Nebraska’s off-week was a time for reflection. At least that’s the impression one got from listening to the coach and players at Monday’s weekly press conference.
The Huskers were sent searching for answers, yet again, following the 63-38 loss to Ohio State two weeks ago. With no game to play, no opportunity to get the bad taste out of their mouths, how did the team respond last week?
“Our team was pretty quiet last week,” coach Bo Pelini said. “They kind of took a workmanlike approach. They understand what’s in front of them…I wanted an angry team. I think that’s what I’ve got right now.”
But, as Pelini noted, anybody can be angry. Nebraska should be angry, but it what the Huskers do with that anger that will define the season moving forward. That still all centers on one key word: Execution.
“It comes back down to execution, no matter what your emotions or motivation are,” Pelini said. “Sometimes in life you’ve got to get hit in the mouth to pick up your resolve and get back to the realization that it’s not just going to happen for (you). You get what you earn in this world.”
The Huskers top-to-bottom review period last week could lead to some personnel shuffling when Nebraska takes the field on Saturday. Senior safety Justin Blatchford will get a look at the dime back position while senior cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who started against Ohio State for match-up reasons, played well enough in that game to stay in the mix to start this week.
“We’ve been mixing guys around a little bit,” Pelini said. “What I’ve learned in situations like this is that there are short-term solutions and long-term solutions. You’ve got to go with what you feel gives you the best opportunity to win right now and I think we’re doing that.”
One thing that won’t change is Nebraska’s tempo on offense. The Huskers currently rank 48th nationally in total defense but when asked if Nebraska would try to limit their exposure by controlling the clock offensively Pelini responded with a flat “no.”
Thus, it’s back to “the process,” something Pelini defined as “do(ing) everything in your power in that particular day to be the best you possibly can on that day.”
“I believe in my process,” he said. “I’ve been around it long enough that I believe in what I’m trying to do. I know that the process works.
“Obviously I question things. I turn over every leaf, I turn over every rock to find out where we got off of that process. I’m not one that sits there and looks at it and says ‘it just happened by chance.’ You have to continually look for solutions and ways to make it better so it doesn’t happen again. Some things you can put a finger on, some things you can’t put a finger on. At the end of the day, it’s not magical. It comes down to preparation and execution.”
A few other notes from Monday’s press conference:
–Senior wide receiver Tim Marlowe is fully cleared to play this week after breaking his collar bone in the first quarter of Nebraska’s season opener.
–Pelini said senior running back Rex Burkhead had a “good week” after re-injuring his left knee and is still expected play against Northwestern.
“We’ll kind of ease him into it,” Pelini said of Burkhead’s practice load. “I don’t know if it will be a normal workload early in the week, but it will progress to that.”
–Quarterback Taylor Martinez was asked if he needed to improve his ball security after losing four fumbles in Nebraska’s past four games. Two of those fumbles came when Martinez was stripped from behind on passing plays.
“It’s kind of hard if you can’t see the guy coming around and hitting the ball out of your hands,” Martinez said.
Pelini sees it a different way.
“I put it on him,” Pelini said. “It’s a team game, and there are other guys involved in that, but he’s got to put the ball away.”