Big 12: Matt Holt

Big 12 lunch links: Has Stoops been a victim of his success?

July, 27, 2009
7/27/09
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

IRVING, Texas -- Media days will be starting around here in a few hours, but I wouldn't think about starting the day without some lunchtime links.

Enjoy them as we get ready for the start of the true preseason hype.

Pelini breaks out the Blackshirts in the wake of Glenn's suspension

November, 11, 2008
11/11/08
7:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini gave his defense a psychological boost Tuesday afternoon boost when he broke out the program's storied Blackshirt practice jerseys given to starting defensive players for the first time in his coaching tenure.

Pelini's decision came shortly after he announced that starting linebacker Cody Glenn had been suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini told the Lincoln Journal Star the decision was made to reward the performance of the Cornhuskers in their 45-35 victory over Kansas last week. Nebraska notched five sacks in that comeback victory.

"We had a staff meeting on Sunday and made a decision that we thought the physical nature of the play on Saturday and the great effort our guys made running sideline to sideline, we felt like that was a performance where they earned the Blackshirts," Carl Pelini told the newspaper. "So we put them in their lockers today. When they came out of meetings they were there waiting for them."


It also came shortly after the suspension of Glenn, the Cornhuskers' starting weakside linebacker, is coming at a bad time for the Cornhuskers.

Glenn, a converted I-back who thrived in defensive coorindator Carl Pelini's aggressive attacking philosophy, was one of the prime playmakers for Nebraska. And taking him away with two games left in the regular season could rob the Cornhuskers' defense of one of its most important leaders.

Despite his lack of defensive experience, Glenn immediately became a vital cog as soon as he was moved over from offense.

When he missed a game with an injury earlier this season against Texas Tech with an injury, Glenn was replaced by 200-pound walk-on Matt Holt because of the Red Raiders' pass-heavy tendencies. A similar strategy might work against Kansas State because of similar offensive philosophies, but a change might be needed against Colorado in the season finale on Nov. 28.

A more likely replacement against run-heavy teams might be sophomore Blake Lawrence.

The Cornhuskers depth at the position is already thin because starting middle linebacker Phillip Dillard has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and might not be ready for Saturday's game against the Wildcats.

Bo Pelini has said he is determined not to burn a redshirt on a potential linebacker replacement this late in the season. That seemingly would rule out the activation of freshman Will Compton.

Nebraska walk-on LB could see increased action against OU

October, 30, 2008
10/30/08
6:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

With the recent injury to Nebraska starting middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, walk-on Colton Koehler could see increased playing time against Oklahoma.

Koehler is an interesting story. He's a walk-on from tiny Harvard, Neb., who transferred to Nebraska after initially signing with Nebraska Wesleyan.

"When he's out there, he's focused and he concentrates because it means a ton to him," Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "He's always one of the guys watching extra film.

"He was born and raised here [in Nebraska]. He loves representing the university."

Koehler has appeared in three games this season and produced three tackles, including a safety last week against Baylor on his only snap of the game.

Interestingly, Koehler has declined all interview requests, the Journal-Star said.

"He doesn't want to say much because he feels he hasn't done much to this point," Ekeler said. "He wants to earn his stripes. He's just a very humble guy. Plus, he just has so much respect for Phillip. It's really just a respect thing.

"He told me after the Baylor game, 'Coach, I played only one snap. Let those other guys who were out there all game fighting their tails off do the talking.'

"He's humble, and it's genuine -- that's just who he is."

Perhaps most interestingly -- and a direct indictment of some of the heralded supposed talent that came to the program during Bill Callahan's much-ballyhooed recruiting success -- is the fact that Koehler is among five walk-ons currently listed on Nebraska's defensive two-deep roster. Others include defensive backs Matt O'Hanlon and Lance Thorell and linebackers Tyler Wortman and Matt Holt.

Big 12 internal affairs: Pregame pledges spark Missouri

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
9:10
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few tidbits from across the conference heading into this week's games.

1. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel evoked a deeper pledge of accountability from his team in the week between the Tigers' loss at Texas and last week's game at Colorado. The Missouri coach made each player visit his office and promise his best effort against Colorado. The ploy worked as the Tigers responded with a 58-0 shutout over the Buffaloes -- Missouri's first shutout in a conference game since 1986.

2. Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, projected by many to be the best back in the conference before the season, finally appears back to form after two strong weeks of play. The main reason, Murray said, is his confidence in making sharper cuts on the field is finally returning. Murray sustained a dislocated kneecap late last season and had trouble bouncing back from the injury for mental and physical reasons. But not any longer. Murray has accounted for 287 yards rushing and receiving and scored six TDs in victories over Kansas and Kansas State.

3. Texas Tech coaches are gaining confidence in walk-on kicker Matt Williams, who was used only for extra points last week against Kansas. Tech coaches are finding that Williams' range is strong for field goals of up to about 40 yards and may consider using him for those kicks in Saturday's South Division showdown against Texas. Donnie Carona remains their choice for longer field-goal attempts.

4. Expect converted freshman wide receiver Daymond Patterson to remain at cornerback for the foreseeable future at Kansas. Coach Mark Mangino said the position switch was made because of lack of personnel at the defensive position. Patterson got a tough baptism last week as he faced off against Texas Tech's high-powered aerial attack. And it won't get much easier this week when he faces Kansas State.

5. Nebraska linebacker Phillip Dillard's recurring ankle injury will result in a variety of players likely filling his position if he can't go Saturday against Oklahoma. Tyler Wortman, Colton Koehler and walk-on freshman Matt Holt will get some of the playing time. But the most likely scenario could be that Cody Glenn would slide to the position from his starting weak-side position. The Sooners' run-heavy philosophy likely will keep the Cornhuskers from sliding an extra defensive back into the position in their base defense.

Jamrog says Nebraska walk-on program better than others

October, 24, 2008
10/24/08
7:53
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Nebraska assistant athletic director for football Jeff Jamrog told a group of Nebraska fans Friday that the Cornhuskers' vaunted walk-on program provides "a big advantage" over rivals.

The Cornhuskers have received key contributions from several walk-on players, including freshman linebacker Matt Holt, who started against Texas Tech. Others include Brian Thorson, who turned down a scholarship offer from Turner Gill at Buffalo to walk on with the Cornhuskers.

Jamrog told the Omaha World-Herald that the Cornhuskers' way of doing things provides an edge over schools like Texas and Florida.

"[Nebraska linebackers coach] Mike Ekeler came back from LSU and said that it's unbelievable the difference between the walk-ons at LSU and the walk-ons Nebraska," Jamrog told the World-Herald at the school's weekly Big Red Breakfast. "I think that's critical...

"Don't get all caught up in the hype of recruiting. To me, the key to the whole deal is what happens when they step on Nebraska's campus. All that stuff before, the press clippings, this, that and the other doesn't mean anything...

"There's been a lot of great football players that weren't heavily recruited."

Nebraska fans can only hope that coach Bo Pelini continues plugging these overachievers into his program.

Lunchtime links: No late heroics in Daniel's Heisman bid

October, 17, 2008
10/17/08
12:46
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's always seemed like orchestrating a successful Heisman Trophy candidacy is a lot like running a presidential election campaign.

Similar strategies are employed with ideas to highlighting a presidential/Heisman candidate, trying to showcase the positive accomplishments of the player/presidential candidate. It's not exactly about kissing babies, but it doesn't hurt to have a View Master ready to highlight what a sports information director might not be able to highlight on a website or a press release.

That's why Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News might have unearthed the "Swift Boat" chink in Chase Daniel's armor that could torpedo his Heisman bid.

Finger's research detailed that since taking over as Missouri's starting quarterback in 2006, Daniel has never won a game in which Missouri trailed at any point in the second half. The Tigers are 0-8 in those games.

Additionally, Missouri blew second-half leads in five of those losses - in 2006 at Texas A&M, at Iowa State and in the Sun Bowl against Oregon State, in 2007 at Oklahoma and last week against Oklahoma State.

Popular image has always had Heisman Trophy winners as those unshakable winners who will their teams to comeback victories. Think Doug Flutie could have won without his "Hail Mary" against Miami in 1984? I don't think so.

There's still time for Daniel to turn around the negative momentum in his campaign after his loss to Oklahoma State last week. And his moment will come Saturday in Austin, when he can reverse his second-half struggles and slay an old ghost in the process by beating Texas on Saturday.

Here are some other links from across the conference for your lunchtime perusal:

  • Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes about the correlation between experience and coaching success in the Big 12. The conference's six ranked teams are directed by the six coaches with the most head-coaching experience at their current jobs.
  • Baylor freshman WR Kendall Wright is on his way to making history if he can continue leading his team in receptions. And he's also planning to play basketball for the Bears after football season ends.
  • Ames Daily Tribune beat writer Bobby La Gesse writes about message-board meltdown after Iowa State's four-game losing streak, its loss of back-up quarterback Phillip Bates and a 28-point spanking last week at Baylor.
  • Maybe it's the three-game losing streak. But Nebraska fans have bombarded Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's mailbag with angry letters about the coaching of Bo Pelini and his staff - six games into Pelini's coaching tenure with the Cornhuskers.
  • John Shinn of the Norman Transcript writes about the close association between Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Kansas coach Mark Mangino, an original member of his first staff with the Sooners.
  • Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star explains that a string of recruiting misses over the last three seasons is the reason why freshman walk-on linebacker Matt Holt is now starting for Nebraska.

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