It continues to be a team that moves forward. This was certainly a tough loss for everybody involved with the program, but yet they (the players) came out yesterday to practice with an excellent attitude and worked very hard. We are continuing to move forward. The Kansas game this coming weekend is a game that I know for them will certainly be a game that they will try to play very well. They have been a team that has been progressing. The game against Kansas State was I?m sure, a major setback for those guys. They did play an awful lot of young players in that game, and started the season off with a number of young players. They are building for the future. I think they?re doing a fine job of coaching. You can see as you go through the tapes as we look at every game they played, you see them using great techniques and getting better as the season progresses. We?re looking forward to the game, and rebounding back and moving in the right direction for our final games.
On the attitude of the team
There are really only two courses you can take. You can go down a path of bouncing back and trying to make sure every time you step on the field you?re working at getting better and trying to become the football team you want to become. Our players have always taken that approach. The other path is not what you?re after. It?s an easy path to go down when things don?t go right. When you have a team that maybe hasn?t won as many games as what it was drawn up to, or designed to, win. They need to have the kind of attitude that goes from one game to the next. That?s going to be the proper attitude to make them at the end the type of team that they want to be.
On young players gaining valuable experience
I think a lot of our young players are gaining confidence, there?s no question about that. I think their performance is showing that. As you go from one game to another if you have a group of young players they?re either going to grow into the kind of football players you want them to be, and you?ll be the kind of team you want to be, or they?ll just be stagnant and there will be no progression in terms of what you?re getting done. We are satisfied with the younger players in our system and what they?ve accomplished and the direction that they?re headed. I think our seniors have held together very well. It?s not easy for your final year to not have the kind of year you want to have as a football team. They have stayed together, they?ve worked together and they?re helping to bring along the younger players.
On the final play against Texas
It was a route that was designed to either go weak or strong. We had thrown it three different times in the ball game, all of those went to the wide side of the field. This throw went to the short side of the field and that was the proper way to go because of the coverage they were in. Mark (LeFlore) did get bumped a short while after his release, he got jammed and did not come off the jam quite as well as you would have hoped. Then he flattened out his route. It was supposed to go more to a deeper corner of the end zone. Other than that, everyone was doing what they were supposed to on the route, but it certainly did not develop the way we wanted it to.
On the offensive line
I think when you?re inexperienced at any position it?s just a matter of getting snaps and playing time, and getting to where you?re working together as a unit. They?ve come in that direction very well. They?re a physical group, they?ve always been that. If you look at the development of the line you?ll see that the mistakes are being cut down, and that?s a real key to offensive football eliminating breakdowns, especially with the guys up front, that?s where it all starts. They are playing much better ball. They?re playing coordinated football and working with one another. They?re communicating better with one another verbally and it?s all played out for us being a better offensive football team than what we were three, four, or even five weeks ago.
On John Garrison
John (Garrison) has been an excellent leader throughout his time here. He?s been a quiet type of leader, but he?s actually stepped up his role in terms of visiting more with the players and being more verbal during practice. He?s not a guy that you could hear from one end of the practice field to another. It was about communication, and John I think initiated that as captain. He?s always been a guy that?s worked very hard and the players have followed that role in terms of work ethic on the line. They respect him and when he does say something it means something to them. He?s really helped to rally the offensive line and the offensive unit. That?s really what being a captain is all about.
On Matt Herian
He?s got great speed, great hands, and there is no question now that when he lines up, people are starting to identify where he?s at on the football field because of his big-play potential. We are trying to get him involved more in the running part of the game also. He is getting more playing time. There is no question that he continues to develop in terms of becoming stronger as he goes through the system, and getting bigger as he goes through the system. He?s a great athlete and that shows anytime he gets matched up. Playing the tight end spot you?re matched up a lot with safeties and, of course with his kind of speed it?s not all that easy for a safety to come up and support the run and then go to play him on a lot of the deep throws. We?ve had several guys (tight ends) that have come through our program that have needed to gain weight. If you look at his frame, he can handle additional size and certainly the strength part of it will be a positive for him. We will not get him so big that he slows down. That would not be what we?re after. He?s a real threat there as a tight end. We will be able to move him around in different formations and he can play as a slot and be very effective. I think he has a very bright future ahead for him, and also it will be great to have that kind of flexibility in the program.
On bowl eligibility
We?re not really focusing on a bowl right now. We?re focusing on Kansas and getting the job done. We?re not going to look down the road and we?re not going to look behind. The thing that we have to do is get ready to continue to improve as a football team. I was real pleased with practice yesterday. Their attitude I?m sure will remain great throughout the course of the season. We?ll just line up each week take them one at a time. We?ve got some great games ahead as you well know. We need to get this one to get back on the winning track.
On David Horne?s playing time versus Texas
We had a total of 63 offensive snaps. Jammal Lord was averaging 10 yards a snap, so when you build him into that and he becomes so effective he?s like another I-back. In that regard we used three I-backs if you want to look at it from that angle. The plays that were opening up were plays that were really coming from the quarterback position for the most part. I think David Horne averaged under two yards per carry, and that doesn?t come back to David. It comes back to some of the plays against some of the fronts. It just made sense to continue to use Jammal in the manner that we were using him because of big plays that we were getting from that position. Texas had 83 snaps and you really want that reversed. You want to be an offensive team that is in the high 70?s and 80?s in terms of offensive snaps, and you want your defense only on the field for high 50?s to low 60?s in terms of snaps.
On Jammal Lord
It was obvious when he stepped into the program that he had very good running ability, but I think it?s excelled in the last two or three games. Jammal has gotten more confident as things have gone well for him. He has the ability to carry the ball 20 to 30 times in one game because of his size and strength and then you add to it the ability to make people miss and he has a burst. Once Jammal is rolling he?s got very good speed. Jammal has a unique combination that you normally look for in an I-back. Some of that was obvious from the day that he showed up, but he has continually gotten better as a runner as he?s gained confidence in our offense and what he?s doing. You work on passing on a daily basis. We do an awful lot of seven-on-seven which is a throwing period for us. We emphasize that greatly. We probably throw as much in practice as traditional throwing teams do. I think Jammal has progressed from the moment he arrived on campus to this point there has been great progression in terms of him throwing the ball. He?s always had a strong arm, but he threw off balance early in his career. He is correcting that and getting better at that. His footwork is getting better as he is back in the pocket and working play-action passes. All of that adds to being a good thrower. I think he?s making excellent progress in that area. I would presume that before he gets out of here he will be a great thrower.
On using an additional punt returner
We probably would not, they would probably just punt to the other guy. And, that may be alright in that you?ll be able to field the punt and get some yards, but the thing that is very difficult to do, and if I understand it right from Mack Brown?s comments, they weren?t really trying to punt to him (Groce) on that last punt. It?s very difficult for a punter just to place the ball where he wants. I think that although teams are going to try and kick the ball away from DeJuan (Groce) he?s going to get his share of catches and returns and then we?re going to get a share of bad punts that are just going to fade off and maybe only be 25 or 30 yard punts because of the punter trying to angle it out of bounds.
On opening the quarterback spot after the Iowa State game
It was a situation where we needed to open it up, there was no question. If you have a player that was turning the ball over at the level that we were at that point, you can?t be an effective offensive football team, and that puts pressure on the defense. The bottom line is we did have confidence in his (Lord?s) ability to perform well. He just needed to understand that there was going to be a situation where he had to perform better, he had to take care of the ball better, he had to make some better decisions. To his credit that?s what he?s stepped up and done.
On the score of the Kansas vs. Kansas State game
I know how that can go. Kansas had poor field position for a good share of the first half. Some of that was because of their plays, some of it was because of turnovers and some of it was because of great play from Kansas State, but the bottom line is, Kansas State had a short field several times and they took great advantage of that. Once things start to snowball, especially if you?re playing a lot of young players, it can be very tough on them. I think they (Kansas) found themselves in that position. It was an experience they?ve gone through as a young football team, and I?m sure they learned from it.
I think if you look at Kansas right now they do have the seniors that are playing for them are playing well, so there is some leadership there. The bottom line is when you?re playing young players, there are going to be some growing pains and mistakes a long the way.
On Nebraska?s young players
You?ve got to settle in on what?s at hand. What?s on hand for us is the Kansas game. Once the season is completed and as you go through the recruiting process you look at your team and then you start to piece together what you want to get in the spring to give your team it?s best chance. That will be an exciting time for us. Spring ball is always a time that players may not necessarily enjoy all of the work involved, but realize that it?s there time to raise themselves up on the depth chart and compete for jobs. It?s an exciting time for players and an exciting time for coaches. We?re going to have a lot of players returning that gathered a great deal of experience this year, and we?ll look forward to it.
On freshman cornerback Fabian Washington
Fabian (Washington) is in a learning process and we?ve been real pleased with what?s he?s accomplished. It?s very easy to say that you?ve got yourself a very talented kid and he?s going to step on the field and there?s not going to be signs of the fact that he?s so young. That?s just the way it usually works with most players and especially with defensive backs and especially out on the corners. You?re so vulnerable out there and usually only one on one, with little help given to you. That?s a tough assignment for a senior to line up and play the way he wants to play. Certainly with a young player like Fabian is, it?s very difficult. I think he?s responded very well. He?s got the kind of attitude that he?ll continue to progress and finish out the season very well. He has faced some great receivers.
On the fullbacks
I think our fullbacks are blocking very well. There hasn?t been many opportunities for them in the running game so consequently that phase of it is down from what it?s been, but that?s not necessarily back in the fullbacks laps. If you look at many I-oriented football teams you?ll find that very few carries are made by the fullback and it?s all designed, in most cases, around the I-back. We have experienced fullbacks and I think Judd (Davies) in these past games has played very well.
On an aggressive coaching style
I think we?ve been in some fourth and ones that have caused us to go the direction we have gone. We?ve had one that turned out well and a couple that didn?t. To me, that?s not changing my style of coaching. That?s just the right thing to do at the moment so we moved forward with it. In terms of play calling, play selection, the style of what we?re doing, I think much of that has remained the same, although we do have some big-play guys at the wide receiver spot and we?ll try to continue to play-action pass with those guys. If you have a quarterback that runs as effectively as Jammal and your I-backs are also playing well, we?ll continue to be the same style of offense that we?ve been.