Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan Quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're being joined by Coach Callahan. Coach, if you'll give us thoughts on the game and anything else would you like to do.
COACH CALLAHAN: We're disappointed in this game today, but we have got to give credit to Auburn. They were tremendous offensively and defensively. They stiffened up at the crucial time to shut us down, so you’ve got to credit their defense. I thought that of all the teams that we played this year, that was the fastest defense with the most speed we have seen. Like we talked about all week, the speed in the SEC is just unbelievable. Just unbelievable. And I thought that our guys on defense played their hearts out, gave a great effort. We just came up on the short end of the stick. But all in all it was a terrific football game. We’re glad to be part of the Cotton Bowl Classic. Our players poured their hearts out today and we just came up a little bit short.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions now, if you put your hand up.
QUESTION: Why didn't you try the field goal at the end of the game?
COACH CALLAHAN: We felt it was out of his (Jordan Congdon) range. We came out in the pregame and we check the distances with and against the wind and the cutoffs, and decide where we feel we can make it and not make it. It was beyond our cutoff point, so we made a decision to go for it on fourth down instead of attempting a field goal.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the punt early in the first quarter, you gave them a short field a couple of times. How much did that --
COACH CALLAHAN: The punt?
QUESTION: The fake?
COACH CALLAHAN: Oh, the fake punt.
QUESTION: First of all did that come from the side line, the call?
COACH CALLAHAN: It was my call. It didn't work, obviously, but nonetheless, it was still early enough in the ball game that if it didn't work and if it faltered, we were still in a good position we felt to come back, but things got discombobulated there. We fumbled the exchange, then lost some critical yardage, so that hurt us. We got behind the eight ball on the short field.
QUESTION: What was the range you felt you needed to be in on the field goal?
COACH CALLAHAN: I just keep that between me and the team and I'm just telling you that it was out of range and that's what we decided as a staff. He (Congdon) knew exactly what the cutoff was and the staff knew. Everybody was on the same page, and that's a decision that we live with as we went into that decision.
QUESTION: What did Auburn's defense do to contain Marlon (Lucky) so well in the second half?
COACH CALLAHAN: I don't know if they did anything. I don't know if they reinvented defense by any stretch. They just played hard. They just played hard off the block, came downhill and made some real physical plays.
QUESTION: You guys seemed to be dominating the game pretty well early in the game. And yet you went in at halftime 14-all. Did you feel like you missed some opportunities to put some more points on the board there?
COACH CALLAHAN: In the second half we did. I just felt coming out of the half that we owned the time of possession, we did really well in terms of controlling the clock--preventing negative plays, with the exception of the fake punt, which is my fault. I take total responsibility for that. But aside from that, I felt that we were in pretty good position to come out in the second half and put some points on the board.
QUESTION: Zac (Taylor) was unable to hit guys down the field. You went to your backs a lot. What was it about their coverage in the secondary that prevented Zac from being able to hit receivers down the field?
COACH CALLAHAN: I don't know if it was the Auburn coverage down field, as much as I just think that there are times where if you are playing against a zone defense or your guys are covered, you're covered. You've got to check the ball down. And I think he does a great job of checking the ball down and putting the ball in position for players to make plays. He's intelligent with the ball, he's not going to take a lot of risk and so he's been a great manager for us all year. So to go up against the, I don't know whatever you guys call, the number eight, nine or 10 team in the country out there, I felt we competed pretty well today. We still have a ways to go. We said that as we came in here. We weren't ready to be a Top 10 team just yet. But this competitive schedule that we have played has really helped our team to a huge degree. I just think that we're getting better. We have closed the gap on a lot of people. I'm really proud of our seniors the way that they performed. They played their guts out. Their leadership throughout the year has just been so impressive, and to come in here and play this team to a three point game. I’ve just got to commend our kids. They did play an excellent game. And I’ve got to credit Auburn as well. But to close the gap against Texas, close the gap against Oklahoma, close the gap against Auburn, we're getting there. And I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team as it grows and matures going into next season. I'm awfully confident that we'll get better and we'll break through at some point. There's no question in my mind about that.
QUESTION: You were very critical of yourself after the Oklahoma game.
COACH CALLAHAN: This is another game. This is the Cotton Bowl. I don't know if you've realized it or not. We're in the Cotton Bowl. It's another game, another opportunity and we're doing the best we can. We can all get better. We can improve, and we will. We'll work extremely hard this offseason trying to improve and rectify some of the errors in our game and then grow on a lot of the positive things we did, because we have done quite a few positive things. And I'm just telling you our team is getting better. And these kids love ball and you can see it on the field. You can see it in the performance. We came up a little short today, but we’ve got to be really proud of our team, proud of our seniors and the way that they played together and hung in there and stuck in there against a top-rated team. We're getting there and it won't be long.
QUESTION: I guess where I was going with that question was, have you had time to assess your play calling today and how happy or not you are with yourself and the coaching staff?
COACH CALLAHAN: We'll look at that. We'll look at that.
QUESTION: I know you touched briefly in your opening statement about Auburn's speed, you talked about it early in the week. Can you expound on that a little?
COACH CALLAHAN: I think I already expounded on it. I don't know how much more I could expound on it. They've got speed. They play fast with pretty good players and to their credit again they're a good team. And we're stating the obvious here- they played to their strength-- and we did some things to neutralize them early, but in the end it kind of caught up with us a little bit. But to their credit they're a good football team. That's why they're here today. That's why they won 11 games.
QUESTION: Was Brandon (Jackson) in the situation where he just couldn't go that much? You went with a lot of Marlon (Lucky) today.
COACH CALLAHAN: Marlon has played in practice the majority of time in our entire Bowl preparation and in all fairness, to how we utilized our backs up, we did use Brandon sparingly as a change-up, but Marlon has been the workhorse. You've been there several times and watched us practice. Marlon has been the workhorse. He's gotten the load and we have had three backs that were out throughout the duration of Bowl practice, we had Marlon and we had (Thomas) Lawson and also (Major) Culbert--guys that we were trying to bring up just to get reps for legs, so we were in a bit of dire straits there. To Marlon's credit, he did a great job, and you can see what a good player he is. He's a fine player. He'll only get better. He's only a sophomore, hasn't even redshirted yet, but he continues to grow and made a lot of good plays today on the field.
QUESTION: You talked about being able, on the defensive side of the ball, to contain Auburn's speed for the most part. When you were looking at what Ken Irons said he was going to do, you were able to contain him. Talk about your defensive side of the ball.
COACH CALLAHAN: I thought our defensive line, our linebackers and secondary did a good job containing him. I think they pounded him pretty good today. I don't know what his yardage totals were today, but I didn't see any real long breakout runs or anything of that nature. I thought that we were real consistent-efficient, productive in our run defense-- and that's a good sign. Anytime that you can take a team like Auburn who is one of the best rushing teams in the entire country and shut them down, consistently forcing them into passing situations, that's a credit to Coach Cosgrove and the Blackshirt defense.