The boos rained down on the striped-shirt men pacing off 30 yards Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Husker cornerback Josh Mitchell had just been called for a personal foul for targeting a receiver, the second time such a call had gone against a Nebraska defensive back.
It was a flag those on Nebraska’s sideline obviously found ridiculous, which brought forth another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the bench.
“Whether it was me, I don’t know, I don’t really care,” Husker coach Bo Pelini said. “I thought … well, I don’t want to get into that.”
While Pelini bit his tongue in postgame interviews, Husker fans clearly voiced their displeasure on that third-quarter Michigan drive that featured 45 yards of penalties vs. NU, almost matching the 52 yards Michigan’s offense produced in the second half.
There was already some pent-up anger from a similar call earlier in the game.
In the second quarter, P.J. Smith was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
It’s a call that is becoming more common in the game in an effort to keep players safe. But it's also a call that can sometimes be difficult for defenders to avoid when going full speed.
“It’s impossible to coach. Josh Mitchell is like 5-foot-3. I don’t know how he can target anybody. He’d need a stepladder,” said defensive coordinator John Papuchis. “The other one, I’m not questioning the call, I’m just saying I don’t know what you tell a safety when a guy is diving to make a catch. But it was a good call. I don’t want to get in trouble.”
While such penalties may come on occasion, Papuchis said you don’t want your players slowing down out of fear of a whistle.
“If you start coaching them out of it, you’re taking the aggressiveness out of the players and that’s what really leads to injuries.”
* Putting fires out: First-year Husker defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski has a whole lot of respect for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
“When he’s in the game, you’re just kind of holding on, because he can break one, he can cut one loose at any point,” he said.
But Kaczenski also ended up with a perfect record against the quarterback, too. Going back to his days as an Iowa assistant, his teams were 4-0 against Robinson’s Michigan teams.
Saturday night, his Husker D-line only had to deal with Robinson for about a half, because of a nerve injury in the quarterback’s throwing arm.
Kaczenski admitted there was some “relief” when Nebraska didn't have to face Robinson. But even when he was out there, the Husker defense had a disciplined attack that contained him, not allowing him a run of longer than 7 yards.
Kaczenski said his defensive "bowed up" all night long.
“I think they did a good job of handling the situations, putting the fire out,” Kaczenski said. “If something bad happens, don’t ask how the fire started, put it out. I think our guys did a great job of that, and both sides of the ball fed off those things tonight.”
* Taariq Allen: Fresh off his first touchdown catch a week ago, the freshman wide receiver was injured while trying to cover the game’s opening kickoff Saturday. Allen was down on the field for several minutes and had to be carted to the locker room.
His leg injury didn’t look good and apparently isn’t.
"I don't think it's good," Pelini said after the game. "It's a pretty tough injury. I wish him well. I haven't talked to Taariq since the game was over, but it doesn't look good. It looks like a pretty nasty injury."
* Taylor Martinez: The junior quarterback was hobbled after a hit in the last minute of the second quarter that caused a fumble.
While he appeared to have a slight limp after the game, offensive coordinator Tim Beck said “it was just a tweak” and that it did not alter the game plan at all.
* Rex Burkhead: Pelini described the running back as day-to-day, but also said “I would imagine he’s going to play next week.”
Quotes on the run
“I just think that’s the type of group we have. Scrappy guys. Not satisfied. Obviously, we’ve got a long road ahead of us and our guys have a perspective on that.” — Rick Kaczenski on players turning down Blackshirts last week
“What matters is where we’re at in December. And if we’re anywhere but Indy, we’re not going to be happy with how the last month played out.” — defensive coordinator John Papuchis