LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini didn't offer too much more analysis Thursday on why he chose to hand out seven Blackshirts before the season — rather than handing them out during the year, after he thought the defense had earned the practice jerseys signifying the starters.
“I liked where certain guys were and I thought it was the right thing for this football team and those group of guys,” Pelini said. “That's kind of where I went. I'll be honest with you: In years past, I don't even remember when he handed them out. We talked about it, it came up, and we decided it was the right time for this team.”
One of those Blackshirts was cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a converted wide receiver who's made significant strides, Pelini said, over the last two years since he switched early in the 2011 season.
“His focus and consistency needs to be there every day,” Pelini said. “Especially early in camp, I thought he played extremely well. He's had a couple days here and there, but overall, I like where he is, and I think he paid the price in the offseason and came in ready to go. ... He can be a real force for us when he's on.”
Pelini said he consulted his defensive staff — including coordinator John Papuchis — on the Blackshirts decision.
“I don't run it like I'm a dictator or anything like that,” Pelini said. “There's a lot of input that comes from our staff. You make your decisions and you go with it.”
Huskers ready to handle high heat
With the heat index expected to be near 100 degrees for Saturday's kickoff, Pelini said, NU has prepared for it during the course of the week.
“They're fresh right now going into the game, but there's going to be some heat issues, I'm sure,” Pelini said. “We'll use a lot of our depth, play a lot of guys and try to wear the other football team out. That's your goal.”
Ľ Pelini said redshirt freshman tight end Sam Cotton remains doubtful for Saturday
Ľ Look for sophomore wide receiver Sam Burtch to get some playing time Saturday, Pelini said. Burtch, from Elmwood-Murdock, is “a physical guy who can catch the ball well,” Pelini said.