Coach Pelini and the Huskers face Arkansas State on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Photo by BreAnna Haessler/NU Media Relations

Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska Football
Weekly Press Conference
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Monday, Sept. 10, 2012
Pre-Arkansas State

Head Coach Bo Pelini
On what Nebraska can do to improve from last week

"First, of all fundamentals. We are looking at a lot of different things, personnel, first and mostly we need to tackle better. They had a lot of yards after first contact. There were a lot of things that we could have done better and we wish we could have had them back, but you can't. I thought we got better as the game went on; we had some ridiculous busts in the beginning of the game, and didn't adjust well to a couple of motions. A lot of it was self-induced and that is something we cannot do."

On tackling in general
"The types of teams we have played, there has been a lot of things out in space, and you know sometimes unless you are doing full contact at practice, it is hard to work on those situations. You get them in position and work fundamentally to get in the right spot, but early in the year it is a big concern for us. As you go on you have to evaluate personnel, like who is going to be better in those positions. The evaluation continues and you make sure as a coaching staff you put them in the right position."

On why the team is not tackling much in space in fall camp
"In my coaching career we do it in scrimmages. Number one you don't see all the motions, you don't see the same offense each week. You don't always find yourself in those particular positions, and you can't go full go every day, you do up front, you butt receivers and backs up, and that is why we constantly evaluate our guys every day. I believe a lot of times, tackling comes from getting your body in the right position."

On if he has enough talent on the defense to compete against some of the best in the nation

On how many tackles the team missed Saturday
"A lot. And the ones that we missed hurt us. Sometimes there wasn't just one, there was two. And that is what some of the spread offenses do to you, they spread you out and you have a quarterback run game, which makes you have to cover the whole width of the field."

On how much (Arkansas State Head Coach) Gus Malzahn will test the team this week
"I think we will be tested. I think it will be a good follow up to the game we just played. We need to get better against that offense. It comes kind of at the right time for us, we need to make a jump and evaluate how far we are coming."

On if he had his confidence shaken Saturday
"No. I have been there before; we have had bad games before. I know what I am doing defensively and the last thing I would do is shake my confidence.

On the decline of the defense over the past two years
"There is a little bit of everything. College football is changing a little bit as far as you see a lot of different offenses. Week-to-week you are going to be challenged in a lot of different ways, you just have to make sure you execute. The day and age when you could just shut out everyone is probably over, especially when you are playing a spread team. There are a lot different challenges when you play teams now. You are going to have games that you have a rough go at it, but it is how you come back from those that are going to define you at the end. We have a lot of football left to be played so let's not jump to conclusions yet."

On how college football is changing
"Personnel is changing a lot. You have different strengths and weaknesses at times. I feel confident on what we can do defensively."

On if he tried to change the identity of the team when we came to the Big Ten
"Well, we were in a very spread out conference, kind of what we saw from UCLA, and then we move into the Big Ten and we are trying now to load up on linebackers to get ready for conference play. You start building your systems for conference play. Then you come back at the start of the season and play spread out teams, so you are jumping back and forth a lot, you have to use your personnel differently which presents challenges for you."

On if he would rather schedule non-conference teams that are more like the Big Ten in the future
"A lot of times you have no idea, so you don't really want to play a wishbone offense at the beginning because that is not going to help prepare you. But the interesting part about our league is that now that Ohio State is changing to the spread, you can see a lot of variety in this conference. You see pro style, a couple of teams that are spread."

On the confidence in the locker room
"I think the confidence is fine. I think the guys are disappointed but I think this team will respond well. There is a lot of good leadership on this football team."

On if UCLA did things they did not plan for
"No, there were a couple of things, but that was what we were expecting. We knew we would be in 1-on-1 tackling situations, and needed to be prepared to make those tackles. When we did that, we were pretty good, as far as tempo, I think it bothered us at the start of the game. But we practiced that in the offseason with our offense because we run the same tempo as UCLA, if not faster, but when you get out there and you have some different plays, we just didn't adjust well and let a couple of guys get free. I thought our guys settled in well towards the end of the game, we adjusted well and got better as the game went on."

On what he would like the defensive line to do
"Well I don't think we have played well enough for my standards. Unfortunately, the style of offense we played has slowed them down. We tried to play a number of different guys, and we have been so spread out with zone reads, I want to get them coming off the ball and going strong. I feel like they have let the style of offense dictate them, rather than we dictating the offense."

On the philosophy of lining the d-line up a foot behind the ball-
"There is a number of different styles, the interesting thing is we probably moved a pretty good deal on the defensive line, and we came free a number of times, we just need to make those plays. We had a number of opportunities, we had like eight TFL's and three sacks, that is 11 lost-yardage plays. We probably had the opportunity for double that. That is a concern to me. We got after them a lot and pressured them a lot, and we got them back on their heels and made them have third down and longs, you just have to make those plays when you have the opportunity. We let them have a lot of second and mediums, and second and shorts, which is hard to play against. We had our opportunities and we didn't take care of our business, which is coaching, and not making the plays out on the field. It is hard to find positives when you give up so many yards. But I believe what we are doing will just be fine in the long run. I have been through this before and I have a good idea on how to fix it."

On if he can take any positives of a six point loss on the road
"Yeah, like I said, I have been sick to my stomach since that game because I felt like we should have won that game. But we didn't, so you have to move on and that is the way it goes, its apart of the deal and this profession, it is sickening but you can't turn back the clock."

On the plan for Rex this week
"He is day-to-day this week. We will see how it goes. He is doing really well, if you see him he is feeling a lot more confident. We thought he was ahead of the schedule, like a 10-20 day recovery somewhere in that range. It just all comes down to the doctors and Rex and how it plays out.

On what the biggest difference between the defense was two years ago compared to this year
"Well we kind of find ourselves where we were early on when I got here, like the second year. I found that we got better as we went on, so we'll just see how it plays out. I think it is a big challenge for our defense and our coaching staff, we just need to rise to the occasion when there is a challenge in front of us. It won't be easy this week. They have a good offense, and will spread us out like what happened last week. We need to be able to respond, and we will.

On (Zaire) Anderson and (David) Santos playing
"Yeah, those guys have been in our plans to play, but they don't have a lot of experience, and at the end of the day you have to put the guys on the field that you are confident that will respond well and execute when things are thrown their way during a game. Those guys are coming, they are not quite there yet but they will continue to get their shots."

On if UCLA was daring NU to throw in the fourth quarter
"I don't know about that, we had opportunities in the passing game. We still had the run game available because we had time outs left. I'm not one to second guess, we had opportunities, we just left them out there."

On how the offensive line played
"I thought for the most part the offensive line did well. You know we had some break downs especially in the second half. We didn't play well in a couple of positions, but I am not going to talk about that, but it hurt our running game. I think it is very fixable though.

On if inexperience showed on the offensive line

"No, I thought our young guys played pretty well."

On Kevin Williams
"I thought Kevin did some pretty good things at times. I thought for his first big go he did some good things. He got off blocks and was pretty active, he didn't transition into his pass rush as well, but that happens a lot to a young guy. I though overall he did okay for his first go.

On if Kevin Williams role could expand
"Absolutely, for him and we are going to continue to expand the roles of (Aaron) Curry and Avery Moss.

On Valentines status
"He is going to redshirt probably, which is what we were hoping. I think he will benefit a lot from redshirting."


More News Sponsor - First National Bank


Tickets Sponsor - StubHub