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October 13, 2011

Pelini: You can't replace Crick

In some ways it's almost a good thing Nebraska has an open date after the week they've had.

Head coach Bo Pelini and his squad must try to replace one of their leaders in defensive tackle Jared Crick. Pelini announced on Wednesday that Crick suffered a season ending pectoral injury during NU's win over Ohio State.

In his first interview since announcing the Crick news, Pelini told the Husker Sports Network on his weekly radio show that the good news for Crick is he should be fully recovered in time for the NFL Combine in February.

"At the end of the day I feel bad for Jared (Crick)," Pelini said. "He came back and he's meant so much to our program. It's just a bad break. Fortunately for him it's not going to be anything that's going to be long term. He'll fully recover from it and he'll be back and ready to go to the combine and ready to do all that stuff in plenty of time. At the end of the day he wanted to finish his senior year and accomplish some things and come back and go out the right way. This wasn't the way he wanted to go out.

"There are some things that are out of your control and like I told him, he's got a lot of great football ahead of him. He has nothing to hang his head about. He's had a phenomenal career here."

Junior running back Rex Burkhead told the Big Ten Network on Thursday that he's confident the Huskers have capable players ready to step in for Crick.

"You can't really replace a Jared Crick," Burkhead said. "He's a great player and has been the past few years for us. We do have some younger guys though that will definitely step in and fill his role. We have some great d-tackles like Thaddeus Randle just to name one that will definitely come in right away and make an impact."

As Pelini talks about Crick's move to the next level, he feels like he has the ability to play several different positions on the defensive line, but more than likely he'll get drafted as a defensive end.

"I think that's where somebody is really going to like him," Pelini said. "I think one of the great things about Jared (Crick) is he can play multiple spots and he adds a lot of value to an NFL club. When he goes to the combine he'll run really well. He'll workout out really well. I think somebody that runs a 4-3 or a 3-4 (defense) will like him as a defensive end and I think he'll have a hell of a career."

Pelini comments on the booing

As the second half came to an end this past Saturday night with Ohio State leading Nebraska 20-6, a roar of boos came out of Memorial Stadium.

Husker fans are considered some of the classiest fans in college football, so that's why this past Saturday's incident caught some by surprise.

Pelini commented on the booing on Thursday and said there's no place for it in a college venue.

"We have loyal, passionate fans that have invested a lot in this program," Pelini said. "I have great respect for this fan base and the support they give and how they travel and all the things they do have been a big part of this program for a long time. I know they want to win badly, but I just have to remind them all that we want to win just as bad.

"The bottom line is I just simply don't believe there's any place for booing in a college stadium. Some fans may disagree with that, but that's something I feel strongly about and I'll leave it at that."

Quick hits

***Pelini said NU has had two physical practices on Wednesday and Thursday and the team will come back for a conditioning session on Friday. The players will have Saturday off, before coming back to begin preparations for Minnesota on Sunday. NU's coaching staff went out on the recruiting trail on both Monday and Tuesday and about half the staff will be out on Friday evaluating prospects around the country.

***Pelini thought that NU's tempo wore Ohio State down in the second half in Saturday's win.

"We played the way we were capable of in the second half offensively," Pelini said. "We did some decent things in the first half, but I thought Coach (Tim) Beck and the offensive staff saw how they were playing us and some things we thought were there. I also think our tempo wore them down a little bit. I think there were a lot of things to it. The bottom line is we executed and played well. Our tempo picked up and I just thought we played really well in the second half."

***Pelini continues to be excited about the development of Stanley Jean-Baptiste at cornerback.

"We've had a lot of success moving guys from offense to defense," Pelini said. "(Jean-Baptiste) has responded well and he's done some things. We put him over there and he showed some ability to do some things. Obviously he plays the ball well, he's a receiver, he's very long and he's a physical guy and he can run. He's got all the physical tools, but he's still learning."

***Pelini said expect to see more of the diamond formation that features multiple running backs in the backfield at the same time.

"It just gives us a whole another dimension and it puts playmakers and speed on the field and give another dimension defensive coordinators have to worry about," Pelini said.

***Pelini hopes that senior linebacker Lavonte David's key fumble strip on OSU quarterback Braxton Miller is the first of many more to come for the Blackshirt defense.

"What I have found is takeaways come in bundles and hopefully that continues because that was a heck of a play by Lavonte (David)," Pelini said. "A big play that changed the football game. Hopefully that continues."


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