While most of the practices leading up to the last one before the Missouri game went well, the last practice was not to the first-year coaches' liking.
It would seem, especially on that last Thursday practice before a game, that when Pelini is happy the team performs well that weekend.
Though it's not Thursday yet, Pelini said he is happy with where the team is at, and feels that they be finally be starting to figure out who they are as a group. "I just like the attitude. I just said to the team that I like the way they come into practice. I like their attitude. I like their work ethic. Slowly but surely it's becoming who we are," Pelini said.
"They come out here with the attitude to get better every day, and I like what I see in that regard. The commitment is there."
Of course, being a coach, Pelini offered the almost obligatory statement about his team not being where he wanted it to be, but when it comes to a team figuring out who it is, what its doing and where it has to go, he said they were definitely heading in the right direction. "It's becoming who we are. I told them now that we need that to continue. Because it's setting an example for the younger guys, and eventually it becomes who you are as a program," he said. "It doesn't happen overnight."
If the conversation Pelini had with the media today is the same one he has tomorrow, fans will no doubt be excited about the potential as the Huskers look to stop a three-game skid stemming from closes losses to Virginia Tech and Texas Tech and the blowout loss to the Missouri Tigers.
One other thing which will have Husker fans happier about this weekend is that according to the Head Coach two of their key linebackers should be back in the mix. "They practiced better today. They practiced well," Pelini said of senior linebacker Cody Glenn and junior linebacker Phillip Dillard. "I think they are getting closer to a hundred percent. Phil is doing really well - Cody, (he is) a little gimpy, but I think he'll be ready by Saturday."
Nebraska also should have junior safety Rickey Thenarse at a hundred percent for the Cyclones.
One player Nebraska had for last weekend's game and will for this game is sophomore defensive end Pierre Allen. Allen suffered a death in the family even before last week's game, and Pelini said that Pierre chose to play before heading home to be with loved ones. "He and his family are going through some tough times. The guy (Pierre) was a stud to be there this last Saturday," Pelini said. "He'll be back, I believe he is coming back tonight."
With the momentum Nebraska has, even coming off a loss, the team seems to be turning a corner of sorts, as they finally have a close game with a top 10 team under their belt. Much of the reason for the game being so close this last weekend was that the offense held onto the ball for an incomprehensible 40-plus minutes of the game.
That was obviously due in large part to the offensive line, which might have had its best game of the entire season. For first-year offensive line coach Barney Cotton, he said it's a step in the right direction, and the momentum is something his team hopes to be able to use as they try to clean things up and keep going in the right direction. "I hope we can (build off that momentum), (but) I know we were disappointed, because we were part of the culprits as well as playing better, you know, we have play cleaner with our hands and make sure we have no pre-snap penalties," he said.
"But that should be our attitude every day in practice, let alone throughout every game. We should be getting better each and every practice we come out here and each and every game. Hopefully, we should be better each and every drive during a game."
Nebraska will head into the contest against Iowa State, their second road game, as seven-point favorites over the Cyclones. Coaches won't talk about what a game could mean to the point of a season or the season overall.
But with three losses in a row, while the close game with Texas Tech doesn't make this feel like it's desperation time for the big red, if they don't win in Ames, it very well could be.
The Huskers will go through one more full practice tomorrow, and will more than likely go through the Friday walkthrough here in Lincoln before traveling to Ames the night before the 11:30 A.M. kickoff on Saturday.