Pelini, Huskers Talk Spring Game - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Pelini, Huskers Talk Spring Game


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Head Coach Bo Pelini
Opening Statement
"I think we had a good spring. I really do. I have to tell you I was a little concerned about midway through. I wasn't seeing the progress in some areas as much as I would've liked. Obviously, we were making progress, but we were having some repeat errors that I didn't like. I thought that when we came back from spring break, those last six practices leading up to today, we made a big jump. I thought it was important for us to do that. Are we where we want to be? No. But it's April. We shouldn't be. I think there's a lot firmer foundation that's going to carry us into fall practice and right up into the year. But the message to the team is this: if we think that we can just do what is required and be ready to go and be the football team we want to be, it's not going to happen. We have to go over and above. We have to do more than what's required. Our team understands that and our leaders understand that. That's a challenge we have ahead of us. As far as the game, I thought there were some good things out there. There was some sloppiness at times. There were some good things and some bad things. We were playing a bunch of guys in a lot of instances who hadn't played together, so there were some miscommunications, some missed assignments, and some things that obviously you don't like as a head coach. But you go into a game like this and have to understand that some of that stuff is going to happen. Overall, it was a good effort, a good spring, and there's a lot of work ahead of this team."
On the six straight scoring possessions in the first half
"Like I said, I thought there were some good things offensively. I'm not going to sit here and dissect everything that happened to us on defense, but there were a lot of recurring themes that happened to us in that first half. Like I said, you come to anticipate some things that are going to happen going in, so I wasn't surprised about that in some areas. I thought most of our guys were able to handle this atmosphere, but there were some guys it took a quarter or a quarter and a half where there eyes were big, too big for a situation like this. I think they settled down after a while, on both sides. There were some things that you don't see in a scrimmage or practice setting. You saw some guys that just lost their focus a little bit. It's a different stage for some of these guys. Some of them haven't been out there in this kind of atmosphere. That's all part of their development and the process."
On the backup QB battle
"I think Ron (Kellogg III) had a good day. I think coming out of the spring I would probably say Tommy (Armstrong Jr.) was a little bit ahead of Ron at the end of the spring. I'll have to take a look at the spring game and see, but at the end of the day, what we're doing is taking all of those kids from where they were and trying to make them better. I thought Tommy made big strides throughout the spring. I thought Ryker Fyfe did some really good things. He didn't get very good protection out there today, but he showed that he can really throw the ball. We have some talent at the quarterback position and some guys that made a lot of progress this spring."
On Tommy Armstrong Jr.
"He's a tremendous leader. He was a little bit rusty when the spring started, especially with his footwork coming off of the surgery. His understanding of the offense is very good. He's obviously a very talented young man. He has to continue to work on his technique, especially his footwork. Success as a quarterback comes from footwork. He has to work to do in that area as most young guys do, but I saw him get better as the spring went on. He was a lot better quarterback and had a lot better technique and fundamentals after practice 14 than he was when we started."
On where the defense improved most this spring
"They've come a long way in a lot of areas. I think our defense has potential to be very good, but it is going to require a lot of hard work between now and then. There's going to be a tremendous competition to see who is out there on the field come that first game. Who that's going to be, I don't know yet. There's a lot of potential, but like I said, there's a lot of work to do between now and then."
On whether King Frazier or Jack Hoffman is the first running back behind Imani Cross
"Jack's pretty hard to beat. He was the leading rusher today wasn't he? There you go."
On involving Jack in the game
"Obviously, Jack's a young man who has touched the hearts of a lot of people. Our football team and the student body have gotten behind him, and he's become a big part of the team. We weren't sure if he was going to want to do it. We brought the idea to his dad, and I thought it was a pretty special thing."
On King Frazier
"King had a really good spring. He's going to be a good football player. He's going to play some football for us. I liked what he did through the spring."
On what it means to do more than what's required
"There are a lot of things that go into that. We've talked about that as a group. They've talked about what they want to be. I told them that it's not just going to magically happen. You have to help make those things happen. I laid out to them that I want a detailed plan. It's not going to happen by just doing what we've done in the past or just doing what's required. You have to go over and above. That's the kind of commitment we need on this football team. We have older guys and younger guys, and we're going to need every single one of them. We're going to need to all come together. That means we're going to need to have the same level of commitment, accountability, and all of the things we talk about embracing as a football team. That's what we're working toward."
On Alonzo Moore
"Alonzo Moore showed me that he's a very talented young man who has a lot of potential, but has a lot of growing to be done for him to be a productive player in our system. He's a great kid. The 'want to' is there, but the ability to sustain it and do it day after day after day is a challenge. He's a young man trying to figure it out, but when he does figure it out, he's going to be a special player."
On the tight ends
"They've gotten a lot better. Today, I thought some guys stepped up and made some catches, but I saw them get better as the spring went on."
On the special teams
"Mauro Bondi got a better throughout the spring. He still has to work on some consistency things, but he has a big leg. He has to work on his mental approach at times and the consistency that's required. He has to show that when things are tough, he's able to bring it every single time. We've tried to put him in some stressful situations, and he's gotten better. (Sam) Foltz has shown me that he's an excellent punter, so if we played a game today, Mauro Bondi would be kicking and kicking off, and Foltz would be punting. That would be a pretty good scenario because we wouldn't have to have one guy handling all of the duties. But there is a long time before we play a game. We have other guys coming in who we think are going to be able to compete for one or two of the jobs, and we'll go from there."
On the drills included in the game
"We were on TV and it was about recruiting. We don't do the punt drill during practice, but the compete drill is something we included throughout the spring. We were going to add a couple more things that we normally do, but time became an issue. I think it gives them a different, inside look into what we do in our program."
On the offensive line
"I think our offensive line is getting better. Right now, I would say we have four tackles we feel really comfortable with. Inside, between the guard positions, we have five, with the potential of six. I think that our young guys in the offensive line are making really good progress and showing real potential. That's going to important when you lose guys. I believe that the center position is really solid. The young guys are coming, especially a guy like Givens Price. Overall, I think we have a chance to be really solid, and we should be. We have some returnees on the offensive line, and we've had success moving the football, so I wouldn't expect that to change."
Quarterback Taylor Martinez
On how he thought his offense looked in the first half
"I thought we looked really good on both sides of the ball, and we moved the ball down on the defense. I think it looked pretty good."
On whether or not they planned for the game to go so smoothly
"We really didn't talk about anything. We just treated it like another practice, and we just came out there did our thing. We normally practice like that, so that why we did well."
On what it was like to hand the ball off to Jack (Hoffman)
"That was awesome for the team and for Jack. He's going to remember that for the rest of his life and so will I. It was awesome for him to score that touchdown."
On whether or not Jack was nervous in the huddle
"Yeah, he was really nervous when he got there. You saw him run the wrong way, so I had to grab him and lead him the right way. It was awesome for him."
On if he will be heading to California soon to work with Steve Calhoun?
"Yes, in May I will be out there working with him and a few other quarterbacks. Then I think I should be going to that camp again in July"
On what he is happiest with his offense this spring?
"Pretty much everything. They are still grasping all of the new things we have learned later on in the season coming into the spring. The offense will keep on learning until we get things exactly how Coach (Tim) Beck wants them."
On how having experiened wide receivers has and will help the team
With having experienced receivers and an experienced tight end, it pushes the process a lot further than having to restart. They all pretty much know the plays and it is the same the offensive line, so you can pretty much advance our offense to the next level."
Senior Fullback C.J. Zimmerer
On what the instructions were for the play involving Jack (Hoffman)
"Yeah, we drew up the play probably 30 seconds before so I'm sure it was all a blur for him. I was telling some of the other reporters that he did a great job. We wanted to get him around the edge, giving him a nice lane to the end zone. He did a great job running his little legs there. He's fast for a little guy. He did a great job for the pressure of 60,000 fans. I'm sure it was not very easy for a 7-year-old."
On whether or not they knew ahead of time that Jack would be scoring a touchdown
"We talked about it a bit last night with (Jeff) Jamrog. I've been involved with the Team Jack stuff and Uplifiting Athletes, so I was in on the planning with it, but they addressed the team today. Coach Bo told us and all the guys were really excited about it. It worked out really well."
On what the huddle was like with Jack
"Like I said, probably a little shock, but he was real happy to be there. He was really excited. We didn't really know when Coach Bo was going to get us out there, so he was pacing up the sideline with me and some of the other guys waiting to get in there. He did great for being on the field, and in front of all those people. It was a great experience"
On his 45-yard touchdown reception
"It was awesome. It was dream come true for me, even if it was just a spring game. They called the play, and Taylor kind of checked audible a few times at the line. Eventually, it got back to the original play. I just happened to run a decent route, he gave me a good ball, and I just ran it in. It was a great feeling."
Cornerback Ciante Evans
On what happened to him physically when he went out of the game
"I just had a collision with one of my players, a little bit of head on head contact, but it's nothing serious."
On how far has the defense come and how far does it need to go
"I think we've made some good improvements, but I'm glad we were put in the situation that we were today with some of the young guys out there experiencing the crowd and the atmosphere. I'm glad we were put in that situation so they could get a feel of what it's close to being like out there in a game."
On how much it helps to face the offense in practice to pick up the pace
"It's good because they are always going to compete against us. Every time we get a chance to go out and compete with them it is truly an honor because those boys come out ready to play."
On how it helps the secondary for the linebackers to cover the passing game well
"They have some real good physical attributes; they can run, they're strong, and they're fast. Whenever you can get linebackers helping out, especially the safeties, and make the ball have some air then it helps the secondary a lot. When they can cover from sideline to sideline, it helps out in the secondary."
On what Bo Pelini means by going above and beyond
"He basically means to manage your spare time. Get into your playbook, do some extra drills, and don't be complacent as to where you're at right now. I just think that leaders on the defense need to continue to remind younger guys that it's still a long way to the season, but it will be here before you know it. Continue to learn your playbook and continue to practice and get better."
On how he feels about the defense's progress this spring
"I feel good. At the beginning I, was kind of worried but I feel we have come a long way."
On what the strength of the defense is
"Of course I'm going to say secondary because I play there, but overall, we've all come together and we've been accountable for one another. I think that the linebackers are going to be good this year and so is the defensive line."
On what happened on the plays when Jake Long and C.J. Zimmerer got behind the secondary
"I was on the field when Jake Long got loose, but I don't really remember what happened because I was on the back side. From what I heard, on the sideline was that someone broke coverage to come for the scrambling quarterback but that's not our responsibility. As a secondary, we have to stay on our man and do our assignment."
On what he can help the secondary with as a leader
"I think it's just being able to get out there on the field more. We have to work with the strength coaches. We have to get in the film room and go over film. Just doing extra things with one another helps each other out."
On Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp
"They're two different types of receivers. Alonzo is more of a straight ahead guy. He's really fast. Westerkamp is more of a shake and bake and play it by the book player. He's very crafty."
Source: UNL Sports Information Department
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