Nebraska starts prep for Iowa

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini likes the initial defensive game plan to slow down the Iowa Hawkeyes on Black Friday.

LINCOLN, Neb. - After giving up a combined 862 rushing yards the last two games, Nebraska will likely see a heavy dose of Iowa running backs Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri on Friday.

”I’ve played against these types of offenses before and we’ve had success. But our level of execution isn’t where it needs to be,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini told reporters on Monday. “When there are certain things that you do inconsistently, you’re going to struggle. You’re going to have some problems. And sometimes that exposes you. It’s nothing magical.

”I point the thumb. I don’t point the finger at the players. I’m responsible for this thing. That’s how I’m wired. If we don’t play well enough, that’s on me. That’s my nature and that’s how I look at it. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m not going to make excuses…Did I get that done on Saturday? No, I didn’t because obviously we lost.”

The perception of Iowa football is the Hawkeyes are a run-based team. It might have been true at some points in the Kirk Ferentz era, but with former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis calling the plays, Iowa isn’t afraid to chuck the football downfield.

“I think they are a balanced team,” said Pelini. “I think they are very physical on how they come off the football. I think they do a lot of good things there. I think they run their play-action game. The quarterback I think has really improved. I think he can throw the ball well and make all the throws. I think the running game opens up their passing game and vice-versa.”

Pelini wasn’t about to give up any of the defensive game plan on Monday, but did admit he felt the Huskers early plan to slow down Iowa’s multiple attack was moving in the right direction.

“I do like what we’re talking about doing against them. I think they have certain principles that they like to do both in the running game and the passing game. And like any time you play an offense, you have to try not to give them what they want.”

After dropping two straight games to fall to 8-3, Pelini was asked if 2014 was an example of a squad that hasn’t progressed and improved during the season.

“I thought we were up until a couple weeks ago,” said Pelini. “I think the last two weeks we didn’t play very well. I said this earlier in the year, some of the things were happening and weren’t hurting us. And that’s reality. In the last two weeks it’s hurt us. Two weeks ago we didn’t play well and this past week it cost us a game.

“At some point you just keep pushing along, keep working hard, keep working to improve and keep coaching them up…in some cases you would go to the next guy if you felt the guy was ready. That isn’t always the case.”

While Nebraska looks to get back to work and finish the regular season on a high note, they have to do it this week with less time to prepare.

“It’s never easy when you lose two games in a row,” said Pelini. “I think that the short week might help us a little bit. Get back to work. I told them yesterday that there is no reason to feel sorry for ourselves or feel sorry for yourself as a player and a coach or anything else.”

Pelini continued.

“For one, you don’t have time. Number two, we’re responsible. At the end of the day, we didn’t do what was required not only on Saturday, but obviously during the week to get the play to the level we could have.”

Bruce Thorsen/USA Today

Injury report: Nebraska senior wide receiver Kenny Bell was evaluated on Monday by a doctor, but his status for Friday’s game against Iowa is questionable. The all-time career receptions leader left Saturday’s contest against Minnesota with a head-injury.

Fellow starting receiver Jordan Westerkamp, who was hurt on the Huskers final drive last week, is “okay” according to Pelini and will be available.

Running back Ameer Abdullah, who is not 100 percent after a knee sprain, talked with reporters for the first time since the injury a few weeks ago.

“I just give it everything I have every Saturday,” said Abdullah. “I’m getting better with each day. As long as I get to be on the field and get to play, I feel like nothing else is wrong. I haven’t had the proper time to give myself rest, but we don’t have time right now. We have to keep grinding.”

Kickoff between Iowa and Nebraska is set for 11 a.m. in Iowa City.

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