Huskers Talk About Troy

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan and the Huskers welcomed members of the media to Memorial Stadium on Tuesday for the Huskers' weekly press conference. has all the quotes from Callahan and NU players, while quotes from coordinators Kevin Cosgrove and Jay Norvell will be provided following practice.  Audio clips from the press conference can be found by clicking here.

Nebraska Weekly Press Conference
Pregame vs. Troy
Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006
Memorial Stadium

Bill Callahan
Nebraska Head Coach

On the upcoming game against Troy
“We’re busy preparing for Troy University right now.  That’s where our focus lies.  They have an outstanding team.  It’ll be a fun game for our team and a great challenge.  It’s interesting that Coach (Larry) Blakeney has been at Troy for 16 years and done an incredible job taking that program from Division II to Division I-AA to Division I-A.  As you watch them on tape against Florida State and Georgia Tech, you see a team that competes well in every phase.  To take those two teams deep into the fourth quarter is pretty admirable.  They’re doing a heck of a job down there.  I think Coach Blakeney has done a great job of building that program and taking it to where it’s at currently.  It’s a challenge for our football team.  We’re excited to play Troy here.” 

On the potential for a close game against Troy
“I think it’s going to be extremely competitive.  Down in the deep south, they get some premier athletes.  As you look at their roster, you see that they get them from everywhere.  They get athletes from around home and from the junior colleges.  They bring in the best talent that they possibly can.  They’re really committed to making that program outstanding.  They take on all comers and they’ll go anywhere.  To take Florida State to the wire was a great film to watch and a real eye-opener for our coaches and players as we presented the scouting report yesterday.  Then, taking Georgia Tech 14-14 into the beginning of the fourth quarter was impressive.  Georgia Tech has some outstanding athletes, and they (Troy) matched up well.  You watch these guys, they play hard, they’re tenacious, they’re physical, they have speed, they match up well.  They’re good football players.  This is a great football team, and will pose a great challenge to our team to bounce back and show a little resiliency and the maturity and focus you have to have coming off a tough loss.” 

On the I-Backs
“I think the I-back situation is one where we’re trying to play everyone.  Everyone is contributing.  Everyone is productive.  It’s changing based on what we’re featuring.  We’d like to play everybody, and we’re going to need everybody as we move into conference play.  I think our I-back situation is a good one, and a problem a lot of people would like to have.” 

On the Nebraska secondary vs. USC
“I thought our secondary, in the first half, had some lapses in their play.  In the second half, we tightened up in technique.  I thought the definition wasn’t quite there in the first half.  As we moved along, we made adjustments.  Talking with Phil (Elmassian) and going through the film, we made some good adjustments in the second half.  We tightened it up, where they were playing better technique.  We got our hands on two balls early in the second half.  We had the opportunity to make some plays, and we didn’t make them.  We had some lapses in the first half, and we can get better from that, no question.  We can play better and coach better, and we can get better from that.”

On the offensive gameplan vs. USC
“I think if you’re a running back, you really enjoyed that game.  I think that we had the best plan going into that game that we believed in.  We always are going to call the plays that we feel gives us the best chance to win.  That’s the mode we went into.  That’s the style of play that we wanted to go into the game with, a very physical style of play on offense.  We wanted attack USC with a lot of formations, which we did.  We had unbalanced situations where we were attacking facets of their front.  We were a block or two from having an outstanding run game.  They did a good job as well, to their credit.  I come away encouraged from that.  I looked at the films, and they indicated to me that our players did a good job in technique.  There were a couple errors in technique, things that we could clean up.  I thought there were a couple of good matchups that we had at times and some other times, we got beaten at the point of attack.  We went into the game challenging USC in a very physical manner, and that was our plan.  We felt confident that we could do that, and we stuck to our plan.”

On the status of center Kurt Mann
“He’s still out.  He going to be out this week and hopefully by the time next week rolls around for conference play, we can see where he’s at.  He’s out of the hospital.  He’s home resting right now.”

On the mood of the team
“I’m really encouraged (with the mood).  We had an opportunity to show them the positive plays of the game and the plays that we need to get better at.  We do that for any game.  That’s how we address our team.  We have an opportunity to address the good things we’ve done and the things that we need to improve on.  That’s the way we coach, no matter who the opponent is.  It comes down to making plays and executing under pressure.  We had some lapses in our plays, but there were some really good things, too.  There were dominant efforts at times collectively that I was encouraged by.  When you look back at that game, we had some opportunities to win and to get close or potentially take a lead in the game, but we just didn’t capitalize on field position and we didn’t make the plays when we needed to, and when you play a good team, you have to make those plays.  I think we learned a lot from what we saw on tape yesterday.  We realized as a team yesterday that the only people that can stop us is us.  When we make those errors in our games, we’re hurting ourselves, and it’s more us than anyone else.”

On NU I-back Kenny Wilson
“I think he’s acquired a good feel for what we’re trying to feature him with.  You see his speed outside.  You see his ability to cut the ball from the outside to the inside off the sweep.  He’s a power runner.  He’s physical.  He can make you miss.  He has all those ingredients that you look for in a running back.  The most important ability is to make a defender miss.  What’s most impressive about Kenny is his ability to finish off a run in a physical manner.  When you watch Kenny, you see he has a good lean, his shoulders are down and he’s going to take on the one-on-one battle and confront a defender.  He has ball skills and can protect (the ball).  He’s just getting more and more confidence in what we’re trying to ask him to do.”

On the improvement of Nebraska’s junior-college newcomers
“We hope our junior college guys are ready, guys like Carl Nicks, (Maurice) Purify, (Kenny) Wilson and Andre Jones.  We needed this game to see these guys compete at a high level.  There were some good indicators relative to their performance.”

On Cody Glenn’s role during the USC game
“He fits the scheme well.  I look back at the game, and it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get the amount of touches and reps that he could’ve possibly had.  It was a 50-play game for us on offense, so we didn’t have that luxury at that time.  We have great confidence and belief in Cody, and we’re very confident that he’ll help us as we move on through the schedule.”

On Matt Herian and his comeback
“I’m really happy with it.  The thing that impresses me most about Matt is his ability to block.  He’s being more physical now than what he was a couple of years ago.  He’s really getting after guys, whether it’s play-side or back-side.  He has a good feel for the zone scheme.  He has a good feel for the gap schemes.  He’s really done a good job.  Then, of course, his ability to make plays down the field; we’re trying to put him in positions where we can we can get him loose and free and where he can work the deep cuts, whether it’s the corner cut or the seam cut, or whether it’s working him in the intermediate lanes or the short lanes. So we’re trying to do a lot of things with him.” 

On the difference between Troy’s offense and USC’s offense
“Coach (Larry) Blakeney has made a change in his coordinator down there.  It seems to be a very positive change.  They’re wide-open and more of a spread offense.  They’re in the shotgun and throw it all over the lot.  They use a lot of trickery, with bubble screens, tunnel screens and jailbreak screens.  That’s the variety of spread offense you see.  They’ll throw the ball down the field with all sorts of crossing routes.  You’ll see crossing routes, switching routes, basically what Texas Tech does.  They’re very similar in that regard.  They’ll keep throwing it and throwing it and mix in a zone dive here and there.  They have a lot to their package.  They have a good scheme and good players.  You can see their confidence growing as they compete against higher competition.”

On being within 11 points of USC in the fourth quarter
“I wasn’t surprised at all.  I felt that we were right in it.  All along, we wanted to take this game into the fourth quarter.  We knew it would be a four-quarter game.  That’s the type of team SC is.  They have dominated people in the second half.  I thought we did a good job managing the game and wanting to take it.  We didn’t have that opportunity, we didn’t capitalize on it and the game turned out the way it did.  They were starting to get in a better rhythm in the fourth quarter.  Those last two drives they had ate up quite a bit of clock.  We didn’t maximize the opportunity when we had that last series in the fourth quarter.  It was very tough under those conditions, when you didn’t have the ball and the defense is out there, just trying to make plays and get off the field.  They did a good job finishing the game in the fourth quarter, and that’s something we’re going to focus on as a team.  We talked to our team about finishing better in the second half, especially on that last drive.  That last drive wasn’t to our standards.  We weren’t pleased with how we finished that game on defense.”

On lessons for Nebraska from the USC game
“We learned quite a bit from what occurred.  There’s no question that we’re going to take where we failed and where we faltered and take that into this week.  This is an important week of preparation.  I think the focus of our football is there.  I think the maturity and preparation is there.  I see guys already in our offices on Sunday looking at game tape.  Yesterday, they were in watching film on Troy, so they’re very focused to get back on the winning track.”

On Nebraska taking the next step
“You always want more.  You always hope to do things better.  What happens with a loss is that it never is as bad as it seems.  In your wins, you’re never as great as you appear.  That’s through the history of coaching, you look at the good and the bad and you go out on the practice field and you look to get better.  I don’t think you’re ever satisfied with where you’re at”

On Nebraska and its chances to win the Big 12 North title
“I won’t make that prediction (that we’ll win the North), but that’s our goal.  We’re shooting for that, but we’re all shooting for that goal.  These first four games are interesting because you can see how everyone is doing, and we’re just trying to do our best.  This conference is going to be competitive and challenging.”

On Nebraska’s talent level compared to that of USC
“I don’t know if many teams are as talented as SC.  You’re talking about a team that’s in the most productive, richest, talented recruiting base in the country.  When you look at the guys that are drafted in the NFL, more players are drafted out of the state of California than anywhere in the country.  With that said, there’s quality players, programs and population bases that fit for what they need to have.  They pretty much get the pick of the litter out there.  We’re still going to go out there and compete.  We’ll win a battle here and there, but consistently, they’ve dominated recruiting and they have dominated recruiting out there in California for a long time.  We’re getting there.  We’re making strides and closing the gap.  I feel very confident in where we’re headed this year in our recruiting.  I’m pleased, but we could always get better.”

On beating a team with superior talent
“We went after it the other night (Saturday vs. USC).  It’s easy to second-guess and you try to get better, but you just compete.  Your raise your level of performance and you raise your level of expectation and you compete at a very high level.  That’s the great thing about college football, there’s high periods of aptitude that you see take place in college football.  The way we finished last season was a high swing.  There are swings of aptitude that you see in college football week-in and week-out, season after season, and it’s all about how you improve and progress.  It’s about how you take this week’s performance and go out on the practice field and get the right preparation and focus for the next opponent.  That’s what this game is all about.  That’s what I see in college football.  There’s always a lot of teams that come up, because they can handle it better, and there are teams that can’t handle it.”

On increasing the role of Zac Taylor in the offense
“I think you’ll see plenty of Zac Taylor.  He’s on the field every offensive snap, and he continues to compete at a high level.  He’s a guy who loves the game and is a great competitor.  He’s a team guy, and he’ll do whatever we need him to do.  Whether we throw it 100 times or run it 100 times, he really doesn’t care.  This guy wants to win.  He has the team and its interests at heart, and that’s what he’s concerned about.  I meet with the captains every week, and they want to win.  He wants to be a part of that.”

On the contributions of each offensive player
“We need everybody.  Everyone is an extension of one another, from the line to the quarterback, the quarterback to the running back, the running back to the tight end.  You need everybody.  Every game is different because the matchups are different, the problems are different and the schematics are different. It’s different every game.  It’ll be different this week.”

On the importance of the Troy game
“Every game is important for us.  Every time we take the field, it’s the most important game for us.  That’s how we treat it, week to week.”

On comparing talent
“We compare ourselves for what we have to get done here to the rest of the Big 12 Conference.  It all starts with winning the North, then getting to the Big 12 Championship game, being successful there, and then going on.  We need to get to that first stage.  We’re competing in recruiting to win the North Division and to be in the Big 12 Championship game.  That’s where our focus lies.  We’re not at that level just yet, but we’re working hard to get there.”

On determining playing time and play selection
“I think everything is important in that regard.  We’re trying to give as many players as we can roles and packages of plays.  It just so happened that we didn’t get Cody (Glenn) enough touches in that (USC) game.  It’s tough.  There are 11 players out there.  There’s a lot of backs and we’re trying to manage everybody.  Cody’s a team guy, a class guy.  He’s certainly understands what we’re trying to accomplish.”

On the mindset of the team coming into the Troy game
“We tell our players to take what they learned from the last week into the next week’s preparation.  We don’t get overextended or look too far in the future.  We focus in on Troy University and give them the respect they deserve.  They certainly deserve it, based on what they’ve accomplished in the last few weeks, even though they’ve come up on the short end.  Troy is going to come up here and compete.  They’re gaining confidence from going on the road and playing tight games.  This game will be challenging for us.  That’s what we’re focused on right now, the opponent at hand, and we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”


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