Head Coach Bo Pelini
Weekly Press Conference
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008
On getting the season started
"Yep, we’re anxious to get out here and get started and see how we stack up."
On his first game as a head coach
"It’s just another game for me. It’s about the players, it’s not about me, I’m not playing. I’m preparing the same way I always have, trying to give the team the best opportunity to win and play well."
On being ready for the first game
"We’re not ready yet. We have some more days to practice and we’ll get them ready. We have a lot of learning to do. We need to practice better than we did yesterday. We need to familiarize ourselves with our opponent. It’s a process and we’re not quite there yet. If you ever ask me on Tuesday morning if we were ready to play the game on Saturday, I would say no. If we were, they would just being going to class the rest of the week , that’s why we practice."
On the effort of the team
"The effort’s been good. Once again, we’re at that point where it’s not as consistent as I’d like it to be all the time, every play, every down, no lapses in concentration. We’re getting there."
On expectations with the Western Michigan offense
"They’re a good football team. They have a good quarterback, they have some experience back at their skill positions. They’re fairly big and physical up front and they’re well coached so we’ll have our hands full."
On Nebraska's biggest challenge against Western Michigan
"Scoring more points than they do, that’s what I’m concerned with. They can beat you and move the ball through the air and on the ground. Defensively, they are well-coached and they have some experience back. They’re a good football team and we have a lot of respect for them."
On sophomore offensive lineman Mike Smith
"He’s had a really good camp. He’s a good football player and has kind of earned his way a long. We feel good, especially with Jaivorio (Burkes) coming back, we feel like we have four quality tackles. (Lydon) Murtha can play both sides, Jaivorio can play both sides, Mike (Huff) has been at left tackle and Marcel (Jones) at our right. We feel good about our depth there."
On getting reps between I-backs Marlon Lucky, Roy Helu and Quentin Castille
"They’re three football players that all have earned playing time. That’s a great problem to have. I would anticipate Marlon will start the game. The other two guys are good football players, and they’re going to be out there some. I’m not trying to take anything away from Marlon, but you’re going to see them a lot. It’ll all depend on the way the game goes, but it’s a good problem to have."
On facing Western Michigan's defense
"We think we can be balanced. We want to establish a running game, but we’re capable and ready to throw the football. We feel good. We have good balance in our offense. That is what makes us hard to defend."
On Western Michigan's talented pair of defensive ends
"They rush a passer well. You watch them against Iowa last year and they wreaked some havoc. We feel pretty good about our tackles, so we like the match-up there, but they are good football players."
On the status of Andy Christensen
"He’s suspended and I haven’t changed that. That’s what the legal process is for."
On if Nebraska will be missing any other players this week
"Not that I know of, obviously (Anthony) Blue. Latravis (Washington) came back to practice yesterday, but he’s still trying to get his feet back underneath him. Terrence Moore will be out there today, on a limited basis, but we’ll see how he feels. At this point we are relatively healthy."
On true freshmen playing
"As of right now, no one is for sure going to play. The true freshmen that have the best opportunity to play are (Alfonzo) Dennard and (Sean) Fisher, other than that I don’t know. There are some guys in back-up roles and those decisions are based on injury. Some guys will be repping, you don’t want to use them if you don’t have to. Obviously early in the season, if someone gets hurt you’re more likely to pull a shirt from a guy. There are just a lot of other variables that we think about."
On Nebraska's junior college newcomers
"Ricky (Henry) really had a good camp and he’s going to be a good football player for us. He’s a wait-and-see guy. We’d like to redshirt him, but he’s ready to go. We’re repping him right now, but the longer the season goes, the less likely you’ll be to see Ricky. We have experience here, so we can kind of hold off that decision for now."
On Sean Fisher and Will Compton being listed as reserves on the depth chart
"They’ve learned a lot. Especially in this system, the linebackers have a lot to learn. They have a long way to go. They’re progressing, and again they are like any true freshmen. Those guys have probably come along a little bit quicker just because they’ve gotten more reps. Are they ready for the bright lights? I’m not quite sure yet."
On Fisher’s size
"He has length and he’s very athletic for his size. Eventually he’s going to be getting bigger, putting on more weight and becoming more physical. He’s done a good job, he’s pretty instinctive and obviously the length helps you a lot, especially when he’s playing on a tight end."
On starting jobs up for grabs
"They’re still up for grabs. Look at the starting lineup on Saturday and you’ll see. There are some people competing and the evaluation process will go throughout the week. I don’t know how that stands right now, but it could change hourly."
On handing out the Blackshirts
"I haven’t decided (when I’m going to do it). I’m looking for them to be earned. There’s a chance I’m going to wait for a long time (to hand them out). That’s something that we, as a staff, will talk about. What’s a Blackshirt mean if it’s just a symbol that you haven’t earned? Isn’t that the point? I think everyone wants to rush this thing. It’s the same way as when I was here the first time. I don’t see the point to it if you just hand them out to hand them out."
On the team’s attitude
"I think the leadership is doing a good job. I like that part of it. We haven’t had any incidences as of late. Everything is going smooth and they’ve set pretty high standards for themselves. They were really involved in setting the rules and a lot of the team guidelines. They didn’t put a lot of gray in it. It’s pretty strict and that really came from them, not from me."
On his pregame ritual
"It’s the same one I’ve had for a long time, but that’s kind of private."
On the similarity between last year’s offensive playbook and this year’s playbook
"Yeah (it is similar), but there are some differences. We’ve added quite a bit and deleted quite a bit. I feel really comfortable with what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. They’ve come along. We have a couple of new guys in there. It’s a new group in there, and I think they’ve meshed well. They know how to present problems for a defense. They do a good job. The offense is in extremely good hands. Not only (Coach Shawn) Watson, though I feel great about him, but the whole staff. It’s a quality staff."
On balancing his time between running the defense and assisting the offense
"As a coordinator, you had to be involved in situations, like clock management. It’s not something I haven’t done before. It’s kind of how I’ve coached in the past. There’s going to be a time where I would have normally been back there, making an adjustment, but it’s a point in the game where I need to be out there, I understand how all that works. I feel real comfortable with it because I’ve been a walk-around coordinator for a number of years now. Obviously, I’ve been in tune with that aspect of it. But it’s a first-time. There’s always a first time for everything. Is there something I haven’t thought about? Maybe. But I usually think things through pretty thoroughly. I’ll be on the headset with the offense to listen in to what’s going on. I’m not going to be calling plays, I promise you that. I’m going to know what’s going on on that side of the football. But there are going to be times where I need to get things where I’m working with the defense. I’ll be back and forth on that headset. I’m going to know what’s going on. I wasn’t on the offensive headset when I was the defensive coordinator, but I knew what was going on in the flow of the game, and it’s pretty easy now as I have a lot of confidence in my defensive staff to make the adjustments we want to make. We’re talking things through during the series. Things happen pretty quickly. It’s not really hard for me to tweak things."
On the Big 12 North
"It’s the least of my concerns right now."
On the emotional state of the team heading into the first game
"Any time you take the field, it’s an emotional game. I think they’re excited and ready to go. They will be. I didn’t feel good feel about what we put on the practice field yesterday. The first day of class - a lot of coaches say that they can’t remember ever having a good practice on the first day of class. I think our team will respond. They have in the past, in my short history with them, because, believe me they know they didn’t take the field to our expectations."
On his frustration with Monday’s practice
"I don’t like inconsistency, for any reason. I expect a certain standard. We as a staff expect a high standard, at all times, and I didn’t feel like we got that high standard yesterday. I didn’t mean to be grouchy."
On the installation process of Nebraska’s game plan for the Western Michigan game
"It was continuing (yesterday). It’s a progression. We don’t throw it all out at once. It happens throughout the week."
On the importance of this game to the state of Nebraska
"I want to make them proud. That’s what I want. I don’t want to let anyone down."
On the excitement surrounding this game among the fans
"I’ve been holed up in here, but I know it’s there. Believe me, I know the excitement is there. There’s no one more excited than me. I’ve tempered it because I’m looking at the reality of what we have to do. I can’t let that (excitement) affect me. I have to look at the reality of what we need to get done as a football team to get ready."
On keeping his emotions in check leading up to this game
"I’m not a real emotional person, believe it or not, during the week. As far as how I handle things, I’m pretty black and white. I face reality during the week. The time for emotion, to get excited, that comes later. We have a job to do. I believe our job as a staff and as players is to stay focused on the process to get us to the game. The emotion will take care of itself. That happens. That’s part of the deal."
On the rules changes for the 2008 season
"I think the clock will be an issue. It’ll be interesting. I’m not sure how I feel about the rule. We’ll see how it’s employed and how it affects you, but it is an issue. It’s like the NFL rule, without the chance to talk over a headset to a quarterback. Bottom line is that the pressure falls on the guy calling the offensive plays, because you can’t have a lot of hesitation since that clock is starting in a hurry. I think you guys are going to see that it’s going to be significantly different than it has been in the past."
On the no-huddle offense being advantageous with the new clock rules
"Some teams might choose to go to no-huddle because of it. It’s not that much different. We’ve used the 40-second clock pretty regularly throughout camp, especially with our older kids. Once you get the play in, it’s not as much of an issue. It’s if you have hesitation as a coordinator, where you’re not exactly sure of the call, the time is going to be running down on them a little bit quicker. Especially if you’re going to get to the line and do some "check-with-me" things and do your audibling, it’s going to be a little bit different."
On his projected defensive rotation
"We don’t rotate our secondary or linebackers a whole lot. It depends on the depth. But up front, you need to keep your guys fresh. We feel like we have eight that we feel really comfortable with right now."
On the switch of Lydon Murtha from left tackle to right tackle
"He likes playing over there. Murtha really doesn’t care. He just likes to play. He’s good on both sides. Which side he prefers, I’m not exactly sure. He’s a team guy. He moves over and doesn’t miss a beat. He’s a quality player, no matter which side you put him on. At times, you’re going to see him on both sides during a particular game."
On Nebraska’s kick and punt returners for the Western Michigan game
"On kickoff returns, it will be Niles Paul and Larry Asante. In the punt return, we’ll start with (Nate) Swift, and you’ll probably see some of Niles Paul."
On his anxiety with not knowing how the team will perform entering the game
"That’s always the case. Every year. It’s part of the fun. You don’t know what you have until there's real bullets flying. At this point, I think I know how they’ll respond, but you don’t know. You learn a lot about guys in those stressful situations. But I expect that, as the process goes through, they’re around us and we do the right things as a coaching staff and that I do the right things, they will play well. We try to tell them that you don’t walk into a game and change. You just do what you do during the week, over and over. But to do that, you have to practice the way you’re going to play. You can’t just flick a switch and get ready. You have to make the investment during the week. If we do that, we’ll play well. If we don’t, we won’t play as well."
On tight end Hunter Teafatiller’s absence from the official depth chart
"Teafatiller will not play this Saturday, just this game."
On the announcement of captains
"We will announce them tomorrow."
On his feelings about the 2003 Alamo Bowl
"It feels like about 20 years ago."