Bo Pelini Monday talked about Gregory, Abdullah, Armstrong and much more.
By Randy York
For Coach Bo Pelini’s second weekly press conference of the season, The N-Sider continues its 2014 format of Five Favorite Bo Quotes for those who live in the fast lane and don’t have time to be a Husker sponge. We start again from No. 5 and work our way up:
5) On the status of junior defensive end Randy Gregory: “I would say he’s doubtful for this week, but probable for the Fresno game.” You have to have been outside the country not to know Big Red fans’ No. 1 question since the first quarter of the season opener. What happened to Gregory was similar to what happened to Husker fullback Andy Janovich a couple weeks ago – an old injury flared up and needed fixed. Bo isn’t a doctor, but he trusts an MRI that shows scar tissue in Gregory’s left knee, which required a “cleanup” scope procedure on Sunday. Rest easy, Husker fans. Gregory feels good, but trainers and coaches are not about to rush him back into the lineup until he’s 100 percent. When your sights are set on a 14-game or 15-game season, you treat precious cargo with extra special care.
Load-the-box defenses must respect Tommy Armstrong going over the top.
4) On Nebraska’s down-the-field approach to counteract defenses that load the box to stop the running game: “I thought we had a good handle on our approach this past Saturday, and I thought Tim (Beck) had a good feel for when to take the shots.” A big amen to that because the nature of defense almost requires having a quarterback that’s an integral part of the running game. Bo calls it counting numbers, giving an offense an “extra guy” every now and then to beat the defense over the top. Beck picks the times he thinks Nebraska can beat the defense over the top. Bo implicitly trusts his offensive coordinator’s feel for the game and his sense of timing “to take the shots”. Beck’s ability to create new plays with Tommy Armstrong at the controls should continue to build. Bo calls Beck an “outstanding offensive mind” because he understands the game and diagnoses defenses both in the running game and in the passing game and then marries the two so “they work together,” according to Bo.
3) On whether junior defensive back Byerson Cockrell was a steal in recruiting: “When I went down there (to Louisiana) and met him, boy, I think he’s a steal. I like BC…I think he’s going to be a great player and he’s going to keep getting better.” Nebraska’s head coach credits former Husker secondary coach Terry Joseph for bringing Cockrell to his attention. Cockrell’s biggest strengths, according to Bo, are his instincts and his ability to understand what the offense is trying to do and what Nebraska’s defense can do to counteract the offensive strategy. Bo points out how Cockrell can play multiple spots, a truly rare modern-day advantage. Pelini said he would not hesitate to line up Cockrell at nickel, safety or corner and let him play each or all of those positions as the year goes on. “He can handle that all mentally and that is unusual for a first-year guy,” Pelini said. “He’s a tremendous kid and a great young man.”
Ameer Abdullah’s career-high 232-yard rushing day earned a Big Ten award.
2) On how coaches will manage Ameer Abdullah during his senior season as a Heisman Trophy candidate: “Ameer is a guy who, if you aren’t careful, will wear himself out during the week because he practices so hard and wants to run so much. He would take every snap if we let him.” Let the record show that Bo thinks his staff managed Abdullah well in the season opener because he was on the field when he needed to be there and on the sidelines when he needed to be there. “We got him his work,” Pelini said. “It’s a feel thing.” Bo trusts running backs coach Ron Brown and strength and conditioning coach James Dobson to know when and how the “catapult system” should work. As hard as it is for Abdullah to rest, the goal is to make sure he’s great on Saturdays. The staff often has to handle Imani Cross the same way. “You’ve got to be careful that you don’t give them too much,” Pelini said. “Give them enough that they know the game plan. Those guys have been around the block. They know what’s necessary.”
Jordan Westerkamp has invented a new skill: hand to “no eye” coordination.
1) On how many times he’s watched Jordan Westerkamp’s latest phenomenal catch: “Just once. I saw it on Sports Center the other night when I was flipping through the channels…that was enough for me.” Contrary to what some fans might think, football coaches are almost quarantined from August through November. They have enough trouble catching dinner, let alone catching what we do in our constant channel flipping to find what BTN or ESPN are saying about the Huskers. ”Unusual to say the least, just for somebody to have the…to even think to throw your hands back there to catch a football,” Pelini said, trying to find the right words. “Like I said, I haven’t been around that one. I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that one before.”
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