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 LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -Entering spring practice as a first-time head coach, Nebraska's Bo Pelini doesn't have to worry about earning the respect of his players.
Although the old-school Pelini wouldn't concern himself with such matters, it's apparent he has a group of players who are eager to play for him after last year's 5-7 season led to the firing of Bill Callahan.
``I've been going around with this little motto in the locker room - 'In Bo we trust, in Bo we trust,''' safety Larry Asante said Monday.
Defensive end Zach Potter grew up in Omaha and well remembers the dominant Nebraska defense coordinated by Pelini in 2003.
``We saw what he did,'' the senior said, ``so we're expecting similar results to that because I think we have just as much talent as they did in 2003.''
Pelini, who returns to Nebraska after five years as a defensive coordinator, the last three at LSU, is getting back to basics with the Cornhuskers. Good idea, because the Huskers' defense was statistically the worst in program history last year.
Carl Pelini, Bo's older brother, will have the title of defensive coordinator. But Bo makes it clear that he's in charge of reviving the tradition of the Blackshirts.
Where former coordinator Kevin Cosgrove's repertoire flummoxed some of the players, the Pelini brothers' 4-3 system is simple by comparison.
The most important thing is effort.
``If they want to do it another way,'' Bo Pelini said, ``there are a lot of other Division I football programs they can play at. So there aren't a lot of things up for discussion as far as how the game is going to be played and how we're going to go about things. It's just the way it's going to be.''
Pelini's LSU defenses ranked No. 3 nationally three straight years, and last year's national championship team was second in turnover margin.
The Huskers have six starters back on defense, including the entire front four. Asante and cornerback Armando Murillo are the top two players in the secondary.
The offense also returns six starters, including quarterback Joe Ganz, who passed for the majority of his 1,400 yards in his three games after taking over for the injured Sam Keller. Nebraska also has the top returning rusher in the Big 12 in Marlon Lucky.
The first of the Huskers' 15 spring practices is Wednesday. The annual Red-White Game is April 19.
Pelini said he's planning extremely physical practices.
``We're not going to be out there playing tag. I can promise you that,'' he said.
Pelini said he hasn't watched much video of the 2007 defense. He didn't need to see much.
Six opponents scored 40 or more points. That included a school-record 76 surrendered to Kansas and 65 to Colorado.
Six opponents gained 500 yards or more of offense. That included a season-high 610 by the Mid-American Conference's Ball State, whose quarterback, Nate Davis, set a MAC season high with 422 yards passing.
Four opponents rushed for 300-plus yards. Texas' Jammal Charles ran for 296 - the most ever against Nebraska.
The Huskers finished the year ranked 112th in total defense (476.8 ypg), 114th in points allowed (37.9 ppg), 116th in rushing defense (232.2 ypg) and 117th in turnover margin (minus-1.42).
The Huskers also ranked last in the Big 12 with 13 sacks.
``Those numbers don't mean anything,'' Asante said. ``A lot of things went wrong last year, a lot of things fell off. I can't pinpoint what went on, but I know we're better than those numbers showed. We have the right coaching staff in place to get all that corrected.''
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