Nebraska Football Weekly Press Conference
Nebraska vs. Southern Miss Game Week
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004

Head Coach Bill Callahan

Opening Statement

“I want to announce the players of the week from the Western Illinois game. First off on offense, we have co-players of the week: Matt Herian and Willie Amos. On defense, Ira Cooper. On special teams, Andrew Shanle showed up really well. Despite our shortcomings in special teams, his play stood out among the pack. We also announced two scout team players of the week: on the defensive side of the ball, Brandon Rigoni. He did an excellent job portraying the look we were going to see against Western Illinois. On the offensive side of the ball, Joey Ganz, the quarterback from Stagg High School in Chicago. He did an excellent job portraying Western Illinois’ quarterback during the week. I just want to commend those players on a job well done.

 

Looking at Southern Mississippi, I am really impressed. I am very impressed with their ability to play championship-caliber football. I looked extensively at their defense, and the thing that just jumps out at you is the way that they’re able to play so many different fronts and really give you a pro-style type agenda. I say that because they can get in and out of an odd front to an even front to a nickel front. They give you a lot of stuff in terms of stunts and blitzes, so we’re going to have our hands full on Saturday. It will be quite a challenge for our team, a huge test for our offense. Conversely on the offensive side, they’re very impressive offensively. They’ve got a lot of players returning, they know how to move the ball. They’re older, they’re a more mature group right now, and they seem to be getting into a rhythm as you’ve watched them last year late in the year. Their special teams show you so many different alignments, and they cause you to really hone in on your preparation to the extent that they could come up with a surprise or gimmick at any time.

 

When you enter games like this, for them, it will be their opener, and we really don’t know what to expect besides what we see on film from a year ago. It will be one of those challenges where you’ve got to be ready for the unexpected. But our players are excited. Talking to our team Sunday, and yesterday the players who came in, they’re excited. They know what type of team this is. They command your respect, and they command your attention because they’re a very sound, fundamental defense and offense. They have tremendous success and tradition down there, and from my reading, the history shows that they’ll take on anybody anywhere. They came in here a few years ago and evidently gave Nebraska a heck of a time, so it’ll be interesting to see as we get prepared for this contest with Southern Miss.”

 

On challenges for Nebraska’s quarterback against Southern Miss

“They’re one of the few teams that can take their linebackers and extend them on the line of scrimmage and really give you a full house look. They do a lot of things where they’ll try to blitz the A gap. They’ll bring them up and show their intent to blitz. They’ll come right up on the line of scrimmage and do that. They’ll also overload you on the weak side and the strong side, so they have a full repertoire of things that you’ve got to manage in terms of your protection plan. So we’ve got to do a great job setting the protection plan, making sure that we are well protected and that we certainly give Joe the necessary options and tools to win.”

 

On Southern Miss linebackers

“Their front is the standout group on the entire team when you watch their front seven on defense. Like Jay (Norvell) was talking about earlier, they’re very mobile, they’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re physical. They’ve got good knowledge of their scheme. It’s excellent structure. Their defensive coordinator was ranked as one of the top assistants in the country last year, and again, they’ve got good history. He’s been there for quite some time, and they’ve had tremendous success in their structure. They’re going to feature their players a lot of different ways, whether they continue the blitz or whether they overload. They certainly don’t need to; they could sit there and play vanilla defense and be just as good as anybody. I’ve got to compliment them; they’re really a heck of a team on that side of the ball.”

 

On improvement at center and other positions

“Well, we’ve got to get better. That’s the number one thing. We’ve got to improve this week, and we’ve got to improve at that position (center) as well as every position on this team. It’s a challenge now that we’ve got one game under our belt to make the necessary corrections, to eliminate the mental errors that we have in our game that was exposed on Saturday night. We are by no means satisfied with where we are. We’re happy that we got off to a good start like we did, but we know there’s plenty of work to be done. Going through the film session with the players, it’s pretty obvious that there were a lot of yards, a lot of possessions left on the field, so there’s a great deal of improvement that we’ve got to make coming into Southern Miss.”

 

On the atmosphere at Saturday’s season opener

“The atmosphere was outstanding. How can you not enjoy yourself in this type of environment and atmosphere? We’re close to 80,000 people. They loyalty, like I’ve said on many occasions is unparalleled. And you can say that to a recruit, and you can promote that in a conversation with them, but until they’re here, until they witness that and go through the reception line at the beginning of the game when the team came off the bus, and until they go through the Tunnel Walk, until they go out into the Sea of Red and they feel what’s going on, they feel the emotions of our fans and the support and the loyalty, there’s no place like it. And I can see why they call it that.

 

They understand that it’s important here, that it’s our lifeblood, that everything about Nebraska centers around football, and it’s great to see them come in on their official visits. Not only did they get their questions answered from the football side of it, but academically as well. It was a great weekend.”

On his reaction to the atmosphere Saturday night

“It was great. I enjoyed it. I think I locked up my jaw a little bit going out the gate, but that’s alright. But it’s not about me going out there, it’s about our players. I always draw back and look at their focus. It was great to see their emotion. There’s not much that needed to be said before the start of the game. I walked in the locker room, said a couple of words, and I thought they were going to knock the doors down. The emotion was good, and the energy level was very high. We’ve got to duplicate that this week.” 
 

On motion shifting

“I felt very confident that we were disciplined in our movement and what we were doing prior to the snap. I wanted to make sure that we executed, that we blocked, we tackled, we threw, we caught, we don’t turn the ball over – that was my concern. There’s a lot of window dressing that goes on prior to the snap, and like I said, we try to create some mismatches with that type of shifting. Of course there’s an opportunity to get a Willie Amos on a strong safety with that one shift that we got. We double-moved him, and obviously we were able to connect on that, but we had a holding call that brought us back. Those types of things are things that we’re trying to get accomplished with the shift package.”
 

On clear communication in the line of scrimmage

“We feel that the play call handles that, and a lot of that has to be adjusted with the communication up front or with the potential of an audible if it’s not the right play. We’re not of the philosophy of wasting plays. If there is a certain situation that requires a quarterback to audible out, he’s educated to do that. We certainly don’t want to run a play into a defense that we can’t block, so we’re always conscious of that. We’ll always be audible-ready in that respect.” 
 

On the crowd reaction to the offense shifting in the first play

“I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t hear a word, I was focusing on the next call and the next situation, but movement is a part of this package. You’re trying to create as many mismatches and trying to diffuse a lot of what people are attempting to do.”

 

On Joe Dailey and turnovers in the first game

“During the course of practice, you’re going to have some problems in terms of turnovers, and you learn from those. Those are great learning situations. Like we tell Joe, you’re the mailman here, and you have to deliver the mail to all these different houses. And Joe wants to go to the mansion all the time, but we’d like for Joe to go down to the low-rent district and check it down to the backs. Like (running backs coach) Randy Jordan says, we’re like 7-Eleven; we’re open all night and all day, so we need to check down.

 

Joe’s capable of doing that. He’s really progressed in a way that he’s coming along. Like I said the other night, he handled everything that we gave him – all the verbage, the mechanics of getting in and out of the huddle, all the reading he does through the wristbands, and the communication from the sideline. He’s really done an excellent job of that. But let’s put it in perspective; he’s still a sophomore, and he’s trying to run a pro system at a sophomore level. He’s making tremendous strides, and he’ll be that far ahead a year from now, two years ahead in the game. But at this point he’s doing terrific, and he’s growing. There’s going to be some error, and he’s going to take some calculated risks, but the main thing is that he learns that a part of this system is vision, seeing the field, and seeing what his options are, and making decisions as quickly and as rapidly as he can with patience and poise.

 

And then lastly, the big thing we talk to Joe constantly about is his footwork. And I know for the fans out there, you’re saying, well, what does footwork have to do with this? Footwork is essential for timing, and if you’re not in tune, and if you’re not on the same page as your receiver is, your timing is going to get thrown off. It’s important for Joe to learn that he has to set his feet, spit the ball out as quickly as he can, and look for another down. And look for another day, for that matter. So we’re trying to educate him in that respect of how to manage the game, and sometimes there are some calculated risks. I don’t want to take away his play-making ability, so like I said Saturday night, it’s a very fine line when you get out of the pocket, and you’re trying to make a play down the field, as long as it’s open, I’m OK with it. But I think when you’re forcing throws on the move and you don’t see everything, then you’ve got to answer to that. He’s very honest about that, and he sees his error and he’ll certainly rectify it.”

 

On the interceptions

“Well, I’m never happy about throwing interceptions, don’t misconstrue that point. I think it’s a learning experience, but, no, the number one priority of the quarterback here is not to turn the ball over. Ball security is of the utmost importance any time you take the field. That’s our number one goal as an offense – not to turn the ball over, whether it’s decision making at the quarterback position, or ball security at the receiver or ball carrier position. It’s vital, it’s a must. And that’s our number one goal here, is win the turnover battle. When we don’t win that, we do raise concern, and we do address it.”

 

On the I-back position

“There were a couple of pickups in that game where the back inserted up in the B gap and took on the safety that was blitzing and flushed him up. I thought it was a good inside-out position on the safeties and on the backers, so I was pleased. It seemed as though the blitzes that we got last week won’t be the same type of blitzes that we’re going to get this week. I say that because I thought the safeties that came in the Western Illinois game that blitzed came from more depth. I think these safeties and these corners and these backers that are going to blitz in this game are going to be much closer, much more stacked, and more show in their intent. We’re going to have to step up and engage it immediately.”

 

On Tierre Green at the No. 2 I-back spot

“He’s done a lot of things, and I don’t know if that No. 2 spot is defined or not. Obviously Cory (Ross) is getting the bulk of the work, but they all share the responsibility and the contribution of running the football and protecting and running routes. We’re going to need everybody. Tierre was one of those players, as Coach Norvell was talking about, who does have speed, and you do like to get him on the perimeter so he can utilize it. That’s not to say he’s not a functional back inside as well. All you need to do is go back and look at the inside zone run that he ran for a touchdown. I think he’s very capable of being a complete back in terms of his running ability.” 
 

On the special teams

“The No. 1 concern, again, goes back to handling the ball and making those fielding decisions that are so critical and vital to your field position and to your defense and offense. That’s a key area, and it’s important that we come out today and really focus in on securing the ball and doing the right things we need to do in the return game. The communication wasn’t as good as it should have been, and it wasn’t our best, but certainly we can learn from that and get better.

 

The coverage unit – we need to get better. I look at our kickoff coverage, and I know we’re going to get tested by two outstanding returners from Southern Miss. They’re highly-ranked coming out of last season, and they’ll provide that challenge for us again this week. We’ve got to do a great job. I know our kids will be challenged. I feel that in Coach Busch, I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to coach special teams and the players that we’ve plugged into those positions to play. I feel confident that they’ll get rectified, but talk is cheap right now. We’ve got to go out and do it.”

 

On special teams around the country early in the season

“Special teams in that first game are really critical. A lot of games can come down to special teams in the opener. This weekend will be no different. It’s important that we do a great job covering all situations, working hard, focusing and preparing for the unexpected because they can make the difference.

 

I look back a year or two ago to the opening game of Buffalo and the New York Jets where the kickoff return, the kickoff coverage, those two facets of play made the difference. There’s nothing more disappointing when your offense scores, and they answer the score with a kickoff return. It takes that momentum away. When a team answers a score with a score, it puts them right back in the hunt, right back in the game. The tide and the momentum can shift so quickly, and all that work you do driving the ball down the field for eight, 10, 12 plays really can get wiped out with one score or one return. I convey that to our players, and they understand. They’re good football players here. They know the importance of special teams and the value that it has on winning games.”

 

On calling plays without a quarterback headset like in the NFL

“I hate it. If I have anything to say in college football, hopefully we can get a quarterback walkie-talkie unit going. That may cost a little bit more money, so I’m not sure that the athletic directors will be happy about that, but I just think it’s great for the game. I think that you have young people playing this game, the fans want to enjoy it; they want to see a great product out there. Why not eliminate any potential for error that could happen through a communication error? I find that you can do more things, and your offense can open up more, if you have that type of system where you’re in constant communication with the play call. I also think it’s a calming effect for your quarterback. You can talk to him while he’s out on the field just like you are during the course of the week. I see some benefits, but I don’t know if that’s in the nature of college football.

 

I’ve adapted well through it. I really enjoy going through the process. It’s a little more tedious, and you have to be a little more organized, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

 

On instant replay

“I’m used to it. I’m very familiar and accustomed to that style of play. I don’t know if the fans would appreciate it. It does slow the game down. I did happen to see that play of Wisconsin’s, and Barry (Alvarez) did point out that it did slow the game down considerably. It took momentum right out of Wisconsin’s offense, and I do agree with that. If you’re going to do it, the procedure’s got to be quick. I know it’s been sped up in the National Football League, and it’s still time-consuming. There’s value to it, obviously, but it’s also going to take away from the game a little bit. It’s going to take away the momentum of the team. A lot of those errors – I think it’s a 50/50 percentage; I’m not certain on that statistic, but my general instinct tells me that only about half of those calls get reversed anyhow.”

 

On scripting plays

“We always do it. That’s our custom, that’s our tradition, that’s what we’ve always done, so we’re going to continue to script our openers. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but it does give you a good starting point. It gives you a reference point to how you’re going to adjust during the course of the game. I really think it allows you to probe a defense and allows you to really get a feel for what they’re trying to do and how they’re going to come out to attack you.”

 

On seeing the team in a live game

“I felt very confident coming in with this team on Saturday night. I love playing under the lights. I thought it was a great atmosphere. College football is played during the day, early in the morning this week, played at night, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy playing at night, especially early in the year.”

 

On staying on script for the plays

“We got all of them called, and we didn’t deviate very much. We did call everything that was on the script. If we have a script breaker, we will certainly come back to the other plays that are listed. We’re really trying to get everybody involved early on in the game and try to build some confidence in the play selection and the execution of what we’re trying to get accomplished.”

 

On receiver Willie Amos

“I think as you watch him Saturday night, he gives you a big play threat. He has the ability to score touchdowns from a variety of alignments and positions, he can run the vertical game, and he can work you on the double move. He’s got the speed and the agility to make that big play. The big thing about Willie is that he continues to get better. He’s an unselfish guy, he’s a great guy to be around, and he’s a fun guy to be around in practice. He’s got tremendous assets. He does have big-time speed, and when you’ve got that type of speed, you’ve got to find ways to utilize it.”

Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove
On what areas need improvement
"We have to refine some of our techniques. We have to improve our man coverage techniques and some of our run fits. We just have to try and improve on everything we did last week, basically."

On creating turnovers

"We have a minimum of three turnovers we want to get a game. Turnovers can change a game and we were fortunate to get five last Saturday. That’s very hard to do, but I was very pleased with the results that we had."

On having already played a game
"Most teams make their most improvement from their first to their second game, so we’re very fortunate. We’re able to clean up a lot of things. I was very pleased with our tackling for a first game. I think we only missed a couple tackles for the whole game and that is unusual for a first game, so I’m very pleased with that. You make some big improvements from that first to second game in all areas."

On defensive philosophy with a quick-strike offense
"Really the West Coast Offense is a ball-control offense. A lot of times last Saturday we scored very quickly and were back on the field. We needed all the preparation we could get in that game situation, so it was good in that way. We played over 70 snaps and it very easily could have been in the 40s, but the way the game went it worked out in our favor to get those extra snaps."

On Chad Sievers’ status for this weekend
"He should be ready to go. Time will tell the rest of the week, but we expect him to be ready to go."

On Southern Miss’ offense
"They have the ability to run the option at any time, so we’re going to have to work hard on the option this week. They have big, tall, physical receivers and their skill level is very good. The quarterback is a winner and has a very good arm. It will be a tremendous challenge for us this week."

On Ira Cooper’s performance against Western Illinois
"I was very pleased, but I expect that of Cooper. He’s been one of our most improved players on defense since spring ball, and certainly in fall camp he was one of our most improved guys. I was pleased with his performance, and I was very happy for him to have that type of game. He’s a very physical player. He’s a contact player and when you hit like he does, he’s going to create turnovers by himself with the contact that he has on ball carriers. He did a lot of things well and there are very few things that he needs to get corrected. He played the ball well in zone coverage and his man coverage techniques were good. He needs to improve some of his blitz techniques, but that will come. He played two positions in the game, he’s been playing two, and he will play two for the rest of the season. At this time, he’s a top-three linebacker for us and is playing like a starter. He’ll need to continue to learn two positions and fortunately he is a real sharp guy and he picks things up very well."

On pressure the defense was able to generate against Western Illinois
"We were switching things up a little bit with our pressures. We probably pressured more than we intended too. Situations dictate certain things and we probably did a little bit more than we normally would have. But that’s a pretty good defensive line and when we get our speed guys on the field, it puts more pressure on an offensive line."

On responding after offensive turnovers against Western Illinois
"Those sudden-change situations and the situations we were put in, I think those are the truest test of the character of a defense. When you’re put in those situations and respond the way we responded, I’m very pleased."

On punt returns
"We absolutely have to correct the problems we had and we will. Cory Ross is our punt returner and we wanted to get some other guys work, which we were able to do. Kade [Pittman] actually had some good returns. A couple of them need to be corrected. I think he lost the ball on the one he muffed and on the other one I think he turned his shoulders and didn’t stay square on the ball and didn’t watch it all the way in. Those are things we work on every day and we have to continue to work on them to improve them."

On kickoff coverage
"Some of our guys were out of position and we need to correct that."

Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell
Opening Statement
"There are three areas we were really pleased with. The first was our first-down efficiency. We averaged 7.97 yards on first down. We had a lot of explosive plays, which we really challenged our guys to do, and we had 16 plays of 15 yards or more—nine in the run game and seven in the pass game. The third area was our red zone efficiency. That was an area we were really pleased with. We were 6-for-6 in that area and that’s something we really challenged our guys to work hard on in the offseason and spring football and training camp, so we were pleased to see that.

"The areas that we have to shore up are, No. 1, the turnovers, which is obvious. Our No. 1 goal offensively is to secure the football and we didn’t accomplish that last weekend. Our tempo faded a little bit in the second quarter. We came out fast and we challenged our guys to do so, but we faded a little bit and we’ve got to continue to be consistent with our tempo throughout the game. Then we had a couple penalties that hurt us. One put us in a backed-up situation and another took away a big play, a touchdown to Willie Amos. Those are some areas that we really have to shore up moving into this second game."

On Quarterback Joe Dailey’s performance
"He was very, very sharp early and focused. I think all of our guys were so ready to play after preparing for so long, and I think the air just kind of went out of our sails a little in the second quarter. Joe was really sharp in the first quarter and a half and he lost his focus a little bit and got a little careless with the ball. I think he’ll tell you those are things that he really has to be conscious of and just get back to his fundamentals and the things he’s worked on all offseason. When he does that, I think he’s very efficient."

On Dailey looking off defenders
"Every play is its own entity. He has different reads on every play and on deeper routes we try to get him to look people off because you have to throw the ball further down the field. He has specific reads on every play and each play is different. We teach each play specifically and take repetitions that way so he learns them individually. We have a lot of plays so he has a lot to decipher. When he gets off that progression read is when he has problems. The biggest thing a quarterback has to do is stay disciplined because that’s when you don’t get into trouble. When you stay disciplined, you can avoid bad plays."

On rotating running backs against Southern Miss
"We think we have good backs. David [Horne] wasn’t in this game, but our three backs that played were really a positive. The rushing yardage that we were able to obtain and the real positive performance by Cory [Ross] and Tierre [Green] and then Brandon [Jackson] were all positives. We really feel we’re going to have to rotate those backs because we’re going to be by committee and they each give us different strengths. I think it’s a great changeup when you bring Tierre into the game with his speed and Brandon’s a little bit more physical and that’s something different too. By committee, that’s what [Running Backs Coach Randy] Jordan has always talked about. We really need to get what we need out of that whole group of guys by rotating them."

On Southern Miss’ defense
"They are an athletic group and they run to the ball. They give you a variety of different looks and they’ve got a great tradition of playing really solid defense. They really tie you down. You really have to play physical against these guys, you have to be assignment sound and you have to stay on top of your fundamentals and that will be our challenge this week. They are a challenging group and they are as athletic of a group as we’ll play all year. You really have to be on top of your game when you play this football team."

On the benefits of having already played a game
"I always think it’s an advantage if you play. It’s a little bit of a disadvantage that we haven’t seen them play this year, but they have basically the same coaches. They have some new starters on defense, but we’ve gotten some good looks at them from last year’s tapes and we have a pretty good idea of their schemes. Like every team, in the offseason you study new things, and I’m sure they’ll have some new things in their package this weekend for us and we’ll do our best to prepare for what we might see from them."

Nebraska Player Quotes

Nebraska Football Weekly Press Conference

Nebraska vs. Southern Miss Game Week

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004

 

Defensive End Jay Moore

On last week’s win over Western Illinois

I think we came out with at lot of confidence, being able to get five turnovers. Our goal was originally three, but we got five. There’s always that feeling of not knowing what we’re capable of doing yet. But we have a lot more confidence knowing that we can get to the quarterback like we need to, and we can get a lot of turnovers like we did last year.

 

On his role on defense

I feel like a starter, even though I’m not listed as number one. With the nickel we bring in and the rotation we have in the game with Benard (Thomas) and I, we’re rotating every series. We basically both got equal plays. I look at myself as being a starter, too, that can come in in different situations and help out.

 

On Southern Miss. being the first real big test

I know Western Illinois is a darn good football team, but Southern Miss is coming off a real good year last year, and they have some good returning players on that offense. I know their offensive line has some good returning talent and are going to give us a real good challenge. So, we’re going to have to step it up this week an extra level in practice, because they’re going to come in here ready and confident. It’s their first game this year, so I know they’re going to be ready to play some football.

 

On advantages of having played a game

I think it is an advantage because we have the ability to see what we can do and see how we can handle different situations. I know throughout the game last Saturday, we had a lot of sudden changes. We feel confident that we can handle lots of different situations, whether it comes off turnover or special teams.

 

On the Southern Miss offense

Offensively, I know they have a good quarterback coming back from last year. On their offensive line, they’re returning a lot. I know their right tackle, which I’ll be going against, was all-conference last year. Their quarterback lost his job, ended up coming back strong. We know they have the capabilities of being a really good football team, so we’re really going to have to prepare this week.

 

On playing in his first game in quite some time

It felt great, because I’ve been held out of the competition of a game for a while. I had a little bit of the jitters, but I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be. I felt really excited to get out there. I had a lot of energy and my ankle felt good. I was just ready to get out there and hit some other guys besides our own team. It felt amazing to just get out there with our fans and be a part of that great defense we have here.

 

The last game I played in was the state Shrine game, but the last real game I played in was in high school in 2001, my senior year.

 

On the quickness of NU’s offensive drives

As long as they’re putting points up on the board, that’s fine by me. That takes a lot of pressure off of us, because we can apply a lot more pressure to the offense with some gambles and chances. Long drives, short drives, as long as we’re putting points on the board, I’m happy.

 

On what goes through his mind when the defense is in a bad spot

The main thing is applying pressure on the offensive line. Stopping that run, holding the line off our linebackers. Pushing back the line of scrimmage really stops the momentum and that clears it up for our linebackers to come up and make the play.

 

We were fortunate to get some turnovers when they got in there close. A fumble recovery, Coop’s (Ira Cooper) pick. We applied the pressure right there. When they scored, we tried to apply more pressure, but sometimes things just don’t work out.

 

On his concern over the special teams’ problems

I don’t have much concern. I know this week during practice we’ll get those kinks worked out.

 

Quarterback Joe Dailey

On evaluating his own performance last weekend

I played pretty well in the first half. The second half, I got excited. Pre-snap beats started to change a little, so it made things a little difficult for me. Overall, I think I did well. It’s just a matter of making adjustments during halftime.

 

On what he learned during the first game

Practice is everything. Practice is where you develop your tempo, where you get everything done. We were in such great shape that it made everything so simple when we got out there.

 

On Coach Callahan’s mailman analogy regarding Dailey

I think he’s absolutely right. Sometimes I want to go up top a lot, because I see it and I feel I can make that throw, but at the same time I’ve got to be conservative, follow the structure that’s outlined, hit my check downs and let them (receivers) run with the ball.

 

On what he remembers about Southern Miss last year

These guys are going to come at us from all angles, just like Western Illinois. We didn’t know really what to expect from them, but we made adjustments. These guys will come at us from all angles. They have big guys up front, some fast guys at the linebacker position and some young guys at the defensive back position. What I took from last year is that these guys love to play and they’re about speed. We’re going to have to defend the speed.

 

I think they saw what happened in the second half (last week) and they’ll try to give me different looks, but I promise to be well prepared for that.

 

To be honest, I totally forgot about (last year’s game). I had to think back the other day about what it was like. It was in a hostile environment, so when they come down to our place this year it’ll be a little different. I’m excited about it.

 

On the advantages of having already played a game

We got all of the jitters out. They’re going to come out fresh in an environment they haven’t been in before. It’s going to be something for them to come out and see all of the red in the crowd and see us coming out shifting, putting new motions in. It’s going to be exciting for us and unique to watch how they handle it and adjust.

 

On the performance of the running backs last weekend

It’s expected of these guys. They were all highly ranked guys coming out of high school, and when you watch them in practice they make all these great plays. When they get out in the game, we expect them to do that. It’s expected of all of us on offense.

 

On the Southern Miss linebackers

I’m going to treat these guys like I treat everyone else. You have to watch these guys like you have to watch everyone else. They’re going to be the ones that determine whether I throw the hot route or not. I’m going to approach this game like I approach every other game and practice, just be very focused and detail oriented.

 

On his reading of the Western Illinois defense

I think it went well, actually. I followed my principles and everything well. I’m excited about this week, because it’s going to enhance my knowledge of the game and allow me to see things better.

 

On his interceptions last weekend

They’re going to happen, bad balls, tipped balls. I’m not glad they happened, but they did. You learn from every mistake that you make.

 

On the completion percentage he aims for

I aim to complete every pass I throw.

 

On center Kurt Mann’s performance

I didn’t get sacked at all. I came away scott-free the other day, so I was excited to see that I didn’t get touched.

 

On the amount of offense Nebraska used from its playbook vs. Western Illinois

Very limited. There’s so much more to it. It’s very in-depth. A lot more goes into it, and you’ll see that over the course of the season.

 

On his business-like demeanor

I look at it the same way Coach Callahan and everyone else does. We’ve got to do a good job here in order to get where we want to go. You can’t be too high or too low. You’ve got to be very focused, very driven. That’s the way I approach this game, the way I approach everything I do in life. We haven’t even started yet. It’s the very tip of the iceberg. We have a lot more to do, a lot more to attack.

  

Stewart Bradley

On the defense’s tackling performance

I think that we did a pretty good job. I think we can definitely improve. It’s hard coming from camp, where you have to tone down the full scrimmages. We missed a couple key tackles, but that will be cleaned up this week, I think.

 

On Ira Cooper’s performance

I was really impressed with Coop. He stepped in and made a lot of big plays. Things were going his way most of the night.

 

On the Southern Miss offense

They have a really good quarterback coming back from last year. They had a big winning streak at the end of last season. He wasn’t the quarterback that played against us, but he stepped in. He’s experienced, he’s a good quarterback. They have some good tight ends and a pretty good line coming back. So there’s skill and speed pretty much all over the field. They’re going to be a really good challenge for us.

 

On if the defense remembers how to defend the option

We’ve gone over it in camp. We haven’t worked on it a ton, but I think we’ll be prepared.

 

Advantage of having already played a game

I think when you play a game, some wrinkles come out that you need to work on, which is important. But I think also, in your first game, you have a little extra juice for the season opener. I don’t know if its going to be a huge advantage for us, but we’ll see how it plays out.

 

Brandon Koch

On whether Southern Miss will offer a larger challenge than Western Illinois

Absolutely. Southern Miss is definitely going to be a bigger challenge for us. They have a great defense. They do a lot of different things, have a lot of different fronts. It’s going to be plenty for the offense to study and pick up this week.

 

On the importance of protecting Dailey

We don’t want Joe to get touched. That’s our goal—no sacks, nothing like that. We want to keep Joe healthy. As linemen, that’s a big responsibility for us and something we take very serious.

 

On differences in defensive fronts from last year to Saturday’s game

It was definitely different. In past years there were eight, nine guys stacked in the box. There were just so many people in a small area. In the game the offense allowed us to spread the defense out all over. That helps us out as an offense. It keeps the defense guessing and on its heels. We were passing and running the ball effectively, and that helps.

 

On Dailey’s demeanor in the huddle

Joe’s real calm, actually. He’ll talk to us if he thinks he needs to say anything extra. Joe’s real calm and collected and keeps his focus. He does a good job.

 

On advantages of having already played a game

I think it is an advantage. Once you get on the field, then you can look at it on tape. There are little things you definitely need to work on and things that show up that need to be addressed. Just getting a feel for the speed of the game is huge, too.

 

On the affect of motion on the defense

In the game Saturday, there seemed to be a lot of confusion. They were having to shift and change their strength.  They had plenty to talk about on the defensive side, I think. You feel like you kind of have an edge. They’re worrying about where they’re going to get lined up and positions they need to do. We’re just reading what they do and are ready to fire off the ball.

 

On Greg Austin seeing action

It’s been good to see Greg get back out there. He had a tough road back and he’s fought through it and done a great job. He had a good fall camp and got into a game and did a great job. I think it’s tremendous what Greg did.

 

On how the offensive line grades its performance

I’m not sure if Coach keeps track of those (pancake blocks) right now or not. We focus our grades more on technique and assignments and whether we finish.