August 24, 2010

Tuesday notebook: Pelini still mum on QB race

The only new pieces of information offered by head coach Bo Pelini in his four minute address to the media on Tuesday is Nebraska may play "10 guys at quarterback" this year and a starter may not be named until Sept. 4.

In all seriousness, Pelini clearly wasn't in the mood to talk with reporters following Tuesday's practice. With over 25 media members surrounding him, Pelini answered questions for less than four minutes and offered really no new insight as to what's going on with his football team.

The topic on most people's mind on Tuesday had to do with the recent of emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez during Saturday's scrimmage.

While Pelini wouldn't address any specific questions about his quarterbacks, several different Husker players did talk about Martinez's recent emergence at QB.

"I'll tell you what he's really improved from last year," senior offensive lineman Keith Williams said. "This year in the huddle he's more confident and he has that 'swag' about him and he's really coming around."

From a defensive players perspective, sophomore linebacker Will Compton offered this about NU's current quarterback competition with Martinez, senior Zac Lee and sophomore Cody Green.

"We hate having to run after Taylor Martinez," Compton joked. "That's pretty much all we know (about the quarterback race). I know Zac (Lee) is doing well and Cody (Green) is doing well too, so it's all up to them."

Sophomore linebacker Eric Martin is Martinez's roommate and best friend on the team.

Martin said that Martinez has worked really hard to get to this point and it's started to show with his play on the field.

"(Martinez) is trying to work on his throws and stuff," Martin said. "He's obviously got great athletic ability and freakish talent. Once he gets everything set he should be fine for the first game. He should come out and just show off for the crowd."

And speaking of working on his throws, junior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie had some pretty strong words of praise when asked about Martinez's throwing ability.

Kinnie said Martinez's release was a tad quicker than Lee or Green's, though he followed by saying all three throw the ball equally as hard.

"They all have lazars," Kinnie said. "Taylor (Martinez) might get it out a little faster, but that's about it. They're about the same. They all throw the ball pretty well. I'll be happy with anyone of those guys."

-Sean Callahan

Tuesday fall camp takes
Josh Mitchell spotted: Freshman cornerback Josh Mitchell has finally made his way to camp. Mitchell wasn't a part of the 105 man roster and didn't officially join the team until the start of classes on Monday. Redshirt freshman tight end J.T. Kerr was also seen on Tuesday.

Players tweeting: There was an interesting tweet posted under the user handle < href =>TaylorMartinez3 on Tuesday that appeared to come from quarterback Taylor Martinez. The tweet said "Dreams Come True When You Work Hard And Pray! T-Magic." The tweet was pulled down off Twitter on Tuesday evening and head coach Bo Pelini said he knew nothing of it. "I don't know anything about that," Pelini said. "If people have time to follow Twitter or they are 'tweeting,' than they need to get a job."

Injury update: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Thaddeus Randle, freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell, junior wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen, sophomore tight end Mychael McClure and sophomore offensive lineman Brandon Thompson all did not practice on Tuesday.

What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team conducted their 20th official practice of fall camp on the grass practice fields north of Memorial Stadium. NU will take the field again on Wednesday at 3:45 for another full-padded practice.

Fisher hanging in there

After suffering a broken leg in practice last week, it's a been a rough month of August for sophomore linebacker Sean Fisher.

Compton said Fisher's spirits remain high though, despite the season-ending injury he suffered in practice last Tuesday.

"It's hard," Compton said. "You work your butt off for so long and you go out there and he was ready to play good football. To have that taken away from you really sucks if you ask anyone who's gotten hurt like that. It's rough. His surgery went well and he's got a better attitude about it now. It's going to be rough on you for a little bit."

With Fisher out, Compton said that junior college transfer Lavonte David has been working as the other No. 1 linebacker alongside of him.

Compton said that junior Mathew May and sophomore Alonzo Whaley are working behind him at the Will spot, while Martin is backing up David at the Mike position.

"We just have to get guys ready to go," Compton said. "Of course losing Fisher was a big blow, but we are just going to have to step in and reload and not hang our heads about anything and get ready to play."

-Sean Callahan

Enunwa continues to impress

True freshman receiver Quincy Enunwa continued to reel in the praise on Monday, as his fellow wide outs couldn't help but marvel at how far along he is through just a little more than two weeks of camp as only a freshman.

"He's a big, physical freshman," Kinnie said. "He's real physical. He reminds me a little bit size wise, but he plays fast. He's really explosive. I didn't have that. I tell him that all the time, I'm like, 'Man, you've got something special, because I wasn't playing that fast last year, let alone when I was little like that coming in as a freshman.' So he's got it going good right now."

McNeill agreed with Enunwa's early display of physicality, saying his natural strength and athletic ability have allowed him to come in and compete head to head with some of NU's more experience wide outs.

In particular, McNeill said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Enunwa has been able to meet the strict blocking demands receivers coach Ted Gilmore insists from him players if they want to see the field.

"I think he's just pretty physically gifted for a freshman," McNeill said. "He's pretty well built, he's got nice speed. Sometimes when he gets a little angry, he gets some physicality in him."

- Robin Washut

Robinson gaining plenty of confidence

When sophomore running back Dontrayevous Robinson talks about last season, he'll admit he wasn't ready to see the field as a true freshman.

Robinson struggled with ball security at times and just his overall grasp of the offense. When Robinson talks about this year he feels like a completely new player.

"I had to step up," Robinson said. "Coach wanted me to learn the offense better and compete out there for a good spot.

"I'm probably the underdog behind Roy (Helu) and Rex Burkhead. I just feel like I have to work harder because they are already known and stuff like that. I just feel like I have to put my name out there."

Robinson said his current playing weight is at 237 pounds, which is higher than what he played at a year ago

"I feel like my weight gives me more confidence," Robinson said. "I'm not really scared to run through anybody now that I have all this weight on me. I don't care about my body. I just go out there and use it."

-Sean Callahan

Reed eager to step up to the challeng

Sophomore Kyler Reed isn't the kind of guy who gets excited when another tight end ahead of him on the depth chart gets injured or changes positions.

He is, however, the kind of player who isn't afraid to accept the challenges those situations present.

So after senior Mike McNeill moved over to receiver in the spring and then senior Dreu Young was lost for the season with a back injury last week, Reed knew his role in Nebraska's offense was about to get a whole lot bigger.

"We've got to grow up real fast," Reed said. "Those were our two senior leaders. Fortunately Dreu is going to be around - he's going to help coach a little bit - but we've got to grow up fast."

While the increased responsibility might be a little intimidating for a player who's caught just six collegiate passes, Reed has taken it all in stride. After making some big strides both physically and mentally over the offseason, he said he was as prepared as ever to fill voids left by McNeill and Young.

In particular, Reed said he really put in some work in the weight room and paid more attention than ever to his nutrition this summer, which has allowed him to bulk up to more than 230 pounds and allow him to hold his own in blocking situations.

In fact, he said he's spent the entire fall working down on the line of scrimmage, whereas last year he spent quite a bit of time lined up out in the flat as a slot receiver.

"I figured just from talking to (offensive coordinator Shawn Watson) and tight ends coach (Ron Brown) that I was going to have to have to play a big role and they were expecting big things from me this year," Reed said. "So I've already kind of been prepared for that. I definitely wasn't happy about it, but I realized I'm going to have to step up."

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***While senior guard Keith Williams has already dealt with his share of injuries this fall, he said he hasn't lost any confidence out on the field worrying about whether he's going to get injured again.

"Not at all. I'll make it. It's part of being an offensive lineman. If it happens, it happens. The only time I'll ever worry about injuries is when something falls off. The if it falls off, you sow it back on and get back in there and play."

***One younger offensive lineman that continues to impress is freshman Andrew Rodriguez, who's currently working as the No. 2 left guard behind Williams right now.

"Rodriguez is a big strong fellow and he's really got the role down," Williams said. "He's gotten his playbook and he's really getting the plays down real well. He can really play."

***Martin confirmed that both he and senior Rickey Thenarse will play prominent roles together again for NU on the kickoff coverage team.

"Me and him should be great on special teams this year," Martin said. "I don't know if he's going to get a harder hit than me though."

***For the majority of Nebraska's players, Monday marked the first day of the fall semester and a return to the stress of juggling school and football. Not for McNeill, though.

"Well, when you're graduated, school's not too hard," said McNeill, who earned his degree earlier this month. "My History of Sports class, my Coaching Effectiveness class and my Coaching Basketball class really haven't affected my football.

"I did sign up for one class that's at 9:30 in the morning, which is a little bit of a stretch, but I get up to lift anyway, so I figured I might as well just do it."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!