December 21, 2014

Gregory and Pierson-El named FWAA All-Americans

De'Mornay Pierson-El

De’Mornay Pierson-El

Junior defensive end Randy Gregory and freshman wide receiver/punt returner De’Mornay Pierson-El were both named second-team All-Americans by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Nebraska had a pair of players selected to the FWAA All-America teams for the first time since 1997, when three Huskers were honored. The FWAA has released its All-America teams for 71 seasons and Pierson-El is the first Husker freshman to be recognized by the organization. Overall, Pierson-El is just the second Nebraska underclassmen to earn FWAA All-America honors, joining halfback Bobby Reynolds, who was a first-team selection as a sophomore in 1950. Pierson-El and Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine were the only two freshmen named an FWAA All-American.

Pierson-El earned a spot as the second-team punt returner after leading the nation with 589 punt return yards, more than 200 yards higher than any other player in the nation. He returned three punts for a touchdown, which tied for the national lead. Pierson-El was also named a second-team All-American by USA Today, in addition to earning freshman All-America accolades from several organizations.

A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Gregory was honored by the FWAA one day after garnering third-team All-America accolades from the Associated Press. Despite battling injuries throughout his junior campaign, Gregory totaled 50 tackles, including 7.0 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He also blocked two field goals, broke up three passes and had an interception while becoming Nebraska’s first two-time all-conference defensive lineman since Ndamukong Suh.

Pelini throws NU administration under the bus, but lessons should be learned by Eichorst (AUDIO)

Bo Pelini gives an earful to an official at the Capital One Bowl

Bo Pelini gives an earful to an official at the Capital One Bowl.  He also gave an earful to his former players. 

Vulgar language has been apart of Bo Pelini’s M.O. since we’ve known him as the head football coach at Nebraska and that was certainly on full display when you hear the tape of his 30 minute speech he gave to his players off campus after he was fired by Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.

I’m not sure I entirely agree with the way Pelini handled the meeting with the players.  I think he still has a responsibility to those young men to offer encouragement and I believe he did at some points during that meeting, but to throw the administration under the bus in front of those kids who will continue to play football at Nebraska was wrong.

However, having said that, I also think Husker nation got a good picture of the leadership style of Eichorst…the players may feel alienated.  Eichorst needs to work on making himself more visible to the players.

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Michigan and Wisconsin still on hold with their coaching searches (AUDIO)

Paul Chryst (photo/pittsburghpanthers.com)

Paul Chryst (photo/pittsburghpanthers.com)

After LSU’s Monday evening bowl practice, Tigers’ coach Les Miles addressed persistent rumors that he will return to his alma mater, where he played under Bo Schembechler and spent a decade as an assistant coach.  Miles refused to be quoted on the record, but he sent a clear message: A return to Ann Arbor is not going to happen. He and his agent, have not heard from Michigan, Miles said, and he would not change jobs even if Michigan made contact.

Paul Chryst is still the head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers. While the former Wisconsin player and offensive coordinator said Monday he has talked to the Badgers about the vacant head coaching position, he hasn’t heard anything concrete and doesn’t expect to before Wednesday, the earliest Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez can name a successor to Gary Andersen.

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Nebraska edges Cincinnati in double overtime

Although the offense was at a premium, both Nebraska and Cincinnati saw their defenses force a combined 40 turnovers, field goal percentages in the 30’s, and ten minutes of extra basketball. Luckily for Nebraska, they got the final bounce.

Benny Parker’s floating 10-footer with 1:14 to play in the second overtime proved to be the game winner as Nebraska came away with a 56-55 win over Cincinnati at the Pinnacle Bank Arena to end a two-game losing streak. An expected low-scoring game did not disappoint as both teams combined for just 36 made field goals, with Cincinnati connecting on 31.7% of their shots from the field while Nebraska wasn’t much better at 32.7%.

Parker’s winning shot ended recent frustrations for the Huskers, who had dropped a shocker to Incarnate Word 74-73 on Wednesday and were defeated by Creighton 65-55 last Sunday.

Nebraska's Tai Webster celebrates with his Husker teammates after a 56-55 win over Cincinnati in double overtime on Saturday PHOTO COURTESY: HUSKERS.COM

Nebraska’s Tai Webster celebrates with his Husker teammates after a 56-55 win over Cincinnati in double overtime on Saturday
PHOTO COURTESY:
HUSKERS.COM

“I just looked up and saw that the clock was running down. I saw an open lane, and we’ve been working on floaters all week because they were big and athletic,” Parker said of his game winning shot.

“We worked on it in practice and I was able to knock it down.”

It was a gritty game from start to finish, which Nebraska head coach Tim Miles knew was coming. But, the third-year head coach was proud of his time for hanging tough with a rugged Cincinnati squad and fighting to the very end.

“I’m just so thankful for these guys and the effort they put in tonight. Nobody had an ego. The only time there was frustration was when somebody made a mistake,” Miles said.

“The crowd was amazing. You could see the difference in our guys’ effort and stance when the crowd got into it. What a great night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.”

Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway led the Huskers with 13 points apiece, but Petteway fouled out with 40 seconds left in the first overtime as Cincinnati took a 49-48 lead. Two Troy Caupain free throws extended the Bearcats’ lead to 51-48 with 26 seconds remaining, but two free throws from Tai Webster closed the gap to 52-51 and after Jermaine Sanders missed his second free throw with 14 seconds remaining in the first overtime, Sanders then fouled Shields to send the junior to the line where he hit both and sent the game to a second extra session.

“It was good to get that monkey off our back. We kind of had a rough week and we lost two games earlier in the week–all on things we can control,” Shields said of the victory. “I think tonight we did great job of bouncing back, staying together and focusing on what we could control and at the end we got the victory.”

Nebraska's Benny Parker hits the game-winning shot with 1:14 to play in double overtime as Nebraska defeated Cincinnati 56-55 PHOTO COURTESY: HUSKERS.COM

Nebraska’s Benny Parker hits the game-winning shot with 1:14 to play in double overtime as Nebraska defeated Cincinnati 56-55
PHOTO COURTESY:
HUSKERS.COM

Both teams hit just two field goals in the ten minutes of overtime basketball, but Nebraska made all eight of their free throw attempts while Cincinnati left points at the line with four big misses. Caupain led the Bearcats with 13 points, the only Cincinnati player in double figures, while Gary Clark had eight points and eight rebounds but it wasn’t enough to send Nebraska to a third straight loss at home.

Cincinnati’s defense kept them in the game from start to finish, even though Nebraska held a 13 points lead in the first half after Walter Pitchford’s three-pointer gave Nebraska 19-6 lead. Forcing 22 Nebraska turnovers on the night, the Bearcats clawed back to trail 23-21 at halftime and would eventually take the lead for the first time on two DeShaun Morman free throws with 9:08 left to play in regulation. Neither team led by more than three for the final nine minutes of regulation and the following ten minutes of overtime basketball. Nebraska forced 18 Cincinnati turnovers and battled the Bearcats to a standstill on the glass, with the Bearcats narrowly outrebounding the Huskers 43-42.

“I think we definitely grew as a team tonight. We learned and stayed together and competed,” Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said. “It is just a shame that we did not get the win, because obviously we basically gave the game away with two fouls.”

“I believe part of the process of becoming a team is you got to go through things, whether that is going through success, if we ever have any, or dealing with losses. The psychology of the team, you either get tougher or fall apart.”

The defensive struggle continued into the second overtime, where Cincinnati got its only points on a three-pointer from Kevin Johnson with 3:42 remaining. The Huskers answered with two free throws from Webster trimmed the Bearcats lead to 55-54 with 2:08 to play, with Johnson misfiring on the next Cincinnati possession to give Nebraska their chance to regain the lead for good. Shields’ three-point attempt came up short, but Webster grabbed the rebound before it went out of bounds, found Parker at the top of the key, and Parker penetrated into the lane to let his game winner fly from just inside the free throw line.

Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford (35) celebrate in the second half of Nebraska's 56-55 win over Cincinnati PHOTO COURTESY:  HUSKERS.COM

Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford (35) celebrate in the second half of Nebraska’s 56-55 win over Cincinnati
PHOTO COURTESY:
HUSKERS.COM

“We had to step up. Coach told us that is what we had to do leading up to this game. I think we executed it pretty well,” Pitchford said. “We battled, played our butts off and grinded through it.”

“It was excellent.”

Pitchford led Nebraska in rebounds with 10 and added 9 points, while David Rivers had six points and eight rebounds and Petteway added nine rebounds to go along with his 13 points. The loss drops Cincinnati to 6-2, while Nebraska moves to 6-3 with the win and a trip to Hawaii next up for the Big Red. The Huskers open play against host Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic on December 22 at 11:59 p.m. central time. Nebraska would then play either Wichita State or Loyola Marymount the following day in either winner’s bracket or consolation action.

Cotton lays out for simple goals for the Huskers over the final month of the season (AUDIO)

Barney Cotton holds court with reporters following the Huskers first practice

Barney Cotton holds court with reporters following the Huskers first practice

First practice for the Nebraska football team since the firing of Bo Pelini. Barney Cotton, who is the interim coach leading the Huskers in the Holiday Bowl had a four goals for his team over the final three weeks of the 2014 season.  Cotton has taken the responsibility of running this team very seriously and will approach this game with the same passion he has always felt.

Jake Cotton say the players have no issues getting pumped up for this game against USC and Josh Mitchell says the approach by the players for this game is to be focused on having fun and playing for each other.

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