"I was really unhappy with our practice yesterday. I don't know whether they knew we were scrimmaging today or whatever, I did not like yesterday's practice," Pelini said of yesterday's practice that led into today's 150-play scrimmage. But he said that the team didn't repeat that performance today. "I thought we got a lot done today - had a good scrimmage, had good tempo (and) saw some good things on both sides," he said.
Two players who were limited a bit today, mostly to allow younger players some reps in the scrimmage were junior running back Rex Burkhead and sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez. Burkhead did get some reps in the scrimmage, and in that time Pelini said that Nebraska's returning star running back looked solid, and he some glimpses from the depth behind him. "He (Rex) looked really good when he was in there. I saw some decent things out of A.J. We have a limited crew there (and) we don't have enough consistency and enough depth there right now," Pelini said. "But you could say that across the board. "
The theme, if there is one from this Spring, is that those believed to be starters for the Fall, have taken to the changes on both sides in stride. But it's the group behind that top unit that Pelini says he's looking for more from in the last four days of Spring practice. "Our first units are playing pretty good, (but) we've got to continue to work and get depth and get more consistency with our younger guys," he said.
To that end, he said that the basics are more important right now than actual game planning, because in the Spring there is none of that. "For us, it's a little bit of an evaluation. It's where they have come technique-wise, knowledge-wise - mentally how they are handling their assignments," he said. "When they are put to the test when they have to go out there on their own in a pseudo game type atmosphere, how are they going to respond. You are not always in the best situations, but it doesn't mean you can't execute. "
The transition from one offense to another continues, and Pelini said that thus far, he's liked what he's seen and said that he believes the comprehension of the system is there, just not the basics of making that system work. "I think their overall understanding is good. The execution isn't always there yet. Some of the details aren't there," he said. "The further we come fundamentally, the better we'll be. The knowledge is there. Their understanding has gotten better and better. I feel real good about where we are as far as that's concerned. It's a technique and fundamental aspect that we've got to keep coming."
A couple of quarterbacks who have gone basically unnoticed for most of the Spring are redshirt freshman Brion Carnes and junior Kody Spano. Spano is finally all the way back to healthy after having endured two consecutive MCL injuries, and Carnes is finally getting his feet wet in real scrimmaging situations as a potential contributor. As you would expect, for Pelini, there's the good and the bad.
"Brion did some really good things out there today. We gave Brion a good look (today). Cody Green did some good things out there. Kody Spano did some good things," Pelini said. As for Kody, "He's gone through some tough times. Fortunately for us he's a tremendous kid. He's overcome a lot and he's out there fighting. This is really the first time he's been out there in awhile (for) full speed action. He's showed resiliency and toughness. He's persevered right through it," Pelini said.
One major sore spot from last year which has been heavily emphasized over the Spring has been turnovers and penalties. The Huskers ranked as one of the worst teams in the Big 12 in both categories last year - a claim to fame they would just as soon not have. Last weekend's scrimmage didn't seem to quite hit the mark as to what Pelini wanted them to see. But he said this scrimmage it was much better. "We were better today than we were last week. We had about 150 snaps today. We had two false starts," he said. "Most of those were with the young guys. That shows me the emphasis is working and the progress, but one is too many as far as I am concerned. There was only one ball on the ground, and once again, that was with the young group."
With not even a handful of practices left, this is the kind of progress Pelini said his team has to make, because there aren't many opportunities left. "We have four more practices. We can't afford a step back like we had yesterday. Our football team understands that, and hopefully we'll learn from what happened yesterday and the approach we took and we'll get better," he said.
As this is the last big scrimmage before the Red/White Game, Pelini said that the teams will be determined by a drafting process, where the players will pick from the total pool after the coaches have divide the roster up evenly. "We are going to split it down the middle, roll it out there and go. We'll let the players draft it," he said.
The Huskers will get back to practice on Monday, and we'll finally get to touch base with the new assistant coaches as the offensive coaches will be available on Monday and the defensive coaches will be available on Wednesday next week.
Click the following link for the full post practice audio with Bo Pelini