By Randy York
Someone once said you should go out in the world and work like money doesn’t matter, sing as if no one’s listening, love as if you’ve never been hurt and dance as if no one’s watching. It all sounds good, but try sharing that philosophy with a young Nebraska football player, who spends every Saturday wondering if all eyes are focused squarely on every move he makes.
Giving up 38 points to Washington last Saturday may have alarmed a significant number of fans, but it did not overly concern Nebraska’s head football coach. “I don’t worry about that. I’ve been here before … I don’t buy into statistics,” Bo Pelini said. “I don’t want to get into all the things that I could throw out … a lot of things that went on in that game … how they attacked us and threw a lot at us. I had a feeling it would be like that to an extent.” Consider it part of the maturation process required to become a Blackshirt. Early in the season, Bo knows he could simplify the defense and ease the learning curve. “But you don’t grow quite as much when you do those things,” he said. “We will grow a lot because of what happened in all phases over the last few weeks. I’m seeing a lot of progress.”
An Omaha writer used that comment to ask Pelini if confidence is part of growing and believing in what they’re doing. “Absolutely,” Bo replied. “That’s well said. Confidence in the scheme and trusting techniques, in a high-pressure environment, it is easy to revert back and not trust. You realize those things are happening when somebody will do something right all week and then the first thing you see on Saturday is him doing something he hasn’t done all week. Remember what we did, how this works. It’s all part of the process. It’s why they put ‘coach’ in front of our name. You stick with it, you don’t panic.”
A firm believer that self-confidence gives players the freedom to make mistakes and cope with failure, Pelini prefers to look at reality for what it is. “You work to get it fixed,” he said. “We stay the course and don’t make rash judgments. You do hold guys accountable. You don’t chuck what you do because you know what you’re doing works. You have to trust the guys.” And, obviously, Pelini does despite Washington presenting formation issues and a number of things his young Blackshirts hadn’t seen. “What happened was our younger guys didn’t react well,” Bo said. “They got off kilter and the things we were expecting, got thrown off. It compounded itself … that’s part of the maturation process. It’s experience. I feel really confident that it will make us better. We can really, really grow from the things that happened, both good and bad. That game will help us in the long run.”
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