- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2011

LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - If Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is stressed about his team’s dismal finish last season, staff turnover and the challenges that await in the Big Ten, he isn’t showing it.

“This is a tough profession, and you go through your ups and downs,” Pelini said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s part of the deal. I’m not content, but I do see steady progress in how we’ve gotten better in a lot of areas. I just want to get over the hump. It wasn’t any harder than any other year.”

Even if it seemed that way sometimes.

The 43-year-old Pelini is 29-12 in three seasons, and the Cornhuskers have been seen as a program on the rise most of that time.

But Nebraska lost three of its last four games last season and Nebraska’s chancellor admonished Pelini for a sideline meltdown at Texas A&M. The offense flopped for the second year in a row in the Big 12 championship game and again in an embarrassing Holiday Bowl loss to Washington.

Pelini parted ways with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson in January _ he won’t call it a firing _ and promoted running backs coach Tim Beck as part of a drawn-out staff overhaul.

“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve been through a lot,” Pelini said. “You know as well as I do that it’s not an easy place to coach. We haven’t won a championship yet, but we’ve come a long ways in three years. I’m proud of that.”

The schedule-makers did Nebraska no favors for its first season in the Big Ten: road games at Wisconsin and back-to-back at Penn State and Michigan, and home games against Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.

“I don’t worry about who we’re going to play,” Pelini said. “I look at it as they have to worry about playing us.”

Big Ten opponents know what they’re getting from a physical Nebraska defense that’s been one of the nation’s best the last three years.

Offensively, the Huskers are a mystery.

Beck and Pelini have been vague when discussing the new system, and it’s doubtful they’ll show more than the bare essentials in next week’s spring game. Pelini has said he likes a physical style, and Beck has said it will be up-tempo. Beck also has said he has simplified the system.

Pelini said he has no regrets about retaining Watson from Bill Callahan’s staff.

“I think that was the right choice, the right thing to do that first year and early on,” Pelini said.

The Huskers averaged 35 points and 450 yards a game in 2008, with Joe Ganz throwing for 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. Production dropped to 25 points and 323 yards a game in 2009 with Zac Lee. The Huskers averaged 31 points and almost 400 yards last season with Taylor Martinez, but the elusive quarterback was hurt the second half of the season and the offense failed to produce in the most important games.

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