Huskers' bowl practices please Pelini

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Bo Pelini addressed the media after Nebraska practiced on Thursday at the Hawks Championship Center, the final opportunity to hear from the coach before the Huskers arrive in Jacksonville, Fla., in one week for the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

News and notes from Pelini’s meeting with reporters:

-He said the Huskers are healing nicely from the slew of injuries that accumulated in the second half of the season. All of the players hopeful to play to against Georgia have returned to practice, with the exception of quarterback Taylor Martinez.

“Not 100 percent,” Pelini said, “but it looks like he’s going to be out for the game.”

On the offensive line, in particular, Nebraska has made progress in getting healthy, Pelini said.

The Huskers broke from practice for two weeks before resuming workouts on Saturday. They’ll break again this weekend as many players travel home after final exams. The team is set to reconvene in Lincoln on Christmas night.

-Pelini said the Nebraska coaches were received well on the recruiting trail this month. The Huskers have collected 19 commitments, including new signees Byerson Cockrell, a defensive back, and defensive end Joe Keels out of junior college.

At the start now of a dead period in recruiting, Pelini said he expects several battles over Nebraska prospects to remain unsettled until near signing day.

“I think we have a chance to really finish our class off well,” he said. “I like our class.”

-Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who missed most of the final two regular-season games with an ankle injury, has made progress in practice over the past week. Armstrong is among a sizeable group of young players benefiting from this extra work, Pelini said.

“Where they were a month and a half, two months ago and where they are now,” the coach said, “it’s night and day. You go right down the line. Guys have grown up a lot.”

-Pelini mentioned sophomores Jonathan Rose and Charles Jackson and freshman D.J. Singleton as players who have shown improvement of late. The Nebraska coaches are examining their personnel in the secondary as they prepare to replace nickel back Ciante Evans and corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste after the Gator Bowl.

“There are some young guys who might be off other people’s radar who are going to be very good football players,” Pelini said.

-Asked if he’s concerned that issues in the Nebraska strength program contributed to the injuries this season, Pelini said no. The coach said he’s confident in the work of strength coach James Dobson and his staff.

“There’s no strength-and-conditioning issue there,” Pelini said. “There’s a reason why (Ndamukong) Suh and Prince (Amukamara) and Barrett Ruud and the rest of them come back here to train with coach Dobson in the offseason, because they believe in what he does.”