Coach Anderson Talks about the 2008 Huskers

By NU Athletic Communications
The Huskers open the 2008 season at Stanford on Feb. 22.
The Huskers open the 2008 season at Stanford on Feb. 22.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Head Coach Mike Anderson Remarks - Feb. 12, 2008
Opening Statement
“This time of year creates excitement. It’s baseball season. The colder it gets, the closer it gets, it seems. We’re very excited about this team. The best way to describe this team is that it is extremely fun to come to office each day and know that I’m going to get to coach these kids. It’s a good vibe, a good feel, and I’m excited about it.

Obviously, there are a number of changes that have gone on in our program and in college baseball, too. I’m excited to see how the changes in the NCAA shape up with a new start date, the practice times, all those things. We’re excited to see how the season shapes up.  We have some guys who are proven, some guys who have promise and some guys who have potential. If we can mix and mold and put those pieces of the puzzle together, we’ll be in good shape.

These kids are prepared for the challenges and another extremely tough schedule. We have one of the toughest schedules in the conference. That’s what we’ve tried to do – put it out there to play the toughest, play the best, and let’s see what happens. I think this journey is going to have some ups and downs. The only reason I say that is because we have some freshmen who on days where we think they’re going to do well, they may not; and days where we think they’re not going to do well, they may. Let’s have fun with it, let’s go, let’s take the journey where it can go and see what happens.”

On Nebraska’s non-conference schedule being for younger players
“I don’t think it can be bad. I think it can be challenging. Obviously, there’s going to be adversity through it, but two and three years ago, when I started making those schedules, you make it a tough schedule. This one happens to be with a team that has some youth on it, and you go from there. I think scheduling like that, you have to be prepared for youth or experience or whoever takes that challenge on. With our 2005 team, there were some times in there where we rolled through a schedule pretty quickly and easily with things. It would have been nice to have that schedule with this team, but you make that schedule two and three years in advance and try to anticipate and that’s hard to do not knowing the draft and who may or may not be there.”

On the advantage of a uniform start date for cold-weather schools
“The jury is still out on it. With our 2001 team, we went down to play Rice. They had played 12 games, and we had played a grand total of zero at that point. They beat us 16-2, and later in the year, we progressed and kept building and getting stronger and saw them in a Super Regional. It couldn’t have worked out any better in terms of that, so now, those teams are going to be on the same footing. There are some things, such as a ball thrown away, an error here, a pitcher not getting the job done, that those types of things happen for every team early in the year. When you get to 12, 13, 14 games, you start to iron some of those things out. You’re playing teams that have one or two under their belts, and they haven’t ironed those things out. I’d like to think that there’s going to be some even footing in the beginning.”

On the positives of indoor practices
“From a hitting standpoint, I truly believe that the preparation can be advanced. You can be better off because of the short drills. You can make changes in a swing, in the mechanical part of a swing, better than you can outdoors. I think as kids and coaches, we can lend ourselves to focus on the small things and make those little adjustments and adaptations versus being outside, where you have a broad focus and you see that ball fly all the time. From a team defense and pitching standpoint, there are things you’d like to be outside for to get the whole process going.”

On the team’s community service
“Those types of things are important. This team had the highest GPA in the fall semester in the last 10 years. This team went out and performed over 350 community service hours, along with coaches curing the Christmas break. We raised $12,000 for City Impact here in town. This has been my philosophy. It’s not new; it’s not different. These young men need to understand this is a privilege and an honor, and they’re here to serve each other, the community and this university. From a teaching standpoint, this is the first step in trying to take care of somebody else. Maybe it’s your girlfriend next, then your wife, then your kids. We’re all adults here and we all understand that at some point we have to get off what we’re doing and take care of other people. They need to learn that at the age of 19. Does that mean we’re perfect and we’re never going to make mistakes? Heck no. But it’s our job to do that – it’s my job as a leader to say that we’re going to do these things. It’s not new. It’s just making people understand that we have great kids.”

On new players stepping in at position play
“At first base, we have Tyler Farst and Cody Neer, our two new guys who could contribute over there. Cody Neer stepped in as a catcher after we lost Drew Gray to a shoulder injury. He’s going to be out hopefully just six weeks. That adds a little more to what happens with Cody Neer at first base. Tyler Farst can also play leftfield for us. Second base, we have Jake Opitz. At shortshop, we have Ben Kline and Jeff Tezak, along with Jake Mort in that position.  The other two new guys who are new to our program are Joe Hatasaki, a left-handed pitcher, and Eric Anderson. He’s from Barton Community College in Kansas. He had signed with us to come next year. Two of the kids in that situation were far advanced academically in their junior college levels, and it was in their best interest to be here from an academic standpoint. Eric Anderson also knew DJ Belfonte pretty well, so that was a good connection. Those are some additions.”

On the outfield
“We have DJ (Belfonte) and Bryce (Nimmo). I think you’ll see Tyler Farst, Nick Sullivan and David Stewart out there at some point. I don’t think there’s a pressure to play David Stewart immediately. The freshmen that we have, we don’t want to just thrust them in and say ‘hey, go.’ We’d like to try to put them in opportunities where they can succeed.”

On finding power in the lineup
“I think we win games by scoring runs. I’d like to be able to think that we can score some runs without homeruns. I’d like to think that this team could go out and hit 40 somewhere. I do think we can score runs. We can manufacture the way we need to. Home runs would be nice, and I think we’re on the right recruiting trail with kids who can do that. The kids we’ve signed, and some of the bigger kids we’ve signed – Tyler Farst, Cody Neer, David Stewart, Tyler Rank – they can develop power. I wouldn’t anticipate them hitting for power now. We needed to back to some bigger, stronger guys in our lineup.” 

On developing the pitching rotation
“I know we have a rotation. You’ll see some guys you know – Johnny Dorn, Thad Weber, Dan Jennings will be in there. How we put them together is different. Some of the other guys I’m really excited about. We have four freshmen who have done very well, and three of them are Nebraska kids in Casey Hauptmann, Sean Yost and Matt Freeman. It’s nice to see the Nebraska kids stepping up as freshmen. We’re going to try to put them in positions to succeed. Michael Mariot is another freshman who has been doing a great job. From the pitching standpoint, those guys have to go out and perform the way the can. Then we have to find some guys who can work in the middle. We think we’re developing those types of kids. Eric Anderson is another nice addition. Erik Bird and Zach Herr are great guys on the back side. We’re trying to piece together how we can win a nine-inning baseball game. I’d like to be able to think at some point, we’ll piece it together pretty well.”

On senior Johnny Dorn
“The kid goes out and wins nine or 10 games every year. You can’t expect or want more than that. He leads our team by example. Johnny is not an outspoken kid. We don’t expect him to be a leader that way, but I can tell you this, that when kids have come into our program the last two year, the very first thing I’ve said to our freshmen pitchers is ‘follow this guy and watch what he does.’ Our young guys do that. They understand the type of person he is.” 

On the pitching staff
“I’m encouraged by Dan Jennings. I’m encouraged by Thad Weber. They’re pretty motivated. A lot of people don’t know who they are right now. Halfway through the year, they might be leading our team. That’s kind of what the process is. I remember mentioning guys like Joba Chamberlain a few years back, hoping that a guy takes off. Guys like Aaron Marsden and a little guy named Shane Komine that we didn’t know much about – that’s what this whole thing is about. We’re taking kids through this journey and getting them a chance to succeed and develop. I think he can develop into a Friday night guy. We’ve been so successful with him sitting in the second spot, the Saturday spot, it’s tough to say ‘go get it on that Friday’ if it’s working well on Saturday. We’ll be smart about where we put him.”

On Stanford
“Stanford returns some guys on their offense. They have their three-hole hitter and their leadoff guy back. They got hot late. They won probably 10 of the last 11. Their pitching was a little up and down throughout the year. My guess is they have some veterans on the pitching side of things, but those veterans didn’t perform well last year. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to perform well this year. They’re back. From the offensive side of things, their three-hole hitter had a very good year for them. I think they set themselves up well defensively too. They got hot late, so I think they were down most of the year and then caught fire and got themselves to 28-28. I think they’re a team that’s going out and trying to prove some things.”

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