It’s Friday! That means ten big stories in ten little bites. We have Jordan Westerkamp and Frank Solich, Mack Brown and Mean Joe Greene, Kirk Ferentz and Jeff Tedford. But first, former Huskers sound off.
It’s been a good week for sportswriting at The World-Herald. It’s also been a good week for sports talk-radio shows. I listen to as many podcasts as possible during the week. Today, I pulled a few sound bites from former Huskers who appeared as guests (I didn’t include Jason Peter because his sound bites could fill a whole column.)
Damon Benning on 1620 The Zone’s “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” in Omaha:
“The onus is as much on the staff in terms of preparation and lack of adjustments as it is on what we keep hearing about the fact that Nebraska doesn’t have any talent. You have got to be able to make the adjustment. UCLA ran the same five plays and the same concept route multiple times, time and time again. That is inexcusable at this level.”
Oudious Lee on “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”:
“It’s not just me, but there are a lot of people out there that are just kind of questioning the sanity of not letting your defensive tackle be in a position to do anything but protect your linebackers. It’s nice to protect your linebackers, but it’d also be nice to let those kids go. … I got a 13-year-old here that’s as tall as I am. If he ever figures the football thing out and they were playing this scheme, I would suggest he go somewhere else.”
Jay Moore on 93.7 FM’s “The Drive” in Lincoln:
“I don’t know if it’s Bo or if it’s just the defensive staff in general, I think they’re just petrified of mobile quarterbacks. … They’ve got players, man. I’ve trained with these guys, I’ve seen them. These guys are able to play high-level football. You need to free ‘em up a little bit. They just need to let ‘em, especially the front seven, just let these guys go make plays and not be so concerned if the quarterback is going to scramble. … Watching games — that’s all I really watch is the D-line — I’m kinda of in awe of what they’re doing up front. I know they’re doing what they’re told, but I’d have a hard time staying quiet. I’d want to go eat, man. Let that dog go get a bone.”
Joel Makovicka on “The Drive”:
“I’m in a little bit of panic mode about the direction of the program. I’ve talked to a lot of guys about this. When Ndamukong Suh and Prince Amukamara and some of those guys were leaving, usually on great football teams that reload, or are preparing for a huge run in the future, you can sit and say, ‘Hey, look at that freshman, he played and he looks good. Or this sophomore is going to be a man next year when he’s able to start. And I was never seeing that. … That’s more of my concern. Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? … That’s where I panic a little bit.”
Matt Hoskinson on 1620’s “Sharp and Peter”:
“We are not even in the ballpark on our talent evaluation. … I believe that Bo Pelini may be one of, if not the best college defensive minds in the country … The problem is he doesn’t have the players to run that defense. And it’s not even close. … They’re asking these guys to do things that physically and mentally they cannot do. … You have to be smart enough to know what you ask of your players.”
That’s pretty heavy stuff from some pretty smart people. As I wrote in a World-Herald column today, this feels like the first time in five years that a considerable slice of the fan base is questioning Bo’s ability to coach the defense.
>> A very interesting breakdown at NFL.com shows which college programs are producing the most NFL players. Here’s the top 10:
USC 44 players on current NFL rosters
Ohio State 35
The numbers reflect a program’s success over the last 10-15 years, which is why Miami is so high (and Alabama is so low). The bigger surprises are Cal and Iowa. Kudos to Jeff Tedford and Kirk Ferentz for developing talent. But those two programs should be winning more games. Since 2002, the Hawkeyes are 16th in winning percentage. Cal is 27th.
Nebraska, according to this list, has 27 players in the league. But a few were inactive in Week 1, so the NFL likely counts between 20-25. Not bad considering NU’s struggles on the field the past decade.
>> Other interesting nuggets from the NFL’s data: The oldest team in the league is the Detroit Lions, who have 16 players over age 30. I did not anticipate that. On the other hand, Jason Hanson is collecting social security, so he probably screws up the average. The St. Louis Rams, by the way, are the league’s youngest team.
>> What separates the SEC from other conferences? It’s not just speed on the perimeter, it’s defensive linemen. The SEC has 50 D-linemen in the NFL. The ACC is second-best with 33.
>> Last Saturday was Nebraska’s earliest loss of the season since 2004 (Southern Miss). Before that, Nebraska hadn’t been 1-1 since 1996 (Arizona State). Those two seasons turned out pretty differently, didn’t they.
>> I hate to see Jordan Westerkamp burn a redshirt if he’s the fifth- or sixth-best wideout. The receiving corps is deep enough without Westerkamp. Let him sit.
>> Make sure you check out the Big Red Today podcast with Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon. They cover the Husker defense, second-half woes and the Big Ten race, among other things.
>> How are the Orioles playoff-bound? They have the highest winning percentage in one-run games in baseball history (.794). They’re also 13-2 in extra innings. Look at it another way. Baltimore’s run differential this year is minus-20. The Yankees’ run differential is plus-95. And they’re tied in the standings. Baseball is crazy.
>> Considering the money the Angels and Dodgers are spending this year, it’s incredible that neither will likely make the playoffs. It’s especially disappointing we probably won’t see Mike Trout in the postseason.
>> Is Frank Solich transforming Ohio into “the Boise State of the Midwest”? This Yahoo Sports writer says so.
>> The 12 best sports commercials ever.
>> We’re only eight weeks away from college hoops season. On Nov. 9, Creighton opens at home against North Texas. The same night, UNO hosts Northern Illinois at the new Ralston arena. Two days later, Nebraska hosts Southern.
>> I love Thursday night NFL. It’s much more entertaining than watching the Big East on ESPN. Jason Whitlock doesn’t agree. In fact, he says the NFL is asking for serious injuries.
>> Mack Brown calls it the most unique story he’s ever heard. His long snapper, Nate Boyer, “went from aspiring actor, to working on a fishing boat, to teaching autistic kids in Los Angeles and then to earning a Bronze Star in the Army — a military decoration awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service.” Boyer walked on at Texas despite never playing football before.
>> Think that biography sounds fascinating? Check out West Virginia assistant coach Daron Roberts. He only holds a Harvard law degree.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.