September 2, 2008

Tuesday notebook: Christensen found not guilty

Former Nebraska offensive lineman Andy Christensen was found not guilty of first-degree sexual assault after 11 hours of deliberations by the jury.

Christensen, 22, was charged with sexually assaulting a 23-year-old Lincoln woman in a bar on March 7. He was suspended from the team after the incident, and according to head coach Bo Pelini, his status with the Huskers remains unclear.

"I really can't comment any further until after I talk to Andy and his family and kind of get more of the facts," Pelini said. "It's kind of new to me too. The legal process played out in his favor, but at the appropriate time I'll give you further comment."

Pelini said he has not been in contact with Christensen since the trial started, but he did speak with him and his father before the trial began.

The jury, made up of six men and six women, started deliberations on Friday and finished early this evening before returning with the verdict a little after 5 p.m.

Prior to the verdict, Christensen pled guilty to resisting arrest and criminal mischief - both misdemeanor charges - that also occurred the night of the incident. His sentencing on the two convictions has been set for sometime in November.

How Tuesday's news will play into Christensen's future as a Husker is certainly worth noting. Though he's missed all of fall camp and NU's season opener because of the trial, Christensen obviously has the ability to be a potential starter on the offensive line.

Even more, he still has another year of eligibility after sitting out the majority of the past two years with injuries.

When asked how much the two misdemeanors would factor into Christensen's chance at rejoining the team, Pelini wouldn't give a definitive answer either way.

"I mean, he's already missed a game, right? I don't know. I don't know," Pelini said. "Everything is going to play out. Everything's going to weigh into it. I don't know all the facts and all the circumstances yet, and when I do we'll come to a conclusion as a football program. The athletic department will make a further statement at that point."

Press Conference Takes
Glenn eager to be tested: Senior Cody Glenn more than lived up to the hype in his debut at linebacker on Saturday, despite the fact that he said Western Michigan was picking on him the whole game. Glenn said he liked that the Broncos were sending plays his way because it gave him all the action he could've hoped for. He also said he hopes more teams do the same. "They can keep coming," Glenn said. "I am a competitive guy and I want that. If they do, I'm fine with it. You have to step up. They probably will, but hopefully if I can continue to play good it will shy people away from it."
Next in line: Junior safety Matt O'Hanlon became the latest in a recent line of NU walk-on safeties to earn a starting job when he got the starting nod late last week. O'Hanlon follows in the footsteps of players like Blake Tiedtke, Troy Watchorn, Ben Eisenhart and Andrew Shanle, who technically was a greyshirt. When asked how he felt about being mentioned in that company, O'Hanlon considered it an honor. "Those are all great guys and they've all set really good examples here," he said. "I'm glad my name can even be mentioned with those guys because they did some good things here."
Injury update: Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said senior cornerback Armando Murillo and junior safety Major Culbert are both back in practice after sitting out with injuries and are expected to play in Saturday's game against San Jose State. Murillo played sparingly in the season opener against Western Michigan, and Culbert did not play at all. Junior safety Rickey Thenarse is still listed as day-to-day, as he sat out of Tuesday's practice after leaving Saturday's win with a shoulder injury.
What's on tap: The Huskers will continue to prepare for San Jose State with another two-and-a-half hour practice on Wednesday afternoon.

D-line to continue rotation

After recording four sacks and holding Western Michigan to eight yards rushing, Nebraska's formula for success along the defensive line worked to near perfection.

A good portion of that formula was a heavy and constant rotation of the Huskers' front four, as defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said he used nine different defensive linemen in Saturday's game.

From the sound of things, it might not stop there, either. Pelini said he's looking for a 10th lineman to emerge as capable enough to be added to the rotation. Two names Pelini gave as potential players to join the party are Ben Martin and David Harvey, though he said others could also get mixed in.

"We worked nine guys in across the front, and we're going to continue to do that," Pelini said. "If I can get a 10th in there I will, 'cause I want those guys to be fresh in weeks 10, 11 and 12."

As a result of the constant rotation, Nebraska's front four was able to stay fresh and thus get heavy pressure on WMU quarterback Tim Hiller. For the players, not playing every down is a small sacrifice for being able control the line of scrimmage all game long.

"Even though we only had four sacks - we wish we got more - but I think that quarterback definitely felt our presence," senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. "That's one thing that we've focused on this fall camp, is letting the quarterback feel us and let him know that we're right in his face and we're coming for him so he doesn't have too much time back there to be relaxed and get all of his reads. He needs to get on top of that and make sure he's getting the ball out quick, and if not we're gonna hit him."

Signals not the problem

While there was much talk after the game about how the defense was having trouble communicating, especially in coverage, against Western Michigan's offense on Saturday, Carl Pelini it had nothing to do with getting plays in from the sideline.

Pelini blamed inexperience and crowd noise as probable factors for NU's defense having trouble relaying defensive play calls amongst each other during the game.

Following the win, several players cited confusion on coverages as the main reason for the Bronco's success in the passing game. However, Pelini said it was not due to trouble getting the defensive plays signaled in to the players on the field from the sideline.

All together, the Broncos completed 30-of-49 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

"There was no confusion with the signals," Pelini said. "There's a lot of communication required on the field, probably more than the guys were used to. I think the crowd noise affected the checks on the field more than it did the signals. I thought that went pretty smoothly.

"That's something we've got to work on during the week, getting our linebackers to lean up on the line when they're making checks and using hand signals more effectively."

Glenn working for Blackshirt

There's no question about who stole the show in Nebraska's win over Western Michigan. Senior Cody Glenn shined in his debut at linebacker after switching from running back this offseason.

Glenn recorded a team-high 12 tackles, forced a fumble and defended several passes, and was a candidate for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week as a result.

But the real reward Glenn was hoping for his efforts hasn't exactly come yet, as Bo Pelini has yet to hand out any Blackshirts to his defense. Along with Glenn, several other Huskers had standout games defensively, including senior defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler, who quietly racked up eight tackles to anchor the d-line.

Glenn hasn't lost hope of earning his Blackshirt, though, as he's a firm believer in only being rewarded when you truly earn it.

"Some guys played really well," Glenn said. "I would hope (to get a Blackshirt this week), but that is up to Coach Bo. Ty Steinkuhler played a heck of a game, and I would definitely be surprised if he didn't get his back."

Glenn was then asked if he'd prefer the Blackshirts to be handed out on an individual basis or to everyone as a unit. His answer was as team, but that's of course only if the entire defense earns them.

"I would love to see everybody get a Blackshirt on the defense," he said. "I kind of like the way Coach Bo does it now. You have to earn it. If you played a good game, and you earned your Blackshirt, then you get it. If not, then you have to wait. I like the way he has it now.

"It makes people more hungry. It makes people want to work harder because they know what the Blackshirts mean. It's not a shirt that is just given out because you are on the starting 11. It is something you have to earn."

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