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September 8, 2009If you were to just look at the scoreboard on Saturday night, most people would give Nebraska passing grades for their 49-3 victory over Florida Atlantic.
Pelini called the Huskers defensive effort "soft" and he said in order to compete with teams like Virginia Tech and Missouri in the near future, their play has to get better.
"I wasn't happy with how physical we played as a football team," Pelini said during his Tuesday press conference. "I don't think we played as physical as we need to play in any regards. Front to back. I thought at times you saw some good hits and some physical play, but overall, man-to-man 11 guys playing it I thought we played soft at times. That's an area we have to get fixed."
Particularly, Pelini said he wasn't happy about the missed opportunities NU didn't capitalize on defensively.
The Huskers managed to force three turnovers, but Pelini said there should've been more than that.
"I said going into the game we have to take advantage of the opportunities," Pelini said. "They don't come all the time. You have to take advantage when you get them and we let some slip through our fingers.
"That's a big area of emphasis for us and one that we have to take advantage of the opportunities."
When senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh heard Pelini call the defense's play soft on Saturday, he obviously didn't like hearing it, but he doesn't take personal either.
"It's kind of a catch 22," Suh said. "It looks good on paper, but if you go back and look at the film it wasn't as great as it looked.
"It stings, but I know what he means behind it. It's not necessarily somebody off the street or like you guys saying it."
The biggest area Pelini would like to see improved this week against Arkansas State is NU's overall pad level.
"We played too high," Pelini said. "Like on defense we played too high at times. We didn't play the way we've been practicing. We weren't coming off the football all the time. A little bit is the style of offense they played is a little bit different.
"We didn't play with great technique. We didn't attack blocks, we didn't attack blockers and we didn't come off the ball on offense with the type of tempo we need to. We weren't as crisp or sound or as physical as we need to be in a lot of regards.
Pelini did say that that even though he wasn't happy with some areas of Saturday's performance, this team has still come a long ways defensively in the last year.
But like always, Pelini still wants to see more from his football team.
"I think we are ahead of where we were last year, because we had light years to go last year," Pelini said. "Now, instead of maybe two galaxies maybe just one galaxy. We might be in the same solar system now (of where he wants to be)."