal point. We've got to make people miss and we've got to make plays. We've got to hang on to the ball first and foremost. I think if we can do that, and we can play to our capabilities, we'll be OK."

Quick hits

***Though it's been addressed throughout the week, Pelini once again was asked to comment on he's feelings towards being compared to Oklahoma head coach and longtime friend Bob Stoops.

"I'm at the infant stages of my tenure," Pelini said. "I'm not in a position right now to measure up to what Bob's done. He's won a national championship, he's won Big 12 championships, and I'm still finding my way and trying to build a program here. Obviously I think he's set a hell of a bench mark in how to go about that, so I take a lot from that because I followed him his whole career."

***Nebraska went a bit longer than their scheduled practice time on Thursday, as Pelini said the Huskers spent more time than usual working on special teams.

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