CHICAGO — Big Ten coaches weren't in any mood Wednesday to applaud a new targeting penalty that allows officials to eject players who hit with their helmet at or above the shoulder pads.
All supported promoting player safety. Few seemed comfortable with how officials might apply the rule and the consequences of ejection.
“It's going to be pretty subjective,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “And I don't think it's an easy thing to call. And in my opinion, it's going a little bit overboard right now.”
Pelini said NU's staff spent the spring educating Huskers on which hits might qualify for ejection. Big Ten officials will use a “teach tape” in August to review those rules. Pelini still worries that the rule might tamper with “the integrity of the game and how it's supposed to be played.”
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, the Huskers' top perimeter blocker for the last two years, agreed with Pelini.
“When I'm going to go hit somebody, I'm not thinking, 'Let me go hit below their shoulders,' ” Enunwa said. “Now, it's definitely something you think about. But at the same time, it's a split-second decision that you're not going to be too worried about.”
Martinez the mentor
Taylor Martinez is trying to teach everything he knows to Tommy Armstrong about what it's like to be the starting quarterback at NU.
From leadership responsibilities, to media and fan attention, to in-game pressure — there's a lot on a QB's shoulders. And it's something Martinez had to learn on the fly. So he's going out of his way to mentor Armstrong.
“I was out there trying to figure stuff out by myself,” Martinez said. “I'm happy I'm there for Tommy, able to guide him.”
Armstrong certainly has plenty of talent, Martinez said. “He's really good. He should have a great career at Nebraska.”
But performing in the spotlight won't be easy. Martinez hopes he'll be able to help prepare Armstrong for that.
“(I want) to make sure he knows what he's up for,” Martinez said.
Martinez is already looking forward to having his brother, Drake, on the sideline with him this fall. Drake Martinez is a freshman safety for the Huskers.
They've never played on the same team.
Said Taylor: “This will be the first time walking on the field with (Drake), and it'll be the last time I'm at Nebraska, playing in Memorial Stadium, and I'm going to walk off with him. It'll mean a lot.”
Nebraska's goal will be to have six to eight receivers in the regular rotation this fall, but Enunwa said nothing's settled.
He referenced sophomore walk-on Sam Burtch from Elmwood-Murdock High School, who played in four games last year because of his practice habits. “It all depends on who's willing to work,” Enunwa said.
So far, so good.
“I love when you bring somebody in and they want to learn,” Enunwa said. “They come to you and ask you, 'How do you work this so I can watch this film?' That's what every freshman is doing. Even the walk-on guys. Everybody's really trying to learn.”
Youngsters ready to roll
True freshman Nate Gerry has already made a positive impression on senior Ciante Evans.
Gerry, the freshman from Sioux Falls, S.D., joined the program this summer. He's a candidate to play right away.
Here's why: “He gives a lot of effort and he goes full speed,” Evans said. “And he asks questions, so that means he's concerned and he wants to learn.”
Evans also mentioned defensive tackle Maliek Collins and linebacker Josh Banderas as other true freshmen who stood out during summer training sessions.
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