After beating FCS South Dakota State by a score of just 17-3, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini figured to be displeased. He was.
"I thought they outplayed us. They out-hit us, they flew around with more passion than we did. For us to walk out of our stadium after playing like that, I'm embarrassed," Pelini said.
Nebraska gave up 141 yards on the ground to the Jackrabbits. A week after having three 100-yard rushers on the road against Washington, the Huskers had none on Saturday.
"I always believe when you walk out there you're going to get better or you're going to get worse. We got worse today. I call it as I see it. I'm not going to try and paint a picture that is different," Pelini said. "A lot of the same things that came out today were things that reach out and grab you in practice. When the errors aren't being corrected and people aren't making adjustments and are repeating their errors, that's a problem. It will reach up and get you. Across the board we just didn't execute, forget about everything else. We didn't take the field and do what we're coached to do. We didn't execute our offense, for a lot of times we didn't execute defensively. It all comes down to our football team wasn't ready to play for whatever reason. That comes squarely back to the guy in charge. I take responsibility."
Strong words, no doubt, for a mistake-laden Nebraska team that looked like a national title contender a week ago in Seattle.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez ran for 75 yards and threw for another 140 with a touchdown. But he added two interceptions and his first career game under 100 yards rushing came against an unlikely opponent. Martinez also fumbled his first snap and was flagged for taunting.
"He didn't execute the offense the way he has been. Why? I don't know. He is a young guy who didn't respond very well. He didn't have a very good day. It goes well beyond the quarterback position, I promise you," Pelini said. "I could also say this, we didn't make enough adjustments. It was pretty much a team effort in being a bad football team today. That comes squarely back to the head coach."
Cody Green replaced Martinez in the fourth quarter.
"If someone is not playing their best football, it's going to go to the next guy," Pelini said. "That's the same guy who has played very well in his first three weeks. He had a tough game. I can promise you the guys around him didn't do anything to make it any better, and we as coaches sure as heck didn't do a good job of helping the guy."
Niles Paul also muffed a punt that was recovered by Nebraska and two penalties ended a possible scoring drive at the end of the first half. Pelini was clearly displeased, but said he was happy with the week of practices preceding the game and tried to put the close win in perspective.
"It's a work in progress. Obviously, I'm not pushing the panic button because this is the same football team that went out to Washington last week and played pretty good football," Pelini said. "You have to have consistency."