Nebraska Press Conference Quotes
Head Coach Frank Solich
"I’ve felt good about the players’ ability to prepare week by week to get ready to play. I think that happened last week for our ball club. We were ready to play. We played very well early on, and we did substitute early in some cases. I think that had an affect a little bit on how we moved the ball in the second half. The advantage to that is we got a lot of guys playing time that are backup players. Hopefully it will pay off as we go down the stretch. You would have liked to have momentum coming out of that second half. I think that is a football team that feeds on themselves. Despite the fact that maybe offensively we weren’t geared up in the second half and played as we thought we would play will not have an affect on the approach to this next game. They are preparing to play a great football game. We know we will be playing an opponent that is an outstanding opponent. They’ve got great speed on both sides of the ball. They are a physical, strong football team. Their special teams in an instant can hurt you and do you in. So you have to have all the bases covered when you play them. You’ve got to make sure you don’t beat yourself. That is one thing I’ve been pleased with this year. I think for the most part, outside of one game, we’ve won the turnover battle. Last week was 3-2, which was not a huge margin, but any margin in the turnover ratio is a plus. Penalties - we continue to be plagued with penalties. Many of them five-yard penalties, but they still will take you out of drives. False starts still haunt us a little bit. But when you line up against Texas you need to make sure you take great care of the ball. You need to make sure you don’t put yourself in long yardage situations with penalties. We will concentrate very heavily on those two issues this week. It was a very spirited workout yesterday. I think they have a great mindset going into this game. I ‘m sure Texas will also. Last week Trevor Johnson was picked by us as the defensive player of the game. On the offensive side of it, Isaiah Fluellen. I think Trevor had two excellent games in a row for Trevor. I think he is over his knee injury that plagued him early on in the season. He’s playing certainly the way he’s capable of playing now. It’s great to see Isaiah come on and have the kind of year that he is now having. I think he is a threat as a receiver. It’s obvious after last week’s game he is a threat as a ball carrier on reverses and flashes. I think his coming the way he has come has added a little bit more of a dimension to us offensively. Josh Bullocks was picked as the special teams player of the week by us for his blocked punt, and then he picked up a punt and ran it in. Josh was also named the defensive player of the week by the Big 12. He is having a great season, and in our mind, he should get all-conference attention. We hope that on the national scene he gets some attention as an All-American candidate. We’re getting some great play from young players in the system."
On Nebraska’s punting game
"We hope it will be a factor. We want to be able to be a team that can not only block punts but also return punts. We have not had great success in returning punts. We have finally gotten to the point where two blocked punts helped us in this past ball game. So we still have phases with special teams and the punting game that we need to work on and get better at. This will be a great time for it all to show. I think they’ve got excellent people in their punting game at the University of Texas, whether you are talking about punt return or you’re talking about the punt coverage teams. It will be difficult to get anything done with great consistency on them as far as returning punts. I don’t think that anybody has done that against them. They’ve got great bullets that go down. They’ve got outstanding speed, and they have neutralized people’s punt returns. They have had a punt block and everyone is vulnerable to that. We will continue to work on punt blocks throughout the course of the year. We will have a mixture of those in for this game, as we will for every game as we finish it out. Hopefully we can get our punt return game going."
On Jammal Lord’s performance last season against Texas
"I think he made some great individual plays. I mean the design of the plays that he was able to break, I think were fine. It gave him a chance. All in all a lot of it came down to just his individual skill and talent to make some of the runs that he made. Ideally you would like a lot of that to carry over to this game. We will need to establish the running game, there is no question about it. We will use Jammal as we have in previous games. So he’ll get his fair share of carries. But we cannot be a team that is on the field for three downs then out and give their offense an opportunity to have a lot of drives. Jammal is healthy. I think he is excited about the game and looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can get something going with him offensively with the running game."
On Jammal sitting out the last two-and-half quarters against Iowa State
"He has accumulated a fair number of bumps and bruises. He has not only carried the ball quite a few times, he’s been a physical runner in those carries. He has not been looking for the sideline. He has not been sliding. He has not been doing some of the things quarterbacks do when they’ve got the ball under their arms. He has taken quite a few shots, and he has given a few shots. That break, he only had 19 snaps in the game, will pay dividends for us."
On Nebraska’s ability to keep up with UT’s high-scoring offense
"I don’t think that is what we want to have occur. They’ve shown they can put points on the board in any number of ways. It will certainly be a big task for our defense to control their offense and keep their point production down. That will be major, and it might not be easy. We don’t plan on getting into a scoring contest with them. We plan on playing great defense, hope to gather good field position and win the turnover ratio battle. With that in mind, in the end hopefully we’ll outscore them, whether you are talking about us having two scores, three scores or four scores. Last year we were able to put a few points on the board. Whether that will occur again this year, we’ll see. In order to do that you’ll have to open up."
On Nebraska’s successfully blocking two punts against Iowa State
"On punt block, part of it can come down to scheme, but what happened in this ball game was just individual effort. Demorrio (Williams) just overpowered on the wing and so there is not great design to that. That is just strength coming off the ball and wanting to do it. But you do go into every game with designed punt blocks. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. What we had last week was really more individual effort than design."
On UT’s success against Nebraska in the past
"Well they’ve won more games. That is for certain. They’ve been great ball games, very close ball games. But yet they’ve come out on top more than we have, and we understand that. No one wants to change that any more than we do. You look at those games, there were small things along the way that made a difference. We hope that we’ll be able to get those things corrected. We hope we will be able to play great football on both sides of the ball and hold up special teams-wise. If we do that, we’ll have a chance to win the game. That is our plan and hopefully it will come about that way."
On Texas’ tradition
"It is a tough challenge every time you take the field against them. That generally holds for most teams that play against them. They’ve won nine games a year, their string is longer than anybody’s string in the country, and that happens if you have excellent talent and are well-coached. I think that is what they are all about. So it’s a challenge to play them. I think they feel it’s a challenge to play us. They’ve been great games, very, very close football games, hard-fought games. We want to get things turned around on that end of it and hope to get off and have a great win."
On Texas’ run defense
"Three teams that they played were pretty good running teams that actually when the final stats came out they averaged better than what they averaged going in against them. That’s encouraging. But I haven’t seen anyone that can line up and just run the football against them and not do other things to make it work. People have tried to throw the ball against them. They play a lot of man coverage, an awful lot of man coverage, and they’ve got great speed at the corner and safety spots. So they don’t make it easy on you. You try to come out with some different formations and try to come out and hopefully utilize the option game some, but understand they have very good team speed. So you are not just going to make a living on the option game. We are going to have to really make some things work in terms of the power game as well as the option game and fill the air with footballs."
On Isaiah Fluellen’s success running the reverse against Iowa State
"Those kinds of things don’t hurt, but we were lining up wanting to win the game against Iowa State and doing what we thought was the best chance for success against them. It does add a dimension to what we are doing to what they are going to have to defend. Maybe it will cut down on some pursuit, maybe it will not. But they’ve got great team speed so if you are not ready to counter that some then you’re probably going to have some problems. How they saw us in terms of running those reverses, how worried they are about those things, I don’t know. But we will try a few more reverses and see what happens."
On Nebraska’s passing game
"I’m not sure how many times we will need to throw the ball. Hopefully, it’s not extensive to the point where you are talking about 30 throws. If you start to look at the history of Nebraska you start to get up to 22 throws a game, 23 throws a game we have not had great success over the course of the years. I think that we are throwing much better, and I’m not kidding on that end of it. I think Jammal (Lord) is throwing the ball much better. I think our receivers have been running excellent routes. We’ve got more speed at the receiver spot. So we will see how that plays out. Will we start off trying to run the ball early in the game. But the number of throws, we will just let the game to some degree dictate that. It’s obvious we will have to mix it up a little bit against these guys."
On Isaiah Fluellen’s progress since the beginning of the season
"He was in the mix, but he had been injured a fair amount to the point where he was not able to progress well in the system. So consistency was a big factor in holding him back. Once he got to where all of a sudden injuries weren’t popping up for him, the consistency was able to show, then we’ve got to get him on the field and then it showed on the field. It’s not truly a surprise, but it’s great to see him go through a healthy stretch and get to where he can show his talent."
On playing the Longhorns in Austin
"It will be packed for our game of course. They are very much into football in Texas just like we are here in Nebraska. So it will be a very lively crowd. So we will have to work at making sure on getting things down as far as getting off to the snap count, if we are doing any audibling, we need to make sure they get the audibles. That is just part of playing on the road. We will face that with a sold-out crowd at Texas."
On Nebraska’s degree of error against Texas|
"You want to play as close to perfect as you can possibly play in every game. When you face a team that’s got great talent like these guys have, you better not find ways to hurt yourself. Our goal going into this is to make sure we do everything possible to get it done on both sides of the ball and on special teams."
On slowing down Texas receiver Roy Williams
"It’s very difficult. Last year, Roy did a number of things against us. You look back on it and he ran a number of hitches, and was successful in converting those short hitches into long game. They ran some seam patterns that they were able to complete. I don’t think teams have been able to do that as consistently throughout the course of this year, as Texas did against us last season. So we are hoping we’ll play better along both lines. I don’t know a guy with that great of talent that you shut down. But you hope to control him. Johnson on the other side is a major threat. You don’t start just concerning yourself with one guy on their team or one phase of their game. They are using a two quarterback system. Both quarterbacks have movement. One has better movement than the other. Both are excellent throwing, one has more experience than the other. But they play them both, and they both win ball games for them. You look at the running game and Cedric Benson is a great power runner as well as having excellent speed. You’ve got to stop a combination of things. You can’t just control one person on the football team. But it’s obvious we can’t let the hitches and seam routes beat us in like they did last year."
On the Longhorn receivers
"They are as good as it gets. I have had a chance to watch Oklahoma because we played some of the same opponents as them. They’ve got great receivers. They’ve got receivers that catch the ball and put it in the end zone after the catch. Texas is very much that way. Both those teams are as good as it gets."
On Nebraska punter Kyle Larson
"He’s done outstanding. I think he is an All-American punter. He’s had two years now of just great punting for us. He’s not only got a strong leg, he’s able to place the ball well. I think that will be very important this week, and as we go down the stretch of the rest of the season in the Big 12. There are just great, great punt return people that we will be facing this week and in upcoming weeks. Placing the ball is going to be needed in trying to control those guys a little bit. Kyle has been able to do that and place the ball inside the 20-yard line."
On Texas Coach Mack Brown
"If you coach football you’re going to be criticized at some point. Mack has done a great job down there. It’s obvious to all of us that coach against him. People that are really involved and close with football know that he does a great job of recruiting. He gets those guys on the field. They are very organized, they are able to win, and win with great consistency, if not as much or more consistency than anybody here as of late. There are always some games that some people will look at as very, very key games on your schedule. If you don’t get those done, regardless of how many games you win, you can get kicked pretty hard. The Oklahoma-Texas match-up has not turned out the way Mack or his staff would like it to turn out the last few years. But he has done a great job down there, and I think he is a great coach."
On who should be favored in the game
"Well it depends on how you look at it. We are ranked higher than Texas. We are playing on their home field. They have great talent. They have probably shown more balance on offense, defense and special teams than what we have. So there are a number of different ways of looking at it. It should be a great game. And we will see how it plays out."
On the importance of the game
"We have a chance to control our destiny in the Big 12 and we know it. You make sure everyone understands that. Our players are very bright, and they understand without me standing up there talking to them about it. But you do visit with them about where we’re at, where we are at in reaching our goals. What we are going to have to do to reach our goals and try to win on all those things. But they do understand the importance of this game and the rest of the games on our schedule."