Bo Pelini met with the media on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Bo Pelini Press Conference - March 6

By NU Athletic Communications

Bo Pelini Press Conference 3-6-12

Opening Statement
"We're getting finished up on the winter aspect of what we're doing and looking forward to spring practice. I think we got a lot accomplished and we like the direction this team is heading and going into spring practice. We have a lot to get accomplished and I think as you see in the schedule, we are going to practice three times before break and give them a break for spring break, then come back for our final 12. I think everyone is looking forward to it. So, I'll open up for any questions you've got."

On establishing new playmakers on defense
"Well, I like the potential we have coming back on defense. Any year at a place like this, you'll lose some good players. I think we have some really good potential. I like the leadership and the potential of the guys coming back, that's why I think spring is important. We have a lot of good young talent that needs to keep developing. That's a big part of what we are trying to get accomplished."

On Mohammad Seisay and how he will adapt to Nebraska
"Well, Mo has been through it a little bit. You know, he's obviously started at Memphis and then went to a junior college, then here. He has been there and done that. I think he understands what is required of him and the things that are going to be necessary for him to learn and develop. He is a talented guy. He is somebody that when I watched him go through the winter, I think he has his feet on the ground here. I think he is comfortable. I think he has used that opportunity to learn playbook-wise. He is developing and understanding what we are trying to get accomplished. Now it is just a chance to put it on the field."

On the center position and the list of candidates
"Well I think it is going to be a really good competition. You've got Cole Pensick, Justin Jackson, Mark Pelini and Ryne Reeves. We have four guys that we feel like are good football players. There is a lot of potential there for competition and I think competition makes you better. Now it is up to us to get them all reps and get them taught and give them a chance to put their best foot forward."

On if Pelini has given any thought to Spencer Long at the position
"No. You know, I like where Spencer is right now. We feel good about the center spot and the potential we have there. I think taking an All-Conference performer and moving him isn't something we want to do right now. I like the way we have it set up right now and we have good depth at the offensive line. I said that last year and seemed like we had a bunch of injuries at that spot but going into the spring we are pretty healthy and there's lots of potential there and we have a chance to come out of it with a pretty deep unit."

On Braylon Heard's move to DB
"Well, he is real sudden. He is strong, tough. He has all the skills and footwork to be really good there. I've talked to him a number of times. It's not something where we just said, hey, we're moving you. We talked to him about it and laid it out for him. In fact, I double checked with him last week and at the end of the day, where do you want to play. He is one of those guys that could play at a number of spots and help our football team and he wants to give corner a go. He has played it in the past and he was a good corner in high school and sees an opportunity there and wants to give it a shot. I know he can play running back for us and I'm pretty sure he could play receiver. A guy as talented as him, he could play any number of spots. I just wanted to make sure he is going to line up where he felt he had the best opportunity and where he wanted to play. He wanted to give corner a shot and I think he has a heck of an opportunity."

On what Pelini can tell about hiring a new secondary coach
"Well, I can't talk about anybody right now until paperwork and certain things have to be accomplished. You guys have all reported it. You guys reported it and if everything happens the way we think it is going to happen I think he will be a tremendous addition to the staff. I've worked with him. He is about as perfect of a fit you can have. If everything goes through like we think it is going to, it'll be a steal. He is a good football coach, great person and will bring a lot to the staff."

On  what Pelini wants to see out of quarterback Taylor Martinez this spring
"That is more for Tim (Beck) but we watch a lot of film and watch things from last year. Last year, he was put in a new offense and lot of new things for him to learn. You put a quarterback in the type of system that we run, and a lot of things go through our quarterback and he had a lot on his plate, just learning what to do. Now is about refining the what and learning the how and learning details. To his defense, and to his credit to a certain extent, he didn't have the opportunity to work on it last year. This will be the first time in his career he has spent a second year in the same system. That's going to be a big advantage to him so he can start concentrating on getting better at the little things and refining the techniques and fundamentals that ultimately will allow him to grow at quarterback."

On if Pelini plans to let Jamal Turner take reps at quarterback
"We'll see. That isn't something we are doing on the surface but we know he is a guy that could move over there and be there if we need him for some snaps. We feel good about the quarterback position and how we have it set up and Jamal, first things first, we want to get him honed up at the wide receiver spot so he can continue to grow. He hasn't played there for a long time and we want to give him the best chance to let that talent come through."

On who is best suited to replace Lavonte David
"To sit there and say we are going to replace Lavonte, yeah, you'll put somebody at that spot but everybody has different strengths and defenses. He was a special player and a little different than the guys. Every guy is a little different. He was different from the guys that played before and is different than the guys that will play this year. They can all be effective, it is just a matter of playing to their strengths and putting them in position to make plays. To sit there and say we will clone Lavonte David and say we will get the same kind of play and production out of that spot, it doesn't work that way. We have Alonzo Whaley, David Santos, those are the guys that are going to line up there first and we will reevaluate it from there and see how it goes from there. Sean Fisher will line up on the other side, and we know he is a guy that has played well in the past and is probably the healthiest he has been in a few years and has had a good winter. Max Pirman is a guy that is on the come and obviously at the linebacker spot you have Compton and Roach that we feel really good about. We have numbers at the linebacker spot and we will just see how it plays out and evaluate it and figure out the best combination as we go."

On what Alonzo Whaley brings to the table during his senior year
"Well I think Zo has grown up. He is a lot more confident than he has ever been and become a leader on this team. I think he has matured and grown as a football player. We hope that continues and makes the strides he did last year and he has become a really good football player."

On what Pelini sees in David Santos
"I think he is a talented guy. Physically talented guy who can play multiple spots. He is athletic but has nice size. He is bigger on the surface than Lavonte was, especially when he got here. He has tremendous potential. Everything we thought he was when we recruited him, he has that potential. He is not the finished product and has a lot to learn but the potential is there."

On the tackles on the offensive line
"We feel good about the tackle spot. Tyler Moore who is a true freshman played a lot of football and is going to be special down the road. Jeremiah Sirles has played a lot of football here, is healthy and we have a lot of option at the tackle spot that are on the come. Not just at the tackle spot, but across the offensive line, there are some numbers and depth and tremendous competition that will make everyone better. Competition is big and we will have that at the line spot. There will be guys competing for playing time."

On Mike Marrow's role
"I see Mike as a guy who can do a lot of different things for us. He will primarily line up at the fullback spot for us. He is a big back who can run. He can be a good short yardage, in line, between-the-tackles runner. He is big and physical and tough. There are a lot of things we can do with him. We have to get him honed up and learn the offense and what to do. We feel real good and he is in really good shape. He has used the last year and a half well to get himself prepared to play and as long as he stays on the same track as now, he can be a guy that can help us."

Will he play fullback?
"Yeah, fullback and he will carry the ball from the tailback spot too."

On what the spring does for a guy like Rex Burkhead? Is it just about refining?
"Absolutely. Every single guy, there isn't a guy out there that has reached potential. It is about refining and getting better each and every day. That is the goal. Rex would be the first one to tell you there are some things he could have done better last year. He is up there watching film all the time. He is his toughest critic. He is anxious. As a football team, I like the attitude of the guys. I think our guys are hungry and understand spring practice is important and everyday leading up to the season is important if we want to get where we want to go. That process started months ago and will continue right on through. Every day is important for every guy out there."

On Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah and what Pelini wants from them
"I would say the same thing we talked about with Rex.  Getting better. They're two talented young men and guys that can do a lot of things. They were thrown in as true freshman into a role that they were learning what to do and playing off of instincts and those things. Now they have a chance to refine what they know with another year in the system. It is our job to put the ball in their hands more often than they did a year ago. They're not freshmen anymore. They stopped being freshman a long time ago and I think they can be a force for our football team. They're both tremendously talented players."

On if Pelini feels any different about whose hands this team is in, considering all of the seniors
"No. I think it is in our hands. When I say our, I mean everybody. We have great talent and leadership in this group. I like the chemistry that is going on on our football team but you have to work on it every day. That isn't something that is just going to happen. We have to continue to work at it. Between the players and coaches and everybody involved , everybody is on the same page of what we need to happen. We need to be ready to live it and that is a challenge, to do it day in and day out."

On how John Papuchis differs from Carl Pelini
"Every coach is different. Everybody has their different personality. You have to make it work for you. I'm different from J.P. and Tim (Beck) and right on down the line. You have to  coach within what your personality is, but there are certain things that got you into the position that you're in. You have to play to your strengths and work on weaknesses. J.P. when you think about it has had a pretty meteoric rise in this profession. He has earned getting to where he is today. You talk about somebody who made a tremendous amount of personal sacrifice to give himself the opportunity and he has made the most of it. It hasn't been an easy road for him but he has taken advantage of it and stayed the course. He should serve as a person who had a goal and wants certain things and keep fighting to go get it. That is what he has done and I'm happy for him that he has this opportunity."

On Khiry Cooper's status
"Khiry is not going to be back with the football team. The door is open for him if he chooses to come back. He is graduating."

On when Cooper will graduate
"I think he is graduating this semester, I believe."

On why he decided not to come back
"That's something you'll have to talk to him about. What he wants to do with baseball and where football fits in."

On if it matters to Pelini if the spring game is televised

On if it helps with recruiting
"That's the point. For recruiting and fans. I've heard a number of different things as to what the plan was there and when it would air. I don't know how much that helps us.  It's not that big of a deal one way or another. I think it'll be good for our fans."

On if Pelini would change uniforms to help recruiting
"I don't know. It depends what the uniform looked like and depends on the kid. I don't know how much that stuff helps or hurts you. It probably depends on the kid. Let's face it, if a kid is coming to our team based on the uniform, then he probably needs to reevaluate his priorities. It is all a part of it. Have I considered that? I look at everything that is brought to us. We make those decisions as a group."

On the advantages of having a young defensive staff
"I love our staff on defense. I like what we are doing. I like to recruit, and hire the best people. Obviously you're looking for good football coaches and good people. Guys I believe can recruit and for the most part, guys that see eye to eye with the way I want to do things. I'm also looking for guys that think outside of the box and guys that are willing to speak up and disagree. All of those things are important to me. I think we have a good mix and like I said, I like our staff. I like it a lot."

On why Pelini would want people to disagree
"I don't want to surround myself with a bunch of people who will tell me I'm right all the time because I'm not always right. We are all working toward the same goal. I want people who will work together and speak their mind, but when you walk out of the room, you aren't being disagreeable. When you walk out, you want to be on the same page and stay on the same page. I just believe that is important. From my time when I was young in this profession and just getting started, I've seen both ways. I believe the right way are the guys that are willing to speak their mind and put out an idea and if they think something is wrong, have an idea why it is wrong. That is the right way of going about it. I see that happen throughout our staff. You also have to have the right type of people. I mention that. You have to have people who aren't ego-driven. A guy who brings up an idea but someone disagrees, it isn't looked at as an attack on his personal character. In the end, we are all working together for the same thing. You have to check your ego on the way in the door when you walk in and you're part of a team, not just as a football team but as a coaching staff and how it relates to the players. All of this is important to get where you need to be."

On Chase Rome and who is expected to miss practice
"Early on, Kevin Williams and Thad Randle will miss the first couple of days. Todd Peat will be out for spring practice. Jake Cotton is still rehabbing. I think that is it."

On if Peat had an injury
"Yes, he had a back issue he had to get cleared up."

He is out the entire spring?
"More than likely, yeah."

Same with Cotton?
"More than likely, yeah."

He's rehabbing a knee?
"Yes. I will say that they're all on the track we thought they would be on right now."

On Martinez taking a veteran step and owning the role
"Well, I think he has made that adjustment to an extent. I think he has been different this offseason than he was last. He continues to grow and I like his evolution up to this point but he has to continue to grow. It is all part of the process. He has a lot of football ahead of him and has talent behind him. I'm excited about Brion Carnes. I think this competition will ramp up this spring and I think Brion has made a lot of strides this off-season and through the winter. He will be fun to watch as the spring goes on and I think the position as a whole has to keep refining and getting better and working on strengths."

On if anybody else will take snaps at quarterback
"Bronson Marsh."

What went back into that decision
"Well, I laid it out for Bronson. He showed some talent when we were over there for the bowl game and he played a lot of scout team quarterback for us and I laid it out to him. I said this is how I see it, what do you want to do. He wants to take the spring and give it a shot. He said I've always dreamed of playing quarterback at Nebraska and I think I can do it and I'd like a shot at it. He goes if I didn't give it this one chance, I think I'd be kicking myself and I said, that's fine. Let's do it. I told him we will continue to communicate through the whole process and if we feel that it isn't going to happen, we can sit down and talk about it and move you back to defense. That is kind of how we have been going about it. We want him to have ownership and play where his heart is."

On the main focus of spring practice
"Details. Details and refining what we are doing. Developing greater knowledge. My whole theme of this offseason has been accountability and raising our level of accountability to a level it hasn't been to yet. Does that mean it has been bad? No. But I'm looking at taking it to another level. That pertains to a lot of areas when you talk about football. You're talking about accountability which leads to mental toughness which leads to attention to detail which leads to ultimately becoming a better football team. That is what I am looking for through the spring, top to bottom and front to back. Coaches included. Me included. That is what I am hoping to get out of the spring."

On the move to a playoff in college football and if Pelini agrees
"You know what I always say is, you hear a lot of different things and you hear things about a playoff. Find one that makes sense and give me a plan. There is a lot of theory and theoretical things. I could end up on the moon tomorrow. That's probably not going to happen. Let's get something that is workable and every proposal that has been put out there has reprocussions. They don't just pertain to those four teams in the playoffs, but what about everyone else? I think to a certain extent, fans, media, everybody involved, the TV people, be careful what you ask for. We have a pretty good product in college football with the bowls. There are a lot of good things. How do you get a four team playoff without messing up a pretty good thing? That is how I look at it. We have a good thing going and unless everyone comes to a conclusion and this is what it entails and how it will affect college football, then I think that everybody can sit down and agree or disagree on the way it goes. Right now, I don't think that has happened. There is a big push for a playoff, but you have to be careful about what you're looking to get. There will be far-reaching implications to a system like that which could lead to a significant change in the sport of college football and I'm not sure anybody truly wants that. But we'll see. There is a big groundswell for it, but I haven't heard of a plan that truly makes sense yet.         


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