Published Wednesday, March 6, 2013 AT 7:24 PM / Updated at 7:29 PM
Spring football: Practice quick hits, March 6
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Coach Bo Pelini said leaders will emerge on this defense. He has no doubt about that. But he made a point Wednesday to remind some of the new example-setters that they’re be relied on (now!) to take over the unit.

There are no games to look forward to during spring ball. Only the next practice. And with a young group defensively (eight starters are gone) mistakes are common and adversity is inevitable.

Here’s Pelini’s message: “When it gets difficult, that’s where the leadership’s got to step up. That’s where they’ve got to show the enthusiasm, bring the young guys along — when a guy makes a mistake and somebody’s frustrated, somebody’s got to help him through that. That’s all part of the process.”

And it’s early in that process.

“There’s tremendous leadership, character potential on this football team,” Pelini said. “That’s not a concern.”

More from the Nebraska head coach, speaking after NU’s first full-padded practice Wednesday, is below…

>> Junior center Mark Pelini will miss a few days of practice with a muscle injury, Bo Pelini said. Not a big deal, though. Bo said his nephew, Mark, had a “good winter.”

>> Sophomore tight end David Sutton (hamstring) has missed a couple days. Nebraska’s still looking for capable backups behind senior Jake Long. Said Bo Pelini: “Jake’s looked good. The other guys have looked like they’re young guys trying to figure it out. They have talent, but they have a lot to learn.”

>> A similar theme for Jonathan Rose, the sophomore who transferred from Auburn last summer. Pelini said Rose needs to “embrace the mental aspect,” also indicating that the cornerback had lots of technique-related areas to improve on.

>> Scrimmages are planned for portions of practice on Friday and Saturday, Pelini said. The quarterbacks aren’t going to be wearing no-contact jerseys. Taylor Martinez won’t get hit. But the other guys? “For the most part, they’re going to be live, especially when they’re running the football,” Pelini said.

>> Nebraska began Wednesday’s practice by separating its defense in half for two separate walk-throughs (Pelini said they’ve done this in the past, but plan to do it more often now). … That’s sort of been the theme of camp so far. Better maximize the on-field teaching time by running two groups at once. “Guys are getting a lot of reps, and a lot of opportunities to show what they can do,” Pelini said.

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: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.