Published Saturday, October 20, 2012 AT 9:16 PM / Updated at 9:20 PM
Pelini: NU needs to clean up mistakes
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Nebraska will enjoy its 29-28 comeback win at Northwestern, but clearly, the Huskers have areas that desperately need improvement.

Here’s a quote from coach Bo Pelini after the game.

“We’ve got a lot to do to get better. I firmly believe we can win them all. We can play with anybody we play (on our schedule). But we can’t do the things we did (Saturday). We can’t give up possessions, turn the football over. We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep getting better and more efficient. … A lot of the issues we had were self-induced. I know you guys have heard it before. We’ve got to play cleaner football.”

No need to recount all of the errors in this blog post. The penalties (eight), the turnovers (three) and the mental breakdowns (countless) nearly ruined Nebraska’s day. A repeat effort like that against Michigan next Saturday will result in a loss.

A few things to chew on as you attempt to digest Nebraska’s victory…

>> Injuries: No real update on Rex Burkhead, except that his left knee injury suffered Saturday is similar to the one he sustained at Ohio State, Pelini said. Burkhead wasn’t in uniform in the second half of the Northwestern game. … Josh Mitchell hurt his ankle in practice this week, which is why he wasn’t available, Pelini said.

>> Taylor Martinez finished 27-for-39 for 342 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 65 yards on 18 carries. The Huskers put the football in his hands and said, “Go win it for us.” Martinez did that. Very impressive.

>> Nebraska spent much of the third quarter using its ground game to attack the short side of the field, toward the sideline. Why? Here’s what running backs coach Ron Brown said: “We ran some big sets in there, trying to gain advantage in the numbers because they wanted to be strong to the (wide side of the) field. We found a few answers.”

>> Brown, who’s in charge of the punt returners, said he shouldn’t have put Kenny Bell back to return a punt after Ameer Abdullah fumbled in the first quarter. Bell couldn’t field a fair catch, leading to a lost fumble in the second quarter. Brown said that was an unfair position to put Bell in. Abdullah returned punts from that point on.

>> Quincy Enunwa said he knew the Huskers had a chance to get some big plays against Northwestern’s secondary in the fourth quarter. “Their safeties were playing low, trying to take away the run, so it was one-on-one with the corner,” Enunwa said. “We just kept trying to go deep on them.”

>> Whenever Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter lined up as a receiver, Ciante Evans said he was told to shadow Colter, who finished with three catches. “Everywhere he was at, I was at,” Evans said. …  Interested to note: Colter had just four rushing attempts in the second half.

>> Pelini said he wanted to call a timeout just before Martinez snapped the football and completed the go-ahead, 7-yard touchdown pass to Ben Cotton with about two minutes left. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t like the way Northwestern’s defense lined up. So Pelini tried to get the officials’ attention. Said Pelini: “Glad I didn’t get (the timeout).”

>> Pelini said the officials warned Nebraska’s offensive tackles that they were lining up too deep at times Saturday. But the Huskers still got called for two illegal formation penalties because an offensive lineman wasn’t up on the line of scrimmage.

>> One last Pelini quote: “For a second there, I felt like I was watching the film, a replay of last year’s game (against Northwestern). Crazy game.”

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.