WHAT ABOUT REX
Nothing new to report on the status of I-back Rex Burkhead, who was sidelined early in Nebraska’s 49-20 victory against Southern Miss with a sprained MCL. “No changes there,” Bo Pelini said at his weekly news conference on Monday. “He’s questionable and day-to-day. We’ll see how it goes.”
Burkhead had an MRI on Sunday, and “it was just as we thought,” said Pelini.
So will Burkhead make this week’s trip to UCLA with the team?
“Right now he does,” Pelini said.
Would Burkhead’s injury require surgery after the season?
“No, if there was surgery required, we’d have it done right now,” said Pelini.
WHAT ABOUT BEN
Senior tight end Ben Cotton was sidelined in the Southern Miss game with sore ribs. But “I’m sure he’s going to play (against UCLA),” said Pelini. “He was just sore and uncomfortable. He went back in for a little bit, at times. He wasn’t really responding the way he wanted to respond. He felt a little bit hampered in his movement, so we shut him down.”
AND WHAT ABOUT TIM
Senior wide receiver Tim Marlowe suffered a broken collarbone and underwent surgery on Sunday. The surgery “went really well,” Pelini said, adding that Marlow will be sidelined “just as long as it takes that bone to heal,” which could be by the end of October.
“He’ll be here for the stretch run, I think,” said Pelini.
ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Quarterback Taylor Martinez had a career-passing performance against Southern Miss, completing 26-of-34 for 354 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception.
Nevertheless, “there were a couple of instances I think he’ll want back,” Pelini said. “He left a couple of plays out there, but he went through his reads well.
“He made a lot of good decisions . . . he made his share of mistakes, too. He’d be the first one to tell you he didn’t play a perfect game. But I don’t know anyone that has.”
ASSESSING THE DEFENSE
Though Southern Miss did score 20 points, the Golden Eagles managed only 260 yards, including 108 in the second half – and three of the points. “There are just some little things here and there that we need to clean up, some techniques and adjustments and communication errors,” Pelini said. “That’s to be expected in game one, especially in a game where you didn’t have a whole lot to go off of going in. Our guys adjusted pretty well. There were a lot of positives.”
The Huskers had 11 tackles for losses, for example, “and I think we left four or five out there on the field,” said Pelini. “We left a couple of sacks out there.”
Overall, however, “I think our defense has the potential to be very good. It has a chance to be outstanding. I think we’re ahead of where we were a year ago,” he said.
“There’s no question in my mind.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Among the negatives, of course, was the 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tracy Lampley of Southern Miss. “There were a couple of player breakdowns on the play,” Pelini said. “Obviously, I’m not one to name names, but we didn’t execute the way we needed to. There were three or four guys to blame . . . we had two guys that were unblocked. They didn’t respond the right way.”
NO CONCERNS ABOUT BRETT
Brett missed field goal attempts of 44 and 41 yards and his only punt went 21 yards and out of bounds. But “Brett will be fine,” said Pelini. “That’s a blip on the radar as far as I’m concerned. He’s a prideful guy and an outstanding player. He’s the least of my worries right now. He probably suffered from trying to be an All-American on every kick instead of just doing what he does.
“Sometimes guys do that. My message to him will be to just do what he does.”
Nebraska’s roster includes eight Californians, six of whom are regulars: Taylor Martinez, Quincy Enunwa, Cameron Meredith, Daimion Stafford, Eric Martin and Josh Mitchell. Thomas Brown and Corey Whitaker are true freshmen who likely will be redshirted.
Given the distance as well as Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten, Pelini was asked if he has moved away from recruiting in California. “No, not at all,” he said. “We’ve continue to have good success out there. We’ve had good interest. A lot of good California kids aren’t afraid to go away.”
INTEREST IN HUNDLEY
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is a redshirted freshman. Pelini was asked if the Huskers had offered him a scholarship out of high school in Chandler, Ariz. “I don’t know,” said Pelini. “I know we looked at him, but I can’t remember. That was a long time ago for me. He’s a good football player, though.”
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Hundley completed 21-of-28 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate start against Rice. He also ran 72 yards for a touchdown on the first snap he took.
DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST ALSO
Like Pelini, UCLA’s new head coach Jim Mora has a defensive background. In addition to being a head coach for four of his 25 years in the NFL, he was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator for five years. In fact, he went to the 49ers as secondary coach in 1997, the year after Pelini left the 49ers, for whom he was an assistant secondary coach, to be the linebackers coach for the New England Patriots.
“He’s a heck of a coach, a great person, a good family man,” said Pelini. “We’ve had different backgrounds on defense, but we’ve had some crossover. He worked with some of the guys when I left San Francisco. There are some correlations there. I don’t know how involved he is with the defense (now) . . . but he has a 3-4 background from when he was with the Saints.
“You can see a lot of different things.”