Monday, March 11, 2013
Pelini rips 'mentally weak' Huskers team
By Adam Rittenberg
The Harlem Shake this was not. More like the Lincoln Shiver.
The good vibes from Nebraska's Harlem Shake video -- in which head coach Bo Pelini played a surprisingly big role -- clearly had worn off by Saturday. Nebraska players went through a substandard practice in their fifth workout of the spring, particularly on defense. Afterward, Pelini let the Huskers hear it, both behind closed doors and publicly.
"What I watched was a mentally weak football team," he told reporters. "A bad football team, especially on the defensive side of the football. Call it what it is. We've got a long, long, long, long way to go."
Check out the full video here, as Pelini wasn't finished.
"Guys gave in and didn't feel like practicing," he said. "I'm ashamed of what I just watched on that practice field."
Pelini reserved most of his criticism for the defense, which is the big question mark in Lincoln this spring. Nebraska loses eight starters from a unit that finished 35th nationally in total yards and fourth against the pass in 2012, but also surrendered 105 points in its last two games and had allowed 36 points or more four times.
"We weren't good in any regard, but the offense was better than the defense," Pelini said. "We could have put a grade-school offense against our defense and they would have been fine."
Asked if the unit's lack of experience factored into their play, Pelini again pointed to mental weakness, "guys giving in when they're tired." He also said the coaching isn't where it needs to be.
It's still early in spring practice, and as Pelini noted, and Nebraska has a lot of time to get things right before the season rolls around. Bad practices happen, especially to younger teams, and Nebraska likely will have other workouts that don't meet Pelini's standards.
But Saturday has to be a wake-up call for the Huskers. They weren't a very good defense for much of the 2012, certainly not the defense you would expect from a Pelini-coached team. Despite the somewhat erratic nature of Nebraska's offense, which tied for 118th nationally in turnovers lost (35) and 120th in lost fumbles (22), there's little doubt the Huskers will move the ball and put up points this season. They have an experienced quarterback (Taylor Martinez) and quite possibly more skill-position weapons than any other Big Ten squad.
It'll come down to the defense in 2013. And Pelini made it clear he needs to see a lot more from that side of the ball in the coming days.
Nebraska holds three more practices -- today, Wednesday and Thursday -- before heading on spring break.