August 26, 2009

Wednesday notebook: Pelini not happy with practice

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini made it pretty clear that he wasn't happy with what he saw from his football team following Wednesday's practice inside the Hawks Championship Indoor Facility.

Pelini said he saw too many mental breakdowns that left him concerned heading into next Saturday's Florida Atlantic game.

"No it's not an effort issue," an upset Pelini said. "Sometimes it is. It's mental effort, its physical effort. We just aren't a real good football team right now for a lot a reasons."

On another question geared towards Wednesday's practice Pelini called what he saw on the football field "average."

"Nobody has stepped up and taken control," Pelini said. "It's a bunch of average guys running around out there right now."

Junior wide receiver Niles Paul said following Wednesday's practice Pelini told the team what he saw on the field was unacceptable.

"I think it was more of a consistency thing," Paul said. "On some days we've got guys playing with high tempo and on other days you've got guys playing with low tempo. I think he just wants it to be more consistent each day with high tempo practices."

Junior tight end Ryan Hill also agreed with Pelini's assessment of practice and said the team has to step things up over the next 10 days.

"We just need to come out here every day and compete and he's just trying to get that across to us," Hill said. "We just need to come out here and compete and do our best every day at whatever we do."

-Sean Callahan

Wednesday fall camp takes
No redshirt talk: Even though offensive coordinator Shawn Watson labeled freshman Cody Green as the leader for the No. 2 quarterback position on Tuesday, he said on Wednesday it's still too early to make on projections on which quarterback if any he would like to redshirt for the 2009 season.
Niles 'Dos Cuatro' Paul: Junior Nebraska wide receiver Niles Paul said don't read too much into the nickname Niles 'Dos Cuatro' Paul on his Facebook page. Paul said he put the title on there more as a joke with a thing he has going with his younger brother who currently attends North High School. "I put that as my middle name because my little brother plays high school football for North and he calls himself 'dos siete,' Paul said. "That was just a joke though."
Injury update: Head coach Bo Pelini did not address any injuries during his short post practice media gathering on Wednesday. However, the only player that sat out Wednesday's practice was freshman wide receiver Ty Kildow, who's been out all week.
What's on tap next: The Nebraska football team conducted a two hour half-padded practice inside the Hawk Championship Indoor Facility on Wednesday. The Huskers will take the field again on Thursday for another practice at 3:45 p.m.

Secondary had especially bad day

One unit got as thorough of a tongue lashing as any on the team following Wednesday's less-than-ideal practice.

While Pelini was expressing his displeasure with Nebraska's performance to the media group, NU secondary coach Marvin Sanders talked to his defensive backs for several minutes after practice, and it wasn't a very pleasant conversation.

"He was highly upset," senior safety Larry Asante said. "I can't repeat some of the things he said, but we just need to step it up and be consistent."

Apparently it was a pretty rough day for the Huskers' secondary, as Asante and junior cornerback Prince Amukamara said the unit got burned on at least a couple deep pass plays due to missed assignments in coverage.

Amukamara said the performance was especially frustrating because the defense didn't allow a single completed deep pass during Tuesday's practice.

"We're giving up a lot of deep balls right now, and we didn't yesterday," Amukamara said. "Just the consistency is something we need to work on… I think what's hurting all of us right now is just our eyes. Coach Bo Pelini just stressed that a lot, just getting our eyes in the right places.

"A lot of us, including myself, our eyes are in the backfield and not reading our keys, and that's hurting us a lot."

While Nebraska's secondary wasn't the only unit that had an off day on Wednesday, there's still reason for concern about the lingering complaints of the group's inconsistent play this fall.

For now, though, all the defensive backs can do is forget about Wednesday's outing and focus on getting better on Thursday.

"We just got to go out there and correct the mistakes we made today," Asante said. "In football, you've got to have a short-term memory. We've got to put today behind us and get ready for tomorrow."

- Robin Washut

Washington staying put

Even though it appears that freshman Cody Green has beaten junior Latravis Washington out for the No. 2 quarterback position, Washington said following Wednesday's practice he's not going anywhere.

Washington moved to quarterback from linebacker during the spring with the hopes of being NU's top back-up in 2009 and he plans on staying at quarterback in the near future.

"I'm going to stay here," Washington said. "I'm tired of switching positions. I told my family I'm going to stay at the position and I told Fabian (Washington) I'm going to stay at the position.

"They're all behind me in whatever I do. I don't want to switch over for nothing. This little thing won't tear me down."

Washington said he came into camp with the goal of winning the back-up job behind Lee, and he's going to continue to stay sharp because you never know what could happen over the course of the season.

"I'm still competing," Washington said. "We are all coming out here and still competing. Coach Watson laid a fine line yesterday that Cody (Green) was the No. 2. He just told me that I need to keep competing and working and push him every day and then you'll get to that point where you can push Zac (Lee).

"The competition is still there, but he just named Cody the No. 2 because of his progression and what he's been doing in fall camp because he's really put his work on film. I really can't complain about that, I just have to keep working."

-Sean Callahan

Asante not taking mistakes lightly

As the appointed quarterback of Nebraska's secondary, Asante took personal responsibility for his unit's poor play during Wednesday's practice.

Asante said he plans to step up his leadership and make sure his teammates know when they're making mistakes that result in busted coverages. In other words, he's not putting up with one or two errors that make the entire defense look bad.

"I mean, we're friends, but at the same time, we can't be making the same mistakes," Asante said. "It's all about accountability, and if you keep making the same mistakes now, I'm going to get on you. I'm going to let you know about it, because you're letting the team down.

"Everybody s doing their assignments, and if one person's out of line - it's a team defense, and if one person is out of line, you're letting your whole team down."

Asante said he's well aware that Nebraska's secondary is young and fairly inexperienced, but now nearly three weeks into fall camp, he thinks the mistakes the Huskers are making are simply unacceptable at this point.

"The mistakes we're making now, we shouldn't be making those mistakes," he said. "We've had three weeks now, basically, of practice. To make the same errors, we can't have that if we want to be the kind of defense we want to be. We can't have repeat errors."

- Robin Washut

Quick hits

***Nebraska running backs coach Tim Beck said he's making the No. 3 running back spot an equal opportunity competition. With as many as four or five different backs all competing for the same spot, Beck said he's doing his best to make sure everyone gets an equal amount of reps.

"I try to give as many reps as I can to evaluate them at doing all the things, because you don't want to put a guy in there that can't do all the things we need to do to win a game," Beck said. "We don't want to handcuff ourselves. We don't want to put a guy in there and say, 'Well, this guy can only run inside, so we better just do that.'

"So I think the game plan, who we play and how they progress over the next couple days are going to be the biggest factors in who we put there each week."

***Paul said Nebraska put in a little bit of Florida Atlantic work on Wednesday.

"We watched a little bit of film," Paul said. "We've got a whole week to prepare still, but we did watch a little bit of film today."

***Paul said the biggest difference he's seen in the offense compared to last year is he feels like they are a lot "faster."

***Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said on Wednesday that he'd like to travel four quarterbacks if possible in 2009.

"We'd like to travel four, but it's going to be three for sure," Watson said. "I don't want to say anything about the fourth guy because I'm not ready to go there yet."

***Beck said he's not concerned about finding a player to match the same build and physical running style as the departed Quentin Castille in finding a new short-yardage back.

"To me, as long as a guy is moving the chains and making people miss and getting the tough yards, I don't care how he's doing it," he said. "Really, it's still about reading holes and getting through there. It does help sometimes if you're a bigger guy and somebody's in the way, but if everybody is doing their job and their assignment, sometimes you have guys who can make big plays because they can make people miss, and sometimes that 2-yard gain for a first down becomes a 50-yard touchdown."

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