Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini met the press Monday afternoon to kick off the Huskers’ final appearance at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days.
In his opening remarks, Pelini said he would focus all of his attention on the Big 12 instead of the Big Ten, and the media showed respect for his business-as-usual approach.
The spotlight seemed to fall on Nebraska’s plans to energize its offense this fall, and Pelini was fairly bullish on the subject, indicating he likes the overall potential at the quarterback position and is expecting a competitive battle throughout fall camp.
Pelini also dwelled positively on five other players who will have a direct influence on the performance of Nebraska’s starting quarterback – the offensive line, a group that Pelini said was way beyond the offensive lines Nebraska had in his first two seasons as head coach.
Asked about entering his third year as a head coach, Pelini said that based on his past experience, the third year is pivotal because “you really have a chance to make a big jump.”
“You have a lot of guys who understand what you want, understand what the expectations are, and understand exactly how to go about the process of becoming a good player and a good football team,” Pelini said.
“We’re excited about that. That’s why, at the end of the bowl game against Arizona, when I said Nebraska’s back, I wasn’t saying we arrived, and we’d win a national championship or anything like that. I finally felt the culture that we were trying to instill from the point that we got there had taken hold.
“And that excites me as a head football coach,” Pelini said. “I really feel like we’re at that point where we can beat – or we can compete with anybody that we line up against.”
Noting that returning quarterback starter Zac Lee is now “100 percent” physically, Pelini was asked how important it is for Lee to take another step forward from where he was a year ago.
“We need the quarterback position to step up,” Pelini said. “You know, let’s face it, he’s (Lee) at the center point. He’s the trigger guy.”
Still, “We had two young men who are competing for the starting job with Zac,” Pelini said, referring to Cody Green and Taylor Martinez. “They had great springs and have a lot of talent. They’re playmakers. They’re very explosive athletes.”
Competition will make Lee better just like it will make every position on the team better. “We’ll just see how it plays out,” Pelini said. “We have a lot of practices before we play that first game.”
Having preached competition since he took over Nebraska, Pelini said quarterback is just one of all positions “where you’re going to see guys battling it out from day one.”
According to Pelini, the quarterback battle isn’t necessarily just among three players either. “We also have Cody Spano coming back healthy, and Brion Carnes who’s now on the football team. We’re excited about him as an incoming freshman,” Pelini said.
Pelini said a mass redshirting of offensive linemen in 2009 should pay dividends this year. “We really like our young talent on the offensive line, and we added a couple of young men in the incoming class,” he said. “It’s nice to have depth because you know, they pound. They get beat up. I mean, it’s a long season, and I think this is the first time that we’ve had that (depth).”