Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bo Knows High Standards

After Saturday night's Florida Atlantic game, I admit I had mixed feelings. I certainly liked the 49-3 final score. I didn't like the statistics, especially first downs where NU and FAU tied at 22 each. I liked Roy Helu's second half performance, and I liked the turnovers that the defense generated. I liked the reduced number of broken coverages, but I still didn't like them when they occurred.

Turns out Bo Pelini looked at the team's performance, and saw the glass half empty.
“I have a certain vision of what I believe this defense is going to be and I want it to be, and it was not there,'' Pelini said. “And I told that to them. Believe me, our guys on defense know exactly where I'm coming from. And I'm not going to paint a picture that we went out there, we held them to three points and we played great. We did not. We did not play real good defense.''
Some might look at that assessment as negative, but I view this as increased expectations on the Nebraska football program. I compare this to the frequently asked question "Is Nebraska back?" There's a certain expectation as to what Nebraska football should be, and Nebraska isn't there yet. And truth be told, it's a question that should never need to be answered: we'll know when Nebraska football is "back" when nobody needs to ask that question because the answer is blatantly obvious.

Last season, Pelini soft-soled those types of expectations. The players didn't believe in themselves and their understanding of their roles. This year is another matter entirely as the internal expectations are much higher in the program. It's different than the absurd 2007 chant of "National Champions"; that focused on the goal when the goal was unattainable. This is focusing on the tasks that each player needs to accomplish on each and every play. Continuously improve on execution, technique, and effort, and then see where that takes the program.

Ndamukong Suh recognizes this and accepts it. Maybe perfection isn't possible, but it's now the goal. Part of the reason why Pelini came out and said that today is not to embarass anybody or to browbeat the team - it's to make it clear that this team can execute at a higher level. And frankly, needs to execute at a higher level.

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