Nebraska's Pelini: Sideline argument no big deal


Nebraska's Pelini: Sideline argument no big deal

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says he can't change his ways and fans might as well accept that yelling and confrontations between him and his players are going to happen on the sidelines.

The latest incident came Saturday, when Pelini and safety Daimion Stafford got into a heated exchange following a Penn State touchdown - a confrontation caught on camera for the ABC-televised game.

Stafford pointed his right index finger in Pelini's face, turned around and then came back to yell and point some more as Pelini leaned toward him. Pelini's back was to the camera for the duration of the video.

Pelini said Monday that he has a disciplined team that represents the state and university well and that he didn't think Stafford was being disrespectful.

``The only thing you can criticize Daimion Stafford for was wanting to win so bad,'' Pelini said. ``He was upset. He should be upset. We gave up a touchdown.''

Pelini said he was trying to calm Stafford, who later in the game made a key interception and fumble recovery. No. 16 Nebraska won 32-23.

``I love the guy. He's an emotional leader,'' Pelini said. ``Let me tell you, it's an emotional game. That stuff happens. That's not the first time that's ever happened. That happens on the practice field. It's no big deal to me.''

The Stafford incident was similar to one that happened Oct. 20 against Northwestern. That time, an ABC camera captured cornerback Antonio Bell screaming at Pelini after Bell was removed from the game for committing a penalty. Bell had to be held back from the coach by a teammate. Bell was dismissed from the team the next week, but Pelini said it was not because of that incident.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman supported Pelini in an email to the Associated Press.

``I think at this point Bo is a victim of his reputation and is unfairly singled out by the news media,'' Perlman wrote. ``He has noticeably controlled his sideline behavior this year. Unless there is evidence that he is losing his team's respect, which I do not see, I think within reason you have to accept him for who he is.''

Pelini said what happens on the Nebraska sideline is no different than on any other in college football.

He said he knows cameras are pointed at him because he becomes animated when he's upset. He said he doesn't worry or care about the cameras' presence.

``People are going to try to focus on the negatives of my personality and whatever else,'' he said. ``I believe in who I am and I'm not changing. I couldn't change if I tried. I'm a passionate guy, I love what I do, I love my players. We have a great relationship.''

The situation with Stafford stemmed from Matt McGloin's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James that gave Penn State a 17-6 lead. Pelini said Stafford and other players were upset because of communication problems with the coaches on the sideline. The defensive calls came in too slowly, and players weren't able to get lined up right before the ball was snapped. Also, the calls weren't always the correct ones.

``It probably was my fault. I know it was,'' Pelini said.

Stafford confirmed Pelini's account.

``People are making something out of nothing,'' Stafford said. ``Me and Bo both, we know what's going on. We know we're good. That's all that really matters. We're one big family. Family members fight. I fight with my dad. I fight with my mom. It's nothing. I love Bo, that's why I came here.''

Pelini said he and Stafford ended up laughing about the incident at halftime.

``The players know this with me: I treat them like a man until they give me a reason not to,'' he said. ``I've had players in my office, and I've lit them up in my office. Usually by the end of that, the next thing I do is walk over and put my arm around them and tell them I'm doing this because I care about you.''

Pelini's behavior has been dissected on social media and radio shows since he took over at Nebraska five years ago. His biggest outburst came in a 2010 game at Texas A&M when he dressed down quarterback Taylor Martinez on the sideline and spent much of the game berating officials. His behavior drew a reprimand from Perlman, and Pelini made a public apology.

``When you have a mutual understanding between players and coaches, and the players understand you truly care about them as human beings, then you can get away with it,'' Pelini said. ``If they think you're a selfish guy and you're in it for you - my players understand myself and the staff are not in it for us - you can have those types of exchanges. Someone from the outside might not understand and, to be honest with you, I don't care if they understand it.''

Athletic director Tom Osborne was out of town and unavailable for comment.

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Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice


Joe Flacco receives high praise from teammates after first training camp practice

Ravens football is back and so is Joe Cool.

The team’s first training camp practice took place Thursday afternoon, and Joe Flacco’s teammates – from offensive to defensive players – mentioned how laser focused the 10-year veteran is.

"Joe always has a lot of personality,” running back Alex Collins said via SB Nation’s Baltimore Beatdown.

“He is a good guy. He’s a real funny guy, but definitely coming into this year, he has a lot of fire behind him. And it does a lot motivating us especially early when we first reported back. Just seeing him work hard and just seeing him get better every day. He’s definitely got a lot of fire behind him this year.”

Flacco is entering the final year of his contract with a lot on the line following a disappointing start to the 2017 season. But a huge factor that is different for the 33-year old coming into this preseason opposed to last is his health.

“Most definitely,” Collins said on whether he can tell if Flacco is healthier this year. “He’s a lot faster as well, by the way, guys.”

And when it comes to the “Is Joe Flacco elite” debate, linebacker C.J. Mosley knows the consensus within the Under Armour Performance Center.

“I think every year [Joe Flacco] comes in with his mindset that he wants to be great,” Mosley said.

“Mainly because everybody outside of this building does not think he is elite and inside the building, everybody does think that way. Since Joe has been here, you know he is one of those players that never gets rattled. You never see his emotions too high, too low. He’s been our quarterback that kinda stays in the middle to make sure everything goes smooth. That’s kinda how he has been this offseason too. He’s come in looking strong, body looking good.”

Flacco’s health is up to speed as well as his mentality. Flacco organized private workouts with his wide receivers and tight ends at a local park across from the Ravens’ facility last week. This is the first time he has done so since 2011. When asked if he initiated the session, Michael Crabtree gave all the credit to his new quarterback.

“No, that’s all Flac [Flacco], man,” Crabtree said. “That’s the leader. We’re just the wideouts. [We] do whatever he says. If we’ve got something we bring to the table, then we make it work.”



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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?


10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

Right or wrong, fans blamed Shawn Lauvao for much of the Redskins struggles on the offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus backs up the fans, as Lauvao landed a -19.1 grade, among the worst in the NFL at the guard spot. 

It's worth pointing out that Lauvao was playing hurt during much of his nine starts before getting shut down for the season just before Thanksgiving. In fact, injuries have probably been the biggest issue for Lauvao in his four seasons with the Redskins. 

In four seasons in Washington, Lauvao has never played a full 16-game slate. Last year he played just nine games, and in 2015 he only played three games. 

That points to what may be the bigger issue for the Redskins: offensive line depth. Last season was wild with the amount of injuries Washington sustained up front. It seems almost impossible for the team to have that many injuries again.

Still, the Redskins lost Arie Kouandjio for the year in the offseason. Kouandjio played better last year than Lauvao, and having both men in Richmond would have provided real competition. 

And that might be the biggest question: Neither Lauvao or Kouandjio represent a difference maker at left guard, yet the team did little to address the position. 

All offseason, the Washington brass walked a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The organization believes strongly in the players they already have, and outside of signing Paul Richardson and re-signing Zach Brown, the team had a quiet offseason. The Redskins struggled to run the ball the last few years, and still, the team did not look to upgrade at LG. 

It's important to note that the Redskins have two All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff. Morgan Moses is a plus at the right tackle spot too. The team likes Chase Roullier at center too, and they tried to add depth in drafting Geron Christian in the third round and bringing back swing tackle backup Ty Nsekhe as a restricted free agent. 

Left guard will be a question, and it's hard not to think that it will be the weakest position on the O-line. Should that submarine the group? It shouldn't. What if Lauvao gets hurt?  Then things get quite tricky.

For the Redskins, however, the expectation might be that the line needs to perform as a unit, and with talent like Williams and Scherff, that should cover up any weaknesses.

Time, and health, will tell if that plan works. 



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