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October 15, 2012
We will find out a lot about head coach Bo Pelini and his Nebraska football team in the coming weeks.
The next two games the Huskers will square off against the type of offenses that have given them fits. It's been well documented that Pelini's defense has had plenty of success against classic pro-style offenses, it's when they see spread style attacks that feature mobile quarterbacks where most of the problems come out.
This has been something not easy for Pelini to put his finger on and you get the impression right now that it's as much of a mental thing over something they are doing schematically.
The question now is how much of this can Pelini get fixed in one week and how much of it does he have to table until the off-season?
"As a head coach you think about all of those things, especially during a bye week when you have all that time to think," Pelini said. "I'm not going to get into all of that right now, but you go through all of that short term and long term."
When Pelini looks at the Ohio State game he felt like Nebraska had a sound game plan in the first quarter against Braxton Miller.
It was one or two big runs by Miller in the second quarter that shell shocked the Big Red and their confidence was completely shot after that.
"We had (Miller) surrounded by four guys and missed," Pelini said. "We had guys there and the kid made a great play and made some people miss and got out for the long run. It was like for whatever reason our guys lost their mojo for whatever reason. We started doing things that were out of character and pretty soon it snowballed on us. You've got to go to the next play."
Over the bye week Pelini practiced his team three days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Some of that practice time was spent on fixing themselves and the rest was spent on getting a jump start on Northwestern.
For Pelini and his staff it's no doubt been a tough week off the field. The negativity at times reminds me of 2007. Pelini has done his best to ignore the critics and continues to say it's all about "the process."
"Sometimes in life you've got 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 for you for whatever reason. You've to earn it. You get what you earn in this world.
"I believe in my process and I've been around it long enough to believe in what I'm trying to do because I know the process works. Obviously I question and I turn over every leaf and look under every rock to find out where we got off of that process. Why what happened, happened. There's a lot that goes into it. I'm not one that just sits there and says what happened, happened by chance. You have 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 and some things you can't put a finger on."
Bye week recruiting rundown
Nebraska was very active on the road recruiting on both Thursday and Friday during the bye week. Here's a quick rundown of where Nebraska sent their coaches over the bye week to recruit.
Eight of NU's nine assistant coaches went out on the road either Thursday or Friday. The only coach who that didn't go out was offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
Ron Brown: Thursday - Orlando, FL, Friday - Katy, TX
Rich Fisher: Thursday - Los Angeles, Friday - Los Angeles
Terry Joseph: Friday - Mobile, AL and Baton Rouge, LA
Barney Cotton: Friday - Memphis, TN and Kansas City, MO
John Garrison: Friday - Cleveland and Canton, OH
John Papuchis: Friday - Hutchinson, KS
Rick Kaczenski: Friday - Los Angeles, CA
Ross Els: Friday - Athens, TX
Around the state
***Omaha Burke quarterback Zach Cook arguably played his best game of the year going 19-of-23 passing for 267 yards in a 38-31 win over Papillion La Vista. The Bulldogs scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to get the win.
***Kearney quarterback Luke McNitt rushed 168 yards on 29 car?ries, including two touchdowns in a 36-21 win over Lincoln North Star on Friday night. McNitt also completed 9 of 12 pass?es for 106 yards, as Kearney is now a perfect 4-0 against teams from Lincoln this year.
***Omaha Central running back Jackie Davis tied a Class A record with six touchdowns on Friday in a 51-7 win over Omaha Bryan. Davis finished the game with 312 yards rushing.
***Lincoln Southwest linebacker/running back Josh Banderas finished with 120 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns in a 28-10 over Lincoln Pius on Friday. Banderas also had 11 total tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as the Silver Hawks improved to 5-3.
Three and out
***I expect Nebraska to attack Northwestern with a simplified defensive game plan this week. To me the biggest problem with the defense has been the complexity of the scheme. Hopefully this week they will dumb things down so guys can play fast and not think as much.
***A reporter on Monday tried to get Pelini to say maybe it would make sense to play Ameer Abdullah over Rex Burkhead if he wasn't quite 100 percent. Pelini quickly shot that down and said even if Burkhead is not at 100 percent he's still a pretty special player. You get the sense Pelini knows how much this team needs No. 22 over these final six games.
***These next two weeks are clearly the toughest games on the schedule for Nebraska. After watching Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State and Minnesota several times this season they are all great match-ups for the Big Red's defense. If NU can survive in Evanston and get a win at home against Michigan "winning out" becomes much more of a realistic possibility.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.