Bo Pelini gave Nebraska fans a lot to think about in his Monday press conference following the loss to Minnesota. First, the story line that everybody wants to talk about: Taylor Martinez.
Pelini says if #Huskers played today Armstrong would start, Kellogg filling in. Martinez suffered hip pointer, didn't practice Sun.— Hail Varsity (@HailVarsity) October 28, 2013
And there is this...
Bo said Taylor's toes ARE NOT broken but sprained. He prefaced it by stating that he's not a doctor. #Huskers— Grant Muessel (@GrantMuessel) October 28, 2013
So what's the truth? I'm not sure anybody knows for sure, other than Taylor Martinez. And frankly, I suspect that Martinez has been trying to play through this. He said on Saturday that the injury actually occurred against Wyoming; I suspect that the first anybody else knew about it was after the UCLA game. So why did he play against Minnesota?
Pelini says Martinez looked him in eye and said he was ready to go. At some point, have to let him try. Had numerous conversations about it.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) October 28, 2013
If Martinez insists he's fine, and looks fine on the practice field, and the doctors and training staff think he's ready, then I'm not sure what else you can do. Of course, that's assuming that you believe Pelini in this situation. Bottom line to me is that I do believe that Martinez would try to play through the pain. He's a senior, and he's been criticized for his leadership. He knows that leaders sometimes much step up and play through some pain...and that he's going to be needed in November.
Now add in a hip pointer, and you have to wonder just what to believe about Martinez's availability. I suspect that Pelini doesn't want to play this game.
Pelini on Martinez health: "I'm not going to sit here and play this game all year long." Sounds frustrated with situation.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) October 28, 2013
So is Martinez done? Not yet, but you have to expect that Martinez is going to have to prove that he's healthy before he steps back onto the field.
Much of the Martinez conversation is a sideshow to the big problem from the Minnesota game, and that's the defense.
Pelini on his performance as head coach: "I'm not meeting my expectations, I know that." Definitely more revealing than usual today.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) October 28, 2013
Every Husker fan would agree. He's not sugar coating things. (Contrary to those of you trying to draw parallels to 2007.) The question is: how can he fix things...or can he?
One place to start is at linebacker, where it sounds like Michael Rose is going to start getting some reps at the MIKE. Not sure whether Josh Banderas or Rose will start at middle linebacker against Northwestern, but I suspect we'll see Santos back at weakside linebacker, probably backing up Zaire Anderson. For what it's worth, I think Nebraska's best defense is Anderson (WILL), Rose (MIKE), and Jared Afalava (running downs) alternating with Nathan Gerry (passing downs) at the BUCK.
One thing that could be a longer term problem is that Pelini may be overestimating the football acumen of his players.
Pelini: Players today don't have as much "natural football instinct" and "common sense" as years past. Interesting theory.— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) October 28, 2013
That's alarming when you hear it, but it might make sense when you realize that the Pelini concepts that worked four and ten years ago are struggling today. Of course, the question is how you fix that for November.
There was a lot said by Pelini today; he was open and candid, as he tends to be after a tough game.
Forty-five minutes of Pelini is done. Ended with this: "I don't believe the state of our program is any different than it was a week ago."— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) October 28, 2013
This time, maybe a little more so than normal.
Bo Pelini's press conference lasted 46 minutes. Has to be a record for any #Husker coach, past or present.— Brian Christopherson (@HuskerExtraBC) October 28, 2013
And in other news, BTW, the Huskers game against Michigan has been selected for a 2:30 pm kickoff on either ABC or ESPN.