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NU Football Players Press Conference, 8.3.2012

Husker safety P.J. Smith speaks with the media on Friday, August 3, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Taylor Martinez reiterated his goal is to win a national championship this season.

P.J. Smith said he wants this defense to be tops in the country. "At least top 3."

There was plenty of confidence to be found in the Husker camp as players met with the media during a Friday press conference, a day before fall camp.

"Yeah, we don't have the big-name superstars that we had before," said Smith, the senior safety. "But we have a team and a bunch of guys in the secondary that are hungry."

Smith said Husker coach Bo Pelini trusts the seniors to lead this team, a trust the safety thinks stems from a growth in maturity.

"It's time," Smith said. "No more playing around. You can just see it between all of us. We're excited about the season, we're excited about camp. Usually we'll be like, 'Man, we're not ready for camp,' or, 'We don't want to go through all of this.' But no, (it's), I can't wait for the first day, I can't wait.'"

Martinez, as he often is, was the main attraction, meeting with the media for the first time since participating in a Manning quarterback camp this summer.

Martinez said he is the most healthy he's been since his redshirt freshman season, when he was 100 percent before suffering a sprained ankle in the Missouri game.

Because of that good health, the junior is upbeat that he's going to carry the ball more this fall, and that coaches will allow him more freedom to take some punishment than a season ago.

"Hopefully this year I get to take more hits and be able to run the ball a lot more," Martinez said.

As for throwing the football? He said his goal is to complete 70 percent of his passes, which would be a significant increase from his 56-percent completion rate as a sophomore.

Defenders, meanwhile, talked about all 11 players in the huddle knowing what they are doing now. Smith said that wasn't always the case.

And if a guy doesn't know what he's doing? He probably won't be in that huddle.

“Yeah our secondary coach last night said that if he can’t trust you on the field, then you will never play," Smith said. "We have to know what we are doing when we get onto the field because the worst feeling in the world is not knowing what you are supposed to do. If you don’t know your assignments then you are already beat.”

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

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