Bo Pelini took the stage at Big Ten Media Days today in Chicago. Here's what he had to say.
It's great to be back here in Chicago. It seems like a long time since last year. A lot of things have happened since then. I know as a program we're excited about the upcoming season. The kids have really worked hard. We've had a tremendous off-season, starting way back after the Bowl game in January and going on through spring practice. And our kids are excited. They've worked their butts off this summer and camp's right around the corner. We like where we are as a football program right now. I'm proud of our football team. I'm proud of the kids in it, how they represent our program and what we've been able to do not only on the field but more importantly in the classroom and in the community, and there's a lot of positive things going on with our program. And that goes to the character and the type of young men that we have on our football team. And I'm proud of all those guys and what they've done for our football program. And football-wise we're looking forward to the upcoming season. We know it's going to be a tremendous challenge as it always is. The interesting schedule for us, the way it sets up, with the extra home game and we're looking forward to that, because we always feel it's an advantage playing at home. And so we're looking forward to all the challenges that are going to come up. But first and foremost, we've gotta have a great fall camp. We've gotta come out and work hard, and we've gotta improve us. We've gottawo rk to get better each and every day.
About last year's losses and how does the staff/team learn from those:
It's nothing magical. It's about getting better. It's about tackling better, executing better. It's not a scheme thing. It's not a -- at the end of the day you have to execute. And when those things happen, they happen for a reason. We've studied it. We've addressed it. Going to continue to work and we need to be better, more consistent than we were last year. You look at the wins we had and where we rank nationally in total defense in total wins and obviously a couple of the losses that we had, especially ones where we gave up a lot of points and a lot of yards. And there's not much -- the room for error isn't there anymore. Utah was playing the spread out teams and you play some good football teams and when some things -- you face some adversity early on you can't let it turn the other way on you. Like I said, fundamentally, technique-wise and execution-wise, we need to be better. We need to be better consistently because when you're not, those bad things can happen to you.
About Thomas Brown:
Violation of team rules. I don't speak in specifics about it. But I wish him luck at his next school.
About what he would advise Rutgers and Maryland about moving to the B1G:
Everybody's going to have their different approach on how they're going to go through to transition. I think the support you have here with the Big Ten Conference and the other member institutions and for that matter even the hospitality of the other coaches, that was tremendous for us. And there's always going to be an adjustment period for teams going through, going into a conference for the first time. And that's going to be there. There's no hiding from that. And it's going to require some extra work in the off-season. But it's a transition that you just have to spend a little bit more time familiarizing yourself with teams that you haven't seen for a while, coaches you might not have coached against, and it just adds a little more to your off-season to try become familiar with it before it's staring you in the face in a game week. So the more preparation you're able to do in the off-season makes that transition that much easier. But it's still going to be difficult. There's one thing about seeing things on film and watching it on your laptop, but there's a whole other thing going through it, and over time you'll become more and more familiar and things become a little bit easier for you. Plus you have your football players who are also going through a transition time, and they're going into stadiums they've never been in. There's a lot to it. But the better preparation they can do in the off-season, the better.
About the new NCAA targeting rules:
Well, we talked to them about it in spring knowing it was coming, right around the corner. And you look for examples that you're going to see, different things that came up during practice and said, hey, that's the time where you're probably going to get thrown out of the game. But the scary thing to me is just what you said: It's the application part of it. And it's going to be pretty subjective. And I don't think it's an easy thing to call. And in my opinion it's going a little bit overboard right now. And some things I've seen on TV and different examples that they've shown, you know, like even as a coach watching it on TV, I haven't quite agreed with some of the things they've talked about. But I understand where it's coming from. It's about the safety of the players, and we're all for that. We just have to make sure that we're not messing with the integrity of the game or the sport and how it's supposed to be played.
Thoughts on the Nebraska offense:
Yeah, I really like our offense. It's coming back, and obviously it starts with the quarterback position, having a four-year starter at quarterback and some really dynamic weapons around them. I think we have the opportunity to have probably the best offensive line on paper, potentially, that we've had since I've been here, not only the starters but some of the backups and the depth that we have really across the board. If we can get a couple young kids, incoming guys, that can come in and provide us with some extra depth at a couple of positions, it's a pretty potent -- potentially a very potent offense. And I feel really good about it. I feel good about where our guys are scheme-wise and their knowledge of Coach Beck's (Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck) offense and what he wants to do. And I'm looking forward to our offense. I think they have -- I wouldn't trade our offense for anybody. I really like what we're doing.
About opening with Illinois for five straight years in B1G play:
Well, actually until you said that, I wasn't even aware of that. But I knew they were our opener this year. And that's all I'm concerned with right now. And we have a lot of respect for the Illinois program. Obviously coming from the Big Ten and I played Illinois a lot over the years, from my playing days and understanding the type of tradition they have and the type of potential they have. Coach Beckman and his staff are doing a good job and getting things going in the right direction, and we know it will be a challenge for us right off the bat to start Big ten play.
About the B1G going to a nine game schedule:
It's going to be a little bit different in that probably the biggest -- it creates some different scheduling issues as far as games we might have had scheduled or planning on scheduling for the future. But having the five and four format as far as in your division and out of your division, home games and not home games, it changes some of the dynamics. But I think it will be good. It was inevitable that's where it was heading with the nine conference games, with the expansion of the conference, and I think it will be a good thing in the end. It will be a little bit of -- obviously you're down to three out-of-conference games which changes your dynamics a little bit, but I think in time most of the conferences, especially the ones that are expanding past 10, 11 teams, you know, 12 and up, are going to start going to nine conference games. That's going to I think be pretty uniform throughout college football in short order.
About the inexperience in the front 7 on defense:
Well, there's challenges in every situation. Everyone's a little bit different each year. And we're going to have some inexperience. But we have some experienced guys kind of mixed through there. And I think it's going to be a great competition. We might be fairly inexperienced, especially to start off the year, you know. But I think our depth is going to be there. And there's going to be great competition, which I think is -- and we're athletic. It's going to be an athletic group and a talented group and I'll take that any day of the week. It's just going to require a lot of hard work on our part as coaches, our players' parts, and I like the potential of the group. I like the way we finished spring. I like the development we've had. And I'm excited about the incoming guys that are going to add to the mix. And we're doing a couple different things to add to what we've been doing defensively. I think we're going to be a little bit more multiple even than we have been even though we're going to be younger. And so I'm looking forward to it. And I really like the potential of our group.
And, finally, on Taylor Martinez:
Taylor is being coached by Coach Beck. He's the one who -- believe me, Taylor works with -- he has his coach at home that helps him on his breaks, but he's at the university most of the year and Coach Beck does a great job with them. It's nice to have some reinforcement, some guys that he works with, you know, away from when he's in Lincoln and when he's at home. And Taylor's made great strides. I think he had a tremendous year last year. And I expect him -- there's still a lot of room for improvement there. He's not even close to what his potential is. And I look forward to what he's going to bring to the table this year. He had an improved spring. And being a great quarterback comes back to not just the talent thing, it's not just the fundamentals and the technique issues, but it comes down to decision-making and efficiency at the quarterback position and making the offense work for you, and I think he's understanding that. I think he grew in that area last year and there's still a lot more room for growth. And like you said, he made some big changes in his throwing motion and really his footwork and shoulder angle. Once he got that corrected, he has the arm strength. He can make any throw there is. And he has tremendous talent. He just needed to refine some things and he's gotta continue to work on that because it's the little things that allow you to have success.
Also, some roster moves, they go as follows.
Linebacker Trevor Roach is out for the season, most likely from a foot injury suffered while training.
Incoming recruits Chongo Kondolo, Randy Gregory and and Dimarya Mixon will make fall camp. There is some question about Gregory being cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse, but he should be on campus to start.
Tre'vell Dixon won't be a Husker, rather he will be attending a JUCO.
Marcus Newby still needs to "finish paperwork" before he comes to campus, which is made to sound like a formality.
Colorado transfer Alex Lewis' status remains up in the air after a assault charge in Boulder this past spring. Lewis has a hearing on Friday.
Husker FB Mike Marrow will not be returning to the team, a decision made by his family. As you may have heard, his Father Vince is the TE coach at Kentucky.