Ameer Abdullah leads the Huskers into their season opener with Florida Atlantic.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Ameer Abdullah Quotes

By NU Athletic Communications

Ameer Abdullah
Senior, I-Back
Nebraska Football Press Conference
Monday, Aug. 25, 2014
Pre-Florida Atlantic

On being named co-captain for Nebraska
“It means a lot. You know I’ve been here four years now. I’ve seen the caliber of players that have been chosen to be captain of this team, and to be with the likes of those guys is really an honor.”

On the roles of being a captain
“Just to set the standard every week. The football season is a long grind. You know a lot of people are excited the first game to get back out there, you know the second game. As the season goes on you get worn out and kind of lose that fire, but I want to be the spark for the team. I want to lead the right way. I want to set the tone of what it means to be a winner. And the way that we win is excellent leadership and staying the course throughout the year.”

On being able to address players as a captain
“Well for me personally we are all teammates. We do a lot of things outside the football stadium and we get close as a team. I’m not reluctant to talk to anyone on the team. I have a pretty good relationship with guys, walk-on guys, walk-on freshman even at this point. I never hold back to talk to anyone if need be." 

On improvements made in the offseason
“Just confidence. Eighty percent of the game, I feel like, is confidence. If you’re confident in your abilities and your training up to that point, it will all come out. Twenty percent is the skill. As a running back you never know what move you are going to make on a guy when the time comes. Either you have it or you don’t, but the one thing you do know is your schemes. If a defense lines up a certain way, what play is best to run, which lane to hit, those are things I have really mastered at this point. I feel like just confident in our play calling and confident in my skills.”

On the defense’s improvement
“A lot better, man. It’s kind of frustrating sometimes, because luckily we don’t play against our defense because we would have a tough time. Up front it’s much better, much more physical. Maliek Collins and Big V, Mr. (Vincent) Valentine, they give us a tough time.  Obviously Randy (Gregory) is Randy. Greg McMullen is a strong guy on the edge as well. Starting up front those guys are much more physical, much more active up front. The linebackers are much faster. Zaire (Anderson) runs really well side to side. Josh Banderas is probably just as fast as a lot of our skill guys. We are much more athletic in the linebacker position. At safety, Coop (Corey Cooper) is a hard hitter. Guys who fill the gap pretty well, Nate Gerry as well, and Josh Mitchell has been playing really well. I feel like the defense as a whole has taken a huge step forward. Just like I said before, they have that swagger and confidence about themselves. They are more confident in their abilities. They understand they’ve had a year of experience and now that it’s time to put it on film.”

On the potential of becoming Nebraska’s first three-time 1,000-yard rusher in school history
“It’s probably like 49th on my list I would say.”

On what the other 48 things are
“Win is like one through 38. And then you’ve got championship 39 through 47.”

On what special teams he could be playing
“Kickoff. All of them. You guys will have to wait and see.”

On which drills stick out to him
“We do one where (Coach Ron Brown) tosses the ball up to us while we have our hands behind our back. We let the ball hit the middle of our sternum. What that’s really helping us do is keep our shoulders square. A lot of drops and muffed punts come when your shoulders aren’t square and you are catching it side to side. And also, it helps out with timing. If you catch the ball more cleanly, you have a better chance to advance the field quicker than the defense can get to you. Just keeping your shoulders square is being emphasized and that’s one good drill we do to assure that.”

On blocking during returns
“I hope so. We have some guys who really want to be on the unit, who will do anything just to be on the field. Any time you have high effort guys out there, your unit will be better as a whole.”

On how much he is enjoying this year
“I’m enjoying it from an academic standpoint. I’m only in two classes, so I’m enjoying my free time much more. As far as football, as I said in one of my earlier interviews, I’m really enjoying the younger guys grow and get closer and closer to their full potential. Guys like Nate Gerry, who have taken a huge step this offseason and become a much better player than he was last year. He’s much more instinctive. I feel like he’s going to be one of our good players on defense this season. It’s just an example of one of the younger guys that I’ve taken under my wing and watched grow a little bit.”

On differences in Tommy Armstrong from last year
“He talks more. He talks a lot now. He actually talks too much a little bit. He understands plays much better, so he knows where his windows are. He’s much quicker. A lot of times you’ll see him drop back and kind of hesitate and then find the open guy. Now he kind of understands where people are going to be, which coverages to play away from as far as rotation with the safeties. And he’s hitting windows and lanes much quicker, which is really critical as a quarterback in this offense.”

On when this development took place
“Summer. Fall. This Fall Camp, just getting more live work.”

On the team’s identity
“I guess the identity that we need to have – not necessarily identity – but what we need to have is confidence. Just confidence in ourselves because we are a very talented bunch. We have a lot of talent at the receiver spot, at the D-line spot. Talent doesn’t mean anything if you are not confident in what you do possess. You know, your God-given abilities. I feel like if we go out there with the confidence we have, the skill sets will take care of themselves. This is one year where we can line up against a lot of teams and I feel like we are just flat-out better than. Just being better than a team on paper doesn’t mean anything. As long as we are confident and going out there, no worries. We’ll be fine.”

On how important efficiency is
“Really important. We have certain plays we want to run on early downs. And if you are having negative plays on first down, then that changes your whole game plan on second down and third down and so on. Just making sure we get the exact amount of yardage we want on each down. Also, making sure we are aware of the sticks. A lot of times we have certain plays called for third-and-six, and that’s where coming in and getting your playbook is really important. If you are not keyed in on what we want to run against Florida Atlantic this Saturday on third-and-six, then the checks won’t be there for you. So it’s really important.”

On if there is an ideal yardage Nebraska wants for third down
“I guess third and short. You don’t want to be in third and long.”

On if the offensive line is opening the same size holes as last year
“It started off a little shaky at the beginning of camp because we were starting so many different guys at different positions. Trying to see how diverse we can be up front. It started to come together during the second week of camp. Guys were really understanding who they were playing next to, and they’d know where they want each other to be on each play. We’re going to be pretty good up front.”

On the left side with Alex Lewis and Jake Cotton
“Hell in a helmet. Hell in a helmet, man. Crazy folks. They come off the ball hard. They love blocking the run. They love putting someone on their back. And I love running behind them. There’s a lot of energy on that side of the line. They dictate the momentum for us as an offense. Depending on how they come out is how we are going to play.”

On his journey the last four years
“It’s great. It’s just something that is a testament to the kind of career I want to have after football. I’ve always wanted to work for whatever I had. I’ve always wanted to fight for things. I’m the youngest out of nine, so that’s kind of how I was raised. Being able to achieve that would be a great milestone for me, but it’s just a testament to the kind of career I want to have after football really.”

On what he tells the newcomers before this game
“Soak it all in. Understand it’s still like practice. The fans bring a huge element to the game. It’s a televised game, but everything we’re going to do in the game, we’ve done in practice. We scrimmage these plays, we’ve gone live against our defense. And nothing is different. Our defense is one of the best in the country. They should be able to line up and do pretty well against our opponents this year.”


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