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August 29, 2011

Husker Buzz: Carl ready to take on more

Lost in the shuffle of all the talk surrounding Nebraska's new offense on Saturday will be some of the changes you'll see with the Blackshirt defense.

For the first time in four years Carl Pelini will work exclusively as NU's defensive coordinator, which has allowed head coach Bo Pelini to spend more with the offense than ever before.

A lot has had to happen for Bo Pelini to get to this point as a head coach. No. 1, he had to feel comfortable with handing over all the daily coordinator duties over to his brother.

No. 2, back in 2008 John Papuchis was a first-year position coach and Carl Pelini had just one year of coordinator experience underneath his belt at the time. I think Papuchis had to grow into his role as a defensive line coach, while Carl Pelini had to get comfortable in running the defense before the time was right to make this move.

"It's different. A lot of it's different from how we've handled camp and spring and a lot of it is the same," Carl Pelini said of his new role. "We still work as a team - Bo and I, but he's very involved with the offense. Much more involved."

In the past when Shawn Watson ran the offense Bo Pelini had very little involvement if any during the daily meetings and game planning.

Now Bo Pelini splits his time between the offense and defense and is heavily involved with Tim Beck and the offensive staff, as well as the defensive staff meetings.

"He's in their meetings like he's in our meetings too," Carl Pelini said. "I still have to answer to (Bo), but so does Tim (Beck). I always laugh and keep saying to Tim that (the offense) is finally getting what we got for three years. It's good to see. It's a little bit of justice."

From a players perspective Carl Pelini used to work with the defensive tackles during individual drills each day over the last three years.

With his new role he has the ability to float around to all the different position groups on the defense, while Papuchis works with all four defensive linemen in practice.

"I think Carl (Pelni) is happy with (his new role)," senior Jared Crick said. "He's no longer hanging out just with us on the defensive line. He's overseeing the entire defense. I'm sure that's what he wanted to do because he's a defensive coordinator. I'm sure he's been waiting to do this for a long time."

And ultimately if Carl Pelini is going to take that next step and become a head coach a move like this had to be made. I think this will be huge for his development and go a long way in the future since he'll be installing and calling most of the defense this season.

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I think most people thought with the move to the Big Ten there would be no more "what channel will the game be on TV" questions, since technically every game will be now be televised no matter what.

For whatever reason there's been a lot of confusion for Nebraska's first two games as to what channel they'll be carried on.

Both the Chattanooga game and the Fresno State games will be carried on the Big Ten Network. The confusing part is there's a possibility the game could be aired on one of the BTN's two overflow game channels depending on what market you live in.

The Big Ten Network website offers this guide to show you what channel the games will be on in your perspective market each week. Cox Cable in Omaha will officially move the BTN to channels 80 and 1080 HD starting Sept. 1.

"Cox subscribers can watch the Husker's season opener on the Big Ten Network at 2:30pm on Saturday, Sept. 3rd," stated Cox spokeswoman, Gail Graeve, "Effective Sept. 1st, Cox will carry the Big Ten Network on Cox channel 80 and in HD on Cox channel 1080."

Time Warner Cable in Lincoln will air Saturday's game on channels 24 and 1333 in HD.

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My best guess for the starting five on the offensive line is Jermarcus Hardrick at left tackle, Andrew Rodriguez at left guard, Mike Caputo at center, Jake Cotton at right guard and Tyler Moore at right tackle.

However, I expect Marcel Jones, Jeremiah Sirles, Brent Qvale and Spencer Long to all play a factor and see time as well.

I think the starting five I mentioned are the guys who have been healthy throughout camp and demonstrated the most consistent play over that period.

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It was good to see sophomore Jason Ankrah win the starting defensive end job opposite of junior Cameron Meredith.

Ankrah is a guy that came to NU with a lot of hype, but it's taken him a couple of years to get comfortable in the defense.

Junior Josh Williams is the back-up behind both Ankrah and Meredith, but both juniors Eric Martin and Joseph Carter should see plenty of time. You get the sense that Martin could operate as more of a pass rushing specialist on third downs.

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I can't remember a time where five true freshmen could potentially have as big of a role this season in the offense.

Moore looks to be a starter at right tackle, Jamal Turner figures to play a big factor at receiver and in the return game, while freshmen running back Aaron Green, Braylon Heard and Ameer Abdullah are also expected to play big roles as well.

The scary thing is there are still several other players in this class who are poised to be early contributors, but based on need you may not see them on the field right away.

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I snuck out to Seacrest Stadium on Friday night to watch Lincoln Southwest vs. Lincoln Southeast. Local Lincoln football enthusiasts say Friday's crowd of 8,501 is the largest crowd to see a game in Lincoln since the early 90's when a couple of semifinal match-ups featured Lincoln Southeast.

It's great to see Lincoln high school football is making a comeback. It's taken 10 years to get it back to this point ever since the openings of Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln North Star.

After watching the game, I will say the jury is still out on Kansas State commit Tavarius Bender, as he struggled going only 6-of-15 with three interceptions. This week's 4:30 pm game against Omaha Westside at Seacrest will be an opportunity for him to redeem himself.

Two names to watch in the future in Lincoln are Southeast defensive back/quarterback Najee Jackson and Southwest linebacker Josh Banderas. Both players had huge games and are definitely names to watch for the class of 2013 as potential Nebraska targets.

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15:03. If you are wondering that was exactly how long it took for Pelini to get asked his first question about Tennessee Chattanooga.

In fact none of NU's players were asked any specific questions about the Mocs.

I'm not saying UTC is going to come in and challenge the Huskers, but hopefully after last year's South Dakota State scare Pelini will have this team focused and ready to go. The good thing is this is the season opener, where last year's SDSU game came after the Washington game when everybody in college football was anointing Nebraska as the second coming of the 85' Bears.

Let's get this thing going. Saturday can't get here fast enough.


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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