Most media members conduct interviews on Tuesdays up in the Memorial Stadium press box.
Only one media guy I know gives pep talks.
His name is Jason Peter, and on Tuesday he was seen walking with Ndamukong Suh toward the far end of the press box, for what had to be a compelling one-on-one interview.
Husker legend interviewing Husker legend.
Certainly, there had to be some good stuff in there for Peter, the former Husker defensive tackle and Outland Trophy finalist (1997) who now co-hosts a sports talk show on ESPN 1480 AM in Lincoln. If Suh is going to open up to anyone, it's to a guy who walked the walk before he talked the talk.
But Peter wasn't there to break a story. He turned off the tape recorder at one point to tell Suh in no uncertain terms what is expected of the 2009 Outland candidate and the Blackshirt defense — a unit that through two games has yet to earn those black shirts.
Suh would expect nothing less. The two have had a mentor/student relationship for three years, often talking on the phone during the season. And then there was the now-famous pep talk Peter gave him before last season.
“You got to act like a bad (dude),'' Peter said. “If you are in a movie theater and the guy next to you has his arm on the armrest, knock if off. That's your armrest.
“If you're walking down the street and some guys are coming at you, don't move. Make them move. Have that attitude.''
Peter likes what he sees, but he wants to see more out of Suh as the senior and a young defense approach a litmus test at Virginia Tech. Which was what Tuesday's little meeting was about.
“I think the world of him,'' Peter said of Suh. “He's just scratching the surface. I see him manhandle some guys out there. But I want to see him dominate in the big games. Not Florida Atlantic, but Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri.
“That's how we always judged ourselves. When I played against Chris Naeole of Colorado or Benji Olson at Washington, guys who played in the (pros) for years, that's where you find out about yourself. And that's what I want from him.
“There's a lot of talk about double teams and all that. That comes with the territory. I think he's talented, but talent doesn't get you anywhere. It's that motor, that drive inside. So I want to continue to see him push himself.''
But then big brother admitted that Suh is playing at a slight disadvantage.
“For me, I had Kevin Ramaekers, John Parrella, Terry Connealy, Christian (Peter) and Trev Alberts,'' said Peter, who was a redshirt at NU in 1993 when Alberts and Ramaekers were seniors. “I saw the way that they did things. Suh hasn't really had anybody like that.
“That's why I feel like I have an opportunity here to play that role. I had those guys, I could see them in practice and how they went about their business. Suh never had that, so if I can talk to him, be that for him, I think it's worth it.''
So does the student. Said Suh: “We've had a good relationship since my redshirt freshman year when Doak (Ostergard) introduced me to him. We talk a lot. It's great to have a former player in your ear, give you perspective on how he did things. You definitely listen to what he's talking about. He's done it.''
Peter, who now talks for a living, had some other thoughts about defense, black shirts and Bo Pelini:
On the NU defense through two games: “I think there's still a certain intensity that's missing. If anything, that might be the biggest characteristic of Blackshirt defense: the guys jumping around, head-slapping each other, the fire they played with. We weren't always the greatest at technique, but our motors were flying. If one guy made a mistake, there were 10 other guys flying around who were going to cover him.
“Coach (Charlie) McBride always told us, if you're going to make a mistake, make it going 100 miles an hour. He also used to tell us defense was 80 percent emotion and 20 percent technique.''
On Pelini not handing out the black shirts yet: “I think it's good. You have to earn them. Coach McBride used to hand them out before the season, but it's different now. When I got here, and Grant (Wistrom) got here, it was already built. Here, Bo and Carl (Pelini) are in the process of building it. He's trying to set that standard.''
On how lack of depth might be holding back development on defense: “I was just talking to someone about this the other day. It seems like in recent years, redshirts would move up and work with the twos or ones. That's something we didn't do.
“If you redshirted, you were on the scout team and had to work your way up to gold shirt and then black shirt. The numbers play a factor in how things are being done now, but I do think when you start at the bottom and have to work your way up, it makes you better.''
On Pelini being tough on the defense in his comments: “I think he has to be, because they aren't anywhere near. They just aren't. We had more intensity on a Thursday practice than they're showing now on game day. That's something that's a learned characteristic. They may think they're practicing and playing hard, but there's a lot more room for growth.''
On this young defense's potential: “I think it's there. When you have guys (linebackers) trying to hang on by the skin of their teeth, the guys up front have to put it on their shoulders. They have to get to a point where it's almost like a race to make plays.
“I knew that if it was third down and they were going to pass, I'd better come with my best stuff because I knew Grant was coming with his best stuff and I needed to get there before he did. We constantly pushed each other. That's what they've got to get to.''
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