LINCOLN — I-back Rex Burkhead and linebacker Sean Fisher took the first step toward repeating as Academic All-Americans on Thursday, and were joined by twins Spencer and Jake Long as Nebraska players on the Academic All-District 7 team.
The team was selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Burkhead carries a 3.45 grade point average in history and was a first-team Academic All-American a year ago. Fisher, a business administration major, was a second-team pick in 2011 and is one of only three members on the All-District 7 team with a 4.0 GPA.
Spencer Long carries a 3.76 grade point average and Jake Long a 3.84, and both juniors are majoring in biological sciences. Spencer Long repeated on the all-district team.
The Academic All-America team will be announced in December.
“We put a high value on what these kids are doing academically and what we ask them to do,” NU coach Bo Pelini said Thursday. “It's a good example for the rest of the football team, because that's what they're here for to do first.”
Burkhead doubtful, Marlowe '50-50'
Pelini said Thursday that Burkhead is doubtful for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday with Penn State, making it likely that the senior misses a third straight game because of his injured knee.
Receiver Tim Marlowe is “probably 50-50 right now,” Pelini said, because of an injured shoulder. “Everybody else is good to go,” he said.
Nittany Lion QB hard to get a hold of
Nebraska will be challenged to pressure Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin, something Pelini attributes to McGloin being a “quick-rhythm thrower.”
Despite having 350 passing attempts this season, the Nittany Lions have allowed just 13 sacks. And four of those came in the 35-23 loss to Ohio State two weeks ago.
“He gets the ball in and out,” Pelini said. “A lot of quick-rhythm passing game. Hopefully we can challenge and get on some routes, and make him hold the ball a little longer.”
The surprise is that McGloin is not an overly mobile quarterback and PSU doesn't move him around much.
“They kind of do what they do, and he's quick with the football,” Pelini said. “He makes quick decisions and dumps the ball.”
McGloin is completing 62.1 percent of his passes for a Big Ten-best 2,436 yards. The senior also has 18 touchdown passes with just three interceptions.
NU has 24 sacks on the season, led by defensive end Eric Martin with 6Ĺ.
Fourth down fair game for Penn State
Penn State has attempted 10 more fourth-down conversions than any other team in the Big Ten, giving the Husker defense something to stay aware of Saturday.
The Nittany Lions have converted on 16 of 30 attempts (53.3 percent). Pelini said some of head coach Bill O'Brien's rationale likely has to do with Penn State's problem in its kicking game (7 of 14 on field goals).
“Obviously he feels it's the right thing to do for his team,” Pelini said. “They're aggressive. I don't know what their percentage is — I don't pay attention to all that — but we're prepared in case they decide to go that route.”
— Rich Kaipust