Bo Pelini went from his shortest press conference of the year last Monday to his longest this Monday. After a 34-23 loss to Minnesota, reporters suddenly had a lot more interest in what the Gophers did than what they could do a week ago.
Here’s the quick hits from the presser, with full coverage coming later today:
>> Quarterback Taylor Martinez is not practicing again. He has a hip pointer that he sustained in the loss to Minnesota. Pelini said the injury didn’t affect Martinez in that game, but is affecting him now.
“He looked me in the eye and I said ‘Are you good to go? Are you 100 percent?’” Pelini said. “And he said yes. There’s a difference between a hip pointer the day of and how it affects you the next couple days.”
As of Monday, Tommy Armstrong, Jr. would be the starter if Martinez can’t go.
Pelini used the same look-in-the-eye test to determine whether Martinez was ready to play at Minnesota.
“We communicated during the week,” Pelini said. “I looked him in the eye and said ‘Taylor, are you ready? Can you perform everything we’re asking you to perform, up to the level we expect you to perform it? It’s OK to say no.’ I don’t know how he’s feeling, but if he looks me in the eye and says ‘yes, I’m ready to go,’ at some point, I felt like we had to give him the opportunity to get back out there and play… it didn’t look like he was gimping around out there.”
Is he doubtful for Saturday?
“It’s hard to say,” Pelini said. “I’m not going to sit here and play this game all year long. Tommy was the starter yesterday and that’s the way it’s going to be until further notice.”
What is Martinez’s toe injury, since it’s not turf toe?
“I’m not a doctor,” Pelini said. “It’s like something with his toes. I don’t know the name for it.”
The toes are not broken.
>> Pelini talked at length — great length — about his defense. He wants it to be more physical, for one thing, which is one reason why NU practiced in pads Sunday night instead of its usual walk-through. Though the practice was of the same length, the Huskers went at full speed correcting some of the errors they made Saturday.
“I wanted to get their attention,” he said.
The second thing: Pelini wants his defense to better respond to wrinkles from the opposing offense, so he’s moving Michael Rose back to Mike linebacker, where he’ll play with Josh Banderas. David Santos, meanwhile, will move to Will linebacker. It would appear Santos’ days at Mike are over.
“I’m not putting this on David Santos by any means,” Pelini said. “I just think that’s not his strength. From my standpoint, and the coaches’ standpoint, you don’t want to take a square peg and pound it into a round hole, you know? Let’s figure out what the issues are.”
>> Wide receiver Jamal Turner is day-to-day with a calf injury. Tight end Jake Long is day-to-day with a lingering hamstring injury, although he practiced Sunday.
>> Pelini wants better success from his offense and defense on first down. He stood behind Tim Beck’s offensive plan of throwing the ball, and that NU missed out on several “big plays” because of poor execution. On defense, the Huskers struggled with eye discipline.
>> Just two defensive players talked to the press — Rose and defensive end Randy Gregory — and neither made much of an impact against Minnesota. When asked which leaders were coming forward on the defense, Gregory offered a blunt answer.
“I get asked that a lot,” he said. “I don’t know. I think we’re looking more for people who are going to show their play on the field more than they’re going to speak up. We’ve got a lot of guys who will speak up in meeting rooms and speak up at halftime. I think we’re looking for guys to step up and make plays at the right time.”