Doesnít get much bigger than this weekend for recruiting. I think 13 visits on campus, we have 14 commits, 6 of them are using their official visits. A number of them have committed. There will be a lot of offensive lineman, several top ones on visit. Two UCLA commits, Lacey from Phoenix, Christian Morris from Memphis. We also have unofficial visitors as well. You have to manage the game but also you have to manage the recruits. Johnny Stanton tore his ACL and heís out for the season. He said that the first thing NU told him was that we are 100% behind him and he is impressed with the overwhelming support from Husker land.
Coach brought his parents and his wife since heís an empty nester now. Itís good to be here again. It will be a very hectic weekend with this many visitors. Our first official visitor arrived last night but we couldnít see him because we only have 48 hours. Starting at about 9 this morning weíll start meeting with the visitors. About any free minute we have will be spent with the recruits since they are our life blood of the program.
This has been a very focused group going all the way back to our bowl disappointment. This may be the most focused determined group of guys weíve had. I still have that burning in my gut after the disappointing loss to UCLA. We responded well the following week and we saw a lot of movement from that team, the most I think Iíve ever seen. I would like to mention how impressed I am with our receivers. Not only are they catching the ball but they are becoming tremendous blockers. They way they came all the way across the field to get in front of Rex to block into the end zone, I about fell off my seat.
I do have a request before we begin, I want all of you to put your cell phones on that tray over there. OK, that was my attempt at humor. (His wife is telling him to back up from the edge of the stage) I understand why she doesnít want me to fall down the stairs. My son Jake had knee surgery last year about the same time, I looked over and saw he was in the kitchen and I fell down and almost didnít make the Wisconsin trip.
This is the a really good defense weíll play, their inside guy is is over 325 pounds. They have a lot of good D lineman. Weíve counted 10 or 11 guys that theyíve played which will be good for them playing against a fast moving offense like ours. They have a couple of big, sound well disciplined guys that may be all Big 10. There wonít be any tricks from their defense, it will be one of those games where you line up and the toughest guys win. Itís nice to know that weíre playing against a team that we should be well targeted with. They are very similar to the defense that we had at ISU when I was there. I do have a lot of familiarity with their scheme.
It was good to get Rex back, he knocked some rust off which was good. Iím sure youíre glad to see him back. He got about 8 carries and we wanted to get him 8 to 10 so that worked out well. We feel good about having 4 solid I backs.
I watched a little bit of their offense. I know they switched qbs and they look better and more comfortable with him. It looks like all their guys will play and thatís good, I would rather play them full strength.
Do your guys take the comments personally, like the comments they made?
Did someone make some commentsÖ. J
That kind of stuff may play in at the very start of the game but I would hope you donít need that stuff to get motivated. Everyone has a job to do so they donít single out one guy. Iím just glad that we didnít (knock on wood), and our guys havenít said stuff like that.
Is your son 100% now?
I donít think he is quite all the way back yet. He missed 14 practices and training camp so that hurt his development. Iíve been proud of the way he is coming back, especially these last couple of weeks. There is a mental aspect of this kind of injury too. It makes practice better, I thought the best blocked play of the game that the 2ís did against Southern Miss.
Can you share your perspectives on TO retiring?
I checked my phone and there was an impromptu meeting request. Early in the year he talked to us about retirement but we didnít think it was for a few years. So Iím glad that I attended that quick meeting, it was a hard meeting. It was a very emotional moment and I donít know how he got through it. He has that dry humor and he made it through it but I had wet eyes. Tom is the most classy, genuine, smart, honorable man I know. When he says something you can tell he means it and he sticks to it.
Will NCAA come in and put the brakes on all these different uniforms?
Personally I donít think they will if it will generate money. The programs are driven by the dollars. For Oregon they see it as a recruiting advantage. I like the alternative uniforms and I like the idea of doing it once, Iím glad we donít do it all the time, Iím more of a traditionalist. I like the guys to look like they always look but I like doing this for one game. What Oregon does is a hook for some kids but it isnít a hook for all of them. I would hope that a kid doesnít decide based on colors of uniforms, but you never know.
Can you compare Pelini and Osborne?
The personalities are obviously very different. Coach Osborne is definitely more even keeled. Both are very competitive, that is where they are both alike. Plus the loyalty that they both have is very, very deep. Be honest, be loyal, be there for the guy there next to you. They both have so many similarities that the the public doesnít see. Boís got a little more fire on the sideline, but TO has more fire than probably most of you know. Their core values are the same. If a guy misses class Bo knows about it in about 15 minutes and I tell you that kid doesnít miss class again. The perception of them being so different is so wrong in my opinion, theyíre both full of high integrity and they are more similar than people know.
We have a pancake board and there are about 16 guys listed on the board where last year I think we only have about 7.
What about Givens Price?
He is still 17 years old and this is his second year in the program. He went from 3rd grade to 5th grade and 8th to 10th. We have him playing both sides of the ball too. I wish he was 19 but boy does he have a great future. He is a dedicated hard working guy. He is a scout team guy. Iím watching him an wondering what he is doing, he snuck in and is playing left tackle with our twos. Iíve never had a guy do that before, he snuck up there past all the coaches and got in there. (A comment was, ďhow do you think he got from 8th grade to 10th grade?)
Whether you agree or not, we were pretty good on offense up front last year. I think we are on the cusp. I hope that one of these guys develop into an Outland trophy winner. If we can get to the point where we rotate 8 or 9 guys that is where we want to be. You mentioned the best 3 players in about 100 years of Husker football. Those are 3 great guys that you mentioned and hopefully weíll have a guy like that in the near future. I notice you didnít mention me.
How is it having your sons on the team?
It is great, I am so fortunate. Jake is so hard on himself. Sammy is kind of the happy go lucky kid. Ben is so focused and driven. Jake is the fiery, angry at times, free spirit guy. Probably the coolest thing is before the game we will hug before the game, I donít know if any other coach is blessed like that to be able to hugs their kids before and after the game.
How do you split it up with the other coaches?
They are 2 of the best young coaches Iíve been around. Weíve always had a GA, interns canít coach on the field directing offensive lineman. They have to be going to school etc. Now that weíve moved John up to full time we split into 3 individual groups. Our individual time is much more beneficial now. Weíre getting twice as many reps as weíve had in the past, probably 25 or 30 snaps. Our 2s are now getting as many reps as the 1s, which has never happened. When youíre an intern though the rules donít allow you to coach on the field. There have been some violations where schools have gotten in trouble, they come out and watch us in practice.
Does the university have any ability to help the recruits like Stanton when they are hurt?
He is too far away but our guys can talk to them about who they recommend they go to. You want a sports injury guy that works on athletes. Iíll tell you once we commit to a kid we will stick with that kid.
Does Bo say much about what he wants the offense to do?
No, we get to talk to Bo quite a bit during the game. He is really, really smart but his headset is such that he can flip the switch and talk to offense or defense or a couple of other guys. There isnít a lot of talking but there is some. Say it is second and 4, he may say ďhey, you have 2 more to get itĒ. So you know he wants to go for it. There are times he may say ďwhat the heck are you guys thinkingĒ. But itís all in good fun. J
They have 3 big time running backs. I donít know why their output is down a bit but we donít expect them to struggle when they come to Lincoln. They have a very high quality team. But when you lose a guy like Russell Wilson, he might have been able to win the Heisman.
What do you expect them to throw at us?
Do you want me to give you the whole game plan before the game? I expect this to be a straight forward game. I think you might see us more varied. So far weíve been a 70/30 team. When you play the kind of competition that we are playing you would expect a more balanced scheme.
No one has run the ball on them very successfully yet. They are only giving up 80 yards per game which is a very low amount. They are a traditional big physical put a lot of guys in the box and stop the run kind of team. We need to be sure to put hats on hats so we can run the ball. They donít just put the guys near the edges, they put them inside too. These guys make it very hard to get the 8th guy, we need to be good at hat placement, staying on blocks. They want you to try to beat them with your qbs arm.
(Discussion about skipping stones)
His motion has improved. As long as you get them in the end zone.
Struggles with shorter quarterbacks?
The shorter guys may have to move around more to get in the line of sight of the receivers. Even tall qbs canít see over the really tall lineman. Hopefully the protection is good enough that he can slide over a bit. We do much more team pass now than we used to do before, compared to the shell pass we did before. I think we do twice as much team pass now.
Thanks for all of your support, coming from Omaha itís always great to come back and see you all. Iím proud of our guys, thank you again for your support!
Somebody once told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.
-- Jack Handy
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - Robert A. Heinlein
Corn Flakes, 5th Edition
Friday, September 28, 2012
CoCo Key Water Resort/Ramada Convention Center - Omaha, NE
By: Ryan Wilkins – substituting for Ms. Lisa Runco
NU vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Today’s Big Red Breakfast Speakers Sean Callahan – Nebraska Football Recruiting Husker Football Coach: Barney Cotton
General Note for next week’s BRB:A raffle for Bergen Mercy is going to be held at next week’s BRB. Prize is NU football signed by 1970 team, including Bob Devaney. Funds raised will go toward helping ill children in a great deal of need. Recruiting News - Sean Callahan – NebraskaRivals.com
This is a night game, with alternative uniforms, on national television – it doesn’t get any better for recruiting. We have 13 official visitors coming in this weekend, and countless unofficial visitors. This is perhaps the biggest ever weekend for NU recruiting. NU has 14 current commits, six of whom are using their official visits this weekend. This is an especially big recruiting weekend for offensive linemen. Several top linemen expected, including JD Hinnet (3*), and two UCLA commits (Kenny Lacey, 4*, and Christian Morris, 4*). Both UCLA commits are big targets despite their early commitments to UCLA. Another lineman target is Dominic Walker, a Vanderbilt commit. Many other big targets, some uncommitted, some early commits to other schools, but likely still open-minded. Johnny Stanton tore his ACL and is out for the rest of his senior season. This is a huge blow for him, but we’ve talked to Johnny since the injury, and NU has told him NU is 100% behind him, and he’s been blown away by mail and email fan support. The overwhelming response from coaches and fans makes him all the more committed to his future at NU.
Coach Barney Cotton - Offensive Line Coach, Graduate of Omaha Burke High
I first would like to introduce my mother and father in the crowd. Since I’m an empty nester, I also brought my girlfriend, I mean, my wife! (Laughs.) She always gets dragged along to these events with the kids out of the house now. I can’t talk about specific recruits, but this will be a hectic weekend around the office with so many official and unofficial visits in store. Coaches usually catch a meal with the recruits and then see them on the field during the game. But our first official visitor came in last night, and coaches can’t see recruits for more than 48 hours, so we couldn’t see the visitor last night. This weekend, every minute we’re not with our own team is spent with these recruits, who are the future of our program. The week has gone well – our team is very focused this week. Really, they’ve been especially focused ever since last year’s bowl disappointment. This may be the most focused, discipline, accountable group we’ve had. I’m very excited about their progress. I still feel bitter disappointment in my gut about the UCLA game, as a coach, but I’m proud of how the team bounced back last week. Our guys came ready to play. In the beginning of the game last week, we blitzed more than I’ve ever seen another team blitz. Our guys came out on a mission right from the gate. There are a lot of positives, but I would like to single out our receivers. These guys are becoming great receivers and great blockers. Rex’s first TD run was sprung by great blocks from Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa. Whoops – I’m so excited talking about their blocking that I almost fell down the stairs (at Ramada). (Laughs.) One request at the beginning of my talk – please grab a tray, pass it around, and everyone put their cell phones on it. (Laughs.) Sorry, that’s my poor attempt at humor. Wisconsin has a very good defense. Very physical, very big up front. Inside guys are all over 300 pounds. They play 10-11 defensive linemen in their rotation, which is unusual for a northern team but common for the southern teams. Expect this to help Wisconsin against our fast tempo offense. A big part of the reason we run the tempo offense is to wear out the d-linemen, but when they can effectively rotate, this is less of an issue. Wisconsin’s linebackers are also excellent. All-Big-10 calibur guys. Very sound defense. This week will be unique for us; previous opponents this year have had new coaches and erratic defenses that were hard to fully prepare for. No tricks for Wisconsin’s D – it is simple but sound. Wisconsin’s secondary is also strong. But again, we think we can target them because we’ve been able to practice against how Wisconsin plays. Again, Wisconsin’s D is a design we understand. Seeing them on film is like dťjŗ vu. It was good to get Rex back. Last week he knocked some rust off. Looked rusty during first practice back, but he knocked it off very fast. We got Rex just the amount of work we wanted to last week. Blessed to have Rex back, with Ameer, Heard, and Cross to have talented depth at I-back to spell Rex from time to time. Can you raise your hand if you will be at the game Saturday night? Wow, that’s near 100%! I should have raised my hand too, I guess! (Laughs.) Wisconsin has a new QB. He is tall and accurate, and the team is a little stronger offensively with him at the helm, I think. I expect Wisconsin will be playing at full-strength Saturday, injury-wise.
Questions from the CrowdQ. Do your offensive linemen take it personally when an opposing player calls them out publicly? I imagine there would be added emotion, but it only lasts 4-5 minutes into the game. To be a good O-line, you shouldn’t need that kind of emotion to spur you to play well. Comments like that might make us more physical at the beginning of the game. Knock on wood, I just hope our players are respectful of every opponent before and after game.
Q. Is your son back to 100% after knee injury? No, but he’s getting closer. Last week was a good game for him. He missed about 14 practices with a long lasting concussion, too. Between the two injuries, it’s hurt his development. But I’m proud of his progress in the past few weeks. Kevin Williams also had a devastating knee injury. It’s great to see them both getting back on their feet. In the meantime, our backup linemen got in some very meaningful snaps. Best-blocked plays of the game against Southern Miss and Idaho State were where “the 2s” got out and blocked. This game experience from our 2s will help us if we have future injuries.
Q. Can you share your perspective on TO’s retirement? There was an impromptu meeting called the other day. Last summer, TO told us in a meeting that he was getting older, may soon retire, but nothing seemed imminent. I figured he was talking 2-3 years down the road. But Tuesday we had an impromptu meeting. We are sometimes so busy that we don’t go, but I had a feeling in my gut that I should attend. I was there with Coach Brown, Stai, and others. It was a hard meeting; I could tell TO was very emotional, and I don’t know how he got through it. But he used his dry humor to get through it in the way he does. I had tears in my eyes when TO spoke. I met TO in 1973, and he might be the smartest, highest-integrity man I’ve ever known. He’s taught me a lot. I’m glad we have him for a few more months during his transition. That will give me time to thank him for all he’s done. It is great to have a man like Tom to look up to. We all should try to live our lives the way Tom has lived his.
Q. Do you see the NCAA putting the brakes on alternative uniforms, like Oregon’s six variations of uniform? I don’t think they will. If it generates money, it’ll stay. Programs are driven by dollars. For Oregon, there is a perceived recruiting advantage. I am a traditionalist, but I don’t have a problem wearing an alternative uniform. Like the throwbacks we wore a few years ago. Just not every week. We let the guys wear their black helmets to practice a few days ago, just to see how they felt. All of the sudden, our players took on a totally different look. It’s an interesting look, but I don’t think it will affect the game. Kids are different now than they used to be; what Oregon does may be a hook for some kids. I hope a kid wouldn’t base his future on the color of uniforms or helmets, but I think some do. And I don’t think the NCAA will step in. You guys are easier today then you were a few weeks ago for a friend of mine! (Referring to Coach Papuchis.) (Laughs.)
Q. Please give us your perspective comparing Coach Osborne to Coach Pelini. Their personalities are very different, obviously. TO is more even-keel. But they’re both ultra-competitive, TO just wore it differently than Bo does. Coaches make mistakes when they act differently from who they are. People perceive Bo’s “anger” – but it’s not anger, it’s competitiveness. Bo is very, very competitive. Probably the area where the coaches are most alike is the loyalty they have/had for their position coaches, staff, on down the line all around the football program. Loyalty with Bo might be as important a thing as there is, and that is the way it was for TO. Be honest, be loyal, be there for the guy next to you, prepare these kids both on and off the field. The coaches have so many similarities, but their public persona is different. Bo talks differently from TO and is more fiery on the sideline – but TO could also be more fiery than most of you think! (Laughs.) Both coaches love their families. And both are dead serious about players’ classroom attendance. We find out within minutes if a kid misses class. And it doesn’t happen again! (Laughs.) Both are absolute men of integrity, and both are service-leaders instead of dictatorial leaders. Both are about pointing the thumb at themselves, not pointing the finger at others.
Q. Please talk about your O-line now and future prospects. We’re sticking with a 7-man rotation for now. Sirles is our flopper for A-Rod and Qvale at tackle; it’s really a three-man rotation with three #1 tackles. Pensick and Choi are splitting time equally at left guard. Justin Jackson stepped it up as center; awhile back we thought we’d start Pensick at center. Spencer Long hasn’t had much rest; he’s a quality lineman and we’re proud of his development. When Jake and Spencer Long were at Elkhorn, we really wanted Jake to walk on, and Spencer wasn’t as much on our radar. But I said, hey, we’ve gotta take Jake’s twin brother! After a couple years, he came out of nowhere to go from our third center to starting guard. Just amazing. Justin Jackson is at center. He wanted to play defense, but we got him back on offense this spring. Throughout the spring, I thought he’d be a viable backup at center. But within a week or so of training camp, it was clear he was an absolute Tasmanian devil! (Laughs.) He practices so hard and so fast, and it was evident he’d be our starter. I don’t often read the paper for obvious reasons. (Laughs.) But I read an article about Jackson – he said didn’t come to NU for a scholarship, he came to win. Jake Cotton, Pelini, Ryan Reeves, Stirrup, Brandon Thompson, and other guys – very pleased with their development. Happy they got so many reps in the first few games. We have lots of guys on our “pancake board.” Stirrup is a great big monster – 6’8”+. Looks like he weighs 275, but is 310. He could be 325 someday and still look skinny. We rotate him on both sides of the ball now. Our guards are looking good. Reeves is a redshirt freshman. Paul Thurston from CO is physical and moves well for a true freshman. Corey Whitaker had unfortunate knee surgery. But he’s a good young guy in the program. We’ll lose some good linemen after this year, but our tackles will come back next year, and I’m pleased with our depth. Givens Price. This is his second year in the program, but he’s only 17 years old! He skipped three grades, so this is like his senior year of high school. Very athletic, plays both sides of the ball. Lots of development to go. He’s about 6’4” and 285. I wish he was 19 instead of 17 years old! Last week I found out he snuck down from the scout team and practiced at left tackle with our 2s! I wasn’t even mad at him; I didn’t say anything to him! (Laughs.) I’ve never heard of that happening before! (Comment from the audience: “How do you think he got from eighth grade to tenth grade so fast!”) (Laughs.)
Q. Thanks to your wife for such great kids! (Mrs. Cotton: “Thanks also to their grandparents!”)
Q. What will it take to get another Outland Trophy winner at NU – Steinkuhler, Rimington, etc.? You just mentioned a few guys who might be the best linemen in the history of Husker football. Spencer Long is very good. I noticed I wasn’t one of the players you named, and I was a third-round draft pick! (Laughs.) But really, you just named once-in-a-lifetime type players. We have some good, exciting young linemen. I’m very proud of them and hope like heck one of them develops into an Outland Trophy winner.
Q. What’s it like coaching your three sons? It’s amazing. Sometimes it’s strange – we’ll butt heads pretty good and another coach will diffuse the situation. Each of my kids are different; Ben is a thinker and very hard on himself, Jake is fiery and butts heads with me, and Sammy is just a happy-go-lucky kid, always smiling. I sometimes hug my kids before a game and I say “just be the hardest working guy on the field today.” My kids are willing to say “I love you, dad.” I don’t know how many coaches get to experience that.
Q. When you have a recruit like QB Johnny Stanton who tears an ACL, does NU assist with his medical treatment? In Johnny’s case, they’re so far away, our doctors wouldn’t do anything directly. But our doctors can discuss with the family potential referrals, treatment, etc. We want to be sure recruits are being treated by highly experienced, sports-minded orthopedic doctors. But once we make a commitment to a guy, our loyalty stays through. We’d never revoke a scholarship because of an injury.
Q. During the game, does Bo say much about what the offense should do? Oh, we get to talk to Bo quite a bit during the game! (Laughs.) He’s really smart. His mindset is such that he can flip the switch and talk to the offense, defense, individuals, etc. There’s not a ton of interaction between Bo and Tim (Beck), but it’s there when it needs to be. For example, say it’s 2nd and four on the opponent’s side of the field – Bo might say “you have two downs to get it.” So we know Bo plans to go for it on fourth down and we can plan accordingly. Sometimes Bo might ask “what the heck are you thinking!” But it’s all good-natured. (Laughs.)
Q. This year, Wisconsin’s offense has dropped off. What do you see? Other than watching them on TV the other day, I haven’t seen much. There’s not many guys in college football like Russell Wilson was last year. I watched his Monday Night Football game for the Seattle Seahawks – I’m not sure that was a catch or not! (Laughs.) But he was a key player, and hard to replace. Going into this year, Wisconsin thought their offensive line might be better than last year. And they have three good, big running backs. So I’m not sure why they’ve struggled so far. They have a quality O-line with a quality young QB and a stable of running backs. But Wilson was special. In my mind, he was a legitimate Heisman candidate last year. At 5’10” and starting on a pro team, that’s a testament to Wilson’s caliber of player.
Q. What will we see offensively this week?
You want me to tell you the whole game plan?! (Laughs.) This will be a straightforward game plan. Run/pass balance, perhaps more varied in the sets we use offensively. So far this season we’ve been a 70/30 team – 70% runs, 30% passes. But going against a zone defense like Wisconsin, we will need to vary our packages. The better the competition we play, the more run/pass balance you might expect. Our offensive splits so far are imbalanced because we’ve ended a few games with 100% run plays. When you’re winning big, you don’t have run/pass balance.
Q. How have teams been successful against Wisconsin’s D? No one has run the ball against Wisconsin yet. They’re only giving up 80 yards per game. That’s very low. The #1 goal of any defense is to take away the run. That will be our biggest challenge – we must put hats on guys, and stay on blocks. Last year, Wisconsin lined up 8 guys in the box – not just near the box. So you’ve got five linemen, a tight end, and a fullback on offense – in other words, seven blockers for eight defenders in the box. We’ll have to hit and finish blocks. Wisconsin wants to make us one-dimensional.
Q. We’ll be fine as long as Taylor can skip stones into the endzone! Taylor has improved, I think that’s obvious. We’ll need an A-game from him to win Saturday night.
Q. Taylor is 6’2” – how does he see over a 6’5” lineman? Probably easier than Russell Wilson, who is 5’10”! The QBs may have to move around in the pocket to get a line of sight, and the WRs must help the QB find them.
Q. Is the diamond formation something we’re going to see more of this year? It’s a game-plan thing. Certain defenses take it away it more than others. We call it the “bone” formation, you guys call it the diamond. It’s always in our package. Thanks again for your support! Being from Omaha, it’s always great for me to be here. Be excited for our guys on Saturday, too – we need your support. Thank you!
Go Big Red! Go Huskers! Beat Wisconsin!
"I'm a firm believer in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don't enjoy." Ė Jack Nicklaus