When Nebraska hit the Hail Mary pass to beat Northwestern Saturday, coach Bo Pelini looked a bit dumbstruck. There’s a reason: He heard from the public address announcer that there was a booth review of Jordan Westerkamp’s catch.
Pelini immediately flashed back to the 2009 Big 12 Championship game, when Texas beat the Huskers 13-12 after a booth review allowed the Longhorns one second to kick a field goal.
” I saw everybody cheering and everything else going on and I’m sitting there thinking ‘OK, let’s wait here for a minute,’” Pelini said. “Because I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t see well enough. I just saw Bedlam going on.”
Pelini saw a flashback to Texas?
“I absolutely did,” Pelini said. “That’s the honest answer. I was sitting there thinking ‘Oh, my goodness, there’s going to be a riot here if this thing gets called back.”
It didn’t, and several Husker players spent part of Monday reliving that memory. You’ll read much more about it in Tuesday’s paper and online, too. As for Pelini, he didn’t see a replay of the Hail Mary until just before the taping of his television show. After it unfurled, he focused on running back Ameer Abdullah, who ran around in joy.
More quick hits from Monday’s press conference:
>>Injury update: Nebraska’s beat up. Wide receivers Kenny Bell, Jr. and Jamal Turner appear to be gametime decisions, as does tight end Jake Long, who’s been out for a month with a hamstring injury. Long will practice this week, Pelini said. His return would help NU, especially in the blocking department. Guard Jake Cotton is doubtful, Pelini said, with a strained MCL in his knee. Pelini wouldn’t count out Cotton, however, from playing.
The Taylor Martinez Injury Index added a new category — abdominal strain — to go with the two-toe tenderness, shoulder injury, hip pointer and flu Martinez already struggled with. The strain is tied to the hip pointer, Pelini said. Pelini’s not clear when Martinez might return to practice or if he will. Pelini said Martinez sat in the press box Saturday because the sidelines get crowded for home games, and also because Martinez could hear what was going on in the coaches box. But there was no room in the coaches box, apparently, so Martinez sat in the press box amid reporters.
>>Tommy Armstrong, Jr., Pelini said, remains the starting quarterback for the Michigan game, with Ron Kellogg III backing him up and playing when necessary. Pelini hasn’t wavered in his confidence in Armstrong despite the quarterback throwing six interceptions in his last two games. Armstrong said he started focusing on Michigan after he left the locker room Saturday and is ready to learn from his mistakes.
“We have to make sure we don’t turn the ball over like we did the last game,” Armstrong said. “We’ve just got to give our defense breaks. Our defense is starting to click at the right time. They gave us a bunch of breaks the last game.”
Armstrong said his final interception — which set up what appeared to be Northwestern’s game-winning field goal — was “a dumb decision by me, and I almost lost us the game.”
Michigan will play a lot of zone coverage and mix it blitzes to try and confuse Armstrong. It should be an intriguing challenge.
>>Nebraska did not practice in pads Sunday as it had after a 34-23 loss to Minnesota. Look for a lighter week physically as NU heads into the final third of its schedule.
>>Abdullah said he feels “pretty fresh” heading into the last four games because the training staff has kept him off his feet at times and he’s tried to buy rest where he can. Abdullah added that he wants to play in the NFL but won’t be entering the NFL Draft after this year. When asked if he’d even considered it, he said, quickly, “No.”
>>Nebraska wants to atone for its 45-17 loss at Michigan in 2011. Abdullah’s particularly looking forward to it because he’s apparently not a big fan of Wolverine fans.
“Two years ago they killed us up there,” Abdullah said. “I was kind of shellshocked. I didn’t play much, but, just being there, Michigan fans are nasty, man. They’re ruthless. I wouldn’t have it any other way…honestly, I’m not a big fan of Michigan. Obviously, we’ve had some rough games against so far since I’ve been here and nothing would make me happier than go up there and shut them up.”