Huskers Ready for Spring Football

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini and several players met with the media on Monday in advance of the start of spring practice on Wednesday. gives you a glimpse of what the Huskers had to say about getting back on the field for the first time since November.

Head Coach Bo Pelini
On what his goals are this spring
“Build a foundation. Just keep building a foundation, which we have been doing down in the weight room and in the conditioning program. Developing the athleticism and that type of thing and now we just get to put some X’s and O’s. That aspect along with it. We get more hands on with these guys now and lay the bricks down and the foundation for what we need to do. We have a short amount of time to get it done but we are looking forward to it. The players have been very receptive. They have really started to come together and understand where we are coming from. That process will continue through spring ball and past this spring.”

On the competition between players with the fresh start at each position

“I think that is huge. They know that they are all going to get looked at. They are all going to get an opportunity. Competition is a great thing. It will bring out the best in everyone. They understand that is where we are coming from and there is really no preconceived notions of what a guy can do and what a guy cannot do. I will be honest with you, I have not really watched a whole heck of a lot of tape. We really have not as a staff. We are just looking forward to getting out there and getting these guys coached and making everyone better. That is our job and we are looking forward to it.”


On how far the defense is away from his goals

“We want to be the best. We will find out. I really do not worry about the end product. I focus on laying the bricks and the foundation and developing what we need to do to be good in the future. If we focus on the little things and start with square one at the beginning and build correctly then the end product will take care of itself. You can make the mistake of trying to be the [New England] Patriots tomorrow. We are not going to be that Wednesday. It is about teaching. It is about developing and getting to know the players and them to know us and what their strengths are and build the system accordingly. Then tweak the system accordingly. At the end of the day, we have enough in that we can be successful in the long run. It is not an overnight thing. Fortunately, I have been through this before a number of times. I always ask the guys on the staff and we are on the same page as to what needs to be done and how to do it. We have a lot of confidence that we can get it done.”


On developing the practice schedule for this spring

“You lean back on the things that you have had success with over a long period of time. It is the first time I have had the 51 percent, so now I can do it exactly the way I want to do it. At the same time, I have a great staff. They do not work for me, they work with me. We talk about a lot of things as a staff and we have to make sure that we, offense, defense and special teams, are all on the same page. We are all in it together. We are not, for instance, trying to develop what they do on defense at the expense of the offense. It is a team thing. You have to work together and make sure that everybody is getting what they need so the program and the whole team moves forward and gets better.”


On developing the team’s confidence

“Success breeds confidence. There is a lot of ways to develop that, but that cannot be your focus. As they start feeling the success and believing in the system and believing in the coaches and each other, then that will take care of itself over time. Me sitting up there in front of them and trying to read a bunch of psychological bunch and talking to these guys, that is not what it is all about. It is about developing the confidence because of their belief in what is going on. Their belief in the team and the staff and each other. That is something that I believe we will get done. It is just a matter of time.”


On helping the players buy into the program

“Once again, they are going to see that our way works. I believe it is proven on both sides of the ball of what we do and what we believe in has a proven track record. There is not a lot of room for debate. It is going to be done certain ways. If they want to do it another way there is a lot of other Division IA football programs they can play at. There are not a lot of things that are up for discussion as far as how the game is going to be played and how we are going to go about things.”


On reps during spring practice for the quarterback position

“Joe [Ganz] will come in as the starter, but there is a lot of capable talent there. We believe the competition at the quarterback position is going to be very good. There is a lot of talent there and we feel good about it. Everybody will get plenty of time to show what they can do. We will have some periods of the day where we will have multiple teams going that will allow for more reps. Bottom line is you earn your reps. When you get in there, you have to put your best foot forward and play your best football. If you keep playing well and doing the right things over time, your reps increase and you move up on the depth chart. It is about competing. They have to come out and compete every single day.”


On his impressions of Joe Ganz

“I like Joe. I think he is a leader. He has a tremendous amount of confidence and I think he is a good football player. At this point of his career, he has only touched the base of his talent. There is a lot more out there for him. He understands that. He has a tremendous coach to help him get there. He believes in the system. He believes in Coach [Shawn] Watson and what they do with the offense. He is very intelligent. You put that together with the work ethic he has and the sky is the limit. He can be a heck of a football player, but that is all up to him and how he approaches it.”


On Coach Watson’s scheme on offense

“I am very familiar with the scheme. He is very detailed. He is a hard worker. He has done a great job of getting the offensive staff on the same page. I have a lot of confidence in him. I feel very fortunate to have him. I feel he is a tremendous football coach. You combine him with the expertise of the other guys on this football staff and I think it has gelled very well. They get along well and they have got on the same page. I really feel good about how the staff came together.”


On Cody Glenn’s capabilities this spring

“He is full go as far as I know. He had a good winter. He is doing well. I really like Cody because he is the kind of guy that will do anything to help the football team. He is really a team guy. He has a great attitude. I think he is going to be a good football player for us.”


On his way of doing things

“The right way. Our foundation, what we do is build on effort first and attitude and focus. Not just what you are doing, but how you are doing it. We are going to be on the cutting edge X’s and O’s wise. We work hard at that. You cannot lose sight of the techniques and the fundamentals and how you go about your business both on the field and off the field. Everything you are as a football player goes well beyond what you do on the football field. It is who you are as a person. It is who you are when you are going to class and who you are when you walk into a meeting room. If you do all that the right way and you are doing things the right way. The football will take care of itself. If you do not, it will not. I think the players understand that it where we are coming from. One thing leads to another. If you do things the wrong way, it is going to lead to bad things. If you do things the right way, it is going to lead to good things both personally and as a football team. I think it has taken some time, but I think our players understand that is our belief and that is what our program is going to be built on.”

Senior Quarterback Joe Ganz

 On Getting Back on the Field...
“Guys are excited because we had a tough year last season. It is going to be nice to get back out there and compete again.”

On How it Feels Be “The Guy”...

“It feels different, but it doesn’t change how I’ll go about preparing for games or practice. These last couple months have been real cool with people coming up and telling me ‘good job’ and ‘good luck next year’.”


On Where His Motivation Comes From...

“Last year is all the motivation I need. My main motivation is to not let anyone take the spot I have. I’ve worked too hard to let someone take this job from me.”


On Spring Competition...

“Positions are always open and that is how it has to be during spring ball. I expect the other quarterbacks to compete just like I did when I was the second or third guy. I expect that we’ll all be pushing each other.”


On the Playbook Changes...

“The playbook is pretty much the same. There have been some slight changes in the verbiage. Some of the changes give a more detailed meaning to the running backs and the offensive line.”


“You can’t really dumb anything down. Everything we say has a meaning for someone in the huddle. Things are more precise now. With all the shifts and motion we do, you can’t cut things out.”


On What to Expect with Practice

“Really I have no idea what to expect, but I am definitely looking forward to it. I am expecting with him (Bo Pelini) being a defensive-minded head coach it may be more physical then we are used to.”


On His relationship with Coach Pelini...

“I love coach (Bo Pelini). His door is always open and his mentality is definitely welcomed around here. He knows how to motivate us and he is a player’s coach. I am very excited to get to work for him.”


On the Final Three Games of Last Season...

“The playing experience was great for me. It gives me a great boost confidence wise going into spring ball. Now that I’ve already faced some of the best teams I know what to expect in a game.”


On Using his Mobility...

“Running is part of my game. I don’t know exactly how we’ll do it, but I would expect that we’ll use it more. If something breaks down I won’t be afraid to create something with my feet.”


On Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson Staying...

“I love Coach (Shawn) Watson, and I was happy that he stayed here. It would have been very hard to start over with a new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in my last year. I was a bit worried he was going to leave for Alabama. It was a great weight off my shoulders when he said he would be back.”


Senior Offensive Lineman Lydon Murtha

On the Offensive Line Being a Cornerstone of the Team...

“The line coming back is a veteran group and very tight knit. We are all very excited to get back on the field and improve on what we accomplished last year.”


On a New Coaching Staff...

“You just have to come in with an open mind and arms. You have to accept change and I gladly accept it. I expect us to get to a higher level and that excites me.”


“Things haven’t gone as planned over the past few years and anything that is going to come in here and change things up for the better, we’re excited about.”


On Coach Barney Cotton...

“He (Barney Cotton) is a real down to earth guy and all of us offensive linemen love that. He spends time with us and talks to us. His philosophy is to have us include our input and that is good. From the moment we (the offensive line) met Coach Cotton if felt like he had been here for four years.”


On Winter Workouts...

“Workouts are more geared toward speed now. In the past we did a lot of workouts that involved running long distances to build stamina. (Football Strength Coach James) Dobson’s philosophy is to gain speed and be prepared for game day. Everything we do from stretches to conditioning is geared toward football.”


On a Physical Spring...

“The quarterback gets to put on a green jersey, but we get to hit. Coach (Bo) Pelini promised us that it is going to be a physical spring and I can’t wait to take advantage of that.”


On How Good the Offensive Line Can Be...

“We can be one of the best in the nation. If you look at the points the offense put up last year we should have won more games. We block very well together and we accept in the younger players. Everyone is a group with us.”


Senior Defensive End Zach Potter

On Defensive Leadership...

“The front four wants to be the leaders of this defense along with other guys coming back from last year, like Larry Asante. We want to take the leadership upon us. The linebacker corps last year tried to lead us and we learned from them on what to do and what not do to. We want players to look to us going into fall camp.”


On What Makes a Leader...

“Some guys lead by example and some get in your face. You have to have both types of leaders on your team and I think we’ll have a good mix this year.”


On How Hard it is to switch to a new system...

“With Coach (Bo) Pelini there really is no choice. Everyone needs to be on the same page with him. Everyone knows that we are responsible for what we do from the time we get up to the time we go to bed. His attitude is going to help us a lot.”


On Coach Bo Pelini’s Emotion...

“You can see the fire in his (Bo Pelini) eyes and you can tell how much he wants to win. We didn’t get to celebrate much last year with our coaches or each other. We are very motivated to makes some big plays this year and forget about last year.”


On Using Last Year as Motivation...

“I don’t really use last year as motivation. I just try to forget about it. The only thing that can come from last year is making you doubt yourself. We are a very confident group right now.”


On Looking at How Coach (Bo) Pelini Did in 2003...

“You don’t have to just look at 2003; you can look at what he did at Oklahoma and with winning a National Championship at LSU. His resume speaks for itself. He has won everywhere he has been so we all have developed the mindset that we are going to be winners as well.”


On Earning a Starting Spot...

“I know my spot is up for grabs. We have a different system now and everyone is going to have to come in battling for a spot. Everyone has to work as hard as they can and see spring ball as a clean slate.”


On Developing a Pass Rush....

“We really need to work on getting to the quarterback. It’s obvious that we didn’t do a very good job of that last year and that will be a focus for us going into spring ball.”

Junior safety Larry Asante

On winter conditioning

“It was very intense. We competed. Everything we did was competition with the next man. This spring, we competed against each other in everything we did. If it was running, in the weight room, everything was competition. Competition brings out the best in everybody.”


On his vocal leadership for this year’s defense

“I think that all starts with hard work. You can’t go in there telling everybody what to do. Guys follow people that work hard. We’re just going to go in there and work hard. Hard work is contagious, so other guys are going to follow.”



On his anticipation to put the pads on

“I can’t wait. We’ve been working hard ever since Coach (James) Dobson came in. He expect nothing but 110 percent when you’re out there in the weight room or out there conditioning. Whatever we did, we competed against each other. That’s the foremost thing. You have to give your best effort.”


On the challenges of spring practice with a new coach

“We’re just going to have to see. I’m not sure how it’s going to go. It’s everybody’s first day of practice with Coach (Pelini), so I don’t know what to expect."


On the most impressive aspect of Head Coach Bo Pelini

“I think his drive to win. I love Coach and I think he’s after our best interests. He wants to win first and foremost. And I want to win. Whatever we have to do to win, I’m going to do it.”



On the team catching on to Pelini’s drive to win

“I think every football team takes the attitude of the head coach. I think that’s what we’re doing. Like I said, our head coach is an intense guy. And he wants to win. Players take the attitude of their coach and that’s what we’re doing.”


On players adjusting to the new coaches

“Me personally, I know the defense works. It’s up to us to accept the defense and buy into the defense. And I think once everybody buys into the defense we’re all going to put it together and it’s going to work. If we have guys that aren’t buying in, it’s up to us to pick them up and get them on the boat.”


On the impact of Pelini’s past successes to the current defense

“Everywhere Coach has been and the defenses that he’s run, his system has worked. I did my research on him and I saw how his defense has worked. Off the track record, everywhere he’s been he’s turned the defense around. I just can’t wait for Coach to get us turned around.”


On Pelini’s knowledge with the safety position

“He was a safeties coach in the NFL. Sitting down talking to him, that’s where his expertise is at, is the safety position. Every safety that has been in his defense has flourished and went on to play in the league, (earn) All-America status, all that good stuff. I can’t wait. That’s all I have to say about that. I can’t wait to go to work.”


On a possible position change

“I want to stay at safety. But at the same time I’m a team player. If there’s a position change that needs to be made and if that’s going to benefit the team to get W’s out there on the field, I’m going with it. As long as we win, I don’t care.”



On Pelini’s motivation to the players

“Having an intense coach motivates us. At the same time that he’s intense, he loves the players. He’s a players coach. I think that’s all good.”



Senior offensive lineman Matt Slauson

On his eagerness to start practice

“I’ve been ready since November 23rd. Everyone’s so stoked, especially me coming off a really disappointing year and this being my last year. I want to get a ring so bad. I’m really excited.”


On the return of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson

“It’s really comforting. I know how hard it was to learn this offense here. To go into your last year knowing that you may be potentially learning a whole new one gets kind of scary. But having Coach Watson stay and him telling us our plays aren’t going to change, but they’re even going to be more simplified, it makes me feel more comfortable with not only me but with our whole group.”


On his role as a tackle or a guard

“Barring an injury I might have to step out on the outside for a bit, but I don’t suspect that happening much. I’ll be a guard as far as I can see.”


On if guard is the more comfortable position

“Not necessarily. I’ve been a tackle my whole life until I came here. Last year was pretty much the first year that I’ve played guard. Sophomore year they put me at guard during camp, but it didn’t stick. But I think guard is the position I’m meant to be in. I’m perfectly fine with it.”


On offensive line coach Barney Cotton

“I think he’s going to be a great leader for us. He’s a really good coach. He has a lot different style than the way (Dennis) Wagner was. Cotton’s a guy that can get us all to rally around him. He’s not really a yeller, so he’ll motivate us in really productive ways. I’m really excited about it.”



On the possibility this could be the best offensive line during his career

“Definitely. (Lydon) Murtha said it all. With having our young guys getting a chance to play last year, everybody at 1 and 2 deep has some sort of playing time experience on the field. Everybody gets reps during practice but it’s so much different in the game. The first 10 guys or more have (that) experience. It’s really exciting to see that if we do have an issue where we need somebody to fill in it isn’t going to be a huge change for us.”


On Coach Pelini’s approach to hard hitting

“It’s going to be fun. If I could I would strap it on today and (go up against) Ty Steinkuhler. I’ll be butting heads with him all spring and I’m stoked about it. It’s going to be straight up hitting and it’s going be fun. Big guys in the trenches usually like that.”


On quarterback Joe Ganz and his strong finish to the 2007 season

“Just his play last year said it all for him. He came in kind of getting tossed around emotionally and mentally. His whole career has been, ‘I’m going play’ and then he doesn’t. And then he’s going to play and then he doesn’t. But now he gets a shot when we’re in the worst situation that we possibly could be in. He stepped up and he took the reins. He said, ‘Guys, look, we’re doing it.’ And we did. We didn’t finish off well, but offensively we did really well. It’s going to be fun.”






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