Final exams are in full swing for the players, and instead of practicing every single day, the sessions are sprinkled throughout the course of the week. For coaches there is recruiting going on, the team often not having the full compliment of assistants at practice so that they can get everything done.
With all that being said, Coach Pelini said that throughout all that his team has been focused and he's been very pleased with the pace of practices thus far. "Our tempo has been great. I am happy with that," Pelini said. "I think the focus has been good. I think we have given then enough time off and spaced things out enough.
"These kids have learned how to practice and what kind of tempo we expect. That hasn't been an issue at all. We have had great tempo, great enthusiasm."
Even with a football game around the corner, though, Pelini said that they have and are structuring practices in such a way that the players have ample time to address this academically stressful time of year. "I think they understand what's at stake, that they have to really make sure to take care of their business (and) study this weekend," Pelini said. "That's why we have the break in the middle of the week next week for finals. Once we get into the end of next week most of the guys are done."
Pelini said that the preparation for the Clemson Tigers continues, but while you would think that Nebraska has all sorts of time to implement all sorts of things for the bowl game, the Husker Head Coach said there isn't as much time as you would think. "We tweak things every week to a certain extent, but this isn't a time for us to make wholesale changes. There just isn't enough time," he said. "You wish you had more time. We'll get our younger guys more work, but that's about it."
The team went full pads today and will go through four practices next week, according to Pelini.
On the injury front junior linebacker Phillip Dillard continues to progress as he practices with the team, but Pelini said that the he is still not one hundred percent, but getting closer.
In related news, Pelini said that sophomore kicker Alex Henery is at the top of the list in regard to walk-on candidates who are being considered for a scholarship, and they are simply trying to figure out the numbers in regard to the 85-scholarship limit and just where he fits in. Henery finished tied for second in the conference in field goal percentage in the conference, hitting on just over 82 percent of his kicks. The most dramatic and longest of his career came toward the end of the Colorado game as Henery's 57-yard bomb with just 1:43 left to go in the game, gave Nebraska the lead, 33-31. The Huskers would seal the game with an interception returned for a touchdown on Colorado's following drive.
"He's obviously a guy that's at the top of the list of a guy that would get one," Pelini said. When asked about Henery's ability to punt, Pelini said he wasn't certain, but based on everything else he's seen, he didn't have any doubts. "He's just a good athlete. He can kick with both feet, so I am sure he can punt," he said.
And the winner is: While Bo Pelini may not have one of his players in this year's presentation of the Heisman Trophy, he's coached against two out of the top three. While at LSU Pelini coached against Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, and Pelini's Huskers faced off against another candidate in Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.
For himself the Head Coach didn't have an opinion as to who should win, but felt that this trio should have been a quartet. "I think Harrell ought to be there. It's a shame he's not," Pelini said of senior Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, who led the Big 12 this year in passing yards per game (395.6). "I think whoever wins, great, but I think whoever doesn't win ought to be proud, because they have had a great year."