Nebraska hit the halfway point of Spring practices today. New faces trying to create identities.…
There's no game this weekend. Yeah, not a big headline. And even when Spring practices are done, there's May, June and July to do individual stuff, but that's still a long time before the season. So, expectations are lower now? Maybe? Don't even think about it, as Head Coach Bo Pelini proved today.
We started something we affectionately called the "BOrometer" last season. Just an informal thing, really. But it came from the fact that after a practice when it was the Head Coaches' day to speak, you didn't have to wonder just how practice that day went.
He was so distressed after one particular practice last season one reporter asked in the following Tuesday press conference about him being "grouchy", why he was, etc.
That's how Bo is. Not grouchy, necessarily. He's just an emotional guy, and rather than us seeing this contrived nonsense after practice where you learn next to nothing at all, he tells you how it is.
Which he did today.
"You can go right down the board as a football team. We didn't play well, we didn't practice well – not good enough as a football team. We didn't get better," Pelini said.
Two weeks into Spring practices, where there is no game anywhere near the horizon, one might be lulled into this mind-set that, because there are only a few new players, and most of the rest should know what they are doing, it's about refining what they already know.
But that's not Bo.
He's as transparent as they come when it comes to how he feels about how a practice went. If it went well, he's happy, or at least, as happy as any lifetime coach can be. If he's not, duck and cover and whatever you don't, don't ask him what he believes this kind of practice does for a team.
"What do you think?" Pelini asked a reporter who asked him what a one-day setback like this could do for a team. "It's not good, because you've only got 15 practices, and I didn't like this one."
The consummate coach? Probably. A perfectionist? Oh yeah, and he's admitted that more times than we can count. And it doesn't matter if it's the middle of October or April.
One does have to understand the point of this beyond just players getting better though. In a lot of ways Bo has an entirely new team.
Think about the fact that just from last season alone, there are 125 starts from players who are no longer on the team. That means that you have a host of players who may have gotten close to equal time in practice and some time during games, most are having to deal with a much increased workload this Spring.
Different unit, more reps, but never higher expectations. From the second Pelini arrived he has been very clear about what those are. "I demand perfection," he said on multiple occasions, including this year's Spring press conference.
While the BOrometer was more of an amusing thing for us than it was something we used as a practical tool for predictions, Bo's demeanor seemed to translate very well to how the team would play that weekend. In the week leading up to both the Missouri and Oklahoma game he wasn't necessarily thrilled. The Huskers lost those two by a combined score of 114-45.
Conversely, he was almost chipper after the last practice of the week before Virginia Tech, a team that Nebraska narrowly lost to, and most, at least around here, agree that they probably should have won. Then there was the trip down to Lubbock to face the top 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders. We remember the horrors of at least one game in the past when Nebraska went on the road to face Mike Leach. A 60-point loss tends to linger in the mind. But Bo was upbeat most of that week, and all Nebraska did was take Tech to overtime, and if not for an ill-advised throw by quarterback Joe Ganz, they could have came out with the win.
So, what's this all mean in Spring?
To us, probably not a lot, but it's obvious that Pelini himself treats a week leading up to nothing the same as a week leading up to any game against any team during the actual season.
It's game time even if there's no game in the immediate future.
And that's probably how it should be.
Junior linebacker Blake Lawrence made it back to practice today after sitting out a couple of days with a foot injury.
Senior wide receiver Chris Brooks, who has also been out with a foot injury, did not suit up for the full-padded practice today.
Junior running back Roy Helu Jr. did not practice today, and it's not definite when he'll return, though, his injury is believed to be nothing serious.
Junior offensive guard D. J. Jones is now junior left tackle D.J. Jones. Offensive Line Coach Barney Cotton said that Jones did make that move over, and will split time with amongst others, Marcel Jones. Cotton did also say that you could see a lot of experimenting going on across the entire line as they try to find the right combination.
Nebraska will resume practices on Thursday as we will be getting into the single-digits as the April 18th Spring Game looms on the ever-approaching horizon.