Quick hit from Nebraska’s Monday press conference as the Huskers prepare for Saturday’s game vs. Penn State:
>> Cornerback Antonio Bell has left the program because of a violation of team rules, coach Bo Pelini said. He did not elaborate. A senior, Bell left before the Michigan game, Pelini said. Bell and Pelini, you’ll recall, exchanged heated words on the sidelines in the late stages of the Northwestern game, when Bell picked up a holding penalty on a key third down play. The penalty had no effect on the outcome of the down — Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian scrambled for a first down — but Bell got the hook anyway.
>> Running back Rex Burkhead remains “day-to-day,” Pelini said. Burkhead will do “field work” on Monday and Tuesday.
“Rex pushes to do everything,” Pelini said. But he also added, perhaps conspicuously, that when Burkhead is “100 percent,” he’ll play again.
>> Quarterback Taylor Martinez said he struggled with his ankle injury during the 28-24 win over Michigan State despite running for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
“You just have to try to block it out, block out my ankle,” Martinez said. “I’ve been pretty good at doing that since my freshman year at doing that.”
>> Both Pelini and Martinez agreed that the Huskers’ two-minute offense — which saved NU’s hide in wins over Northwestern and Michigan State — works so effectively because Nebraska’s used to running no-huddle tempo during the game. In fact, the Huskers have put the clock at 1:20 with zero or one timeout in practice to work on the two-minute drill.
Pelini said Monday he had conversations with offensive coordinator Tim Beck in 2011 — when Beck became coordinator — that he wanted to scrap NU’s huddle-based offense for something that changed tempos and got defenses in trouble.
>> Pelini identified fixing Nebraska’s turnover margin as his “No. 1 priority.”
“It’s the No. 1 thing that equals winning or losing,” Pelini said. Nebraska’s 106th nationally in turnover margin, and frankly wins despite its giveaways.
>> Nebraska needs to cut down on its “bonehead” plays and “careless” penalties, Pelini added. This does not necessarily include pass interference penalties that grow out of NU’s aggression on the edge on the field.
“We play the way we play,” Pelini said. “There’s some things you gotta live with.”
>> Lots of praise from Pelini on Penn State and its new coach Bill O’Brien, who has the Nittany Lions at 6-3 in the wake of a devastating child sex abuse scandal on campus.
“They have good football players they hired a good coach,” Pelini said. “He’s done a great job and I think their staff has done a great job. It says a lot of how they’ve handled the situation and how they’ve come together. It wasn’t easy. They’ve done remarkably well considering.”
>> PSU uses a lot of tight ends, and uses them well. Pelini appeared confident he’d know how to tackle that matchup challenge. Remember that how NU chooses its defensive personnel is sometimes based on the number of tight ends in the game.’
>> Nebraska safety P.J. Smith has received plenty of guff from teammates about getting trucked by Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell in Saturday’s game. Smith still made the tackle despite Bell flattening him.
“He hasn’t heard the last of it,” linebacker Alonzo Whaley said. Whaley watched the highlight of the play “six or seven times” on the plane flight home from East Lansing.