Big Red Breakfast with Barney Cotton
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!