ORLANDO, Fla. — John Papuchis learned plenty this season, his first as a defensive coordinator.
For one, he learned how to take a punch.
He also learned how to adjust to the skewering that coordinators often receive in the wonderfully wild world of social media.
What a difference a year makes.
Papuchis showed up for last year's Capital One Bowl on top of the world. He had just been promoted. He was a 30-something with a fancy new title and handsome raise forthcoming. His record as a coordinator was 0-0. Yep, undefeated.
A year later, he better understands how to rise from the canvas for the next round — or game — after absorbing clean shots to the midsection.
He made adjustments along the way, including one that Charlie McBride never fathomed.
"I made a conscious decision to get rid of my Twitter account about midway through the year, after the Ohio State game," said Papuchis, referring to a 63-38 loss Oct. 6, during which the Buckeyes averaged 8.0 yards per play.
Papuchis received plenty of "advice" from the Twitter masses, in 140 characters or less.
Many folks vent via their keyboard.
"I thought it wasn't good for anybody for me to read that stuff," Papuchis said.
He wanted to make something clear Saturday as he spoke to reporters right after a Capital One Bowl news conference.
"People think I deleted it because I didn't like the negativity after the Ohio State game," he said. "That really wasn't true. It was more about the fact that after the Wisconsin game (a 30-27 victory Sept. 29), I spent some time reading through the tweets that were so positive. After the Ohio State game, I read some of the tweets that were so negative.
"Either way, it's a waste of time."
So: Bye, bye Twitter.
You change some things, hold on to others.
Before last season's bowl game, Papuchis almost always had coached from the press box on game days. Consequently, he never had to make on-field adjustments, which must transpire quickly in the heat of battle.
"That took a couple games to get used to," he said.
Papuchis said Husker coaches briefly discussed moving him back to the press box.
However, "The way I saw it, Ross (Els) does a really good job big-picture-wise from the press box with run fits," Papuchis said. "I think the secondary coach (Terry Joseph) being up in the box seeing the routes is important. I thought it made the most sense for a guy who can make all the adjustments from front to back to stay on the field."
Papuchis lives and learns. After last season's bowl game — a 30-13 loss to South Carolina — he decided to dial down the energy he expends on the sideline.
"I think a little calm on the sideline, a little clarity, helps in terms of thinking and making the adjustments that need to be made," he said. "Even as the season went on, I kind of calmed down a little and tried to not let the emotion of the moment become too overwhelming."
Papuchis worked this season with a pair of new full-time defensive staff members – Joseph and line coach Rick Kaczenski. Chemistry often takes time to form. Remember when Nebraska's full-time football staff hardly ever changed significantly?
There's a lot to be said for continuity.
"The group dynamic, the communication that has to take place on gameday, was something that went better as the season went on," Papuchis said.
Papuchis appreciates that Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini continually seeks input from staff members. But let's be clear: It is Bo's defense, and he swings the final hammer as far as decisions are concerned.
"It's routine for him to look to me during a game and say, 'What do you like here?'" Papuchis said. "I tell him what I like and it's either accepted or vetoed. It's pretty black and white.”
Not all is hunky-dory, obviously. Not even close. Pelini, Papuchis and company will have to do some serious soul-searching in weeks and months ahead. I'll long remember three statistics from Nebraska's 2012 season: UCLA's 653 yards of total offense, Ohio State’s 8.0 yards per play and Wisconsin’s 10.7 yards per play in the Dec. 1 Big Ten Championship Game.
The Badgers' blitzkrieg – to the tune of 70-31 – makes one wonder how Husker players might respond if faced with an early deficit in Tuesday's game against sixth-ranked Georgia (11-2).
Papuchis quickly points to Nebraska's ability to rally for wins throughout the season. If Georgia jumps ahead early, Papuchis hopes NU players draw from the positive aspects of the season, all the while understanding what went wrong against Wisconsin. It's a tricky balancing act.
Hey, nobody said Papuchis' new gig would be easy.
"I knew going in that some things would be (adjustments)," he said. "Other things, you kind of have to learn through experience."
Like when to shut down his Twitter account.