Nebraska’s media relations department continues to beef up its awards campaign for running back Ameer Abdullah.
A Doak Walker Award semifinalist whose 1,336 rushing yards and 1,566 all-purpose yards lead the Big Ten, Abdullah became the first running back to go over 100 yards against Michigan State’s top-ranked defense. NU sent out an email last week to several categories of awards voters, but will add a video to Abdullah’s campaign this week, along with updates on his progress. NU conceived the plan before Saturday’s game, though Abdullah’s performance boosted his profile.
A failed prediction from ESPN “College GameDay” analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard played a part. As part of a feature on the Spartans’ defense, Howard opined that Abdullah wouldn’t come close to 100 yards against Michigan State.
He ran for 123.
“That’s his job to make predictions, and it’s my job to shut him up,” Abdullah said at Monday’s press conference. He wasn’t smiling, but he meant it playfully, considering he sent a public message on Twitter to Howard after the game.
“Thanks des, there’s no reason to explain yourself at all, I admire and look up to you as a person. #rolemodel” read the tweet.
NU has also started a Twitter campaign for Abdullah with the hashtag #8for8, outlining eight reasons over eight days why Abdullah is worthy of awards consideration. The first #8for8 tweet pointed out that, among running backs, only Abdullah has run for 100 yards against the Spartans in the last 16 games. He’s done it twice.
NU is also promoting defensive end Randy Gregory and nickel Ciante Evans.
Pelini doesn’t believe Gregory is ready for NFL just yet
Another week, another round of questions about Gregory.
After a sack and four more quarterback hurries in the Huskers’ 41-28 loss to Michigan State, Gregory, a redshirt sophomore, is up to 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks and getting publicity for a potential entry into the NFL draft.
Last week on a teleconference, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Gregory is one of eight third-year sophomores with a grade high enough to test the NFL draft waters. But Kiper said Gregory should return to Nebraska for at least one more year to improve his stock.
Coach Bo Pelini — who once talked Ndamukong Suh into staying for his senior year — is firmly in that camp.
“Right now? No,” Pelini said when asked if Gregory was ready for the NFL. “He will be. He’s got a lot to learn right now. It’s the little things. He’s a really good pass rusher. The details aren’t quite there with Randy. He’s got a lot to learn. That’s to be expected. He’s raw right now, but the potential is there. He’s going to be very good.”
Pelini, who coached for nine years in the NFL, said Gregory reminds him of former New England Patriots outside linebacker Willie McGinest. McGinest was flexible enough to rush the passer and drop into pass coverage. Gregory can be, too, Pelini said, but he’ll have to work on better playing the run first.
“You want pass rushers, especially at that level,” Pelini said. “You don’t want a guy who you feel is going to be a liability in the run game. Trust me when I say that Randy is not a liability for us in the run game, but there’s a lot more out there for him as far as being an every-down guy. That’s what they are looking for at that level right now.”
Gregory’s pass-rushing skills are, at this point, a known quantity. He was fast enough Saturday to come around the far end and run down Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who was rolling out to the opposite side. In the process, Gregory passed right by fellow Husker David Santos.
“He took a good angle, had a full head of steam and flew right past me,” Santos said. “I already knew Randy was fast, but right then it was like, ‘Whoa, this guy can move.’ ”
Santos said Husker defenders are trying to come up with a nickname for Gregory.
“He needs something,” Santos said. “I heard RG44, but it’s not very good.”
Cornerback Davie suffers season-ending knee injury
Sophomore cornerback Daniel Davie suffered a season-ending injury in the second half of Nebraska’s loss to Michigan State.
Coach Bo Pelini said Davie, a second-string defensive back who’s contributed mostly on special teams, tore a ligament in his knee. It could keep Davie from practicing next spring, Pelini said.
There were other less severe additions to the injury report.
Senior Cole Pensick, a center and guard, said after the game that he had “a little knee bump.” He didn’t practice Sunday.
Pelini said it’s too early in the week to evaluate the status of Pensick and the rest of Nebraska’s depleted offensive line. Senior Jeremiah Sirles played the first half Saturday. Junior Jake Cotton and junior Mike Moudy did not suit up.
In other injury news, Pelini said the staff will continue to evaluate redshirt freshman receiver Alonzo Moore, who had to be helped off the field Saturday. Senior defensive tackle Thad Randle had ice wrapped around his right knee after Saturday’s game, and he’s also day to day, Pelini said.
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Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini
Video: Brent Qvale
Video: Ameer Abdullah
Video: Tommy Armstrong