Bo Pelini's 14-year-old son, Patrick, initially drew his attention to the two Nebraska fans who were cheering and encouraging the Huskers as they boarded buses after losing at Minnesota.
“My son looked at me and he said, 'Dad, those are two great fans,' ” Bo Pelini said. “And I said, 'You know what Patrick, that's the 99 percent.' ”
But there are always outliers, even in a Nebraska fan base that the sixth-year coach praised Monday.
It's the same lesson Pelini tries to teach his players as often as he can, especially after a tough loss like the 34-23 defeat at Minnesota elicits occasionally volatile reactions from a passionate fan base.
Junior Kenny Bell used Twitter to address some of the negative feedback he'd received from fans on social media after the loss. Several other Huskers could relate.
Pelini encourages his players not to pay attention to any of the “outside noise.” But he knows it's difficult to ignore. His advice: Don't respond or react to it because that could take away from your ability to focus on what matters.
“You have an understanding from within of exactly what's going on, where we are, what needs to get fixed,” Pelini said. “If you get outside of that, if you start concentrating on things that's aren't in your control, you're going to have issues.”
Senior Jeremiah Sirles and redshirt freshman Michael Rose both said the players all understand that. They know one irrational comment doesn't speak for the whole fan base.
It's just difficult, at times, to stay quiet.
“You've just got to ignore those people,” Sirles said. “It's hard sometimes to let it roll off, but you have to.”
Said Rose: “Being in that position, we've always got to take the higher road. It's not always easy to do that.
Jamal Turner, Jake Long day-to-day
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Monday that both receiver Jamal Turner and tight end Jake Long are day-to-day as the Huskers prepare for Northwestern.
Turner said last week that he felt his best since injuring a hamstring in preseason practice. But the junior had a walking boot on his right foot after the game Saturday at Minnesota — after catching two passes for 19 yards — and Pelini said he had a lower calf injury.
Long has missed the last two games with hamstring trouble. Pelini said the senior ran on the field Sunday but did not practice.
Gregory: Defense needs players to step up
Nebraska's defense remains in search of leaders, defensive end Randy Gregory said. Not necessarily vocal leaders, although two newcomers — Gregory and redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Rose — were the only defensive players to speak for the unit at Monday's press conference, but guys who can make big plays when they're needed.
“We're looking more for people who are going to show their play on the field more than they're going to speak up,” Gregory said. “We've got a lot of guys who will speak up in meeting rooms and speak up at halftime. I think we're looking for guys to step up and make plays at the right time.”
Rose said he's not “concerned” that the defense will respond in the wake of giving up 34 points and 430 yards to Minnesota's offense, but he wanted to make sure fans knew how much the loss hurt.
“We don't like the feeling of being talked about as our defense being terrible,” Rose said. “Trust me, we take those things to heart. We definitely going to do our best to make sure it's not a problem again. It starts with our captains and our leaders. We're going to step up as far as a team. We're going to start carrying along guys and Coach Bo's going to make changes he needs to make. All in all, it starts each of us individually and we need to make sure we have a commitment to this team and each other and this program. You're going to see that from us in the remaining five weeks.”
Rose said the sideline was “upbeat” during the Gopher game, although “shock” eventually set in.
“We all gotta start stepping up and creating our own energy,” Rose said. “Don't wait for somebody else to make the play. You make the play yourself. That's our main focus this week going into Northwestern.”
The “worst thing,” Rose said, are teammates afraid to confront each other when it's time for accountability.
“We all need to take the personal responsibility to hold each other accountable and hold ourselves accountable.”
Cotton, Moudy adjusting to workload
The loss of Spencer Long basically has led to Jake Cotton and Mike Moudy both seeing increased workloads after they rotated at left guard until the Husker offensive line lost Long to a knee injury at Purdue.
Cotton stayed at left guard and only came out late in the Purdue game before playing every snap at Minnesota. Moudy made his first start at right guard Saturday in place of Long and also didn't rotate.
“It really hasn't been as big of an adjustment as I thought it might be,” Cotton said Monday. “I think you can definitely feel it in your body the next day, the toll it takes — especially in a physical game like we just had against Minnesota — but I don't think it's anything I can't handle.”
Jake Cotton says brother's TD was 'nice grab'
As a fourth-year junior, Cotton had been in the program long enough to see his older brother, former NU tight end Ben Cotton, score once or twice in the past.
Saturday was his first chance to see it happen for his younger brother as Sam Cotton hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Martinez in the third quarter.
Jake Cotton called it a “special moment” as NU pulled within 27-20 of Minnesota.
“In the end zone there probably weren't a lot of words said after such a long drive like that,” Jake Cotton said. “I just kind of mauled him, jumped on him and stuff. But when we got back to the sideline I pulled him over and told him I was proud of him and told him nice grab.”
Michigan game set for 2:30 p.m.
The Nebraska-Michigan game on Nov. 9 will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CDT and be televised by either ABC or ESPN, the Big Ten announced Monday.
The network determination will be made after this week's games. The last two Husker-Wolverine games have been carried by ESPN (2011) and ESPN2 (2012).
— Jon Nyatawa, Rich Kaipust and Sam McKewon