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Coach Bo Pelini shoots for his 60th career victory on Saturday.
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          Release: 09/01/2014
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Bo Pelini Press Conference Quotes

Coach Bo Pelini
Nebraska Football Press Conference
Monday, Sept. 1, 2014
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Pre-McNeese State
 
Opening statement
“To get it started, I thought the film showed exactly what I thought. There were some good things and there were a lot of things that we could learn from, clean up and get better from. It wasn’t just the things when you watch the film that could hurt you in the game, it was things that could hurt you down the road if you don’t get them fixed. There were a lot of mistakes. There were a lot of things that obviously showed that it was our first game. And really that was in all phases in the game. I’m going off topic, but there were some good things. I’ll tell you, number one thing is that our kids played hard. They played hard and I liked their approach. Now we've just got to work to play smarter and more efficiently, and play with better technique and fundamentals. There were some good things. We learned a lot. We’re making some adjustments. You’ll be seeing some new guys and some things shuffling around, especially in the special teams area. Once again, we need to learn what we can from this last football game and get better. So I’ll open up for questions.”

On the status of junior defensive end Randy Gregory
“Randy Gregory, it was similar to what happened to (Andy) Janovich when he got hurt a couple weeks ago. It was an old injury, something that just flared up on him. They went in there and fixed it. I would say he’s doubtful for this week, but probable for the Fresno game.”

On the nature of Gregory’s injury
“I’m not a doctor, but it was an old injury on his knee. It was something he did playing basketball years ago and it flared up on him. The MRI clearly showed that it was an old injury. It was a non-contact thing. Like I said, it was just something when you’re out there playing, you don’t know what’s going to flare something up like that. The doctors could see from the MRI that it was very old. Just scar tissue and whatever it was that made it flare up. It wasn’t a compact thing or anything like that. He just felt some clicking. They just did a cleanup scope yesterday morning."

On if Gregory could play against McNeese State if needed
“Probably. Like I said, we’re not looking to rush him back right now. We want to make sure he’s 100 percent, and that he feels good. Whatever that time frame is, we’ll see. I could say this, like Janovich, we’ve had a couple of guys that have had something very similar and they came back very quickly.”

On junior defensive end Jack Gangwish’s performance
“I thought he did some good things. I think there are things that he’d want back and we’d want back. I think he played hard. I think Jack’s going to help us. There’s no question. He’s really worked hard. He’s getting better. He had a couple mental mistakes in there. He played hard and pretty physical. He did some good things for us. Having (Peyton) Newell and putting him out on third down when we needed him to is also a real plus for us. For his first extended playing time, I thought he did some good things for us out there. Joe Keels has been dealing with a deal where his ankle has been bothering him. It’s probably the first time in weeks that he’s been feeling like 100 percent. He’s done some good things for us, too.”

On the improvement of sophomore defensive end Greg McMullen
“It’s like night and day for Greg. He had a good year last year. He was very productive last year in the snaps that he played. He’s a good football player. He’s really focused. He’s an instinctive guy. With his size and strength, he’s a physical guy out there. I like how Greg’s playing.”

On the status of junior wide receiver Sam Burtch, sophomore wide receiver Brandon Reilly and junior offensive lineman Zach Sterup
“Sterup will practice tomorrow. Reilly and Burtch are day to day. We’ll see how they do today.”

On the nature of Burtch’s injury
“He had a head injury.”

On the emphasis of moving the ball down the field more
“When it’s there, Tommy (Armstrong) throws the ball well and we have guys that can get far down the field. We’re going to take what’s there. I thought he made some good reads. There were a couple times where he was going to go down the field but took it out left, which was a good thing to see. I think it’s important for us that as long as we’re going to be able to run the football, we have to keep people off of us, too. If you want to load the box, you’re going to have to keep our guys going down the field. We've got some guys who can make a stretch down the field, that’s for sure.”

On if the down-the-field approach stemmed from last year
“I think that’s the nature of defense now, especially when you have a quarterback that’s a part of the run game. Counting numbers, you've got to get a guy up there every now and then, which gives you a chance to beat them over the top. At times I think we got to pick the times to and when not to. I thought we had a good handle on our approach this past Saturday. I thought Tim (Beck) had a good feel for when to take the shots. And when he got the right looks, Tommy got us into some of the right plays and made some god decisions.”

On offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s ability to create new plays
“Tim’s an outstanding offensive mind and football coach. He really understands the game. He understands the defense. I think he does a really good job of giving our guys the opportunity to have great success—both in the running and passing game and marrying the two so that they work together. I thought he called a good game the other day. I like what I saw from our offense. They did some good things.”

On quarterback Ryker Fyffe’s scholarship
“I don’t have the whole list in front of me, but I try not to make it a big deal. I’m not trying to shy away from the players that go on scholarship because they’ve earned it. But to a certain extent, I try not to make a big deal out of it because there are a lot of other guys that probably deserve it as well. I have a hard time making that distinction. Ryker went on because he’s a clear two. He’s played well and he’s earned that right. He’s proved that. Unfortunately for us we've only got 85 (scholarships) to play with. That can be difficult at times because there are other guys that we just don’t have the room for that are also deserving. That’s why I’ve kind of backed off on making those announcements and making a big deal about it because I don’t want to act like there are other guys that are not deserving as well. It’s a numbers game unfortunately.”

On preparing to face an FCS team
“Like I talk to them every week, it doesn’t really matter who we play. Our approach needs to be the same. The way we practice, the way we execute and the way we game plan. We don’t change a thing about how we game plan. FBS, FCS—I couldn’t even tell you what we are. At the end of the day, they’re our next opponent. We’re going to approach it like we do any other week. Our players feel that. They understand where we’re coming from there. I think they’re highly ranked in that division. It doesn’t surprise me. They’re a well-coached football team. I was around this program a little from my years in Louisiana. They are going to pose some problems for you. Our goal is to be a better football team this week regardless of who we’re playing or anything else than we were a week ago. That means we've got to put in the work this week and our approach has to stay the same no matter what. That’s part of what it means to be a football team. I’ve always taken the approach, even when I was a coordinator. If they feel it from us, then they’re going to react to it. I think this is a very capable football team; a very talented and well-coached football team. You worry about sometimes what guys read and what the perception is on the outside. Sometimes we’ll even go above how we game plan them. We make the learning such that you better be into this game plan or you’re not going to be able to execute the right way.”

On if this will be the last time they will invite an FCS team to Lincoln
"This is probably the last one. I would prefer it. When I say that, it sounds like McNeese State is not a good football team. I’m not saying that. I’d just prefer to not have to deal with that. And who knows where scheduling is going to go down the road. The whole shift of college football and what’s going to happen. The Big 5 conferences and whatever is being talked about. I think that scheduling will probably change for everybody across the board over the next few years. I would anticipate that, but I don’t know. It’s hard to say where it’s going to go. But I think this is the last time we’ll play a team an FCS team.”

On how much input he has on scheduling
“You know I have some input, usually it is so far out - we’re talking about the second game of 2020 - it is like you know what, whatever you see fit. If there is something that is imminent, I might look at it and see who else we have on the schedule and how it is going to fit home or away. Those types of things. For the most part I let Shawn (Eichorst) and our administration, Jeff Jamrog is involved in the scheduling over the past few years. They bring it to me, for the most part I want to play good opponents and give our fans good opponents both home and away games to watch, and test our football team.”

On McNeese State’s quarterback being a former Kansas State transfer
“Hard to say, I have watched a little bit of film on him to familiarize myself with him on what he can do for the offense and how they will choose to use him. Your guess is as good as mine. Whether they try to feature his talents as a runner, they haven’t been much of a quarterback-run-oriented offense, almost none at all. How that changes - we’ll find out Saturday. You have to be prepared for everything. For them it is like a first game. We haven’t seen them play and we don’t know exactly what they are doing on offense. You just have to go with what they have done in the past and project a little bit.”

On Josh Faulkenberry getting called to be on the team after being a walk-on tryout
“Very few, very few get called back. There are usually a couple each year. It depends on who shows up and how they do when a tryout comes. I know that is a great story, and he has worked really hard. I am glad he has done a really good job.”

On how Alex Lewis has connected with the team
“He has come out and been a great teammate and really just been ‘N’. He plays hard and he is aggressive, he works hard at what he does. He is not overly vocal with what he does, he doesn’t say a whole heckuva lot, but he goes out there and has a great approach every single day. He practices hard and loves to play. He has done a great job for us on and off the field. He has worked really hard in the classroom and has done great academically. He has done everything we have asked.”

Nebraska's offensive line depth
“I think we have good depth up there. We will have to see how it continues to play out. I have said that it will help us as the year goes on having a number of guys that can go in there and guys we feel like can play and versatile enough to play in some instances multiple spots. I like our depth up there. We will get Sterup back this week and we will be even deeper. You can never have enough guys up front. Guys that work hard and the way we practice, with multiple groups especially there throughout camp. It gives a lot of guys reps and enables guys to grow and get better, which helps you. I think the competition has been good for everybody.”

On how many times he watched the Jordan Westerkamp catch
“You know just once. I saw it on Sportscenter the other night and I was flipping through the channels - and I saw it live - that was enough for me. Unusual to say the least, just for somebody to have the - to even think to throw your hands back there to catch a football. Like I said, I haven’t been around that one. I have seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that one before.”

On the young secondary continuing to learn
“Some guys are more ready than others for some reason. Believe me, they still have a lot to learn and you saw some things that I liked and I saw a bunch of things that they are going to need to work on as we move forward. They have practiced well, and they stepped in and competed. Some guys it takes longer than others. For whatever reason. I like that group, even a guy like Trai Mosley who we are going to redshirt. Trai is going to be really good. He has shown some really good things in camp, but you run out of numbers after a while. I like our young group. (Luke) Gifford, the local kid, is going to be good at safety. I like our young secondary.”

On whether he knew the secondary would be good when recruiting them
“It is hard to tell and it is really hard to project how quickly they are going to pick it up. All those guys are real mature kids that are high character young men. How it is going to translate on the football field it really hard to project.”

On Barrett Ruud getting into Nebraska Football Hall of Fame
“Great player. One of the best I have ever been around. A guy who would max out his potential and play hard, was smart, was a real student of the game. He is a great player. He was a great player. He is a really talented guy, and he is going to be a great coach.”

On whether junior defensive back Byerson Cockrell was a steal in recruiting
“You know, BC (Byerson Cockrell), Terry Joseph brought him to my attention and we watched him and liked him. When I went down there and met him, boy I do, I think he is a steal. I like BC. I think he is going to be a great player for us. He is going to keep getting better for us. Tremendous instincts and a really good understanding of the game. There is some little things, you can talk to him on level two, and he has a good understanding on not only what we are trying to do but what the offenses are going to be doing. He can play multiple spots. In this day and age (that) is really important. I would not hesitate playing him at nickel, safety or corner and that helps you as the year goes on. He can handle that all mentally and that is unusual for a first year guy. He is a tremendous kid. I don’t know how many of you guys have gotten to talk to him, but he is a great young man.”

On how he manages Ameer Abdullah during a game like Florida Atlantic
“I think we managed him well. We got him out when we needed to, or when we felt when the right time was. We got him his work. It is a feel thing. I think we also have done a really good job managing him during the week. Coach (Ron) Brown, Coach (James) Dobson, that is a good instance on how that catapult system works. Ameer is a guy who if you are not careful will wear himself out during the week because he practices so hard and wants to run so much. He would take every snap if we let him. We want to make sure he is great on Saturdays, and sometimes it is hard for Ameer. He would like to be in there more. Imani (Cross) is like that at times. You've got to be careful that you don’t give them too much. Give them enough that they know the game plan. Those guys have been around the block and what is necessary.”

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