Steven M. Sipple: Ex-Husker DT Warren ready for big weekend

2013-04-01T23:40:00Z 2013-06-17T01:27:16Z Steven M. Sipple: Ex-Husker DT Warren ready for big weekend JournalStar.com

Things I know and think I know:

Steve Warren was an excellent interior defensive lineman at Nebraska, getting ample playing time beginning as a sophomore in 1997.

Warren played that year in a rotation with senior Jason Peter and junior Jason Wiltz. All three went on to NFL careers.

Oh, my, what Nebraska would do now to have such a talented rotation.

"Thing is, we had guys like me who were being developed along the way," Warren said Monday. "So, by the time we got to be seniors, we already had been in the fire. But as sophomores and freshmen, we weren't asked to start because there often was a junior or senior ahead of you."

Warren, in radio appearances and conversation with Nebraska fans, tries to convey the importance of depth. Depth often separates great programs from the good ones.

"Your defensive line is only as good as your backups," Warren said. "Really, your whole team is only as good as your backups. If you step back and really look at Nebraska right now, beside the 'N' on the helmets, we're not too different than like a Fresno State. At a lot of positions, we're one-deep."

Nebraska's best depth is at cornerback and perhaps receiver. Yeah, times have changed since Warren's days at NU.

He obviously would like to see Nebraska improve its talent in the trenches. He'll be watching those guys closely Saturday during the Red-White Spring Game, although he'll have plenty else on his mind.

The Red-White Game weekend coincides with an important weekend for Warren. His D.R.E.A.M. organization, which he founded in 2006, will play host to a series of events, including a celebrity bowling challenge Friday in Elkhorn and a tailgate party at Nebraska Bookstore (1300 Q St.) before the Spring Game.

D.R.E.A.M. stands for Developing Relationships through Education, Athletics and Mentoring. According to its web site, the organization began in Omaha as an after-school program at Walnut Hill Elementary with 20 students and five volunteers dedicated to making a difference for at-risk youth. It now serves hundreds of youth at seven different sites. For more, check out joindream.org.

The 35-year-old Warren, who played three seasons for the Green Bay Packers (2000-02), pours his heart and soul into D.R.E.A.M., which is why he says this week feels almost like a game week during his playing days.

"(This weekend) honestly has been the way we've survived year-to-year," said Warren, noting $60,000-$70,000 has been raised in past Big D.R.E.A.M. weekends.

Among ex-Huskers expected to partake in various Big D.R.E.A.M. festivities are Prince Amukamara, DeJuan Groce, Frankie London, Keyuo Craver, Zack Bowman, Correll Buckhalter, Jay Foreman, Tony Ortiz, Joe Walker and Jay Moore, to name a few.

"Every year, it gets easier," Warren said. "Guys are usually calling me at the end of January asking me what the plans are for this year."

The ever-popular bowling event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Sempeck's Bowling and Entertainment and is open to the public. Sounds like Groce and London are the bowlers to beat.

"They tend to do the most trash-talking about their skills, too," Warren said. "Some of these guys are pretty serious about their bowling game."

Warren, who had seven sacks in 1999, can become serious when talking about Nebraska football. He'll watch the Spring Game, but keep it in perspective.

"It's different for the players (than the fans)," he said. "They don't get as excited. The Spring Game tells a part of the story, but all the work has already been done before the Spring Game. It's more for those guys who aren't necessarily going to get to play in the season.

"It's also good for the guys who are younger, but who are going to play (this coming season), to get some experience in the stadium. For the older guys, it's just a matter of knocking some rust off and staying active.

"It's fun to see the talent, though."

He just wishes he saw more of it at his old position.

* Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck was uncertain Monday how many series senior quarterback Taylor Martinez might play Saturday.

"He needs to get some work, I know that," Beck said.

Martinez hasn't scrimmaged "live" much at all this spring. I'd say three series should about do it Saturday. Why risk it?

* Let me contradict myself: It's great that Nebraska coaches are now having dynamic junior wideout Jamal Turner return punts and kickoffs, despite the risk.

Beck is all for it.

"It's an offensive play," he said. "You put anybody back there, I think, if it's going to help you win."

* Well, this is easy: Louisville dismantles Wichita State. Syracuse's 2-3 zone stymies Michigan. And, finally, Louisville runs past Syracuse, though not by much. The Cardinals' full-court pressure has been dizzying, and now they have the added focus of playing for a fallen teammate. The chalk prevails. (Disclaimer: I picked Cincinnati to beat Creighton handily).

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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About the writer

Steven M. Sipple | Lincoln Journal Star

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.


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