October 22, 2008

Castille makes most of first real opportunity

At some point last week, Quentin Castille needed to know where he stood.

Frustrated with Nebraska's three-game losing streak and his own lack of involvement in the offense, Castille met with NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and running backs coach Time Beck to try and figure out exactly what his role was in the Huskers' offensive game plan

Watson and Beck told him to be patient, and that they agreed Castille had been under-utilized the past few weeks. As a result of the discussion, the sophomore from LaPorte, Texas, had one of the best games of his career on Saturday.

Castille double his yardage from the previous three weeks with 11 carries for 70 yards, highlighted by a 19-yard touchdown run to close out Nebraska's 35-7 win over Iowa State.

"I just talked to (Watson) about where I fit in as a player in the offense," Castille said. "He just told me that I fit in as well as anybody else does. He just told me to go out there and play, and so did Coach Pelini. Just go out there and play and let everything hang loose. I'm a good player, and just to not hold myself back anymore and dominate whoever.

"I brought it up because I was thinking, 'Man, I'm tired of being that team that loses all the time.' I just went in there and I was like, 'I want to know where I fit in in the offense, and anywhere I can help just let me know.' That's basically what I asked him, and (Saturday) is what I got in return."

Beck said he regretted not using Castille more in the Huskers' overtime loss to Texas Tech two weeks ago, and he agreed that the running back needed to be more involved in the offense. Beck and the NU coaches didn't waste anytime getting Castille in the mix, as he rotated into the offense from the first series of the game against ISU.

"Quentin played very well," Beck said. "He ran hard and did everything we asked him to do. He had a real good game for us… We wanted to give Q a chance because he didn't play as much as I had hoped against Tech. We felt we left a lot of yards on the field, so wanted to give Q a chance."

With the help of Castille's increased role, the Huskers were able to rush for 220 yards - their second-highest total of the season - with four touchdowns on the ground against the Cyclones.

Coming into the season, Castille was dubbed by many as the Huskers' short-yardage and goal line back because of his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame.

However, his unique combination of size, speed and agility makes him a weapon the Nebraska coaches say shouldn't be limited to short-yardage situations. In fact, Saturday may have just been the start of Castille's increased involvement.

"He's feeling good," head coach Bo Pelini said. "He's practicing well. You'll see more and more of him. He's been practicing well, and we feel that he's ready to break out and be a factor… I think he think he can be a factor in all plays, (whether) inside or outside.

"He's a good football player and I think his confidence has grown and I think he's ready to be a factor for us. If you get a guy his size that can move out on the perimeter and put him on defensive backs, he can be a big factor."

Castille said he was running with a bit of mean streak on Saturday because he wanted to show what he could do with his first chance to be a big part of the offense. Not only did his coaches take note of his performance, so did his teammates.

"He ran really physical this game," senior running back Marlon Lucky said. "Coach (Pelini) has been on him every day saying run hard, run behind your pads. He did a heck of a job last weekend. He was just punishing them."

Though Castille made the most of his time on the field on Saturday, he said he doesn't expect to suddenly start competing with Lucky for the starting running back job or anything. Castille knows he's still young, and will have plenty of chances down the road to further establish his role in Nebraska's offense.

All he ever wanted was a chance to prove himself, to show that he could do more than simply plow away for two or three yards at a time up the middle. With his performance last week, chances are he'll get plenty more.

"There were times when I got down on myself when I knew I should've been playing, but in certain situations it's just not going to happen," Castille said. "It's over and done with now, I just need to look ahead."

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