Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012-2013 ITH season preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers - Inside the Hall

With the college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next few weeks. Today, we begin our team previews with a look at the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Nebraska’s inaugural season in the Big Ten was a challenge the program failed to meet with much success.

The Cornhuskers, who were returning plenty of experience following a 19-win season in 2010-2011, battled three key injuries as Jorge Brian Diaz, Andre Almeida and Corey Hilliard all missed time.

Their offensive production was the worst in the conference and their defense, a strong suit in previous seasons, allowed opponents to shoot an eFG% of 55.2, also a league worst.

Besides an upset of then No. 13 Indiana on Jan. 13 and a blowout of Illinois on Feb. 18, highlights in Lincoln were hard to pinpoint.

The ultimate result was a disappointing 12-18 finish that led to the dismissal of coach Doc Sadler on March 9. After a coaching search that lasted a little less than two weeks, Nebraska hired Tim Miles, who led Colorado State to the 2012 NCAA Tournament in his fifth season at the school.

Miles, who built Colorado State from a 7-25 program in 2007-2008 to an at-large bid in 2011-2012, inherits an even tougher rebuild at Nebraska. Not only is the Big Ten as strong from top to bottom as its been in years, the talent Miles inherited is minimal at best. Nebraska’s top two scorers, Bo Spencer and Toney McCray, graduated and shortly after Miles arrived, the injury-prone Diaz opted to return to Puerto Rico rather than play his senior season.

So who’s left in Lincoln?

Senior guard Dylan Talley, who averaged 8.9 points and hit close to 37 percent of his 3-point attempts, is the most proven returnee. Brandon Ubel, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, is also back and was one of the Big Ten’s best offensive rebounders a season ago (11.9 OR%). Talley and Ubel are the only two returning players who averaged more than 8.3 minutes per game last season.

Much of how Miles’ first season at Nebraska goes will depend heavily on newcomers who will be thrust into pivotal roles from day one. Benny Parker and Shavon Shields, a pair of 3-star guards who originally signed with Sadler, decided to honor their commitments to Nebraska.

Miles also added a pair of junior college recruits, Sergej Vucetic and Deverell Biggs, who will likely be major contributors early. Vucetic is a 7-foot, 235-pound center from Serbia and Biggs, the first in-state player to sign with Nebraska since 2001, was a NJCAA first team All-American.

Florida transfer Walter Pitchford and Texas Tech transfer Terran Petteway also joined the program, but will have to sit out a season due to NCAA rules.

Bottom Line: It’s going to be a long season in Lincoln, but the energy and enthusiasm Miles is bringing to the program may eventually pay dividends. Nebraska is a program that has been historically tough to win at, but with a new practice facility now open and Pinnacle Bank Arena scheduled to open in 2013, it will be interesting to see how quickly Miles can bring the Huskers out of the Big Ten cellar.

Quotable: “People ask me, what’s your style of play? Are you going to play fast or slow? We know that the Big Ten, tempo-wise is a slower conference. The North Central Conference that I was in Division II is a slower conference too. We want to play winning basketball, if that means we’re going to run it down the floor, we’ll run it down the floor. If that means, we’re going to work the shot clock to two, we’ll work the shot clock to two. I’m a motion defense guy; I’m a man-to-man defense guy, which is not going away.” â€" Miles at his introductory press conference.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nebraska Cornhuskers Rex Burkhead To Be His Old Self - Rant Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers Rex Burkhead

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

A nervous feeling ushered over Memorial Stadium in the opening week of the season as the fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers learned that Rex Burkhead had suffered a knee injury.

Their worry soon turned to concern as news spread that it was an MCL sprain, but they were relieved when it was just a grade 1, the least amount of damage one could do to earn that grade.

This week, Husker fans will give Rex Burkhead a standing ovation as he will be dressed and perhaps even starting when the Idaho State Bengals come to Lincoln.

Burkhead probably will not need to play too much as the Cornhuskers are expected to win handily, but just the thought of having him back will be great.

Ameer Abdullah has filled in admirably for Superman, leading the Huskers rushing attack. His confidence, not that it needed a big boost, has grown over the past two games.

I had questions about how Abdullah could run between the tackles. After the past two games, there still are a few things I would like to see, but Abdullah has done well.

However, with Burkhead in the backfield, the Huskers are going to give opposing defenses nightmares.

Burkhead is the best runner the Huskers have. He refuses to go down on first contact, and though he is not the biggest, he is not afraid to take on runner.

When Nebraska moves into B1G 10 play, Burkhead will be the workhorse for the offense. His leadership will be key when the times get tough. And when they do, hand the ball off to the little man with a big heart and let him run, because he will inspire his teammates to play their best.

Paul Troupe is the lead writer for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and San Antonio Spurs, while covering many major sports for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter @gamin4HIM

Preview: Idaho State Bengals at No. 25 Nebraska Cornhuskers - (blog)

09:17 PM ET September 18, 2012

(Video courtesy CornhuskersFootball)

Idaho State (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky Conference) at No. 25 Nebraska (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

Watchability: The Cornhuskers have the eighth-ranked rushing attack in the country, averaging 295 yards per game. Nebraska should roll over, around and through the Bengals from the FCS. Keep the remote handy. This one should be done by halftime.

Shining stars: Idaho State: WR Derek Graves is a stud. Graves had 15 catches for 151 yards with a touchdown in a 38-5 win over Black Hills State a week after making 15 grabs against Air Force. He is the first player in league history to have consecutive 15-catch games and the only player in league history to have three such games after making 15 receptions against Northern Colorado last year. Nebraska: QB Taylor Martinez is emerging as one of the top players at his position in the country. The junior has completed 70.9 percent of his throws for 713 yards with seven touchdowns against one interception while rushing for 176 yards and another two scores. He likely will rely on his arm against Idaho State.

Who could steal the show: Idaho State: QB Kevin Yost leads the conference with nearly 402 passing yards per game. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior set the school record for completions (300) and pass attempts (493) last season. Nebraska: WR Kenny Bell is becoming a dynamic staple of the attack. Bell is averaging 20.5 yards per reception and has three touchdown catches. His blazing speed and 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame make him a matchup nightmare for the Bengals.

You going? Ranking the road trip: The balloons are back! The Cornhuskers have a tradition of releasing red and white balloons after every touchdown. After a helium shortage earlier in the fall, the tradition has returned.

Magic number for Idaho State: 80. Career victories for Bengals coach Mike Kramer, the third-most in conference history. Former Montana coach Don Read is second with 85 and Nevada coach Chris Ault is the all-time leader with 111.

Magic number for Nebraska: Minus-0.67. The turnover margin for the Cornhuskers, ranking them 86th nationally. The team can be careless with the ball.

The game comes down to: Can Nebraska get focused? The Cornhuskers dominated in the second half against Arkansas State after coach Bo Pelini went to the hospital in an ambulance for observation. The team now will attempt to re-focus against a vastly inferior opponent and show the same type of resolve against the Bengals. They have more talent -- they just have to show it.

Prediction: Nebraska 52, Idaho State 7

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big Ten bloggers Dave Carey and Mike Singer, follow @CBSSportsBigTen.

Tags: Kenny Bell, Taylor Martinez, Big Ten, Gameday Previews, Nebraska Cornhuskers, NCAAF

Zaire Anderson out for season - ESPN

Updated: September 18, 2012, 8:55 PM ET

Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska linebacker Zaire Anderson is out for the season because of a right knee injury, coach Bo Pelini announced.

Anderson said Tuesday that he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in practice last week but didn't know it at the time. He played with the injury while making his first start in the Cornhuskers' 42-13 win over Arkansas State.

Anderson, a transfer from Riverside (Calif.) Community College, backed up senior Alonzo Whaley at weakside linebacker the first two games. The junior made three tackles against Arkansas State.

Either freshman David Santos or Whaley will take over Anderson's spot in Saturday's game against Idaho State.

Pelini said Anderson might apply for a medical redshirt to save a season of eligibility.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

Idaho St.-Nebraska Preview -

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini returned to work on Sunday - Rant Sports

Bruce Thorson â€" US Presswire

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini returned to work on Sunday, just a day after he was taken to the hospital during the team’s game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

An ambulance took Pelini to a Lincoln hospital just after halftime for some precautionary tests. Pelini was eventually released later on Saturday,indicated that everything checked out fine and that he would be returning to work on Sunday. Although there was no mention of his symptoms, a team doctor checked Pelini’s pulse on the sideline during the second quarter.

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis and offensive coordinator Tim Beck took care of the head coaching responsibilities after Pelini exited the game. The Cornhuskers went on to rout the Red Wolves 42-13 and the victory vaulted them back into the top 25 national rankings.

Health scares to college football coaches, especially in the Big 10, have not been uncommon in recent years.

Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer just returned to football this season after he took a year off following the 2010 season. Then with the Florida Gators, Meyer was suffering from chest pains, difficulty sleeping and weight loss.

Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans had a mild heart attack just hours after he made a crucial fake field goal call to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2010. He had surgery to correct a blocked blood vessel and was forced to miss two games.

Minnesota Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill collapsed from a seizure in the team’s 2011 home opener against the New Mexico State Aggies. Kill had experienced seizures before and his medicine was adjusted to control them.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Can Make It To Pasadena - Rant Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers Ameer Abdullah

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Two weeks ago, many had written the Nebraska Cornhuskers off in the Legends Division of the B1G 10 Conference. The Cornhuskers marched into Pasadena and promptly got spanked on both sides of the ball in the second half.

Just two weeks later, things look a lot different for the Cornhuskers. Husker nation, especially the fans, have asked, “How far can this team go?”

How does Pasadena sound?

Take a look around the B1G 10 so far? No team, including the Huskers, has been impressive so far early this year. Nebraska, outside of Michigan, probably has played the hardest non-conference schedule.

Michigan State did play Boise State and Notre Dame, but I’m not sold just yet as to both of those teams being as legit as people are making them out to be.

So give me a reason why the Huskers will not be smelling Roses?

With both Penn State and Ohio State out of the B1G title game, that leaves a select few to represent the Leaders. Right now, that looks to be the Purdue Boilermakers, and they do not match up well with the Huskers at all.

In the legends, Michigan State has a lot of offensive issues. Michigan has issues on both sides of the ball. Wisconsin appears stuck in hibernation mode only three weeks into the season.

Minnesota is improving, but I don’t think they will threaten. I think the same can be said for Northwestern, thoughHusker fans know all to well what happened last year. That leaves Iowa, who also has been less than stellar.

Everything is falling in place for the Huskers. They get to take on Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State at home. Sure, they make road trips to Northwestern, Sparty, Ohio State, and Iowa, but they should be at least 2-2, if not 3-1, after those trips.

The Huskers have one of the best offenses, if not the best, in the conference. Defensively, they just shut down perhaps the best offense the will see the rest of the year. If they play the way they did Saturday, the Blackshirts will back in full force and must be reckoned with.

WIth an underperforming conference, the Huskers could take a detour through Indianapolis on their way to Pasadena.

Paul Troupe is the lead writer for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and San Antonio Spurs, while covering many major sports for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter @gamin4HIM