Weekly Press Conference
Monday, Nov. 21, 2011
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Head Coach Bo Pelini
On where the defense would be without Lavonte David
"He is a good player. He is a really good football player, and I'm glad he is on our team. Where would we be without him? I guess I don't know what that means. If you take a good football player out of your defense, you don't play as good."
On how to change the roller-coaster mentality
"You just have to go week-to-week. You have to execute. I thought our guys emotionally were fired up for the Michigan game. You can't come out and make mistakes. Bottom line, especially on the road. You can't let that stuff happen to you. It seemed like things happened in a myriad of ways. I told our guys yesterday that you have to have respect for the game and come out ready to execute. If you don't, you're going to put yourself in a tough position. It seemed like everything that could happen to us the other day, did happen to us. You have to fight against that."
On how difficult it is to focus knowing that the team cannot win the division
"It's not difficult at all. It is about pride and the next game."
On the perception that the team is stuck in neutral
"I don't care about the perception. The program has come a long way."
On if Pelini understands why that might be out there
"No. But, I don't really care what is out there. What I concern myself with is where the program is right now, and I'm proud of where it is right now."
On Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
"He is a really good football coach and has done a heck of a job over a lot of years."
On what Pelini sees from Iowa
"Good football team that is well-coached. They play hard and physical. They're not real fancy, but they're physical and execute well."
On Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt and the problems he presents
"He is a really good player. He has great hands and is big and physical. He is going to be a good player on Sunday."
On what is different preparation-wise on a short week
"You just approach it a little different. We will get more done today than we do on a normal Monday. We have one less day so you have to amp things up a bit."
On the journey Pelini has had with his current seniors
"Every kid on this team means a lot to me. These guys have been with me now for four years, and it's never easy watching them leave. It's pretty emotional for them playing their last home game. You go through this every year, and it's never easy to say goodbye to guys but that's part of the deal. Like I said, it is always an emotional day."
On the walk-on program and what it means to Pelini
"I think it is a testament to the players and how hard they've worked and developed. It speaks to the type of commitment they've given. You go across the board and see a lot of guys who have contributed. Some of them have given up scholarship money and such, and it shows the type of young men they are. They believed in themselves, made a commitment and made the most of it."
On the revival of the walk-on program
"It's really important. Especially here, where we are geographically. It is an important part of our program and one that we have had success with."
On what Pelini is proud of about this program
"We are a better football team and the program has made strides from where it was when I walked in the door here. Our players are doing well academically and our kids represent the state and university the right way. They're a good representative of what you want this program to be about."
On the field
"I think we're playing good football and we compete every week. We are not winning the division championship right now, that didn't happen. Over the past few years we have been right there. We have won at least a share all three years that I've been here. This year it didn't happen for us. We have had some tough times. We have had a lot of injuries. We have had some things happen to us, but our kids are still coming out and representing the program the right way."
On if you can factor in the schedule to contribute to this year's difficulty
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy coming into this year. New conference, 11 new opponents, I knew it wasn't going to be easy."
On playing Iowa on the day after Thanksgiving
"We have a lot of respect for their program, coaching staff and fan base. It'll be a good tradition to play the University of Iowa every year."
On not forcing a rivalry but letting it create itself
"I don't think anybody is trying to force anything. I think it is a natural thing. Big Ten matched us up on the last weekend, and I think it was the right thing to do."
On if Pelini has seen the trophy
"I saw a picture of it."
Did Pelini like it?
On why Pelini didn't play reserve quarterback Brion Carnes at the end of the Michigan game
"We wanted to keep playing. We wanted to leave Taylor (Martinez) in the football game. Simple as that."
So Pelini didn't want to develop his second-string guy
"Well, we left our first team in there. Taylor is our first-team quarterback. If we would have done that, we would have put our whole second team in."
On Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg and his decision making
"I think he manages the game well and does a really good job. He is a good player and they have a good mix of run and pass. He is pretty efficient as a quarterback. He doesn't throw a lot of balls and makes good decisions."
On what the defense emphasizes this week
"We have to execute and cover guys. We have to close rush lanes. He is a good pocket passer so we have to have a good mix and keep him off-balance and cover the guys down the field."
On the percentage that Iowa runs a no-huddle
"Percentage? It's early in the week. It isn't a high percentage."
On injured defensive tackle Jared Crick and what he's meant to the team
"We obviously miss Crick. He is a guy who is a pretty good and anytime you take a guy like that out of the mix, you're going to miss him some."
On how Crick has handled the situation
"Well I think it has hurt him. He has been disappointed. He wanted to play his senior year and he could have came out last year, but he came back. It would have been nice to see him finish up the way he wanted to. Things happen and he is recovering quickly. He will move past this. It hasn't been an easy thing for Jared."
On Crick's potential at the next level
"I think he is going to play on Sunday. What round will he go in? I don't know. That's more for the scouts, but I know guys like him."
On which scheme is best for Crick
"That's the thing about Jared, I think he can fit into a 4-3 or a 3-4. That is a real positive for him because he can do so many things well and can play inside or outside. That lends well to him and value to him."
On what Pelini sees from Iowa's defense this season
"They're well-coached and talented and play physical. I think that lends to having a good defense. They'll look good up front and look physical. They execute well."
On being a grad assistant at Iowa
"That was a good experience. That was my first year of coaching. It was right after I graduated Ohio State my first year. I actually coached on the offensive side that year which was a great learning experience for me, having played defense. It was enjoyable."
Who were some of the coaches Pelini was with at Iowa
"Obviously, Coach (Hayden) Frye was there at head coach. Don Patterson was the offensive coordinator. I was a G.A., Mark Stoops was a G.A., Bob Stoops was a volunteer assistant at that time. Carl Jackson was on that staff for a number of years. In fact, I ended up coaching with Carl at the 49ers. Bobby Elliot and Ted Gill, there were some good coaches on that staff."
On how Pelini would describe former Iowa Coach Hayden Frye
"I have a lot of respect for him. He obviously was a really good coach, but he was a tremendous man. It was an honor to get to know him. He was very creative and kind of did it his way. He was a unique guy. A good guy."
On defensive lineman Eric Martin's status
"It is an ankle injury. We will see how the week progresses. He is questionable."
On if Ben Cotton or Andrew Rodriguez will be back this week
"Rodriguez is a no. Cotton I would say is doubtful."
On the offense's inability to run the ball against Michigan and what part the O-line played in that
"I think we have been hit with some injuries. I don't want to make excuses when you have guys go down. You have to have guys step up. We just didn't execute well enough against Michigan and however many turnovers we had didn't help. We did just enough in that game to create a tough situation for ourselves."
On how the guys are handling the loss
"I think they'll be ready to play. They're disappointed and it's a mix of emotions. Disappointment. Mad. There are a lot of emotions that go into it when you put a lot into something and don't get what you want to come out."
On if Pelini will get to watch any football on Thursday
"I'll be working on Thursday, unfortunately."
Pelini's thoughts on the no-huddle and players going down injured when the Huskers are in the no-huddle offense
"I think they need to look into something. I think it has been pretty obvious at times but it obviously hasn't been to the referees. What are you gonna do? Sometimes your hands are tied. I don't know what the answer is to that."
On if players should have to sit the entire series if they go down
"That would make sense. I don't know. It is something we will talk about in the off-season."
On if Pelini sent in the roughing-the-punter penalty to the conference for clarification
"Yeah, we haven't heard anything yet."
On if a coach loses respect for a team when they do those things
"There's no rule against it. We don't do it. Some people choose to. What are you going to do?"
On why the first string is still on the field when the game is all but over
"Because that's what we do. We run the football team."
On if Pelini fears injury to the guys
"No, I don't."
On how the defensive line has grown after the loss of Crick
"Well, we have had a lot of guys get hurt and we have had a few guys playing a lot of snaps. Obviously, they'll grow and some guys have stepped up and played like some warriors in there, considering we have been down some numbers. It's forced a few guys to play more snaps. We have gone from a deep group up front to a certain few guys playing a lot of snaps. I give those guys a lot of credit and I think they have grown from that."
On Nebraska and Iowa trying to find something to play for this weekend
"It amazes me that people could ask that question. Obviously, when you're an athlete, you compete to compete. It isn't always about trophies. There is a lot that plays into it. When you go to compete, you go to compete. Trust me, both teams will be out there ready to play."