Nebraska Football
Weekly Press Conference
Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 (Memorial Stadium)
Pre-Michigan State

On handling the offensive line injuries
“That’s what practice is for. We have to go through it again this week. We’ll get a group of five out there who we feel can get the job done, and I think we’ll be just fine. That’s what you have to practice throughout the week with the group of guys you have. That way they can get ready to go and just trust that everyone is doing their own preparation in order to go out there and perform at their best.”

On Michigan State’s defense
“They’re a very good defense. They’re well coached, they’re disciplined, and they’re good athletes and good players. Like Coach Bo (Pelini) said, it all comes down to execution. We have to fix our details this week. We were executing pretty well against Michigan, we were just missing little details. The big emphasis this week is to fix our details, and we’re going to have to execute really well in order to have a good shot at Michigan State.”

On recognizing blitzes
“We just have to see their indicators. We haven’t really studied them too much. We get heavier into it tomorrow. Coach (John) Garrison does a great job with all of the blitzing. That’s his forte. He’ll do a good job getting us ready, we’ll just have to identify those indicators during the game. It helps that we’re at home because it won’t be as loud when we’re on the field and we’ll be able to make our calls. Hopefully, we’ll be able to recognize blitzes and get into the right plays.”

On the importance of the game against Michigan
“We needed to win out, and it put us one game closer to our goal. We have a big challenge this week, and the next three weeks are all going to be big games. We just need to keep going one week at a time and keep focusing on our end goal of executing and getting the job done.”

On enjoying the win against Michigan
“We enjoyed it on the plane ride home. It was a good team win. It was a hard-fought win. We were back to work on Sunday. We had a lift and a good film session to get ready to go for Michigan State. We got today off, obviously, but we’ll hit the ground running tomorrow with full Michigan State prep to be able to get a good jumpstart on the week.”

On blocking for Ameer Abdullah
“All we have to do is cover guys up and give him a hole to run. When he sees a little hole, he’s going to hit it. Ameer has great vision, he has great speed, and he’s been running really hard for us this year. When you see a guy like that with almost 30 carries against Michigan, it makes you want to block harder for him because he’s been doing such a good job. It’s a mutual respect. He runs hard for us and we block hard for him. It’s been working well so far, and we have to keep doing it throughout the rest of the year.”

On Tommy Armstrong’s demeanor at the end of the game
“He just kept executing like he had all game. We just didn’t execute at times throughout the second and third quarters, but on that last drive we all stepped up. He stepped up and he put us in some good situations. He made a big call on that fourth-and-two to check to that pass. Once again Kenny (Bell) made a great catch and a great play to get us first-and-goal at the five, and we were able to punch it in. It was just a good overall drive to seal the game.”

On Tommy Armstrong’s audible
“We were going to run and he saw something. He made a check and we lived with it. It worked. It was a great check by him. It was great vision, great execution, and Kenny (Bell) made a great run after the catch. Sam Burtch was down there to throw a really good block at the end. It got us down into a position where we had a chance to win.”

On trusting Tommy Armstrong’s decision
“It’s a team sport. You have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. He saw the right coverage, made a great check, and Kenny (Bell) was wide open, so it worked out well for all of us.”

On running the ball against Michigan
“They were loading the box some, but it was one guy here or there that slipped up on a block or got beat in a gap. When they say football is a game of inches, it really is. One little thing affects so many different players. That’s what I was talking about when I said we need to get back to our details. This game is going to be a game of details and execution. If you make these mistakes against a good defense like Michigan State, they’re going to hurt you.”

On Zach Sterup’s playing time
“He came in and did a good job. I think he was a little nervous right away. I mean, that’s a tough situation to be put in. It was second-and-long from our own two down in a very loud end zone, so he did a good job. It only takes one or two good hits before you’re pretty focused in and the nerves are gone, so I think he did a good job. He played well in the second half. He’s going to definitely need to step up again this week, depending on if (Jeremiah) Sirles can go or not. We’ll find out tomorrow at practice what the depth is like on our offensive line.”

On the team’s resiliency
“I’ll give some credit to us as seniors who have gone through some of the stuff that we have. We’ve gone through the marine training and prepared our leadership. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing a lot of snaps like Tommy (Armstrong) and especially guys on the defensive side. I think they’re finally coming together and realizing what it takes to execute well at this level. They’re understanding how much hard work goes into this. Continuing to fight is all we can do. Obviously, we had the slip-up at Minnesota, but we still control our fate. We know we’re one step closer to getting back to the Big Ten title game.”

On Michigan State’s defensive strategy
“I would say they’re pretty basic on first and second down. They’re good, they’re well-coached, and they’re disciplined. They stay in their gaps and they play hard. If they stop you on first and second down and it’s third-and-long, that’s when they start getting into nickel pass blitzes and stuff like that. It’s really going to be important for us to execute well on the early downs and put ourselves in third-and-manageable so we can execute. I think that’s one thing we did a pretty good job of at Michigan. We got in that third-and-four or third-and-five range where it’s a lot easier to convert.”

On Tommy Armstrong’s poise
“One good thing is that he’s mature beyond his years. He has a lot of poise and he’s very mature. No situation is too big for him, and that’s really good. He’s really mature, and that’s something you need in your quarterback. If he does get rattled and it seems like he’s down, which is very rare, we’ll encourage him because we know it’s just a couple of bad plays. That’s not who he is. He’ll bounce back, and he does that every time in practice. If he makes a couple bad throws, you pick him up and he’s right back to making good throws and making good reads. I’m just proud of him and how nothing’s too big for him.”

On Tommy Armstrong getting rattled at Purdue
“The first road game was a little nerve-wracking for everyone, but he bounced back. He had a couple picks again against Northwestern, but he had a pretty clean game against Michigan. It was really nice to see him bounce back. I heard Coach (Bo) Pelini say earlier that he and Ron (Kellogg) will be splitting time again like usual. We’ll see what happens throughout the week, but we know that Ron can step in and do a good job too. We’ll see what happens as the season moves forward.”