Red Report: Kellogg aims to build morale

2013-10-29T19:45:00Z 2013-10-30T21:31:11Z Red Report: Kellogg aims to build moraleBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON and STEVEN M. SIPPLE / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Eat up, boys. Ron Kellogg III plans on taking the offensive line out to dinner Thursday.

“Just to regain some trust again, basically just to build up some team morale and get a great victory on Saturday,” said the Husker senior quarterback.

Kellogg said he and freshman Tommy Armstrong, who seems the likely starter against Northwestern, are looking to provide a spark to the team after this past Saturday’s setback.

“We want to pick up our team’s morale," Kellogg said. "It was kind of down this past weekend. After Sunday and today, I think everybody’s morale is back to where it was after Purdue.

“Basically, we just want to keep winning and get these five games under our belt and get to the Big Ten Championship.”

Kellogg said he won’t have to force any enthusiasm this week.

“Just because I love every single person on this team,” he said. “I just want a close team … I don’t want anyone going for themselves and to start talking crap about anybody else. I just want everybody to focus on their job, and that’s getting a victory against Northwestern.”

Kellogg said he senses a team that is still together.

“It takes one person to light a fire, and I feel that Tommy and I can do that, and with that momentum, we can do whatever we really want.”

Senior Taylor Martinez continued to be held out of practices Tuesday. Though he has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game, it seems unlikely he will play against the Wildcats.

Kellogg is not just a teammate of Martinez’s, but a roommate and friend.

His message to his friend right now?

“Just keep his head up,” Kellogg said. “You never know when we’re going to need him again. But first of all I want him to get healthy — 100 percent instead of 95. Basically keep his head in the game. I don’t want him to feel like he’s being left out. Because we need him. We need everyone.”

* BLACKSHIRTS GONE: No Huskers were seen wearing Blackshirts while coming off the field Tuesday.

It was offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s day to talk to the media. Defensive coordinator John Papuchis and defensive coaches are available Wednesdays to discuss that decision.

Those who previously had Blackshirts included Ciante Evans, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Corey Cooper, Josh Mitchell, Jason Ankrah and Thad Randle.

* ABDULLAH HELD OUT: Husker junior running back Ameer Abdullah walked off the field Tuesday in sweat clothes, without a noticeable limp.

"He'll be fine," Beck said. "It's just precautionary. He's been playing great for us. Just, you know, beat up a little bit. He'll be ready to roll."

A 5-foot-9, 190-pound junior, Abdullah has become Nebraska's most reliable weapon on offense. He rushed 19 times for 165 yards Saturday, increasing his season rushing total to 981.

He appeared to injure his ankle against Minnesota but returned to the game.

"That's part of (why he sat out)," Beck said after Tuesday's workout. "But I mean, sometimes when you have a guy like that, who's playing the way he is. … As long as mentally he's getting his reps, I know physically he'll be ready."

Among other players who sat out Tuesday were junior receiver Jamal Turner (lower calf injury) and senior tight end Jake Long (hamstring). Nebraska coach Bo Pelini on Monday said their status is "day-to-day."

* MORE THAN MEMORIZATION: Despite a tough Saturday, Pelini reiterated his confidence in his assistant coaches.

“I like the way our players are being coached,” he said. “I believe in this staff.”

Pelini also recognizes that one of his team’s biggest struggles this season has been its ability to adjust when opponents throw new wrinkles at them.

What must coaches do to fix the issue?

“I told our coaches, you have to get to the point where your guys aren’t trying to memorize things but are truly understanding what the concepts are,” Pelini said. “So when something happens that’s a little bit different, they are able to react the right way.”

* EYES HAVE IT: Pelini said one of the reasons Husker defenders are looking hesitant is because they aren’t using proper eye discipline.

The coach used the example of a defender coming upon a pulling lineman or fullback. In these cases, Pelini sees way too many examples of defenders putting their eyes in the wrong place, looking first at the guy with the ball rather than the oncoming blocker.

“If you are staring at the ball rather than getting your hands and taking on a block and taking your eyes to that block, it’d be like getting in a fistfight and not looking at the guy you are fighting,” Pelini said. “You are going to take the brunt of the blow instead of getting up on the block and delivering the blow. That happens way too much with us right now.

"You can have toughness, but you have to have the eye discipline to go ahead and take your attention to the block. That enables you to be in an attacking mode rather than a catching mode.”

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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