Quick hits from Nebraska football’s Monday’s press conference, as the Huskers prepare for undefeated Ohio State:
>>Running back Rex Burkhead said he’s getting closer to 100 percent, but relished the competition he had Saturday night with Ameer Abdullah, who split reps and carries in NU’s 30-27 win over Wisconsin.
“Seeing who’s going to make the big play next — that’s what we do every day in practice,” Burkhead said. “Our opportunities – we want to make the most of them. As a competitor you want to do that. And it’s a healthy competition.”
>>Tons of questions about Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who serves as the straw that stirs the Buckeyes’ offensive drink.
“If we stop him, slow him down, we’ll be fine,” safety P.J. Smith said.
Coach Bo Pelini contrasted Miller to another of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s quarterback, Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
“You obviously see some similar plays, but Tebow’s a 240, 250-pound guy. Braxton Miller is like a tailback back there. He’s elusive. He makes a lot of people miss. Tebow’s gonna run over you. Braxton is going to make you miss. Obviously there’s some different plays that lend to each of those guy’s different talents. But they’re both very effective. Very dangerous in their own way.”
>>Pelini said NU was too “keyed up” to start Saturday’s game over Wisconsin and “got outside themselves a little bit.”
“They didn’t have their emotions under control, I dunno,” Pelini said. “They’re 18-to-22-year-old kids. We didn’t play well in the first half.”
Said offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles: “We’ve got to find ways to manage the excitement but stay extremely focused.”
>>Both players and Pelini said the small uniform numbers on the alternate jerseys made it hard for Nebraska’s defense to locate personnel and match up against Wisconsin’s skill players.
>>It’s homecoming for Pelini, who played at OSU in the late 1980s. Pelini has always strongly deflected all talk of his Buckeye roots, and he didn’t disappoint (or maybe he did, depending on how you look at it) Monday.
“I’m at a different time in my life, at a different place,” Pelini said. “I have a job to do. It’s all I’m concerned with.”
Pelini didn’t know when he’d last attended a game at Ohio Stadium, but he called the Horseshoe a “great atmosphere” and a “good experience” for Husker players to have.
Pushed again to describe how he feels about his alma mater, Pelini pushed back.
“What do you want me to say?” he said. “I do have pride in where I went to school and my career there. But that has nothing to do with Saturday. It doesn’t really make any difference what happened 86-90. It’s a different time in my life.”
>>Pelini did have a memory about current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who served as a graduate assistant on the Buckeye staff in 1986-1987.
“He was energetic and hard-nosed football coach then,” Pelini said. “Same as he is now.”
>>Lots of good talk from Alonzo Whaley, the NU senior linebacker who’s kept his head up despite a up-and-down career. He had a huge game against the Badgers and forced the game-deciding fumble.
See also: Husker Monday Rewind