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September 7, 2010

Five things we learned on Tuesday

Each Tuesday during the fall Huskeronline.com will sum up the weekly press conference with a "five things we learned" feature.

Nebraska held their second press conference of the year today and here are five things we learned heading into the Idaho game week, along with the quote of the day and the funniest moment from Tuesday.

1 - Responding to adversity

Everybody saw what redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez did on Saturday against Western Kentucky, but the real next step in his career will be responding to adversity

Ultimately this is what separates the good quarterbacks from the great ones. Last year at times Zac Lee did not handle adversity well, particular in early season losses to Virginia Tech and Iowa State.

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said this will be a huge hurdle for Martinez to cross and the staff has done their best to prepare him for the adverse times in practice.

Expect a tougher test this week against Idaho, but nothing like he'll see on Sept. 18 at Washington.


2- Becoming better communicators on defense

A year ago we saw almost this exact same thing happen with the defense. NU's young linebackers struggled at times to get the defensive calls and checks to the front four and secondary.

With two fresh faces at linebacker on the field this past Saturday, we saw nearly the exact same thing from Alonzo Whaley and Lavonte David.

Head coach Bo Pelini said this is an area that has to get better. There's no reason it shouldn't either, as the WKU game was the first ever action Whaley and David have ever seen in their careers.

3 - Enderle will challenge Husker secondary

I always wondered why teams like Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State passed up on North Platte native Nathan Enderle at quarterback. Former Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan even made a late run at Enderle after Josh Freeman decommitted from the Huskers days before the early signing period in December of 2005.

Enderle could have chosen to follow his lifelong dream of being a Husker, but he decided to stay loyal to the Vandals and not pull a Josh Freeman and back out at the last moment. Anybody that was around Enderle at North Platte could tell you they knew he would be successful. He was a 4.0 student in the classroom and he scored a 32 on the ACT. He also possessed one of the strongest arms in the country and he held the longest ball competition record at Nebraska's quarterback camp for several years with a mark of 70 yards.

There hasn't been a better NFL prospect at the quarterback position to come out of the state of Nebraska in the last several years. Most experts project the 6-foot-5, 240 pound Enderle to go anywhere from rounds four to seven.

Expect Enderle's arm strength and experience to challenge Nebraska's defense on Saturday. He has the ability to make all the throws.

4 - Thenarse thrives in underdog role

Most of us counted senior Rickey Thenarse out of the mix at safety this fall. For the first time in Thenarse's Husker career he was considered an underdog and not much was expected out of him other than being a special teams contributor.

That all changed though when Thenarse returned back to practice this spring after tearing his ACL a year ago. Thenarase has become a smarter football player and his year off has helped him understand the game of football better.

Thenarse's hard work has paid off and he won the starting job at safety this past Saturday alongside DeJon Gomes. Maybe the most interesting thing with Thenarse now is he's no longer on kickoff and punt coverage, areas where he thrived before as a Husker.

Thenarse said the reason why he's no longer covering kicks is because of the injury risk. All of his major injuries have happened on kickoff coverage when he's laid his body on the line to make a play. The coaching staff decided it was best for him to concentrate on just defense and not risking himself on making a play in kick coverage. If anything, this should show people how valuable Pelini and Marvin Sanders consider Thenarse on the defense that they no longer want him on kickoff coverage.

5 - Caputo is sometimes undervalued

I found it interesting that Watson said there hasn't been much of a drop off at the center position after losing Jacob Hickman a year ago.

Watson said that junior Mike Caputo played great this past Saturday and he has the ability to be a very good center.

Pelini also commented on Caputo and said you don't have to be a big guy to be a good center. Pelini said most of the great centers he was around at places like LSU were all 260 to 270 pounds and somewhat undersized just like Caputo. Pound for pound there may not be a stronger guy on the football team right now.

I'll have to give to Millard North head coach Fred Petito when Caputo first walked on here. Despite the fact Caputo had no Division I offers in hand, Petito always referred to Caputo as one of the best linemen to come through his program and he felt pretty good about his chances to see the field at NU some day.


Quote of the day

"It's part of the process with any quarterback or any player for that matter how you deal with those things. We've set those things up in practice and we've put their back up against the wall and sometimes they put their own back against the wall and fight out of there and we let them fight out of there. We understand what you are talking about because your question is valid question because they have to learn how to respond in adversity. It will be different in a game. Practice is practice and as much as we try to make it game like, it's never quite like that because you've got 86,000 people there opposed to 150 guys on the field watching. It will be another next test for him, but knowing Taylor, he's just so even keeled and competitive, that I know he'll find his way through it." -Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson on what he'll learn about quarterback Taylor Martinez when adversity is thrown his way.

Funniest moment of the press conference

"We aren't (keeping the offense vanilla). We don't

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