Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Minter imparting wisdom on Husker safeties

Since Bo Pelini has come aboard as Nebraska’s football head coach, the past has been reconnected with the present.

Former head coach Bill Callahan made the mistake of shunning the past. Despite what a percentage of Husker fans think, Callahan did not eliminate the walk-on program, he merely scaled it down – something Pelini would have had to do had he taken over as head coach in 2004 as opposed to Callahan.

The one area of the Callahan era that cannot be discounted (one many former players have publicly stated) was that he did not welcome former players to visit the facility or watch practice.

One cannot accuse Pelini of such. Pelini has welcomed former players back to visit and has openly supported the walk-on program.

Former Husker Mike Minter has been in the headlines lately – both in the Lincoln Journal Star and on Unsportsmanlike Conduct (an Omaha sports talk show hosted by Kevin Kugler and Mike’L Severe). Minter spent time with current Nebraska strong safety Larry Asante, who plays the same position Minter starred at Nebraska and the Carolina Panthers.

Minter, a second-round NFL Draft pick, lettered from 1993-96 and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors his senior season. He had seven career interceptions — five as a senior, two as a junior — playing mostly at a position Nebraska then termed the rover.Minter visited Lincoln on his own and worked with the safeties over a five-day period. The Husker defense took a huge step in the right direction jumping from 112th in 2007 to 55th last season (Pelini’s first) in total defense but that improvement also left a void because Nebraska ranked 97th nationally last season with 17 forced turnovers. Twelve were interceptions, but only six were by members of the secondary.

Asante is a talented player that came to Lincoln in 2007 with much fanfare as Husker fans were expecting that hard-hitting safety in the mold of Minter or Mike Brown. Asante, like most Husker defenders, had a terrible 2007 season but showed promise in 2008. Asante has the ability to be a difference-maker and maybe Minter imparting his wisdom makes a difference.

Minter has been coaching high school football since retiring after the 2006 season, teaching youngsters what he has learned throughout the years. Among what Minter has been teaching Asante is “how to watch film.” Meaning it’s not enough just to pop the tape (or DVD) into the machine for 15 minutes. It’s about “what” to watch.

One or two players on the field will invariably tell you what everyone else is doing. College and NFL quarterbacks are taught to look one way first and then throw the other. Also, don’t look at the running back if you are a safety or the receiver will run by you.

Offensive linemen will also dictate whether the play is a run or pass. If the linemen have a “low hat,” it’s a run. If the linemen have a “high hat,” it’s a pass.

Since Minter had success in both college and NFL, knowing that college players often have aspirations of playing in the NFL, Minter said, “This is the best year of your life. Have fun and everything else will take care of itself.”

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