Pelini Talks Northwestern, Process

Posted by: Sports

Nebraska Football
Weekly Press Conference
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

Bo Pelini
Nebraska Head Coach
On what the team focused on over the bye week

“Obviously some fundamental work, some good-on-good things and also getting a jump on Northwestern. We got a little bit of recruiting in. We went back to basics in a lot of instances and working on getting better.”

On if the bye week structure changed
“It was the typical bye week structure.”

On how he explains the turnover margin at this point in the season
“It's an area we focus on and talk about. Obviously we've got to protect the ball better and we've got to take advantage of our opportunities when we get the opportunity to get the ball out. That comes from execution.”

On if they can focus too much on turnovers to the point of over thinking it
“No. Turnovers come from being in the right place and making plays when you're there. Once again it comes from execution.”

On when things started to turn in the Ohio State game
“I think I addressed that. It's lack of execution. That falls on me.”

On the reason for making the statement regarding winning the final six games
“It's week to week. I don't change our process. But I know this, if you win out, you control your own destiny. That's what I meant. It's nice to be in a position where you control your own destiny. And today we control our own destiny and can win out.”

On his thoughts on Northwestern's Ventric Mark and Kain Colter
“(They are) good players. They do a lot of good things. Kain Colter is kind of a multi-faceted guy. He's dangerous as a quarterback, good as a wide receiver. You've got to be prepared for whoever shows up at quarterback. You've got to be prepared to deal with Kain no matter where he lines up.”

On if it's more difficult knowing they can line him up in so many areas
“No. You've just got to be aware of where he is. The offense doesn't change a whole lot. They might feature a little bit different plays when he's in there. They can still run their whole gamut of their offense when he's in there.”

On what to expect from a Pat Fitzgerald coached team
“I think they are well-coached, they are sound and they play hard. I think Pat is a heck of a coach.”

On how this week's plan compares to the one against Braxton Miller
“They are different offenses. There are some similarities like any other spread-type offense. There are a lot of differences. It's not as much what you do, it's how you do it. If we execute, we'll do fine.”

On how rare it is to see a team run a two-quarterback system as successfully as they do
“You just don't see it a lot. I'm not exactly sure why they do it. They must obviously like both quarterbacks. It's a combination of liking what Kain Colter brings at the wide receiver position besides what he does at the quarterback position. I don't know all the reasons behind it. It doesn't change a lot what they do offensively and that allows them to do it. It's not like they have completely different packages. Other than changing out the quarterback and giving Kain Colter reps at those spots, it's probably not as hard for them as some people that have to run two completely different offenses for two different skill sets. That would be harder to do because it would be harder to practice that way.”

On who stepped up on the team this last week
“I'd say the same guys. Our team was pretty quiet last week and took a workman's like approach. They understand what's in front of them. They have a good understanding of what they need to do and it's hard, especially after a game like that to have a bye week. I think our guys are looking forward to Saturday to say the least.”

On if he wanted a quiet team last week
“I wanted an angry team and I think that's what I got right now. It's how you deal with it. You could have a varying amount of emotion. It's how you channel it going forward. That's what's in front of us.”

On the difference between a team that plays well in these situations and a team that doesn't
“I think a lot of it comes down to execution no matter what your emotions are, no matter what your motivations are. It comes back down to your preparation and executing. Sometimes in life you have to get hit in the mouth to pick up your resolve and get back to the realization that it's not just going to happen to me for whatever reason. You've got to earn it. You get what you earn in this world. It just doesn't happen on Saturday, it just doesn't happen for those 60 minutes. It's all the things that go up to allowing you to have all the success. It's why I have the philosophy of just staying focused on the process and the day-to-day of what's going to allow you to do that. I understand. I've been around this game long enough to know that you can get off kilter really quick and when you do, this is a humbling sport. You've got to have tremendous respect for the game that we play. It's the ultimate team sport and you have to be hitting on all cylinders, and you have to prepare accordingly for whatever situation you are going into knowing that if you aren't hitting on all cylinders, you can get humbled at any second.”

On if he questions his own process after a result like that
“No. I believe in my process and I've been coaching long enough that I know what I'm trying to do. I know that the process works. Obviously I question and I turn over every leaf. I turn over every rock to find out where we got off of that process and why what happened. There's a lot that goes into it. I'm not one who just looks at it and says it just happened by chance. You've got to continually look for solutions and ways to make it better so it doesn't happen again. Some things you can put a finger on, some things you can't put a finger on. At the end of the day, it's not magical. It comes back down to preparation and execution and continuing to educate your guys on how important that is. You continue to develop a better understanding of what you're doing and fundamentally doing what you're taught to do. That falls back on the coaching.”

On if he's looked at what things he needs to fix now and what things he needs to fix in March
“Oh yeah. As a head coach you think about all those things, especially during a bye week when you have a lot of time to think. I'm not going to get into all that right now, but you go through everything short term and long term.”

On what the definition of the process is
“Do everything in your power that day to be the best that you possibly can that day.”

On how to get the team in shape so it doesn't get hit in the mouth
“That's a good question. That's athletics. That's competition. That's sports. We're not alone, I promise you that. You watch across athletics. That is the greatest challenge you have as a football coach. It's how you get 140 guys every week going in the exact same direction, preparing a certain way, believing everything you say, having total respect for the game and your job and everything that goes into it to prepare yourself for that particular week.”

On if the solutions include challenging the scout team at all
“The scout team plays hard, I promise you that. Like any other team, they have their off days. Our scout team is doing a pretty good job.”

On if he has a scout team member that can emulate Braxton Miller, Kain Colter and Denard Robinson
“Yeah. I'm not taking anything away from Braxton Miller or anyone else, but you have to make plays when you get there. First and foremost, you have to be in the right positions and play your techniques. At the end of the day, it wasn't what we were doing. It's executing. A lot of those things are little detail things. Once again, I'm not going to get into it, but at the end of the day, we didn't execute. We weren't enough into the details and the reads and what we had to do preparation-wise. We didn't react the right way. When that happens, especially in a quarterback-oriented offense when they are running two-style running plays with a quarterback, you have to be right. People have to be prepared, people have to be executing and everyone has to take care of their responsibility. And if you don't do that, you're going to look back. The play that jolted us a little bit defensively before the turnover for their second touchdown was when we had (Braxton) surrounded by four guys and missed. We had guys there. The guy made a great play. He made some people miss and got out for the long run. For whatever reason, from that point on, we felt like we lost our mojo a little bit. Our guys stopped. We started doing things that were out of character and bam! Pretty soon it snowballed on us. You've got to go to the next play. Part of the process is going to the next down. You can't let something that happened one play affect you on the next one. You have to go to the next play. You have to execute the next play. Forget about what happened. Have a short memory and go. For whatever reason, I felt like that didn't happen to us. I thought it happened to us a little bit the other night on both sides of the football. We let some things affect us instead of continuing on and relying on our execution and continuing to take care of us. That's a recipe for disaster.”

On if he looks at different players on defense to fix that
“We've been mixing guys around a little bit. What I've learned in situations like this is there are short-term solutions and long-term solutions. In the short term you have to go with what gives you the best opportunity to win right now. I think we are doing that. You stay the course and don't panic and continue on with what you believe is going to carry you through. I think that's what we are doing as a coaching staff.”

On if he had the right players on the field during the Ohio State game
“In some cases, yes.”

On why the execution gap continues to be a problem
“When you screw up in a pro-style offense and you miss your execution, it's a lot easier for someone to make up for it. When that happens in a quarterback offense where you're spread out, those mistakes become magnified big time. That's probably the best way to explain it. You're going to get magnified a lot more against an offense where the quarterback is going to make plays with his feet. It holds another level of responsibility. Some guys have dual responsibility. When you miss, it's going to get magnified a lot more.”

On if he made defensive adjustments as the game went on
“We didn't really change much as the game went on. Like I told the defense, when we miss-execute things and we have a chance to make a play, it makes it harder. You are taking chances sometimes when you're bringing people. It makes it a little harder to call some things when you have your opportunities and you don't get it. Those plays can become big in a hurry. We had a couple of opportunities that unfortunately we didn't take advantage of.”

On how Stanley Jean-Baptist played against Ohio State
“I thought Stanley played well against Ohio State. I thought he did a good job.”

On if he has won the competition at that position or if it continues
“That competition continues every day. There's no guy. You have to earn it every day when you head out on the field.”

On if it was a matchup thing with Stanley
“It was a matchup thing going into the Ohio State game, but I thought he played well. There were some things that I think he did really well. There are some things he doesn't do as well as the other guys. It kind of all depends on what you are doing and how he fits into a particular game plan.”

On what the workload for Rex Burkhead will be this week
“He's doing well. He had a really good weekend and came back today and he's feeling pretty good. We'll kind of ease him into it. I'm not sure if it will be a heavy workload early in the week, but it will progress to that.”

On what he does with Tim Marlowe now that he's in the mix
“Play him. He's a good player and we are excited that Tim is back.”

On if there is less pressure to put Burkhead back in because of Ameer Abdullah's play this year
“As I said all along, I feel good about Ameer and I feel really good about Braylon (Heard) and also what Imani (Cross) can bring. Trust me when I tell you Rex is a special player. He means a lot to our football team. When he's ready and when he's hitting on all cylinders, he's going to get his touches.”

On if the defense listened after they gave up a huge run
“Yeah. You are really black and white when you watch the film. You point it out. Our guys were sick to their stomachs. The way I look at it is that I didn't prepare them well enough to execute. I don't look at it and say hey, what we do works and it's drawn up to work. At the end of the day, if our players aren't executing it falls on myself and the coaches first and foremost. That's how I look at it. Moving forward it's about how we are going to get this fixed. It's about a better understanding and continuing to work and making sure they continue to understand every last detail of what you're doing and how it relates to the team you are playing. At the end of the day, coaches and players are all in this thing together. We have to do what we have to do to get it right.”

On if he would ever change the pace of the offense to assist the defense at midseason

On if a slip up would be detrimental to the team given the “winning six straight games mentality”
“Our goal going into the year is to win them all. Going into the year that's my expectation. That's our team's expectation. Trust me, my message to our football team two weeks ago and what it is today is no different. I was just making the comment that if we win out, it takes care of itself, period. That doesn't change my day-to-day message for our football team. I have never talked about what's ahead or a championship here or let's go here, let's do this. For me, it's a consistent message. It's about today. All I'm worried about is Monday and what our football team this day to get better and prepare for Northwestern. That's all I care about. That has never changed. Our team fully understands that.”

On if he learned anything from the changes he made during last year's bye week
“I think so. You always learn things along the way. What I've never done is panicked in this situation. I've spent a lot of time looking at our football team and what we have going forward and continuing to make decisions and developing our game plans to get better as the year goes on. That's what I tried to do this week. I kind of like where we are heading into this game. I think our guys will respond the right way. I really do. That's the challenge going forward; going on the road to Northwestern against a good football team.”

On what he liked about the way Taylor Martinez played against Ohio State
“I thought he was good when he was good and I thought there were a lot of things that he needs to fix. He'd be the first one to tell you that we can't have the turnovers. It's really no different from the rest of our football team. We need consistency. For the most part heading into this game, he's been making sound decisions and good reads and using the offense to his advantage. He went away from that a couple times during that game and it cost us. Like the rest of us, he's got to learn from the things that happened to him.”

On his mentality being that he wants to be the one to make the play
“Absolutely. I want him to want to win. Wanting to and wanting to do the things that get you what you want, that's what you've got to want to do. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to do well. At the end of the day, you win through execution. You play great by doing what you are taught to do consistently. That's what this sport is all about. That's what championship football is all about.”

On if he puts the fumbles on Martinez or not because they are blindside hits
“I put it on him. Obviously it's a team game. There are other guys involved with that, but he's got to put the ball away.”

On if there is a different mentality in third and long
“Yeah, first of all is not getting into that situation. Part of that is doing better on first and second down and making sure which penalties that got us into the situation are taken care of. It's about executing on early downs and not putting yourself in third and long when it is. There are some other things we can do to make sure we are in a better situation for everyone involved on that third and long. That was part of our study during the bye week.”