Press Conference 3-6-12
"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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
Pelini plans to let Jamal Turner take reps at quarterback
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."
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."
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."
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
"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
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?
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."
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
"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
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."
Cooper will graduate
"I think he is
graduating this semester, I believe."
On why he
decided not to come back
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
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."
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
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."
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."
Rome and who is expected to miss practice
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?
rehabbing a knee?
"Yes. I will
say that they're all on the track we thought they would be on right now."
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."
anybody else will take snaps at quarterback
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
On the main
focus of spring practice
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