Quick hits from Nebraska football’s Monday press conference, the team’s first chat with reporters since the 63-38 loss to Ohio State:
>> Running back Rex Burkhead is available for Saturday’s game and is likely to play. Coach Bo Pelini said Burkhead would be eased back into the practice and get his touches so long as he’s hitting on enough cylinders.
>> Wide receiver Tim Marlowe has been cleared to play and will return to practice this week. After breaking his collarbone in the first quarter of the Southern Mississippi game, Marlowe said he spent about two hours each day in rehab working in the pool and with tension bands.
>> NU coach Bo Pelini said his team was “quiet” and “angry” last week after the loss. NU emphasized ball security, “good on good,” and execution. Pelini said execution or some variation of the word roughly 15 times in a half-hour. He said it’s on the coaches to teach players how to execute better, too. Pelini said he believes in his process.
>> Running back Ameer Abdullah pointed to the team’s overall toughness in the OSU game.
“I practice with these guys every week,” he said. “I know how tough we are, I know what we can bring to the field. And I feel like some games, we don’t bring that. And when we do bring that, we’re a very tough team. I’m just hoping that everybody is coming to compete this week in practice.”
Why doesn’t Nebraska bring the same toughness every week?
“It’s just a want-to,” Abdullah said. “We just gotta get everybody going, everybody remotivated, It’s been a long season mentally. We’ve just got to get that spark back and get going.”
>> Don’t expect a bunch of personnel changes on defense. Pelini intimated the right guys were on the field and it’s “late in the year” for a wholesale midseason switch of personnel.
>> Still, Pelini conceded the Huskers “lost our mojo” after OSU quarterback Braxton Miller ripped off a huge second-quarter run.
“We started doing things that are out of character,” he said.
And when a defense screws up against a spread offense, it hurts more than screwing up against a pro-style defense, Pelini said, where “it’s a lot easier for somebody to make up for it.”
>> Pelini said there will be no change in the pace or structure of Nebraska’s no-huddle, spread offense to assist the defense.
>>Speaking of that offense, quarterback Taylor Martinez brushed off his three interceptions vs. Ohio State. The Pick Six, he said, was a good play by OSU cornerback Bradley Roby. The second interception was uncalled pass interference. And the third interception, Martinez said, he was simply trying to make a play because NU trailed by 18.
“If you’re down by 18 points, you’re going to try to make some plays to bring your team back,” Martinez said. “You have to take some chances to make a comeback. You can’t play conservative.”
Pelini took a slightly different view.
“He’s been making pretty sound decisions and good reads and using the offense to his advantage,” Pelini said. “He went away from that a couple times during that game, and it cost us. Like the rest of us, he’s got to learn from the things that happened to him.”
Martinez also brushed off his four lost fumbles in the last four games. Three of those happened on blind-side hits.
“It’s kinda hard when you can’t see the guy coming around and hitting the ball out of your hand,” Martinez said.
Said Pelini: “There’s other guys involved with that, but he’s got to put the ball away.”