October 14, 2008

Tuesday notebook: Ganz trying to forget mistakes

As much as he wants to forget about it and move on, Joe Ganz keeps flashing back to his one bad pass.

After four quarters of great football, Nebraska's senior quarterback threw a crucial interception in overtime to seal the Huskers' third straight defeat in a 37-31 loss to Texas Tech.

Since that throw, Ganz has tried to put the play past him and turn his focus towards Saturday's game against Iowa State, but it's been a bit harder to do than he might have expected.

"It's tough," Ganz said. "It was just a tough way to lose the game. Especially after we blocked the extra point and all we have to do is score. You know Alex (Henery) is going to kick it through. It was tough. It felt like somebody stomped my heart out when I saw that guy go out of bounds with the ball. It was tough to let go, but I have to. I have to for the betterment of this team. I can't carry it into this week of practice. I can't carry it into this game. I just have to do my best to forget about it. It's over.

"There is nothing I can do now. I can't let it affect my practice and my play for this team. I can't allow myself to do that. I've gotten over it, but it was hard. It was really hard."

Ganz's interception was especially tough considering his performance during regulation. Until his final pass, Ganz was 36-of-43 passing for 349 yards and two touchdowns. He also helped the Huskers hold the ball for more than 40 minutes of time of possession.

But it was one mistake, on a pass he tried to throw out of bounds that found its way into Red Raider defender Jamar Wall's hands, that overshadowed all of his previous performance.

It was obviously a tough play to forget, but Ganz's coaches say he doesn't really have a choice in the matter. For Nebraska to have any success against the Cyclones, his confidence has to be just as good as it was for four quarters last weekend.

"He better move forward. I have," offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "We've got too much season left. We're really having fun right now and doing a lot of good things. We've got to move forward, we can't live in the past. He'll get out of it. That's not his character. He'll move forward.

"Joe doesn't stay down. He doesn't. Joe's a warrior. He puts it behind him because he's a competitor. He knows the next one's coming. He moves forward real fast. It may sting him on Sunday, but on Monday he knows it's time to come back and go to work. He's never showed up to work on Monday not ready to go to work."

Tuesday practice takes
O-line paying for mistakes: With three holding penalties and a handful of false starts, Nebraska's offensive line certainly had its share of mistakes on Saturday. The Husker coaches aren't letting them off easy, either. Sophomore tackle Mike Smith said the o-line had to run six gassers on Monday, and followed it with six sets of up-downs after Tuesday's practice. Smith said the extra exercises were the ideas of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and offensive line coach Barney Cotton.
Controlling the clock: Watson said that the 40 minutes and 12 seconds Nebraska had in time of possession was the most he could remember any of his teams having during his 26 years of coaching. The Huskers obviously came into the game with the plan of controlling the game clock and keeping Texas Tech's potent offense off the field, but I don't think any of them expected to hold the ball for two-thirds of the game.
Injury update: Linebackers Cody Glenn and Phillip Dillard and safety Rickey Thenarse all practiced for the second day in a row Tuesday after sitting out last week's game with injuries. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said he expects all three to play this Saturday against Iowa State.
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team conducted a 90 minute full-padded practice inside the Hawks Championship Center on Tuesday. The Huskers are scheduled to come back on Wednesday for another two and a half hour full-padded practice.

Turnovers are big priority for NU defense

If it seems like Nebraska's defense hasn't forced a turnover in weeks, it's because they haven't. The last turnover for the Huskers came nearly a month ago in their win over New Mexico State, when Matt O'Hanlon and Armando Murillo both recorded interceptions.

Since then, though, Nebraska has not forced a fumble or interception, and has a turnover margin of +5.

Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said the Huskers need to do a better job of capitalizing on opportunities to create turnovers, though he said the defense won't stray from its normal game plan to do it.

"We just need to keep working at it," Pelini said. "Those thing tend to come in bunches, and sometimes you hit a dry spell… You just need to keep preaching it and keep talking about opportunities, and eventually those opportunities will turn into turnovers."

Suh gets earful from Pelini for personal foul

After committing another personal foul penalty, this time on a roughing the passer call Saturday against Texas Tech, junior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh apparently got quite the talking-to from head coach Bo Pelini.

Suh said Pelini made sure to voice his displeasure with the penalty, and after watching the tape said he understands why.

"Yeah, I heard it from him," Suh said. "But I went back and looked at the film, and it was definitely deserving. I should've laid off, but going against an offensive lineman, I didn't see that he had just released it. I was in the lineman's chest, and by the time I came out and saw the quarterback and hit him and I see the ball's down the field. Then again, it's the ref's call, and he made the call."

Quick hits

***Carl Pelini sad he was impressed with the level of intensity the Huskers showed in Tuesday's practice, saying the energy during drills felt like it was a real game.

"For some reason, today just seemed fast," Pelini said. "It was physical. It was like game-type speed when we did ones-and-ones. That was good to see."

***Suh was asked at one point if this year's Huskers were trying to re-learn how to win after several years of disappointing seasons.

"After last year you definitely have to kind of re-learn how to win," Suh said, "but I don't think we have a problem as a team of that."

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