Pelini: ‘Blackshirts’ Breakdowns Against WKU Fixable’
So maybe Bo Pelini was overreacting a bit when he said Nebraska’s defense was “absolutely embarrassing” following the 49-10 win over Western Kentucky Saturday in Lincoln.
Honestly, the coach should be sore that the Blackshirts gave up 179 yards rushing to a team that has lost 21 games in a row — but on second look the breakdowns on defense apparently were nothing to sound the alarm bells over.
“Trust me, I don’t push the panic button,” Pelini said during Nebraska’s weekly press conference Tuesday. “You know where it is, it doesn’t change our expectations going in. It doesn’t change our standards. There were a lot of things that I kind of expected. We were better in some areas than I thought we’d be and worse in some areas. Most of it is very fixable. A lot of the things were communication errors, missed calls, that type of thing. Those things are easily fixable. Those are the things that happen in the first game.”
Pelini said his defense played well when all defenders communicated well.
“When we lined up I thought we were pretty good and were all on the same page,” he said. “Like I said, most of the things were communication issues. I kind of anticipated that would be the case coming in.
“Defense always has to be better. Across the board you have to communicate, especially the way we play defense. Communication has to be good across the board. Everybody has to talk, that just comes from growing together and getting more comfortable with each other. If you look at my history, that’s our style of defense. You get better as you go on, as you get more time together. I’ve been here before, I’m not real concerned. I’ll be concerned if I’m saying this four or five weeks from now. I don’t think that will be the case.”
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick said one of the main problems the defensive line faced Saturday was that players were “playing high.”
“I feel we’re still a great team,” he said. “I’m still very confident in the offense. I’m very excited abou this team going through the rest of the season. I haven’t seen one guy coming out in practice not coming out to get better.”
Crick lauded the performance of linebackers Lavonte David and Alonzo Whaley, who filled in for the injured Will Compton and Sean Fisher. Pelini said Compton has a foot injury and will miss four or five weeks.
Starting senior safety Rickey Thenarse said he believes the NU defense has already made the necessary changes and adjustments in practice.
“I don’t think we played ot our standard,” he said. “From yesterday’s practice I think our defense is better than Saturday’s game. Coach wants perfection, to dominate our opponent and we didn’t dominate them.”
Pelini said coaches should have done a better job of preparing the defense for WKU. Because the Hilltoppers came into the game with a new coach, Nebraska had no specific idea of the type of offense they would face.
“Without getting into it too deep, we game plan and we get pretty specific on a weekly basis on how we’re going to do things,” he said. “We make a lot of adjustments, checks, calls. That takes time. One of the reasons I said I kind of expected it going in last week is we weren’t really sure what we were going to get from the opposing offense. We had to practice a lot of different things because we weren’t exactly sure what they were going to feature or how they were going to do it because it was a new staff. We had some educated guesses as to what we were going to see.”
He said that makes it more difficult on defenders.
“We probably exposed them to too much last week, maybe did a little too much for that being the situation and having some youth in there,” Pelini said. “Our situation kind of changed on Thursday when Will Compton went down. Not that the other guys weren’t capable of doing it, because they are, but it changes because we weren’t expecting that to be the case. Like I said, it’s not something I’m real concerned with because we’ve already made big strides since the game.”