Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 AT 7:29 PM / Updated at 8:51 PM
Practice Report, Sept. 12: Pelini in game mode on Thursday
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini kept it short and sweet Thursday, seemingly ready to roll against UCLA Saturday morning. Here’s the highlights:

Nebraska “still has some things to clean up” heading into its Saturday tilt with UCLA, Husker coach Bo Pelini said after Thursday’s unpadded workout.

“Now the mental part of it happens,” Pelini said. “Guys gotta get ready to play.”

Though the Bruins represent the Huskers’ most highly-touted opponent of the non-conference season — and several players talked earlier this week about having strong motivation to make up for last year’s loss in Pasadena — Pelini said the week of work was “business as usual.” No individual players, Pelini said, significantly stood out in practice this week; the entire unit, he said, is getting better.

Other quick notes from Pelini’s Thursday available:

>> No new injury updates. Redshirt freshmen Sam Cotton (tight end) and Jared Afalava (linebacker) have missed the first two games, although both have been practicing.

>> The battle between kickers Mauro Bondi and Pat Smith remains “pretty even.” Both have been consistent, he said, while neither “has really stepped up and taken the job for their own.”

>> Whether junior linebacker Zaire Anderson plays many snaps or not, Pelini said, is dependent of if “he’s going to be prepared enough to understand what we’re trying to do defensively.”

“I think he’s working hard at it,” Pelini said. “He can be a factor for us.”

>> Pelini praised the blocking for and kick returns from wide receiver Kenny Bell, Jr., who ranks sixth nationally with a 40.25-yard average.

“He’s a weapon back there,” Pelini said of Bell.

>> UCLA is good at blocking kicks, Pelini said, because the Bruins “don’t take the down off. That’s the most important thing.”

Video: Pelini talks with media Thursday

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.