Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has some harsh words for his defense

It might be spring ball, but Bo Pelini’s unabashed dislike of his team is in fall form.

Although he said Nebraska has had some bright spots this spring, Saturday’s practice - the fifth overall - left Pelini with a bad taste in his mouth.

“What I watched was a mentally weak football team,” Pelini said of the practice. “A bad football team, especially on the defensive side of the football. Call it what it is. We got a long, long, long, long way to go.

“It’s a mentally weak football team and guys gave in and didn’t feel like practicing. I’m ashamed of what I just watched on that practice field.”

That assessment can’t sit well with Nebraska faithful, who watched their Huskers lose 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game and then 45-31 to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl.

Pelini said much of the poor play fell on the defense, which isn’t a big surprise. The Huskers’ defense struggled at times last season, especially against the run. Nebraska ranked 90th nationally and 10th in the Big Ten in rush defense and ninth in the conference in scoring defense. That same unit returns just four starters and is extremely young and inexperienced in the front seven.

“It was so bad that we weren’t good in any regard,” Pelini said. “The offense was better than the defense, but you could have put a grade-school offense out there against our defense and they would have been fine.”

Some of the Huskers’ problems could just be chalked up to the doldrums of spring ball. Pelini noted that his team was mentally weak, but that’s something that can be fixed, especially when there’s a game waiting on the horizon. Still, under Pelini, Nebraska has been on the cusp of being a major national player and has yet to break through. Even though the fall is a long way off, this isn’t the greatest way to start the 2013 campaign.

“It’s mental weakness. It’s guys giving in when they’re tired," Pelini said. "It starts with coaching. The coaching’s not near where it needs to be and the execution’s nowhere near where it needs to be. That pretty much sums it all up.”

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