Archive for August, 2006

And so it begins…

August 31, 2006

Tonight’s Televised Games:

Boston College at Central Michigan 5:00 pm (CST) ESPN2

Northwestern at Miami (OH) 6:30 pm (CST) ESPNU

S. Carolina at Mississippi St. 7:00 pm (CST) ESPN

UTEP at San Diego St. 9:30 pm (CST) CSTV

Pre-Game Reading:

•Just in time for Saturday I reintroduce you to the College Gameday Drinking Game. My favorite is: Rule No. 16: If Holly Rowe starts to look good to you, stop drinking.

•Heisman Pundit has his preseason Heisman list out. Pay close attention to his list as this is what he lives for.

•Rivals examines the number of miles that will be traveled by college football teams this season. Florida Atlantic leads the way with 15,064 miles. Nebraska will cover 6,140 miles in 2006.

•Here is a grainy video preview of USC quarterback John David Booty.

They don’t put busts like these in Canton – Part II

August 31, 2006


Naturally, when I presented the Defensive All-Bust team a week ago, I found myself pondering which offensive players would share in the their not-so-bright limelight. What I assembled is a group that left their hearts, their triumphs and in some cases their dignity on the hallowed ground of Memorial Stadium. So, if you came here looking for Husker dominance at the next level, you’re not going to find it. For that you’d need to head to Canton and look for Guy Chamberlain (H.O.F. Class of 1965), who excelled at Nebraska in the 1920s and went on to four NFL championships as a player/coach who was known as a talented two-way player. But if it is NFL obscurity from some of your most beloved Huskers that you seek, then you’ve found it. Without further adieu….

Offensive All-Bust Team

QB: Jerry Tagge, Green Bay Packers, Pick #11, Round 1
In 1971, Jerry Tagge threw for a staggering 2,019 yards and was named an All-American. However, you might remember Tagge most for bringing Nebraska the 1970 and 1971 National Championships. Tagge possessed legendary grittiness which was best exemplified in the Game of the Century where he led NU to victory with his jersey in tatters. Tagge was a first round draft pick but enjoyed just a brief three year career with the Packers. Surprisingly, his three career touchdowns and 17 interceptions have yet to garner him a Packer Hall of Fame nomination.

RB: Lawrence Phillips, St. Louis Rams, Pick#6, Round 1
Phillips breakout game came against Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl where, as a true freshman, he ran for 64 yards including a 12 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter. During his sophomore campaign, he accumulated 1,722 yards playing against eight and nine-man fronts the entire year. In the 1995 Orange Bowl (end of 1994 championship season), Phillips totaled 96 yards against a Miami defense that boasted players such as Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis. To begin his junior year, the Heisman front runner was averaging over 10 yards a carry, including 22 carries, 206 yards, and 4 touchdowns against Michigan State. After Phillips found his girlfriend, Kate McEwan, in the apartment of Scott Frost, unspeakable violence ensued and his career was never the same. Phillips played in St. Louis for a year and a half before being cut (causing Dick Vermeil to cry at the press conference), played in Miami for two games, and finished a brief year in San Francisco (after stints in Canada and Europe) where he not only ended his career, but also that of Steve Young after missing a block on MNF. His career ended with 1,453 yards, 14 touchdowns and innumerable felony counts. Recently Phillips returned to the gridiron. Unfortunately it was while driving a stolen car through a group of teenagers’ pick-up football game.

RB: Calvin Jones, Los Angeles Raiders, Pick #80, Round 3
Much like in his Husker playing days, Jones is a standout on this list. The Central High School star, best known for being part of the “We-Backs,” had an excellent combination of speed and power. In fact, in the 1991 Kansas game Jones ran for a school record 294 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 1992, while splitting time with Derek Brown, Jones ranked ninth in the nation in rushing touchdowns. But let’s see if you can comprehend just how unproductive Jones’ 3 year NFL career was: 112 total yards, and 0 touchdowns. Not a difficult decision on this one.

WR: Johnny Rodgers, San Diego Chargers, Pick #25, Round 1
Rodgers could have been the most electrifying player in Nebraska Football history. He was the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time All-American, and played on two National Championship teams. Rodgers will forever be known in college football folklore for his punt return against OU in the Game of the Century in 1971. Rodgers went to play immediately in the CFL because he “always dreamed of having $100,00, and San Diego didn’t offer (him) anything close to that.” He was a standout CFL player with Montreal, but returned to the NFL to achieve American glory. Well, in two short-lived seasons in San Diego, he suffered injuries to his hamstrings and knees, eventually sending him into an early retirement. FYI: Rodgers pulled out every stop to get enrolled at and play at USC, but the admissions board refused to give him slack solely for being a prized recruit.

WR: Eric Crouch, St. Louis Rams, Pick #95, Round 3
Crouch’s college and pro careers were both almost over before they’d even started. In 1998, Crouch briefly left the Huskers after failing to be named the starting QB for the season opener. His college career rebounded, however, with a (controversial) Heisman Trophy in 2001 and a (controversial) national championship appearance the same year. Similarly, Crouch left training camp after the Rams used a third round draft pick on him in the hopes of converting him into a wide receiver. At the time, he yearned to be a quarterback and believed himself capable of outplaying both Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger. When Mike Martz failed to drive to Omaha to change his mind, Crouch’s first NFL attempt was over. Crouch then saw opportunity in Green Bay, but due to an outstanding training camp by an relative unknown named Favre, he was once again the odd man out and quit. In 2005, the Chiefs sent him to NFL Europe as a safety, and for reasons not yet known, he once again quit. It is safe to say, the most publicity and notoriety he has received in his professional career was when he stood onstage at Matt Leinart’s Heisman Trophy presentation in a mock-turtleneck and baggy pants. Upon hearing that the Downtown Athletic Club has now imposed a dress code, Crouch promptly informed them that he quit.

TE: Johnnie Mitchell, New York Jets, Pick#15, Round 1
Mitchell played just two seasons at Nebraska, but was a fan favorite known for his athletic catches and vibrant, confident attitude. In 1991 Mitchell was named to the UPI All-America Team, and was also an All Big-8 selection in 1990 and 1991. In the Citrus Bowl against Georgia Tech, he had 138 yards and a TD. With the New York Jets, Mitchell was considered at first to be one of the top TEs in the NFL, but over 5 years, he amassed just 16 touchdowns and slightly better than 2,000 yards. He has tried multiple comebacks, including a 2002 tryout with New Orleans, a 2003 tryout with Jacksonville and more recently, a 2004 stint with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

OL: Mark Traynowicz, Buffalo Bills, Pick #29, Round 2
Mark was an imposing force at nearly 280 lbs and was one of the anchors on the best offense in college football history that included Mike Rozier, Turner Gill, and Irving Fryar. A year later in 1984, his feats garnered him First-Team All-America honors. Drafted as the first pick of the second round in 1985, Mark appeared in 14 games his rookie season. However, the USFL soon folded and Kent Hull became the starter at center. Mark would never start another game in the NFL again.

OL: Mark Behning, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pick #47, Round 2
Playing alongside Traynowicz for his entire collegiate career, Behning was also an integral piece to the success of our program in the early 1980s. In his senior year, Behning earned All-Big Eight and Academic All-Big Eight honors and helped lead Nebraska to a Big Eight championship and a Sugar Bowl win over LSU. However, Behning’s NFL career was less than admirable, and lasted just one year. Mark is now a high school coach in Denton, TX and it is interesting to note that he was drafted ahead of Herschel Walker (as the Cowboys secured his USFL rights), Mark Bavaro, Andre Reed, Kevin Greene, and Jack Del Rio.

OL: Toniu Fonoti, San Diego Chargers, Pick #39, Round 2
Literally clearing the way for Crouch’s 2001 Heisman campaign and his team’s championship campaign, Fonoti earned First-Team All-America honors and left school early for the NFL draft. Listed at 6’4 and 340 lbs, Fonoti was named to the All-Rookie team in 2002 and named All-Pro by sportsillustrated.com in 2004 (he sat out the 2003 season). Due to weight related injury and attitude issues, the Chargers were more fed up than Fonoti’s stomach and sent the reported 400 pounder to Minnesota, where he played in three games last year. As quickly as he can clean out the Golden Corral, he was sent to Tampa Bay where he currently sits second on the depth chart and continues to be plagued by injuries.

OL: Barney Cotton, Cincinnati Bengals, Pick #59, Round 3
A three sport athlete in high school, Barney Cotton was an imposing force with his 6-5 stature. After arriving at Nebraska, Cotton played special teams and offensive line as a sophomore, defensive tackle as a junior, and offensive guard his senior year which earned him a trip to the East-West All-Star game. After entering the NFL with the Bengals, Cotton was traded a year later to St. Louis where his career ended two years later with multiple knee injuries. After being saddled with the unenviable task of offensive coordinator Solich’s final staff, Cotton has since experienced success in the same role at Iowa State. In contrast with his mentor Solich, it appears that the harsh ending to the 2003 season has yet to lead Cotton into a life of public intoxication and (alleged) pill popping.

OL: Rob Zatechka, New York Giants, Pick #128, Round 4
While playing alongside the likes of Brendan Stai and Zach Wiegert, Zatechka earned seemingly every academic honor given to college athletes. Not only did he graduate with a 4.0, but he also earned Academic All-America honors and was an outstanding collegiate lineman. After arriving in New York, he was prematurely inserted into starting lineup in the 1995 season, giving his coaches too early of a look at what they had acquired. The highlight of a short-lived three year career was a kick return for five yards. Zatechka has since returned to medical school and is active in medical education in Omaha. Today, however, he is probably most recognizable as the television personality with the dubious task of assisting Travis Justice in his aimless quest for credibility.

Honorable Mention: IM Hipp, Lloyd Voss, Derek Brown, Rick Bonness, Tom Novak.

Dr. D – Breaking the Cornhusker Bank

August 30, 2006

So, this is my first attempt at hacking out my inane thoughts for Double Extra Point, blogger nation. I must say that I think Jeffie Husker’s blog is among the best I’ve ever encountered, especially given the fact that it’s just a few weeks old–and I would say all that even if the guy hadn’t been a close friend for the past 15 years. About me, Dr. D. I’m a Husker expat, living in Bloomington, Indiana, right near the action of a major college campus, although not as close as I would like most nights. My first piece comments on the current financial state of college athletics. Enjoy!

A recent Lincoln Journal Star article commented on the 10 year history of the Big 12 conference, with a special emphasis on the effects that the new alliance has had on Big Red. The article’s thesis was essentially that the conference has weakened Nebraska’s athletic prowess and reputation. Instead of collecting armloads of conference trophies each year, taking our picks of the litter with top prep stars and reaping other benefits accorded the conference’s top athletic power, we have been reduced to scrapping with the likes of new Big 12 conference foes Texas Tech and Texas A&M and Big 8 also-rans Kansas St, Colorado and Iowa St in vying for coveted berths in the Independence Bowl (let’s not even mention what’s become of the basketball program-men or women’s). The pre-eminent power in the new Big 12 is obviously Texas. In the new college athletics pecking order, Nebraska is now considerably behind the big boys of college athletics. Husker loyalists hear me out – I am one of you. It pains me to type these words as much as it pains you to consider the possibility that they may be true. So, before you call for my head or dismiss my blasphemous claims as baseless, I encourage you to consider the following.

Big time sports are big business. For most Nebraska fans, their first clue that the structure of college athletics was moving unavoidably toward being primarily business-centric coincided with Bill Byrne’s arrival from Oregon in the early 90s. Soon after arriving in Lincoln, Byrne began charging season ticket holders annual fees to retain their seats, aggressively pursuing apparel licensing deals and corporate sponsorships, and began removing wasteful inefficiencies from within the athletic department. It was clear to most longtime NU boosters and alums, the new mantra of athletic department operations was “Show me the money.” During Byrne’s 11 year reign at Nebraska, athletic department spending tripled. As tempting as it is to conclude, Bill Byrne is not to blame for the athletic program’s new money-first directive. Byrne’s arrival at Nebraska represented a necessary action to pull a proud and successful athletics program into the 21st century of business management. Schools all around the country were realizing the potential cash inflows possible with big-time college sports. This realization represented the new age modus operandi for athletic administrators: bring in as much cash as you can and spend as much of it as possible to build bigger, better, more recruit-alluring facilities to attract even more money. In the mold of Steinbrenner, the successful new age A.D. should be a cash sink, bringing as much money in while spending as much as humanly possible to justify the need to siphon in even more dollars. The college athletics arm race was born.

Sadly for NU, the deck is stacked firmly against us in this brave new world. Consider that Texas brought in almost $35 million more in revenue for 2004, the last year in which comparative data are available. What can you get for $35 million? To put it in context, our new multi-year fundraising project for stadium and locker room improvements had an ambitious $50 million benchmark. Even better, my current employer Indiana University drew a mere $38 million in athletic department revenue in 2004. A $35 million revenue gap is significant in a world where top coaches draw millions and 10 year old facilities are considered obsolete. In a world where success (and the millions that come with it) hinges on freshman kickers making 40-yarders into a stiff wind, every dollar counts. For instance, Nebraska’s ability to boast about the new Huskervision screen being the largest of its kind was short-lived, as Texas immediately announced it was building a bigger one — funded undoubtedly with some of that extra petty cash.

My point is not to claim that Nebraska cannot contend on the field with the big spending boys (e.g., Texas, Ohio St., Florida, Michigan, etc). However, when our current football spending ranks us #24 in the NCAA, the on the field struggles of recent years such as being , ranked the 28th best program over the past 3 years are suddenly less surprising. This pattern of results seems to follow the age old business adage that you generally get what you pay for. If we use the data available from the Indianapolis Star’s NCAA Financial Reports Database we can examine the issue of athletic spending more closely. I doubt most Husker fans would be too surprised to learn that schools like Ohio St., Auburn and Florida outspend the Big Red in football operating costs. However, I believe it is a bit eye-opening for most Husker fans to see us outspent by the likes of Virginia, Georgia Tech and Arkansas. At the very least, Husker nation may have to realize that on a year-to-year level; we may be slipping behind the big boys to the extent that on the field success is tied to spending.

My real point in drawing attention to all this is to go beyond merely stating the obvious reality that college sports generates a lot of money, and that this money is not distributed evenly among all competing schools. What bothers me about all of this is that the NCAA, the governing body that regulates every aspect of college athletics has not instituted more control when it comes to curbing the spending war. MLB, the NFL and the NBA all have luxury taxes that penalize organizations that spend excessively to try and level the playing field. Why shouldn’t the NCAA look seriously at the fairness of allowing schools to spend $35 million more than others when their stated goal is to ensure the integrity and fairness of intercollegiate athletics?

Depth Chart Commentary

August 30, 2006

Well I might as well add some commentary on the depth chart beyond that which I offered about the running backs. My first thought is to reiterate the hackneyed coach speak that it’s not who starts the game, but who finishes it, that’s important.

The spot that everyone seems to be discussing is WLB where Bo Ruud is listed ahead of Steve Octavian. The general response to this pronouncement seems to range from shock or disbelief to downright resentment. Personally I don’t understand the hubbub. Although there is little doubt in my mind that Octavian is the more talented player, we must keep a few things in mind. First, it was less than a year ago that Octavian suffered a broken leg. It is because of that injury that he has just one quarter of Division I experience. Secondly, Octavian had his appendix removed less than two weeks ago. While the surgery is fairly minor these days, and Octavian quickly returned to practice, he did miss important days of Fall camp. There were also reports that Octavian came into camp a little heavier than the coaches would have liked and he himself remarked that the surgery was a blessing in that he dropped some weight. When there is a great deal of competition in camp and the separation between players is small, these are the types of variables that play a role in depth chart decisions.

Sticking with the defensive side of the ball, we are scary thin in the secondary. I have discussed this several times in the past, but seeing the reality of the situation on the official depth chart was still troubling. The backups at both cornerbacks spots are converted wide receivers who have less than 25 practices under their belts at their new position. In addition, true freshmen Ricky Thenarse and Major Culbert are listed as the second string safeties. On the one hand it is nice to see the future of a position laid out so clearly. On the other hand, we are one play away from that future becoming the here-and-now.

On offense I really don’t see any surprises. It is clear that Callahan and company are going to get the most experienced players on the field early on. I’m not sure how you can argue with that philosophy. Those that suggest that Maurice Purify should be starting need to go back and watch highlights of Nate Swift from last season. Again, Purify may indeed have more upside potential, unfortunately, all the physical talent in the world won’t help him digest the playbook or add crispness to his routes. I think of it in this way. Imagine you have your brand new Bentley parked in tight quarters. Who do you trust to back it out – the flashy and physically gifted Jessica Alba, or you, the crafty veteran with both experience and a keen understanding of the situation?

The most talented players are going to find the field no matter what the depth chart says. If you were surprised or disappointed by the first depth chart, then let it serve as a reminder that the future holds a multitude of unexpected twists and turns.

Oh, and it was a trick question. The correct answer is to back your Bentley out, with Jessica Alba right where she belongs, firmly planted in your lap.

Welcome New Visitors

August 29, 2006

No doubt many of you arrived here in search of the Kenny Wilson video. If so, you were probably thoroughly impressed by Wilson’s efforts. Unfortunately you were also probably thoroughly embarrassed by the dancing efforts of former Husker Sandro Deangelis. We here at Double Extra Point hope that you will stick around and enjoy the rest of the site. We feel we can provide a great deal of insight, solid commentary, and irreverent humor on all things Nebraska football.

If this is one of your firsts visit check out the archives.

Don’t miss our comprehensive Louisiana Tech Preview.

Find out our take on the addition of Sam Keller.

Discover how much you know about the myths surrounding the Big Red in Husker Urban Legends Part I and Part II.

Check out Sammy Vegas’s All-Time Nebraska NFL Bust Defensive Team.

Take a peek at the Tour de Camp leaderboard.

If you like what you see, please keep checking back. The season is just kicking off and so are we.

Press Conference – I-Back Notes

August 29, 2006

Coach Callahan did little to clear up the depth chart at IB. Much as I had expected a clear starter was not named. Instead Callahan noted that the starter on Saturday will depend upon the first playcall. Marlon Lucky and Cody Glenn are listed as co-No. 1 and Brandon Jackson and Kenny Wilson are co-No. 2. Callahan also mentioned that the rotation at the running back position will be based mainly on personnel groupings and playcall selection.

Callahan repeated several times that he loved all four of the guys at IB and has been impressed with their attitude and approach to practice. He mentioned that they all bring something different to the table and that he can’t wait to watch them play. Callahan feels they are all quality backs that are physical, capable and skilled enough to play. He stated, “we’re going to play them all,” and that it will be his job to figure out how to get one ball into the hands of four players.

Finally, Callahan noted that Randy Jordan has done a “heckuva” job of handling the stable of backs and has explained to them their roles on the team.

Sammy Vegas – NFL "N"sider #2

August 29, 2006

I know this is supposed to be about the NFL, but you just can’t ignore this. Watch the video and see if you can guess the former Husker who is now a crazy-kicking Canuck.

Yep, that was Sandro Deangelis with either the best Elaine Benes or the worst Vanilla Ice impression I have ever seen. The celebration was brought on by hitting the game winning 53-yard field goal as time expired against the undefeated Montreal Alouettes. Deangelis was 4/4 on field goals in that game and was named the special teams player of the week in the CFL for his efforts.

Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

With the college football season now just days away, we all understand the NFL must take a backseat. However, I promised you a weekly update, so here you go. Aside from Terrell Owens, the NFL preseason has been relatively quiet, thus far. More news about former Huskers will surely surface this week as teams start making significant roster reductions and adjustments to their depth charts. Next week I’ll discuss the players that were released this week, but in the meantime, I’ll briefly elaborate on players that I did not touch on last week.

Ahman Green: After tearing a quadriceps muscle five games into the last season, Ahman was back on Monday night with the Green Bay Packers to start his first game in nearly a year. In fact, coach Mike McCarthy was expecting roughly 15 carries from the former Pro Bowl back. What he got was 8 carries for 18 yards from a veteran back who just three years ago produced 1,883 yards and 15 touchdowns. Green was clearly frightened of contact, and given his lack of an offensive line and Brett Favre’s stubbornness to think he is still an NFL quarterback, look for another dismal season.

Daniel Bullocks: Drafted as the 8th pick of the 2nd round in last April’s draft by the Detroit Lions, Daniel started his NFL career with lofty expectations and has managed to impress this preseason. Bullocks is pushing veteran Terrence Holt for the starting free safety job while putting in time at both free safety and strong safety. Lions coach Rod Marinelli says of Bullocks: “He is really a load as a tackler. He can tackle. He’s got good ball skills. He’s got a lot of talent back there, so we’ve just got to let him compete, let these guys get after each other and let it all shake out.”

Scott Shanle: The New Orleans Saints recently acquired much needed depth at linebacker when they grabbed Shanle from the Cowboys for a future 4th round pick. We all remember and regarded Shanle as a player with good athleticism and a great work ethic, but did you know that last year he tallied 15 games played, seven starts, 50 tackles, 1½ sacks, and two pass breakups? I missed that as well. Look for Shanle to be the starter in Week 1 for the Saints.

Fabian Washington: When Charles Woodson became injured in Week 6 last season, Washington was immediately inserted into the Raiders’ starting lineup where he took plenty of abuse. However, Jerry McDonald, of the ANG Newspaper, recently described Fabian as someone “possessing the potential to be better than Charles Woodson ever was.” Washington is looking to help out a team that managed only five interceptions a year ago, and in week one of the preseason, he gave Art Shell something to smile about when he grabbed the team’s first INT of the preseason.

Grant Wistrom: Wistrom rejoined the Seattle Seahawks’ number one defensive unit last week, making his long awaited and hopeful return from shoulder surgery last winter. His injury was serious enough to make the Seahawk sign a free agent RE, but as Wistrom recently said, “good for him….I feel I have the right to be there. That’s my spot, on the right-end.” With 52 tackles last season and four sacks, including a Super Bowl sack, it is safe to say that is indeed his spot.

Titus Adams: As a seventh-round pick by the New York Jets, Adams recently just signed a multi-year contract of unknown details. Defensive coaches with the Jets have been impressed with his character and work ethic, and they expect him to contribute in their new defensive scheme at some point this year. Will he? Doubtful, but signing a multi year contract means somebody sees something. Adams will play along fellow Husker alum defensive end Trevor Johnson, who currently is third string and has recorded 29 tackles in two years.

"The Run" – An Interpretation by Kenny Wilson

August 28, 2006

Finally we have video documentation of the run we heard so much about last week. This is merely Kenny Wilson’s interpretation since “The Run” in its truest form is still best exemplified by Tommie Frazier in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. This is an amazing display of balance, power and determination. However, much like Frazier’s run it is also an amazing display of poor tackling. You have to like Coach Jordan meeting Wilson in the endzone, as well as the celebration that followed. I would gladly take another run like this at anytime during the season.

Louisiana Tech Preview

August 28, 2006

Location: Ruston, Louisiana
Enrollment: 11,710
Conference: Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
Stadium: Joe Aillet Stadium “The Joe” (Capacity: 30,600)
First Year of Football: 1901
All Time Record: 529-383-36

Head coach: Jack Bicknell
8th year at Louisiana Tech: Career record 40-42
•Bicknell’s reign at La Tech began in 1999 when he was hired as the 30th head coach in the school’s history. He replaced Gary Crowton who announced his decision to move to the Chicago Bears as offensive coordinator following the 1998 season.
•Bicknell played at Boston College and was the starting center when Doug Flutie threw the Hail Mary to defeat Miami in 1984.
•Bicknell’s father Jack Bicknell II, is the head coach for the Barcelona Dragons of the NFL Europe and is the former coach at Boston College.

Team Overview

Last Season: 7-4 (losses to Florida, Kansas, Nevada and Boise State). The Bulldogs were snubbed by the bowls despite ending the season with a win on the road against #23 ranked and Liberty Bowl bound Fresno State.

This Season: Louisiana Tech has increased its win totals each of the last four seasons. However, the scheduling gods do not favor the Bulldogs in their quest to continue this streak in 2006. La Tech has four of its first five games on the road against Nebraska, Texas A&M, Clemson and Boise State. The schedule eases up some after that, and Louisiana Tech could be an upper-tier WAC team when it all plays out. However, Bulldog fans should be ecstatic if the team finishes the season with a trip to a bowl game.

On Offense: The Bulldogs averaged 366 ypg and over 28 ppg in 2005. They return six starters on offense from that squad, but must replace quarterback Matt Kubik. Junior Zac Champion will be the starter, but has just eight pass attempts to his credit in five relief appearances. Although previously known for their “pass happy” approach, the Bulldogs displayed a balanced attack with a 55/45% run/pass split in 2005. When Tech looks to throw this year, Champion will have some solid targets, especially senior wideouts Eric Newman and Johnathan Holland. The always consistent Newman had 30 catches for 566 yds and 8 TDs a year ago. Holland is a former WAC sprint champion who can stretch the field and will certainly test the Nebraska secondary. Junior Freddie Franklin also returns and will likely see action at both receiver and running back for Bicknell’s club. The shifty Franklin and the steady Patrick Jackson combined for 815 rushing yards in 2005. Joining them in the backfield will be heralded recruits Willie Griffin (scholarship offers from Nebraska and Michigan) and Myke Compton. Along the offensive line, La Tech may start four new faces. A two-year starter at guard, senior Marcus Lindsey was being counted on to anchor this year’s line. Unfortunately he showed up at camp carrying over 380 pounds on his 6-7 frame and has been demoted to the second team. The lack of experience along the O-line could spell big trouble for the Bulldogs in Lincoln.

On Defense: A year ago the defense was La Tech’s strength as they finished 58th in scoring and 66th in total defense. Unfortunately, in 2006, the Bulldogs have the unenviable task of replacing nine starters on the defensive side of the ball. Tech utilizes a 3-4 defensive alignment and the biggest area of concern is this front seven. The Bulldogs must replace their top five interior linemen and three of their four starting linebackers. One player to watch for on the defensive line is nose guard Josh Muse. Muse maybe the team’s best NFL prospect and is a talented run-stopper who will challenge the middle of the Husker O-line. Junior LB Brannon Jackson is another of Tech’s most gifted defenders and joins safety Dez Abrams as the only returning starters on defense. Both could be all-conference contenders by the end of the season. Joining Abrams at the other safety spot will be Mark Dillard a converted RB who led the team in rushing a year ago. Dillard missed spring practice after being suspended following rape allegations, but has made a quick adjustment to the secondary since returning.

Special Teams: The Bulldogs will use Brad Oestriecher on kickoffs, while Danny Horwedel will handle extra points and field goals. As a junior Horwedel converted 18/26 field goals and he could contend for the Groza award this season. Punter Chris Keagle averaged just 37.4 yards/punt last season, but placed 17 of his punts inside the 20-yard line.

Random Notes

Series History: Nebraska won the only meeting between these two schools 56-27 in 1998. Tech QB Tim Rattay threw for 590 yards against the fourth ranked Huskers. Jerome Peterson and the Blackshirts propelled Troy Edwards into the 1st round of the NFL draft after giving up an incredible 405 yards receiving to the Bulldog wideout.

Hey, That Guy Looks Familiar: Former Nebraska defensive backs coach George Darlington will return to Lincoln as La Tech’s Defensive Coordinator. Darlington was hired as Tech’s secondary coach, but was promoted to the coordinator job prior to Fall camp. Darlington arrived at Louisiana Tech after spending three seasons at Marshall, where he served as recruiting coordinator and coached the outside linebackers, safeties and secondary in each of his three seasons. Darlington previously spent 30 years on the Nebraska sideline.

Deserving of a Post-Game Ovation: Louisiana Tech opened its arms last season to the Tulane football program following Hurricane Katrina. The Green Wave utilized Caruthers Dorm, which had been scheduled for demolition, as well as other La Tech campus locations allowing the 2005 Tulane season to go on.

I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: Nebraska is 15-1 all-time against teams from the WAC. The Huskers’ lone loss came in the 1975 Fiesta Bowl to Arizona State (trust me they were in the WAC until 1978). In addition, Louisiana Tech is 4-19 all-time against current Big 12 members.

Six Degrees of Beano Cook: Should Nebraska fans worry? In 2005 Louisiana Tech beat Hawaii. Hawaii beat San Diego St. San Diego State beat BYU. BYU beat New Mexico. New Mexico beat Missouri. And Missouri beat…Nebraska.

For the Degenerate Gamblers: Latest Line: Nebraska -21. Louisiana Tech is just 7-17 ATS as an underdog over the last four seasons and that includes a 5-13 ATS mark as a road dog.

One more week…

August 26, 2006

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

This is the best I could do for your Husker fix on the last Saturday of the fall sans college football.

•Burnt Orange Nation takes a look ahead at UT’s October 21st visit to Lincoln. It’s a decent analysis, and you can probably guess their feelings about the outcome. They did leave us with a chance, however.

Nebraska Can Win The Game If: The defense has their best game of the year. A turnover or two is probably needed for Nebraska to win this game. They aren’t going to win a drawn out field position battle game with Texas because their offense won’t be able to sustain enough drives against this talented defense. If turnovers or big plays on special teams give the Huskers a couple few short fields to work with, they can hang in this game, and win it. Otherwise, Texas will wear this team down.

•Notre Dame blog Blue-Gray Sky has launched the 2006 edition of their Pick Six contest. The rules are simple – you pick 1 team from 6 groups of the AP Preseason Poll based on the team’s rankings (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, and the unranked). Your goal is to get the highest cumulative rank possible, and the winner then receives some piece of college football memorabilia. Pigskin prognosticator Sammy Vegas will be handling the entry for Double Extra Point. So sign up now and vie it out for second place. The polling closes on Wednesday, don’t miss out.

•Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t hook you up with this video (Thanks CFR). USC’s center Ryan Kalil hosts a webshow on the USC athletics website and in this episode he invites you to check out a USC Song Girl practice. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned next week for my Louisiana Tech preview and much more.