Nebraska vs. Northwestern
Head Coach Bo Pelini
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013
“Just another ho-hum win, huh? I just told our team I'm proud of them. They kept fighting. I believe that there wasn't a loser in a game like that. [Northwestern Head Coach] Pat [Fitzgerald] is a class act, [Northwestern] is a class-act program. I have a lot of respect for them. Those kids played their butts off. That's a hard way to lose a game. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take it. That was a heck of a play for Jordan Westerkamp. Even the plays leading up to that, no one panicked. They just stayed with it. Every yard made a difference there in that last drive. Obviously, I knew that every yard was going to make a difference if we were going to try to even kick a field goal. It was a crazy game. I'm proud of how our defense responded. When we started out, those kids were so juiced up. We made a lot of mistakes and missed some tackles early on. The way they came back was pretty special. They flew around and played hard. Believe me, there were a lot of mistakes in there. But I thought that was a good team win for us. I'm proud of those kids and I'm happy for those kids. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. It isn't about me, it's about the kids in that locker room and they came to play.
On what he saw during the last play
“I was looking down there and I saw the tip in the air. I saw Westerkamp just kind of flash. Then I saw the crowd react. When I looked down and I saw the referee put his arms up, I was in a little bit of disbelief. It was pretty cool."
On the crowd's reaction to the last play
“It was a roar. It kind of reminded me of the Colorado game a couple of years ago. It was very similar. But our crowd stepped up today. I mean, they always do. I thought our crowd was pretty special today. That was a juiced up stadium. We didn't give them a lot to cheer about in that first quarter, but our kids responded. That's a young defense. I believe in what we're gonna be down the line defensively and what that group has the potential to be. Sometimes, when we're not our own worst enemy, we're pretty good. Now I think you can see kind of what the potential we have in that group is. But we just have to keep coaching them. What I know as a head coach is that, whether or not we caught that ball, it's still the same team come tomorrow. We've still got a lot of work to do. We've just got to stay the course, stay with our process and keep working to get better every day. That's where we are. We've got four weeks left. We're still in control of what's gonna happen to us the rest of the way. But we need to keep getting better. We made some mistakes. We didn't take advantage of some things offensively. Especially early on, we made some big mistakes defensively. But we'll take the win and get back to work. We'll roll our sleeves up and get back to work tomorrow."
On practicing last-minute play scenarios
“It's not something that's real easy to practice. We go through that in camp and pre-season, but we don't actually throw it. We kind of put everybody in place. That's something that's kind of hard to practice. It's something where you've got to just step up and make a play. That's what Westerkamp did. He just stepped up and made a play."
On quarterback Ron Kellogg III's composure during the last touchdown drive
“I always said that if we ever got into a two-minute situation, it'd probably be Ronnie [Ron Kellogg III]. He did a heck of a job. He stayed composed. Obviously, it came down to that last play. We were very fortunate."
“Jake [Long] has a sprained MCL. We'll know more about it tomorrow. It's not as bad as what I thought it was when I saw it happen. Kenny Bell will be day-by-day, I think. I think Kenny will make it to next week. It was a groin pull. He didn't feel like he could burst. I think Jamal [Turner] will be back any day now. I think he'll be back for next week. Then Wil Richards. I feel bad for that young man. He broke his ankle."
On the defense
“We had some opportunities to get off the field. We missed some tackles early on. We busted a couple of assignments. There's not a huge difference between playing really good and looking bad. That first drive, I think we had two opportunities on third down to get off the field and we probably should have had a sack. One time, their quarterback made four or five guys miss. We blew a gap on the touchdown run and then, obviously, missed a tackle on the touchdown run after the turnover. I've said this a lot - I think that's a perfect example and it's pretty obvious to our guys defensively - it's about us. If we execute our stuff and play the way we need to play and don't play undisciplined and take care of our assignments, we can react and play with anybody. You can't have success when you lose your focus and we don't play assignment football and do what we have to do. This game was a microcosm. It's very obvious where we can be when we're right and what can happen to us if we lose focus and don't play disciplined football."
On sophomore Jordan Westerkamp
“The guy just makes plays. He catches the ball over the middle. That's one thing I've noticed about Jordan and appreciate about him. Usually, if the ball gets to his hands, it's going to be a catch. He's tough, he knows how to run routes, he knows how to get open and he knows how to make plays. He's got tremendous hands and he can finish."
On forcing Northwestern's field goal
“I didn't really have to say anything to them. They took that field with an attitude. That first play didn't really go as we wanted. He kind of leaked through. They went big. We went big. We stuffed them on second down then played discipled to boot on third down. I was trying to decide when I use my time outs. We only had two. Should I use it on first down? Looking back on it, I probably should have, just in case they did score. It's damned if you do, damned if you don't. That's one from a head coaching and clock management standpoint I'll think about going down the road. If that situation ever comes up again."
On the importance of forcing a field goal
“That's huge. Just to give us an opportunity to even get a field goal and tie the football game, that's huge. That's what we were trying to do. That's big. It just showed to keep playing. You can't give up at any time in this game. I've been in it long enough. Maybe too long, sometimes I think. It's a crazy game. You just never know. That's why you've got to play until the last second."
On next week's quarterbacks
“I'm gonna stay with the way it went today. Our quarterbacks did some good things at times. I thought we left some things out there. I don't know if we helped them out enough at times. I don't know. We'll just have to see the film. Unfortunately, Tommy made some young mistakes. But he did some good things. Every time he goes out there, we're going to keep working to get better. That's the same with every guy out there. Everybody made mistakes. At the end of the day, we found a way to win as a team. We'll take each guy and each side of the football and work to get better. That's all we can do at this point. That's why we talk about the process every day and just stay the course. Whether we won this game or lost this game, the way I'm going tomorrow wouldn't have changed. The way we as a football team approach tomorrow won't change."
On having a receiver behind another receiver
“We have jumpers and we have the guy looking for the tip ball. We do it so we can talk about it offensively, but also for defense in case we end up in that situation. You've got to execute on both sides. I bet [Northwestern] had someone that probably wasn't in the position they wanted them to be in. I don't know how they played that."
On senior quarterback Taylor Martinez
“It's a week-to-week thing. I don't know right now, honestly. He has a couple of nagging things. Coupled with the things that were bothering him, he was also sick. He had the stomach flu the past couple of days. He was feeling really bad. We'll just see how the week goes. We'll go with Tommie and Ronnie until Taylor feels like he's gonna be part of the mix."
On the effect of the win on the team
“I hope it keeps them believing and keeps their energy up. I shouldn't say keeps them believing because I know they'll believe. At the end of the day, it sounds crazy, but sometimes a win or even a loss masks things one way or another. Whether we caught that ball in the end zone or didn't catch the ball, we're still the same football team coming in tomorrow. The same challenges lie ahead. It's just a little easier to handle. It's easier to go in tomorrow. Hopefully the momentum will carry over into next week and, hopefully, help propel us forward as the season goes on. When our guys are young, especially on the defensive side, they don't even know what they don't know sometimes. That helps you as a football team. That was a fun locker room to be in. Those guys were excited. That's what college football is all about: their experience. The kids that played in that game, unfortunately on both sides, but especially on our side, they'll remember that game their whole life. Trust me, I know because I was there one day. That's what this is all about. It's about the student-athletes' experience. They'll be grandparents, telling their kids about that game someday."
On his experience in similar situations
“I've been on both sides of things. I walked over and I have so much respect for Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern. I felt bad for them. I really did. I felt bad for his kids because that football team fought, too. They played their butts off. That's a hard way to lose."
On junior running back Ameer Abdullah's fourth-down conversion
“Unbelievable. I had a pretty good angle on it. I saw that he was gonna make it to the sticks. But that was a great play. When he first caught it, I was like 'Oh, why did he throw that?'. Then Ameer made the play. People will probably forget about that play by tonight or tomorrow. But that was a huge play. That's just guys making plays and doing what they can and staying the course, fighting tooth and nail to try to win."
On the trend of second-half comebacks
“I think that's just the attitude. It's about character. You just can't give up. You've just got to keep fighting and sometimes it's going to work out for you and, unfortunately, sometimes it's not. I know one thing. If you have a bad attitude about it and you don't keep fighting, you don't even give yourself a chance. It shows heart, character and it shows what kind of kids are on this football team."
On Avery Moss' interception
“Huge. That was a heck of a catch. That was a difficult catch. When I first saw Avery, I didn't know a lot about him. I saw him on the basketball court. That looked a lot like him rebounding the first night I saw him. That was a heck of a play. He was pretty excited about it."