Nebraska is already a couple of days into preparation for its first road game of 2013.

Yeah, we know, it’s OCTOBER.

But that’s the way the schedule was set up, with Nebraska spending the first month of the season in the comfy confines of Memorial Stadium. Saturday, the Huskers travel to the eastern time zone to play in West Lafayette, Ind.

“It’s always a concern and an issue,” Pelini said. “We talk about it a lot with the players. I’m kind of glad the game is early (10 a.m. CT). We can just get up and get ready to go play. It will be a good experience for our young guys. Some of them have been on road trips but it’s different going on a road trip and then walking out there as a starter on the first play.”

The five straight home games has allowed for the Huskers young defense to learn and grow, Pelini said.

“We talked about that in the preseason going in, where we would be at the start and the level of work in front of us. I thought the schedule set up well. It’s played out well to a certain extent. I’ve seen a significant amount of progress the past couple of weeks.”

The details – communication, reading keys, having their eyes in the right place – will continue to be a point of emphasis.

“I think communication is so important on the defensive side of the ball,” Pelini said. “Last week we as staff got a little bit fed up in practice. We expect 11 guys to be talking every single play. If you're not talking, you’re coming out. I think the defense found out what a difference that makes."

After watching the Illinois game film, Pelini said he saw a lot of positives but a lot of things that the team could improve. He also said he could relate to the Illinois defensive backs when they watched Kenny Bell spear a one-handed catch and run into the end zone.

“That was a phenomenal play,” Pelini said. “I felt bad for the safety because it looked like he thought he had a pick. Having played that position, I’ve been there. I could see the look on his face. When I saw the highlight I was thinking, “I’ve been there, my man.’”

Pelini said senior quarterback Taylor Martinez is still recovering from his turf toe injury and is progressing well but is still day to day. Cornerback Josh Mitchell and receiver Jamal Turner were both injured in Saturday’s game but Pelini said he expected them both back “in a day or two.”

Reach Sports Editor Darnell Dickson at ddickson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7320.