Nebraska Football
Weekly Press Conference
Memorial Stadium
Pre-Illinois
Monday, Sept. 30, 2013

Senior Offensive Lineman Jeremiah Sirles
On the difference when Taylor Martinez is in at quarterback, as opposed to Tommy Armstrong Jr. or Ron Kellogg III
“Honestly, this last game people asked me what it was like when Tommy and Ron were in. Really I couldn’t tell you the difference. We played very efficiently with both of those guys back there. It felt good to operate efficiently. I feel like it’s been a while since we have operated as efficiently as we did in that game. I think that it doesn’t matter who is back there. It comes a lot from what us five do up front operating efficiently. If we can operate as a unit efficiently, we can keep clean whoever is back there.”

On how anxious Taylor Martinez is to get back on the field
“It’s killing him. At this level, everyone is a huge competitor and everyone wants to get out there and compete. I couldn’t imagine starting 32 games like he has and then being sat because of things out of your control really. Injuries happen and you can’t do much about it. Every time I see him at practice, he’s looking through the script, he’s seeing the plays. I think he’s out there taking the mental reps that he needs. I can definitely tell the fire is in him to get back and get that job back.”

On what the team got out of the bye week and how the team psyche is
“I think our psyche is in a good spot. We had good practices in the bye week. We didn’t take it off. I don’t think the team came out there and just said it’s bye week and we’re going to mess around. We definitely put in hard days of work when we were out there then we got some good days off to kind of recover. To mentally recover is the biggest thing because mentally this place can wear on you a lot. It’s a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of things you have to be able to be tuned in all the time for. Getting away from that and just kind of being a normal college student going to class then going home for once did a lot for the psyche.”

On the intensity in the locker room as Big Ten play starts
“We know that everything that we want is still out there. It’s kind of the same thing that it was last year. We lost against UCLA last year. We know going into Big Ten play that we can still go to the Big Ten championship. We proved we did it last year. That’s the ultimate goal is to get there and to win it. That’s where we’re keeping our focus. We’re staying the course right there and Illinois is our first test.”

On if he had the chance to study Illinois
“Yes, I mean you get an extra week to watch anyone. That’s going to help. I started my study early. I watched the Miami-Ohio game live on TV then I watched the tape version this morning. They’re a solid team and I do think we did get a good jump on them with having a bye week.”

On practicing against the defense and what improvements he noticed
“We did a lot of good back to fundamental things this last week. We did a lot of scout look but we also did a lot of camp-ish type areas. Since we didn’t have a game we could kind of not game plan against each other but just run our stuff against each other. I thought they came out and competed very hard. I thought we competed hard as well. That just makes everyone better. That just makes us as an offense better and makes them as a defense better and I think they came out and both units got better this week.”

On how physical the practices were
“It was like a camp practice at some points in time. We had 9-on-7 which is an extremely physical drill. We had team run which is extremely physical drill. Up front, we battled back and forth on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even part of Friday we battled back and forth. I think we might do a little bit more of that as the season progresses just to keep that physicality aspect up on both ends because it comes down when you’re doing some scout stuff it’s not always as physical stuff but more a lot of mental, learning new defenses and stuff. When you line up one-versus-one, offense-defense, it’s a battle.”

On sacks
“It’s a huge emphasis. We have it up on our board, this many sacks, how many we’ve had this week. Those two sacks still bother us because we want to have zero sacks. That’s the ultimate goal as an offensive line to keep your quarterback clean. We’ve done a decent job at it at times. There’s been a few times our quarterback has gotten hit where he doesn’t need to get hit. There’s a few times where we missed an assignment and a back has saved us. I think overall as an offensive line, we’ve done a pretty good job really using that as a focus point. Taylor’s a pretty good quarterback when you keep him clean but no quarterback’s going to be fantastic when he’s worried about getting hit in the mouth because someone’s coming free.”

On how Tommy Armstrong Jr. is in the huddle as a redshirt freshman
“I’d say he’s very mature. I’d say he’s beyond his years. He’s still got a lot to learn, but I remember when I was that age and you kind of fight to keep your head above water a lot. I think since we’re such a senior group up front and at the receiving corps, I think we’ve done a really good job of rallying around him and keeping him up, keeping him going. Whenever he had a great play Jake Cotton was the first person running over and smacking him on the head and picking him up. When I come off the sideline after that first drive, I picked him up I was so excited for him. I remember my first drive as a redshirt freshman getting out there and getting a touchdown just felt great. Being a quarterback, for him I’m sure it felt even better. I think he’s very mature for his age. He’s very smooth in the back field. You can just see it watching him on film. Everything’s very smooth. He seems calm and collected and we all rally behind him. If he’s our starting quarterback, then he’s our starting quarterback. As an offensive line, it doesn’t really matter who is back there, we’re going to keep him clean.”

On how challenging it is to prepare for the game not knowing who the quarterback will be for the game
“I don’t think it’s a very big challenge at all because as you saw when Ronny (Kellogg III) was in there, efficient, and when Tommy (Armstrong Jr.) was in there, efficient. When Taylor (Martinez) is in there we’ve shown what we can do. I think we’re going to go out there and treat it like any other week. Whoever is back there in command and controlling us then that’s the way it is. Whoever walks out there on Saturday, we’re going to take out there. We’re going to battle arm in arm and fight tooth and nail with whoever is back there to get a victory.”