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October 28, 2012

Bo Pelini encouraged by defense progress

The Michigan offense went into halftime with 136 yards of total offense; it ended the game with 188 yards.

The Nebraska defense dominated the second stanza, thanks, in part to the struggles of redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy, who was playing the first significant minutes of his young career en lieu of injured starter Denard Robinson.

"[We] got a little bit more aggressive, especially on third down [after Robinson left the game]," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "Got a little bit more of a feel for what they were doing and how they were doing it. I thought we had a good mix in the second half of playing base, playing some pressure, keeping them off balance. I thought it was good. I thought our kids executed well. We were preparing for Denard, and I called some things in the second half that we didn't call a lot during the week, so I thought our kids executed well."

The Cornhuskers picked Bellomy off three times, including once in the end zone and another that was returned 53 yards by safety P.J. Smith, setting up the Nebraska offense at the four-yard line.

"Our guys went up and made some plays on the ball," Pelini said. "For a while there, I was thinking we didn't have anyone on the defense who could catch after last week with the five drops. I thought our guys had some opportunities and made a couple plays and it was big for us. I thought P.J. (Smith) was at the right place at the right time, made a good play. Stanley's (Jean-Baptiste) and Damion's (Stafford) were big plays also. It was good."

Pelini was pleased with the turnovers his team created, but the Cornhuskers also shot themselves in the foot several times, racking up 104 yards of penalties.

On Michigan's final scoring drive, Nebraska incurred 45 yards of penalties, including a personal four for targeting and a dead-ball personal foul on the same play.

"I think we won the turnover battle, but penalties was another story," Pelini said. "We've got to clean that up. That was an area of concern."

Pelini wasn't as happy with his offense, which struggled for large stretches of the game before putting up two late scoring drives to push the game out of reach for the Wolverines.

"Inconsistent. I thought we left some points out there, we left some drives out there," Pelini said. "At times, we looked really good. At times, we had some missed opportunities. I think we can play better. I don't think it was our best effort, but I think we did a lot of good things. They've got a pretty good defense."

On quarterback Taylor Martinez, Pelini said. "I thought he did a great job. I thought we used it well. We used a number of different tempos; we looked to the sidelines. We used some fast tempo. We changed it up a decent amount, kept them off-balance and made them line up quick. I thought we really used our tempos to our advantage, and that's on Taylor to manage that all. We changed that a lot through the series and in series play-to-play. I thought it helped us, and you can't do that if the quarterback's not able to handle it and manage it the right way."


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