This morning Scott Downing drove to Omaha from Seward Nebraska to be the guest speaker. The one thing that really stands out about Downing is his sense of humor. He’s very good with the public and it’s easy to see that he would make an excellent recruiter. Downing comes to us after 6 years at Purdue.
SD opened by saying that he survived the rain and raw sewage in Pittsburgh. He saw refrigerators, washers and dryers, boats and docks go floating by the stadium. It was a heck of a game and he feels that the Huskers played efficiently in the second half. During the time off the Huskers worked on refining their game. This new offense, the throwing, relies heavily on precision. The limited time that they have to practice requires the practices to be very well organized and efficient. Callahan is very organized and the last 2 week’s practices have been very solid.
Downing coaches the tight ends and kicking specialists. He discussed Lane Kelly, the long snapper, “ He’s a great kid and a very smart guy. No one knows who the long snapper is until the ball gets snapped over the punters head. Then people say, who was that guy”? A great long snapper is worth his weight in gold. Tell your kids to practice long snapping and then they can go to the NFL and make $500K a year and not have to block or get pounded. The long snappers have an obscure view of the world. J
Lane’s father was at my table and I got to meet him today. He seems like a very nice person as well.
SD then talked a little bit about Sam Koch. He hasn’t kicked any touchbacks this year and that’s important for field position. He’s doing a great job on touch punts too. This Saturday he’ll be doing kick-offs as well. He had a kick in practice this week that went 9 yards deep in the end zone and had a 4.5 second hang time! Sandro had a great camp this year, and so far (knock on wood) he hasn’t missed a point. David Dyches is doing well too, and he presses Sandro to be competitive. Dyches has great maturity.
Downing talked about what it means to be a tight end, and he described it a little like this. A tight end is a frustrated wide receiver on steroids. They’re too big to be a wide receiver and Downing reminds them often that they are only 36 inches away from being a tackle. “Watch what you eat on the buffet line or you’ll get moved”. He discussed Matt Herian and said that as our offense gets more comfortable, Matt will be even more open. He gives us the deep threat. Dusty Keiser, a 5th year senior from Norfolk is being quietly productive. He earned his scholarship last year and he’s a good durable blocker and receiver. Scott likes the tight end sets because they keep the defense from blitzing all the time.
players to watch:
J.B. Phillips, a red-shirt freshman is doing a great job developing.
Josh Mueller from Columbus, is 6 foot 6, 265 lb tight end who is also doing a really good job.
Clayton Sievers is just like his brother Chad. He’s very intense and goes hard every play. His exposure playing against the first string this year is really going to pay off for him.
Mangino and his coaches have done a great job in Kansas. They are a solid team and they are going in to this game thinking they should be 4-0. Their 2 losses were very close and could have gone either way. They are coming to Lincoln wanting to get a win. Mangino has them ready, their defense has 2 of the best ends we’ve seen so far. Ashley is very tall, he has long arms and he’s a big guy at 6 foot 4, 250 lbs.
McMillen packs a lot into in his 6 foot 245 lb frame. Take a look at him tomorrow, he is very explosive, gets low and is a tenacious pass rusher. He’s what we call an egg beater, he just keeps going and he’s relentless at chasing the quarterback down.
Floodman and Toomey are athletic backs that play hard and play well as a unit.
Stubbs, the strong safety is like a rocket coming up from the secondary.
Their defense is #1 in the Big 12 on 3rd downs. They have only allowed 28% of the 3rd downs to convert so it will be important to have short yardage going into 3rd down.
The QB Adam Barmann has great presence in the pocket. He delivers the ball on target under pressure.
The 2 backs Green and Randall deliver an awesome 1 – 2 punch and give a defense problems.
Rideau is a big time receiver at 6 foot 4 inches. He’s a big tall guy.
On the game
We are very excited about this game coming up. Our team is as healthy as it’s been after playing and the guys are getting antsy. The two weeks of practice have been good and we’ve got great fall weather now. Yesterday Matt Herian said “fall is here, it’s football time”.
Before watching the tape of last week’s game, Downing answered some questions.
· Compare the new recruiting philosophy to the old one.
There is no reason to compare the two. What we do now is very aggressive. With our name, tradition and recognition and now with the WCO change we can go after more marquee players in the area of quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends. The coaches are doing a great job getting on players early. We’re trying to get guys to visit during regular season games because the game experience is a great selling tool. Our fans are our best selling point and it’s just not possible to recreate the game day experience. We can tell them about it, but it just doesn’t do it justice.
· Are we overlooking Nebraska kids?
No! Nebraska is our home and we are keeping our eyes on our home kids
· Do we have a Drew Brees type quarterback on our shopping list?
Well I can’t tell you any of the names of course, but I can tell you that yes we do have that type of QB on our shopping list. We would take Drew if he wanted to come and play at Nebraska… We can now entice those types of quarterbacks because we can throw out that we are running the WCO. Kids will come and learn and listen because of Callahan. That is a card we play early and often, the Bill Callahan card. A player like Kyle Orton at Purdue is the type of kid that we can now recruit. Orton is from Iowa and is a huge Husker fan, but the option football that we were running was not a good fit for him. Now he’s a Heisman candidate.
· What area do you recruit?
We recruit all over, but I mostly recruit the Midwest, Ne, Ia, Mo, Minn, etc. We do cross recruiting too based on positions. It’s all about the positions and meeting the position coach. The kids want to meet Callahan, but they are mostly interested in their position coach. We have many frequent flyer miles, in fact we wish there were more flights, especially ones at midnight.
· Never in Nebraska history has the ball been on the 1 yard line and we kick a field goal.
That was at a very early part of the game and we had to take the sure points. We knew their defense was strong and we went with the points. Definitely later in the game if the game was close we would have gone for it.
· How is Jordan?
He is practicing and doing well. Right now he is concentrating on regaining some of his strength. He is tough and resilient. He had a tough 8 weeks.
· Talk about Cory and his slipping at Pitt.
The field was really wet and Cory is a quick cut guy. The field was not up to his requirements for his A game. Part of maturing as a runner is to learn the field conditions and Cory improved as the game went on. We were in the bus on the way to the game and we literally drove through 3 feet of water to get there. I’ve never been in a bus before when you could have pulled skiers behind…
· What are KU’s weaknesses and how are you going to attack them?
No way, are you kidding? There are reporters in here. Are you from Kansas? Can I have your bank account number too? We will let the game plan unfold for you.
· Talk about early recruit signing for football.
The NCAA is reluctant to allow early signing in my opinion and I don’t see them doing it. Football is a much more developmental sport than other sports and you need to let the kids develop into the positions. This also helps keep all the pressure off the kids.
· Talk about junior college recruiting.
When you recruit from the junior colleges you are looking to fill a specific need. Generally it’s to fill a hole, kind of like an NFL draft. There are guys we can use out there this year, but I would say it’s only a good year, but not great. You’re looking for a more mature player at the JC level. Generally you always want a high school kid because you’ll have him for 4 years instead of only 2.
· Talk about our use of time outs.
It’s the quarterback’s job to keep the offense out of bad situations and if that means using a timeout then that is what he’ll do. Yes we want to save them, especially in the second half, but there are many reasons to use them. I think we have been using them wisely thus far.
Downing finished by talking a bit about the scholarships we have to offer this year and then we watched the tape from last week’s game. Currently we have about 21 available, with a max of 25 per year and a total of 85 allowed.
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you at the game!
by Husker Freak