Mike Riley

Opening statement:

"OK, obviously very disappointed in the loss and you know we started off with a situation where you absolutely can't have against Wisconsin. We, you know, had an interception for a touchdown for them after a drive that was pretty well done. So it was something I thought our team had a little bit better resilience than when that has happened before, which I appreciated. But, those things against a team like that that's pretty methodical and eventually they're being as physical as they are, we just gave them too many opportunities and not really taking advantage of ours to put some points on the board. When we gave them that touchdown and then, you know, this was going to, at that point, first, second, and third quarters real tight game we give them that touchdown and then don't get that field goal, you know, those were parts in there that you just can't be doing that against Wisconsin. So, and then that put us in that predicament where they controlled a good part of the fourth quarter and before that even. I think we had moved the ball decently at halftime and had pretty good totals but not much to show for it. And then I think we only had the ball for one series in the third quarter, I might be wrong. Not much more than that."

The last three drives:

"We pick and pin them, too. We got in the position where we tied it up, pinned them I think they had the ball what on the 9? Something like that, inside the 10. A great opportunity for us but they very mechanically, methodically, physically - what did they throw, one ball on that drive? On the third down-conversion ball. So that's what happened. They controlled the ball on the ground."

Tanner Lee and the offense:

"You know there were parts of it that, for a while in the ballgame, we were doing what we kind of...except for giving them the touchdown,which was a pretty strange looking play. Devine (Ozigbo) just didn't get his head around quickly enough and Tanner (Lee) felt the ball looked OK. We did parts of what we needed to do to have a recipe for winning that game. I don't think Tanner (Lee) got sacked, am I right about that? I don't think he got sacked and I think we ran OK, not consistently enough, but our production wasn't bad. I think Devine (Ozigbo) had another 100-yard day. So, in that only.. I'm not saying that in total, but in parts of the game that was what we thought we had to do. We had to protect Tanner (Lee) and we had to run the ball effectively. We didn't expect some of the other parts."

The play of Joshua Kalu:

"Well you know we did, somewhere in there, we ran into injury problems with (Antonio) Reed. And (Antonio) Reed did not finish the game. He's got... we will be able to tell you more over the next couple of days. He hurt his knee. I don't think he structurally hurt it, I think it was bruised."

The defense:

"As you watch the game from the boundary there, it looked like we were holding it together there OK for a time. And they’re persistent and they're powerful, a big, powerful back is good. We knew all those things. You know, I think that probably the key point in the game was their response to us making the play to tie the game. Our pick six, their response to that was pretty interesting and it was very physical."

How close the team is to playing at Wisconsin's level:

"You know I think that... you know, we don't have to be carbon copies but recipe-wise, there are definitely similarities. Obviously, Paul and I kind of grew up in this thing together and, you know what, I think we... I think with what we're doing strategically with our team, as we put it together. See we have to live in a world that is day by day but think oftentimes kind of ahead of what that big picture and good way will look like, too, and establishing some of those things. So, you know the proof will only prove when we get there how long we'll take but I feel good about where we're going. We have definitely made some progress in some of those areas. We made progress within this season with some individuals running the ball, with what we've done in protection, with what we're doing with our passing game. And what we're, almost as importantly, what we're not trying to do. We're being very thoughtful and selective with that so we're making some progress. It wasn't good enough progress against that team that was ready, that is really ready to do what they do real well. I mean their run-play action is really good. I thought we started doing a good job on the bootlegs. We never really gave up any big hits, throwing the football which they usually get in ball games, big play actions. Our biggest issue, obviously, was the big big run. That was right before the halftime. That, I thought, was a huge play in the game. And then the other one was their consistency with the run in that fourth quarter which was, you know I don't have to explain that to anybody. You know what that looked like."

On junior I-Back Mikale Wilbon:

“Mikale possibly could’ve played in a real emergency-type mode situation, but we never got to that where I thought about playing him. When you have a guy like that that gets back and might be OK on friday afternoon, if you can get by without playing him, he’s going to be better off for it and so will your team probably.”

The factors in the first half that caused Nebraska to punt:

“I think that that 40 to 33 is my gray area right in there, and a lot of times at his four down, I did not feel great about giving them any kind of short field at the time, however. So, I decided to punt.”

The pick-6 in the first quarter:

“I don’t know that yet in a practice or a game that we’ve incompleted that ball, let alone throw a pick six on it off of a top of a head, it’s a pretty ridiculous play really.”

How senior defensive back Chris Jones feels after playing in the game:

“You know what, I’m going to have to delay that response, I haven’t talked to Chris. I’ve been able to assess overall the play, I know that our wide receivers out in space weren’t challenged a lot today and there weren’t a lot of balls out there. Where our corners were more often challenged was condensed formations and making them tackle, so we’ll have to see how that goes.”

What Riley expected from Wisconsin after the Huskers’ pick six touchdown:

“I knew there were two things coming, one of them was going to be the run, and the other one was going to be a play-action or probably, to keep the quarterback more out of harm’s way, a bootleg, it would make it simple. But he opted for just flat out running the ball.”

What happened with the Huskers’ run defense:

“It looked to me like we lost some spots, when they’re running the power play, we lost some force on the edge, we were getting engulfed, and they were actually making our secondary tackle by bouncing that ball on the corner and forcing- and actually using the wide receiver to block the safety, and a lot of times, forcing the corner to try to have to tackle. So we probably with our front need to force that edge and hold that a little bit better than we did for sure.”

On redshirt freshman wide receiver JD Spielman:

“JD, I’m excited about JD, I think for a guy that would’ve played more runner and DB in high school and is a redshirt freshman, he doesn’t blink, he’s a real competitor, he’s going to get better and better as he understands how to play in that slot and the things that he can do in that slot. Pretty close to having a few other plays tonight, we threw him a corner in the end zone, that I think that he’ll come up with eventually. We threw him an inside fade a little bit later in the game, I think he’ll come up with that play. He’s a tough kid, he’s smart, he’s really a great guy to have on our team. And he’s a- I’ve had all different kinds of slot backs, but his prototype is one that can really, I think, be exciting in there.”

Offensive lineman Jerald Foster

The pass protection:

“I feel like we had a good plan coming into it. We had our ups and downs, but definitely a good plan. It worked out well for us in the sense of keeping Tanner up. Hopefully we will be able to take the pieces we learned from this game and move forward.”

What was going through the mind of the offense after the pick-6:

“We have to respond. It being our fourth one that we’ve had, I feel like we definitely learn how to respond better. Coming out and being just able to, we score, they score kind of deal, cancelling out points like that. I really do love how we come out though. I feel like every single game we’ve come out with a good fire to our game and unfortunately a couple times there have been the interceptions, but we definitely come out strong, and I’m happy to see the offense keeping that part of the game. I feel like we’ve learned and we’re still learning from our faults. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and we’ll be able to take everything we’ve learned, all of our success, because I feel like we’ve had a lot of success in our passing game and our running game as well. Taking our success from that is something we’re going to look forward to.”

Bbeing off the field for most of the third quarter:

“It’s simple to say, just watching another unit playing instead of you. Just waiting for your turn. It’s never easy being on the sideline hoping that somebody else does something spectacular, when you want to do something spectacular. Being on the sideline is never easy. It’s always hard staying on the sideline, but that’s any football player’s mindset. You always want to be out there, always wanting to be the one making plays, doing the big impact plays of the game. Standing on the sideline, I believe in our defense, I believe that they’re going to take care of what they need to, so again you have to be able to trust your whole team. I trust my defense they do what they need to do all the time. Whatever is needed for us to get a win, I’m cool with, but yeah it was hard.”

If Nebraska’s offensive identity wants to be similar to Wisconsin’s:

“I don’t want to be Wisconsin. I’m Nebraska if that’s simple enough to say. I don’t want to be them. I believe in what we have with our quarterback. He’s a gunslinger, in the sense of him being able to do what he does I don’t want us to be running the ball the whole time. We have great backs, definitely, but being able to have two parts of the game, being able to run it, being able to pass it at the same time is why you become an A list team. I’m not saying Wisconsin’s not, that’s their identity, that’s something they stick to, but what we’re going to stick to is what we’ve had good success with, which is being able to run the ball on the downs we need to run it and trust ourselves in Tanner so he’ll be able to do the big things in the pocket.”

The message to team after good drives and fluke plays:

“We’re all a team, so I can’t count myself out of that. Us not being able to finish is a team effort that’s something that we all need to look at as a squad, and understand that if we don’t get these points, the points that we leave out there, that’s really what’s going to give the team that handicap. Just moving forward we’re going to need to figure out just how to get all the points that are looking to be ours.”

On Devine Ozigbo:

“We have a back in Devine that runs hard every single drive, and every single play. I really don’t think we changed up our game. We played our game, trying to be the most physical team out there. Coach Cav was preaching this whole week that after contact we need to secure our blocks and things like that. With Wisconsin, they’re the 3-4 team that they are what you have to understand is that it’s key and read, that’s the kind of defensive line that you would be, just being able to keep your blocks is how you are going to be able to make the holes and get it so your running back can show case himself in the next level.”

Linebacker Luke Gifford

Wisconsin’s offensive looks:

“They threw a lot of looks at us, but it’s like in the years past, when they found something that worked they kept going to it. We’ve just got to be able to stop it, and we didn’t. We had a couple of scheme things, jumping out of gaps, stuff like that. We didn’t get it done.”

The fourth-quarter performance:

“I think you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. The plays that we didn’t make were because we weren’t in the gap or something like that. Not that they were there and they just beat us we did have a few missed tackles that we can’t have. Most of the big plays were gap assignments.”

On Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor:

“He’s a really good back, he runs hard, he’s a thick kid, rocked up, and we knew he would be. We talked about tackling all week just like all the other backs, they have a lot of good backs. We worked on all week and we had a few spurts there we missed a lot of tackles that mattered. It’s tough.”

Taking momentum from big plays:

“We had the momentum and that’s when we’ve got to step up and take that next step as a defense, and it’s frustrating because we had it right there and we felt like we could take it, and really put our foots down and we didn’t get it done. As a defense, I think we played three pretty good quarters of football and then for whatever reason stuff went south a little bit. We’ll get in the film room and fix that up, and keep playing hard.”

On Chris Jones and Joshua Kalu:

“I talked a little bit about it earlier this week just about their presence. When you have players like that, that are that high profile player and they carry that swag with them. It’s nice having them out there. Not that the other guys don’t, but those are veteran guys that have played a lot of football.”

On Antonio Reed:

“Obviously it helps having him. I thought the guys stepped up pretty well too. So you’ve got to give them credit, but it hurts when we have someone go down.”

On physicality:

“For most of the game I thought we did really well. Even towards the end, like I said it was a lot of gap stuff. Physically, I thought we were just as physical as they were, but we’ve just got to be a more assignments on.”

On the pick-6:

“For us we can’t do anything about it. We just go out there and play the next play, that’s what Coach Diaco talks about is playing the next play, it’s always the next play, I know everyone says it, but that’s how you have to think about it. I thought we did a pretty good job of that, and we weathered that storm there at the beginning of the game.”

Quarterback Tanner Lee

On JD Spielman:

“I think I definitely feel comfortable with him, especially third down. The important downs. I think we are doing a good job of moving him around, keeping in motion. Just using him a lot, I feel comfortable with him. I think he’s getting used to getting open and doing better in his option routes. He’s definitely grown.”

Moving the ball without scoring:

“I think it’s just about finishing. We have to finish drives with points. They kept us from doing that today. They were a solid defense, just like we knew they were going to be and I think we played them well. We just didn’t come out with a win. It’s tough. That’s what they want to do. They want to kill clock, gets first downs and eat away at the clock. That’s tough for us for sitting around a little bit. We did a good job at keeping our focus knowing we were going to get back out there and try to make more plays.”

On Devine Ozigbo:

“He’s doing a great job. Very proud of him. He wasn’t getting a majority of the touches earlier in the year and for him to just stay the course and continue to work out, now he’s getting the ball, and we needed him today because of the injuries. He showed up, he practiced hard and gave it everything he had today.”

I-Back Devine Ozigbo

Unsuccessful drives:

“We had more total yards. We were moving the ball pretty well but it just wasn’t the amount of points we wanted, which is really frustrating. We have to figure out a way to have these long extensive drives but with a finish with points and preferably touchdowns.”

Running the ball:

“We knew we could run the ball because we had the offensive linemen and the back to be able to run the ball. We didn’t feel like running the ball was something that wasn’t an option. We knew we needed to run the ball if we wanted to open up the rest of our offense. We knew they were good and this was a challenge that we had to meet. Overall, when it comes to a specific run game, we did a pretty good job of that.”

The ball bouncing off his helmet:

“I was running a shoot route. As I looked, the ball was on me pretty hot. I should have turned around quicker. It was behind my helmet and I didn’t have the time to turn my hips to catch it. When it bounced off my helmet, I thought it went out of bounds, but it went straight up. It was just one of those crazy plays. It happens in football and that’s something we need to overcome.”

On fixing the issues that keep plaguing the Huskers:

“Its definitely a mindset. There’s some things that are kind of clear to some people and we are trying to get finished to be the thing that everyone clicks on the team. We definitely work with the running backs. There’s definitely points where you get the ball and no matter what happens, you have to finish to a point. We did a bunch of things in the offseason to focus on finishing. That’s something I think we got better on but like you see today, we need to improve and just continue to want to be better finishers and stronger finishers.”


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