If there was a shortage of tape in the training room in August, we perhaps found the culprit. Looking your way, Mohammed Seisay.
Hey, the guy has good reason for it — eagerness. Eager to play, eager to practice, eager as any junior college transfer who arrives to a school like Nebraska with time against him.
So you can imagine the cornerback’s discouragement when he injured his ankle in the first week of fall camp.
“I only got two years to prove myself,” Seisay said. “I didn’t want any holding back whatsoever. I tried so many tape jobs and everything to get right, and it was just bugging me.”
He admits he probably even tried to get out on the practice field before he should have.
“Just being stubborn,” he said. “It just kept getting reinjured and swollen.”
Coaches stepped in. Told him to take a break. It wasn’t easy but he listened, sitting out the first two games.
Seisay made the trip to Los Angeles, but the ankle wasn’t completely healed. The game was close. All he could do was watch.
But on Saturday, in Nebraska’s 42-13 win over Arkansas State, his wait ended. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Seisay didn’t start, but saw some quality snaps.
He wasn’t tested much in the passing game, But it felt good being on the field again. He had no major breakdowns. One tackle. It was a start.
Granted, there were some extra nerves that came with his first game at Nebraska.
“My first game at Memphis, it wasn’t like this,” said Seisay, who began his college career there. “This is Nebraska football. It’s not no Memphis football. … I’m just thankful.”
Thankful for good health, among other things.
Seisay said it was only this week when he “felt like himself” again.
The rotation at Nebraska’s corner spots will be interesting to track going forward. While Nebraska has had its warts on defense, corners Andrew Green and Josh Mitchell have held their own as starters the first three weeks.
But Seisay is hungry himself. He got on the field. Now he looks for more.
“I’m ready to play, 100 percent, so there’s no excuses,” he said.
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* It takes more than 11: Who’s a starter? Who’s a backup? That’s not as easily defined these days.
“Who plays the majority of the snaps, a lot of that is going to be dictated by the style of offense (we play against),” said Husker defensive coordinator John Papuchis. “The traditional, ‘I’m a starter. I’m a backup,’ I would love it to be that way. Because I don’t like having a guy play a ton one week and then not as much the next if he played well and earned it.”
But it doesn't always work that way, the coach says.
Papuchis made this point while responding to a question about 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive end Eric Martin, whose athleticism and pass rushing presence proved a nuisance for Arkansas State on Saturday.
“One thing I know is to play these spread teams you have to be as athletic as you can possibly be, and that includes across the front,” Papuchis said. “Eric gives us that. Eric gives us a pass-rush dynamic. When you’re playing Iowa or Wisconsin, more downhill running teams, maybe other guys have a more significant role. But that’s why we have 145 guys on our team. Try to maximize each guy’s ability … and get the best team we can out there to play.”
That’s not to say, in the specific case of Martin, that the senior end can’t hold his own against run-heavy offenses.
Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski believes he can.
“I understand … it’s a perception because he’s a smaller guy playing defensive line. I think he does just fine against the run. I really do,” Kaczenski said of Martin.
“Like everything, we’re trying to improve every part of his game, not just in the pass game, but also against the run. And he understands that, and he sees that as a challenge. But I don’t see us being hurt when he’s in the game people are trying to run the ball against us.”
* Today's special number — 93: We’re rounding up. Taylor Martinez’s 92.9 completion percentage on Saturday (13 of 14 passes) sets a Nebraska record for best completion percentage in a game with a minimum of 10 attempts. Turner Gill previously had the top number by completing 11 of 12 passes against Kansas State in 1982.
Martinez’s NCAA efficiency rating of 248.0 against Arkansas State was the fifth-best single-game efficiency rating in Nebraska history and best by a Husker QB since Joe Dailey against Baylor in 2004 (291.1).
Quotes on the run:
“We're not really about outside factors. We just worry about what's within us as a defense and what we're capable of.” — Eric Martin
“The young guys are getting better and contributing to our depth. We need to get them on the field more and in critical situations, not only when we’re up by a couple of scores or right before half. We have to gain confidence in them and they have to gain confidence in the system. We’re going to see a lot more of them. That’s the plan and we’ve got to get these guys ready, that’s the future.” — Rick Kaczenski on his freshmen linemen
“Everybody tells me on the replay it was nowhere close. I know the ball didn't touch me. It's over with now, but just for our sake, I know the ball didn't touch me.” — Ameer Abdullah on the punt that officials said hit his foot
“I do believe players reflect the leadership of their coaches. And when you’re excited and confident, they’re excited and confident. And I thought that was the time to show that.” — John Papuchis on the fire he showed in the defensive series after officials said the punt hit Abdullah’s foot
“I didn’t ever think I’d do this again.” — Tom Osborne addressing the media in a postgame setting