Usually, Nebraska coaches begin the Big Red Breakfast by giving an update on the squad, what typically develops into a position-by-position breakdown. Not Ron Brown. Not on Friday, just six days after the Huskers lost 34-23 at Minnesota.
He referenced immediately that he seems to show up to these types of speaking engagements after crushing defeats. But that’s OK. The adversity facing the Huskers, who’re being sharply scrutinized along the way, is what formed the core of Brown’s speech Friday morning.
Brown gave the 250 fans in attendance a sampling of a typical message he shares with the team. He opened his speech with a 20-minute introduction, reminding the crowd that failure is inevitable in this sport but teams are defined by their resiliency — and he’s optimistic that these Huskers will bounce back.
Brown quoted the Bible (trials produce endurance), referenced a rubber-ball analogy he uses often (guys have to pop back into shape when squeezed) and talked about the success of the ’90s (reminder: there was plenty of disappointment before that).
He talked for 30 minutes and then answered questions for 30 minutes more, not really tackling topics relating to personnel or Xs and Os. At one point he apologized if it sounded like he was giving a sermon. It appeared Brown was trying his best to provide an insight into the coaches’ mind-set, especially at the end of a week filled with criticism.
We’ll have a full writeup in Friday’s Metro edition of The World-Herald.
For now, some highlights are below…
>> Aside from the success Ameer Abdullah’s had running the football (981 yards through seven games), Brown said he also admires some of the junior’s other strengths. His pass protection and his effectiveness while lead blocking on QB draw plays. His pass-catching ability. His leadership. His humility. … Brown said later that Abdullah has even asked to be put on the kickoff coverage unit.
>> Referencing some of the running backs who’ve left the program over the last few years, Brown said this: “Anybody in the running back room who’s got a lazy streak — who won’t volunteer for special teams, who won’t put it on the line play after play after play, who’s expecting a handout or some source of entitlement — is going to feel really uncomfortable there.”
>> One more quote from Brown on the I-backs and fullbacks, a group of guys that he said is special. Said Brown: “They’re all gym rats. Workout freaks. P90X guys. Insanity guys. That’s who I want.”
>> Brown said the reason Imani Cross and Terrell Newby combined for two carries against Minnesota related more to the fact that Nebraska had just 60 offensive snaps, rather than the notion that NU’s coaches have lost some confidence in Abdullah’s backups. … Brown pointed out that the Huskers are halfway through the season and Newby (at 50 carries for 291 yards) has surpassed Abdullah’s production as a freshman in 2011 (42 carries for 150 yards).
>> Classic question for the ever-positive Brown toward the end of his appearance Friday: “Kind of curious in your lifetime, if you’ve ever had a negative thought?”