Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bicknell looking forward to Lincoln

You've got to admire Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell. The Bulldog football program's motto is "Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime." Unfortunately for Bicknell, that usually translates into playing top-level programs on their home fields in "guarantee games" in order to get a nice payday for the Tech athletic department.

This year, Bicknell's team has to play at Nebraska, at Texas A&M and at Clemson. Last year it was at Florida and at Kansas and in 2004 it was at Tennessee, at Auburn and at Miami. The list goes on and on. During Bicknell's seven-year tenture at La. Tech, his teams have played 24 games against schools from BCS conferences -- 21 of them on the road.

While that is certainly no way to build a spiffy coaching record -- Bicknell is 40-42 -- he tries to put a positive spin on the neccessarily evil, saying that he and his team enjoy the challenge of playing in college football's top venues. Unfortunately for Bicknell, he doesn't really have a choice.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Thursday, August 31, 2006 || 0 comments

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Keller's a Husker

Sam Keller's whirlwind ride since last Friday appears to be over as Nebraska coach Bill Callahan confirmed Wednesday night that the former Arizona State quarterback is indeed transferring to Nebraska.

On the surface, this definitely looks like a win-win situation for both Keller and Nebraska. With Zac Taylor heading into his final year, the Cornhuskers need added depth at the quarterback position. In turn, Keller needs a place to showcase his skills and help him get to the next level.

Keller will have to sit out this season and then will have to earn the No. 1 spot next year. However, it would seem that he has the inside track to be NU's starter in 2007 as he's a proven commodity who had a great deal of success in 2005 during his first seven games at ASU. Guys who can throw for 20 TDs and more than 2,000 yards in a little more than a half of a season don't exactly grow on trees.

While the way things went down at Arizona State might raise some red flags -- some of Keller's teammates reportedly went to Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter and told him they would prefer that sophomore Rudy Carpenter be the starter -- the issues apparently weren't significant enough to keep Callahan from taking a chance on Keller. However, even if there were issues behind the scenes in Tempe, one figures Keller would realize that Nebraska is his last chance and his future in football likely depends upon a strong showing next year with the Huskers.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Wednesday, August 23, 2006 || 0 comments

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Lucky: 'It was pretty close'

Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky admits that it was "pretty close" when it came down to deciding whether he would accept a scholarship offer from the Cornhuskers or USC.

So, what was the edge that swung the decision in Nebraska's favor?

"The fans," Lucky said. "That was a big thing, plus the coaches. I knew that they're building this program up to where it used to be. I wanted to be part of it."

Lucky, who is from North Hollywood, Calif., also said he wanted to live on his own for a while a go far from home.

Although Nebraska's Sept. 16 game at USC will a homecoming of sorts, Lucky doesn't figure he'll put much added significance on the nationally televised contest.

"I'm just going to go out there and play it like every other game," Lucky said. "I'm not just getting prepared for USC, I'm getting prepared for all the games."

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Monday, August 21, 2006 || 0 comments

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Larry "The Cable Guy" at NU practice

LINCOLN -- Nebraska's players got a break from the intensity of a two-a-day practice session Wednesday morning when comedian Larry "The Cable Guy" stopped by practice. The Pawnee City native watched practice, told the team a few jokes and visited with Cornhuskers' AD Steve Pederson.

As many of you may know, Larry is a big Nebraska football fan -- as evidenced by his camo Husker hat. "The Cable Guy" said he's leased a skybox at Memorial Stadium and plans to be at every home game this season.

Asked how much he was looking forward to this season, Larry replied: "I'm happier than Michael Jackson disguised as a floor lamp at a 'Harry Potter' book-signing. It's going to be fun."

In football news, coach Bill Callahan reported linebacker Steve Octavien had his appendix removed Tuesday, but should be back in time for the Sept. 2 season opener against Louisiana Tech.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Wednesday, August 16, 2006 || 0 comments

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Leon Jackson leaving (again)

LINCOLN -- The Nebraska football team suffered its second defection of the week on Thursday as Cornhuskers' coach Bill Callahan announced that sophomore I-back Leon Jackson has left the team.

"Leon Jackson has left the team of his own volition," Callahan said in a prepared statement. "We appreciate the contributions he has made to this football program and we wish him the best in the future."

Jackson, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Pasco, Wash., entered fall camp competing for playing time in a logjam at I-back. Junior Brandon Jackson, sophomores Marlon Lucky and Cody Glenn and junior college transfer Kenny Wilson are also listed at the position.

Last season, Jackson was one of 13 true freshmen to see playing time, mostly as a member of the kickoff coverage unit. He was moved several times in 2005, playing running back, safety and wide receiver -- where he earned scout team MVP honors -- before switching back to running back.

Jackson had previously left the team in April, but reconsidered and was reinstated in early May by Callahan. His departure comes three days after reserve quarterback Harrison Beck was released from his scholarship.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Thursday, August 10, 2006 || 0 comments

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beck an unhappy Husker?

An update from the Associated Press on Nebraska backup quarterback Harrison Beck missing today's afternoon practice:

Backup quarterback missing from practice
LINCOLN (AP) -- The mother of Nebraska backup quarterback Harrison Beck said her son, who skipped practice Saturday, is disgruntled with the amount of work he has received the first few days of preseason camp.
Evelyn Beck-Bothwell told the Lincoln Journal Star on Saturday night that Beck sent her a text message that read: "I'm safe."
Coach Bill Callahan said after practice that he didn't know Beck's whereabouts and that he was concerned about him.
"We contacted his parents," Callahan said. "He didn't arrive for afternoon meetings, so we are concerned. We are trying to contact him at the moment."
Callahan said Beck was at meetings in the morning, but didn't return after lunch.
"I talked to the players about it, and it really came as a surprise to all of us," Callahan said.
The Associated Press couldn't reach Beck or Beck-Bothwell for comment. A phone message left for Beck's high school coach, John Davis of Countryside High in Clearwater, Fla., was not immediately returned.
Beck-Bothwell told the Journal Star that her son was upset because Joe Ganz was receiving more practice repetitions behind starter Zac Taylor.
"Maybe if he would have stayed in the SEC, he would've been playing," Beck-Bothwell said. "Maybe he made the wrong decision. He knows that playbook. It's just an issue of not getting respect from the older players."
Running back Cody Glenn told reporters last week that older players on the team chided Beck last spring for not taking football seriously enough.
"Harrison, he's the kind of guy where he has all the physical tools. He can throw it a mile and throw it hard as anybody I've seen in my life," Glenn said. "He has to mature a little more. You saw that a lot this past summer, how he came in and tried to take control and be more of a leader as opposed to last year. He would kind of goof off and jack around and not really take this stuff seriously.
"This year it's like a totally different Harrison."
Beck appeared in two games as a freshman last season, completing 1 of 10 passes. His only completion, a 21-yarder to Nate Swift, helped set up a game-winning field goal against Kansas State.
Beck-Bothwell told the Journal Star that her son would beat out Taylor for the starting quarterback's job if the coaches devoted more time to him. She said Taylor is "just OK."
"It'd be different if he was sitting behind Matt Leinart or Brady Quinn," Beck-Bothwell said.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Saturday, August 05, 2006 || 0 comments

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Summer's over: Huskers ranked No. 22 by coaches

It's only August, but for all intents and purposes in the sporting world, summer's over. The Nebraska football team opened camp Thursday and the first meaningful poll was released today.

In case you missed it, Nebraska is ranked No. 22 in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll, which probably isn't too bad of a place to start for the Cornhuskers. Sure, fans would always like to see their team higher, but as long as Nebraska is on the radar, it will have a chance at the end of things break right for coach Bill Callahan's crew. If you recall, Oklahoma's 2000 national championship squad began the year ranked 20th. One thing you can be sure of is that a No. 22 ranking falls far below the optimism that seems to be alive and well in Husker Nation.

The coaches' top 10: Ohio State, Texas, Notre Dame, Southern California, Oklahoma, Auburn, West Virginia, Florida, LSU, Florida State. It should be noted that the poll was taken before Sooners coach Bob Stoops booted a couple of players, including returning starting quarterback Rhett Bomar.

Truthfully, I really thought OU might be the team to beat this season. Now, I think you have to look down the line to USC or possibly even West Virginia. The thinking here is that Ohio State lost too much on defense (nine starters), Texas is breaking in a new quarterback and the Golden Domers simply play too many top-level teams (at least most years) to get through without a loss or two. No offense to Nebraska, but it would seem that the schedules for USC and West Virginia might be manageable enough to allow those schools to get through the regular season unscathed.

The Associated Press preseason media poll is scheduled to be released Aug. 19.

Posted by Terry Douglass @ Friday, August 04, 2006 || 2 comments

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