Spring Game (April 15, 2017)
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
Coach Mike Riley Quotes
“It was a great day, great crowd and for me it was a good day of football. For me, it was a vanilla day. You saw that with what we did defensively and that was the plan. We just wanted to let the kids play and make an assignment check day, and we wanted it to make a team and there’s a bunch of different ways to make a team, so we went the first stringers and the next guys after that, and I thought that even though the score didn’t look like it there was some nice drives by the second group and some good plays, and I thought overall the efficiency of the quarterbacking was good. I’m proud of that because none of them have played in a game. They’re still learning. So it was pretty good that way. There was some good running, some good plays, some turnovers made by the defense. I liked it because it was efficient-looking football. I don’t think there were many penalties. We had a couple of false starts early, but overall it was pretty clean.”
On the quarterback efficiency
“I think that they made maybe not always the best throw, but the right throw. I don’t know what the percentages were, but it seems to be they must have been pretty good. I think that it just looked like when they had something they completed it, and it was OK. We probably had a few too many drops, otherwise it would have looked even better. Some guys dropped the ball on Tristan (Gebbia) quite a bit. I thought overall it was all pretty good that way, with the quarterbacking with efficiency.”
On the quarterback position
“I really don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. This week for our staff, prior to going out for the evaluation time is part of April and then all of May. This week will be kind of a summary time for us and a planning time, and we will have discussions about our team and I’m sure that will be one of the talking points. We will have talks about our team and we will also have a lot of talking about our next team and the recruiting that’s coming up.”
On if freshman quarterback Tristan Gebbia will redshirt
“Right now, what he is headed for is what Patrick (O'Brien) headed for a year ago. We would like to redshirt Tristan, but we only have four quarterbacks right at this time, so at this time he would be that guy that would get some repetitions with our offense that’s going to play in the games, he would ready himself to be the third-string quarterback, and we would hope that he would not play. When we reach some point in the season and that is all clean and looks like it did when it started then we say ‘OK, we’re going to find another angle here on how to do this.’ And that might be Zack Darlington like it was a year ago. We’re going to have a plan is what I’m telling you, but he is a heck of a young quarterback and has done a nice job this spring and made a whole bunch of plays today I thought.”
On the running game
“I think that the running game was pretty consistent especially with that first group and even some of the stuff with the twos looked pretty good. That’s exactly what we need, if we can have some consistency on the ground and be that team it’s an absolute necessity.”
On Offensive Lineman Cole Conrad
“Part of our decision will be what we’ve done at center, what we’ve done at right guard, what we’ve done at slot-back, what we’ve done at quarterback. It’s basically flip the coin. We’ve had competition there at both spots and there are a couple other coin flips that go on with that second group there too with John Raridon and Jalin Barnett, so we’ve got some real competition going on. What’s going to be really important for our staff in this next week and through the summer is evaluating this very, very well and see if we will still indeed need to have a coin flip at some positions as you already know. I love the competition. I love the rising of some guys to get in a position to compete to play and start in the games. I think the team gets stronger that way. I think some guys think they’ve got to keep the edge and the other guy feels like they’ve got an opportunity, and I think that makes everybody have to be that much more competitive for the spot.”
On quarterback Patrick O’Brien getting the first series
“What do you guys think, was that a coin flip or was that a sign? It was a coin flip.”
On the defense
“The spring game, the way it is, I don’t have an opinion on it. I do have an opinion, but I’m not going to state it. This game now, being on TV like it is just becomes another evaluation scouting tool for all of our opponents next year, so there was no way we wanted to do anything out of the box at all. We certainly didn’t want them to see what blitzes, all the different fronts, all of the different stuff we practiced all spring. I don’t want that on tape for somebody, so this was a pre-planned deal. I’m kind of sorry to have to say that, but that’s the way it is and that’s a really smart thing to do. Everybody tapes everybody’s games and then they become just part of the games that you evaluate or scout for the opponents coming in. My goal in the spring game is to practice long enough on a hot day to just wear out the fans. I want to please the last person that will hang up in there and watch the games. I was so disappointed to do the running clock for the second half because I wanted to find some more time. I appreciate all of those fans that come out to this thing. It really makes it for a special day. I’ll just say, too, it’s really special for recruiting, it’s such a difference maker.”
On the spring practice and how it compares to the game
"Well I think what I've seen so far is there's just enough variety in what we're doing. There has been some proficiency in some of that stuff. You've seen a little bit of the counter and the counter-gap schemes with the pulling elements to it and I think that that is a part... we haven't run that. We are going to have to have some things in the running that replace a lot of the quarterback ones that we had a year ago. That gap scheme, that counter-scheme, that blew legs off of it... the first part of spring that was not encouraging, but we've gotta stay with it and it's become more encouraging as we have gone on."
On using the tight ends in the offense
"I think that the tight ends, for what we do, can both be a guy that can be productive, and be a threat. There's a simplicity to this thing, if you've got two good wideouts, and we feel really good about Stanley Morgan Jr. and De'Mornay Pierson-El, and you try to double cover those guys in certain situations, then the interior part of your passing game has got to come alive. You've got to drop back your tight end and your running back. So a lot of times the defense can dictate where you're going to be going with the football, and so when our tight end can be productive and can be a threat, and the defense knows it, then they can't so often flat-out double cover your wide receivers, then you've got it going on. So if our tight end and our slot back and especially our running back can catch some balls, then life will be better. Our tight ends caught a lot of balls today and it was good."
On recruits in town and the beautiful weather
"That was a pretty good picture and I'm so thankful for all of this. It was a nice day, but also, just for this. For the crowd, for what this is, I think that until you're right in it, for these recruits and the people that are visiting, you can talk about it but that's why it was just perfect. It was pretty good football. Its a' great bunch of athletes that are here visiting. It's a nice day, our fans were our fans, it's a great picture. I love it and we just gotta keep going.
On this team going into the summer practices
"I really like this team. I really like this team. I think that we're going to have to continue to grow. When you're talking about putting in a whole new defense and making it come alive in the games and having it be good, so we're gonna have a lot of growth and a lot of thought going into what we do going into fall camp. I think that we have to continue to do the same thing with the offensive line and the running game, that has to continue to push, there's some signs that its getting to be OK. We have got to have guys step up behind De'Mornay Pierson-El and Stanley Morgan Jr. We've got to have a guy step up in the slot back, Keyan Williams, JD Spielman, you know, somebody moving up in there, we have got to have the tight ends consistently make plays, so we've got to have growth by every player on the team. So, we just need to keep growing. I think that the work that our quarterbacks do with our people this summer will be good, and I think our evaluation of what we're doing and how we're going to hone it down for fall camp will be important. Those are exciting choices because they play such a big role in how its going to look in the fall. I think this team has the makings of a good team but we need some of those parts to rise up to be great."
On player movement from the White Team to Red Team
"A lot of that movement, there were a lot of guys that at halftime were a quarter-change, made to change their jersey, as some of the guys that were in the red jerseys, as we were done having them play, some guys moved from the other team moved into the red and so some other guys on the white team would get a chance to play. I'm really hoping everybody got a chance to play today, that was the goal, that's why I was milking that clock at the end and calling timeouts when you guys were all ready to go and get a hamburger. Wyatt Mazour is a fun football player. Wyatt was emerging to play in our games last year until he got hurt. And then it was a significant injury, stayed out a long time, but he appears to be back. I like him a lot."
On the NCAA's decision to allow a 10th full-time assistant
"I think it's absolutely great, I think it's a long-time coming. I think that an additional full-time coach on the staff, I mean, let's face it, all around the country at this level, those guys are there and they are already working. You know they're not coaching actively but they're already working at most of the places. It would be an easy hire for people. And we need it. The coaching, the mentoring of your own team with one more person is a big factor. We have the worst, I guess, it's not bad, but it is the worst student-to-teacher ratio of all the sports. So we're going to get one more person like that to be with our team and the other thing is you have one more guy on the road recruiting which is our lifeblood. I think it's a great thing, I wish they would have activated it right now, I do not know why that had to happen like that. I'm sure they have reasons. I was really looking forward to it being active right away."
On recruiting momentum
"I am energized at this very, very moment about this weekend in total. It is so much fun. We are now seeing young men really understand and see what this place is about and what it can be and having our vision that I have. It's exciting. There's been a lot going on, and I thought the football today was great, so I am really pumped up about all this. It's a great, great feeling right now. Like I said it really has to do with the continued educating of these guys that are out there that are difference-makers that feel it. They can feel this whole idea that we have and what's going to take place."