Huskers Talk About Start of Spring Practice
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini met with the media on Tuesday in advance of the Huskers beginning spring practice on Saturday.
Pelini touched on several topics, including his revamped coaching staff, changes to Nebraska's offensive system and the Huskers upcoming move to the Big Ten Conference.
You can read the full transcript of Pelini's press conference below, as well as listen to audio from Defensive Coordinator Carl Pelini, Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck and five Husker players.
Head Coach Bo Pelini
Pre-Spring Press Conference
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
On the new editions to the staff:
"Well, we want to win championships around here. And at the end of the day I like the way the staff came together. I think it's been, we've had a very productive winter. We've had a really good few weeks, meetings have gone well, and I like the way things are coming together. And like I said its come together very much the way I like it, the way I expected it to. I'm excited about it; I'm excited about where we are and where we are heading forward."
On selecting Tim Beck as Offensive Coordinator:
"You've got to go with what you feel is going to be the best thing for your football team. And it just kept coming back to the same guy. I have a great level of trust, a great level of confidence in Tim. We are very much on the same page philosophically, and what we are going to do going forward and it was a pretty easy choice for me."
On the relationship with Tim over the last three years:
"Absolutely, you have experience with somebody, and you see I went that way with all my choices with how I filled out the staff. You know, I believe that you have to be on the same page philosophically, on the same page of the types of people you bring in. People who are going to represent me, the program, everything in a certain way. It goes beyond just X's and O's. In the game of football it's not just what you do it's how you do it, and how you are going to get to a certain point. I believe, I want to surround myself with No. 1, people that I trust. No. 2, people that I have a lot of confidence in, people of high character, people who are going to communicate well with players, people who believe in the same things I do value wise, discipline, accountability, all those things that we have built this program on and are the foundation of how we go about things. And I know I've got that, and I'm excited about it, and I'm looking forward to the future with how we've set it up."
On what he would like to see differently from the offense:
"Efficiency. There's a number of things, I don't want to get into the whole what we're doing offensively, that will play out in time. And like I said I am extremely excited about where we are, and let me tell you, we have done some very good things offensively. Like I said it's not what you do it's how you do it, how you get to things. And it's very much the same philosophy we have on defense, multiple but simple. And let the players develop a true understanding of what we're doing. And not just what you're doing and memorizing what you're doing but why are you doing it. So then you can react, you can play fast, you can play confident. I wanted to mirror the philosophy of what we've done on the defensive side of the ball and that's what we've done."
On the challenge of moving to a new offensive system:
"No challenge, it's just like anything else, you know, teach, work hard, make sure you stress certain principles, you know you have an identity and you live it every day. And like I said, I like where we are as far as that's concerned. And it's very clear to me what I wanted when I hired the staff, when I put this thing together and what we have to do going forward. I have a very clear picture in my head of what I want going forward and that's what I'm working toward, that's what we are working toward."
On if he considered any other offensive coordinators:
"Somewhat yeah, oh yeah, you consider all your options but like I said it all kept coming back to the same thing for me."
On Tim Beck being on staff last year and having a voice in the offense:
"Oh yeah, like I said it's not so much what you do, it's how you do it. And I think (Shawn) Watson is a tremendous football coach, smart, intelligent, good teacher, all of those things. But what I felt needed changed was the system. You just get to a certain point where I felt like a change was needed. What is just in the best interest of the program, of changing out the system, bringing in some fresh ideas, a whole new system and do it going forward. And I thought this was the right time to do it. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't in the best interest of the program."
On when he came to the conclusion to make a change:
"I'm not going to talk about that. I believe I analyze things, you go back every single year as you go on, this just doesn't happen at the end of the year, you know week by week you say ok well what do you have to do, what do you have to do to get better? And you've always got to be searching for ways to improve, ways to make your program better, your football team better, in every phase of the game, and you've got to make the decisions that you feel are in the best interest of your program as you move forward and that's what I've done."
On how the team and new recruits have reacted to the changes:
"Well, kids are resilient; I think they are excited about it. I think anytime you have change you know, no one in this world, very few people like change but you know it's all part of the deal, you have to teach them, you have to develop some confidence in them but they are resilient, and I think that is what we have seen. I think they are excited and I think they are going to be more excited and I think they are going to really like it as they develop a better knowledge of what we are doing in every area. Offensively, defensively, special teams, you know we've made some changes, and I think it will make us a better football team going forward, and I think it will be real obvious to our football team."
On the offense's identity:
"You know I could sit here and talk about it for a long time, but you'll see that when we roll that ball out there in September. Like I said it's multiple but simple, you've got to be aggressive. We're going to be an aggressive style offense period, end of story. There's a lot of different ways to do that, and I'm not going to sit here and get into it and say we're going to do this or we're going to do that. We're going to attack people, we're going to get after them, and we're going to attack them in a lot of different ways."
On how the offense will be different from what they were doing:
"We're going to do it better."
On the offense being physical out of the spread:
"We will be physical. You know it's interesting you say that, everyone wants to talk about the spread; you know there are a lot of different ways to run a spread offense. There's a lot of different aspects, you have to be precise, you have to execute, and you have to have efficiency in what you do. There's a lot of different ways to be physical. Just because you line up in a spread offense or you line up in a two-back offense doesn't mean one's physical and one's not. You have to be multiple in what you do but at the same time you have to have a lot of the same for your players so they can be aggressive, come off the ball, play with technique, play with fundamentals, and understand the scheme so you can make adjustments as you move along and that's what we do defensively. It's nothing magical, and that's where we are heading offensively."
On anything carrying over from last year's offense:
"There's some carry over but there are a lot of things that are different."
On how long it will take for the new offense to click:
"There is enough carry over, I think the understanding is going to get better as you move forward. There's no question there. But you hope you progress and get better every week. The more opportunities you have to hone your trade the better off you're going to be. It doesn't happen overnight, it takes work. We're not where we want to be defensively yet you know, we're moving forward and making progress and that's what I see envisioned for our offense. But there is a lot of carry over, whats changed is how we're going to get to it. I mean the terminology is different; we simplified a lot of things. Like I said I could sit here and talk X's and O's and talk about the system all day and it wouldn't mean a whole heck of a lot to the people listening. I said I am really, really excited about what we are doing and how we are doing it and that's all I care about right now and as we move forward we are going to keep getting better and we'll be ready once the football is kicked off in September."
On the quarterback position going into the spring:
"Like every other position, we've got talent, we've got guys that need to get better and work. I guess that's what spring practice is for; it's just the next step in the process for me. We have a lot to accomplish and we've got 15 practices and we have to come out each day where we are becoming a better football team. And position by position we have got to have guys buy in to what we are doing, work hard, make an investment, and we need to get better across the board. And that's the challenge you have going into spring practice."
On position changes and injuries going into spring:
"We have a couple guys that, I can't think of all of them off the top of my head but Cameron Meredith will be out for the spring, and Jeremiah Sirles will be out for the spring. And they won't participate but they should be pretty close to being ready right after spring ball and they will be in good shape going into the summer. Kenny Anderson just had surgery; he won't be out there in spring practice. We moved Jake Cotton from the defensive line to the offensive line and we're excited about that, that's going to provide us with depth, and that's another guy who we think is going to be outstanding on the offensive line and adds to a pretty deep group. That's probably the most significant changes you'll hear. And back during the season we moved Eric Martin to defensive end and we're keeping him there right now."
On Sean Fisher's status going into spring:
"Fish is ready to roll."
On what Jeremiah Sirles and Cameron Meredith's injuries are:
"Sirles was a shoulder and I think Cameron's was a shoulder too; they were both shoulders. They are both in pretty good shape, they both could go through probably the end of spring but we're kind of at that point where you want to get them 100 percent."
On Mike Caputo's status:
On using two full-time assistants on the offensive line and more on John Garrison:
"John will also be working with the tight ends. You need more eyes up there. What I did was when I put together the offensive staff, almost to a man each guy on the staff can coach multiple positions. It gives you a lot of flexibility in practice, how you work with guys; get extra sets of eyes, different sets of eyes on different position groups. There's a lot of flexibility on our offensive staff, guys that you know, Ron Brown has coached different positions, Tim Beck, Rich Fisher you know he's coached a few different positions. He's been on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball which I like. I mean you look at my philosophy on the defensive side of the ball where we have Carl (Pelini) and JP (John Papuchis) with the defensive line and that's only four guys, now we have five so that's almost half your group so it just helps. Plus Coach (Barney) Cotton is someone who has been an offensive coordinator, can help with the running game, passing game, a lot of different things, has a pretty extensive background. I just like the flexibility it gave us. And I talked to a lot of people about it and thought at the end of the day it was the best way to make our football team better."
On what impressed him about Coach Rich Fisher:
"I've known Fish for a long time. Talked a lot of football with him. And I don't know if you remember back in 2003 I almost hired him on the defensive side of the ball. He's an outstanding football coach, great guy, has the right principles, great communicator. The same thing's I saw in the rest of the guys. I'm real excited about them."
On which offensive line position Jake Cotton will play:
On if the zone read would be part of the offense:
On what he was looking at in 2003 with Rich Fisher:
"At that time it was a linebacker job. He was just a guy that we had talked to. Like I said I've known him since I was with the New England Patriots."
On how the hiring process turned out:
"It came out exactly the way I wanted it to turn out."
On the difference in competing in the Big Ten vs. the Big 12:
"You know I spent a lot of time over the last couple months familiarizing myself with the Big Ten, and some of the opponents, especially the early opponents we'll play in the league. There's some similarities and there's some things that are different. It's probably not as multiple offensively; you know it's a physical brand of football a little bit more of this is what we're going to do and we're going to do it well. The one thing about the Big 12 week to week you can kind of chuck out your game plans defensively because you are playing a whole different type of offense. Always there is going to be some of that but I don't think it's going to be quite as dramatic in the Big Ten compared to what we've faced as far as a scheme standpoint in the Big 12."
On this offense being able to run out the clock at the end of a game:
"Oh yeah, this offense, I'm very excited about what we are doing, and how we are doing it. It's going to be multiple and is going to involve a lot of different position groups but at the same time there is going to be simplicity in it that's going to give our football team, our players an ear of confidence to where they have to learn the offense and they have to know not just what to do but why. And what's going on, understanding the concepts of what we are doing. And it's very logical. It's going to allow a lot of different guys to play a lot of different position groups. There's going to be some spread to it, there's going to be some big sets to it, there's a lot of different things involved with it and it's going to create a lot of different problems for defenses and that's how I look at it. I look at it as what can you do to give defenses problems and trust me we are putting together a scheme that is going to be able to take advantage of what other people are trying to do to us. We're going to be able to attack them."
On if simplicity was lacking last year:
"I don't know if you just call it simplicity, like I said it was how we got to some things, it didn't quite merry up over time to allowing us to have the best offense we could have, and that in a nut shell is why I made the change."
On having three key players returning on defense:
"It's very good, we have a lot of guys back on defense, and we lost a lot of good football players. Obviously we lost Prince (Amukamara) and (Eric) Hagg and (DeJon) Gomes and Pierre Allen. Those are some good football players; I hope I didn't leave anybody out. We feel really good about our depth coming back, the quality of our depth coming back on defense. We get (Sean Fisher) back who we feel is a tremendous linebacker, you know I feel real good about where we are. I think Fonzo (Alfonzo Dennard) is going to be as good of a corner as there is in the country, same with (defensive tackle Jared) Crick and same with (linebacker) Lavonte (David) and you surround them with the type of talent and the type of depth that we have and we have a chance to be pretty formidable on that side of the ball."
On sticking with the Peso as the base defense:
"That will be part of our package but just like always we will have the ability to play three linebackers, two, one, whatever we want to do. We were probably about 90 percent peso last year and we're not going to be that high."
On another versatile player stepping up to replace Eric Hagg and DeJon Gomes:
"We have some guys; we have a lot of versatility in our group. A lot of guys that can do multiple things. We're to the point defensively that our coaches have done a good job and have a good understanding of our scheme so you have a lot of moving parts and a lot of guys that can do multiple things. We're looking at some other things, we're real excited about moving along with some new schemes and doing some different things and we're excited about it. We're going to pose some problems for some people. We're excited about where we're headed."
On installing the offense in the spring:
"You establish your foundation, it's the same thing we do defensively. Because once you have your base principles and your base foundation then everything stems off of that. That's kind of how that works. It really merrys up to how we teach, how we implement and what we do on the defensive side of the ball with what we do offensively."
On coming off a loss vs. the last few years riding the momentum of a win in the bowl game:
"We've had a tremendous winter and the guys have worked hard, they've committed, they've done a lot of good things, and I'm excited about where we are. And trust me no one on our football team me included, are happy about the way we finished off the year in that bowl game. Sometimes you get hit in the mouth and it's how you respond to that. We'll see. Looking forward to the challenges."
On what he is looking for out of Taylor Martinez:
"He's had a good winter as have a lot of guys, and I think we're heading in the right direction in a lot of different ways. The guys understand, we're now going into my fourth year and we've got a lot of guys on our football team who have been hearing the same message over and over and over going into the fourth year now. Its running pretty smoothly right now. The leadership is there, the commitment is there and I like where we are."
On where he is as far as analyzing the Big Ten opponents:
"It takes time, I usually don't start that process until a little bit later but I started earlier this year as we all did. And you know there are a lot of different things you're trying to do this time of year. You all wonder why I haven't been available to talk to the media a lot, we actually do some work, getting the coaches on the same page, philosophically, X's and O's wise, all of those things. Plus on top of that, getting a jump on a different type of offseason this year where there are a lot of different opponents so there is a lot of work to be done and that will continue on not only to spring ball but through spring ball. And I've enjoyed it. It's been a heck of an offseason, and I expect that to continue as we move forward."
On the excitement of moving to a new conference:
"It's a whole different set of challenges, but football is football. I've been coaching a long time and you look at the staff we have and there's not a lot you can do that we haven't seen before. So at the end of the day you have to do what you do and do it well. And that's what we're focusing on us right now. And the opponent part that's for the coaches now to get us prepared and be ready for next September."
On losing Marvin Sanders:
"I love Marvin, he had to do what he felt was the right thing to do for his personal and family situation at the time. Like I said we've done a lot together, we've shared a lot together, we're good friends, we'll always be good friends. And I support him and the decision he made, but fortunately I was able to go out and hire a football coach that I have a full and utmost confidence in and tremendous respect for. Football wise, you know personally it's sad to see him go but football wise we got the best guy we thought for our football team."