Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich
It?s been a very exciting week for us with Texas coming to town. It?s a matchup that if you go through the history books you?ll understand the great athletes that have played with both programs and the great tradition that exists with both programs. When you have a history like both schools do, you generally have great matchups. If you look at the last three times Nebraska and Texas have played they have been excellent, close, hard-fought football games with excellent athletes on the field. We expect that this will be a typical Nebraska-Texas football game. We feel very good about having the matchup occur this year at home. There is a home field advantage in college football and as you look at the University of Nebraska we have maybe as big a home advantage as anyone in the country. Our fans have been outstanding in terms of their support of this program. They continue to come as they have, and continue to be as loud as I?m sure they will be this week. It gives great incentive and an edge in terms of lining up and playing great football.
We?re real pleased with the fact that we?re coming off of a win. It?s been a season that?s been difficult to gather a lot of momentum and to build on that momentum. We?ve had some ups and downs as we?ve gone through the season. That also occurred in that last ball game. It was difficult to gather momentum and continue to build with it for four quarters. We played very hard for four quarters and played very well at times. I am very pleased and proud of the way our players responded and came back to win the game last week at Texas A&M. We?re looking forward to the upcoming game. It should be a good matchup.
On the difficulties of building momentum
If that was an easy question to answer, we?d have it answered and be gaining momentum in every game. Sometimes it works that way when you?re able to control games from the very start through four quarters and we?ve not been able to do that. Some of it has come down to playing very good opponents, some of it has come down to us in terms of turnovers and penalties. I think those things have added up to haunt us this year. But, all in all, we?re battling through that and moving in the right direction.
On the last Texas game at home
The loss that occurred here the last time we played Texas here in Memorial Stadium, well there?s nothing we can do to get that one back or make it work. That one?s done. The thing that you do is try to put yourself in position to play the best you can play, knowing that you?re going to play some great athletes but understanding that we also have great athletes that are practicing very well getting ready to play a great football game. You want to come out on top and I think our athletes will do everything they can to make it work.
On moving back into the Top 25 and staying in the Big 12 North race
There still are obtainable goals out there for us. In order to reach some of those we?ve got to win out. That will be no small challenge, but certainly that is in front of us. That?s what we?re going to strive to do, and I think our players have got a great attitude right now. Our work ethic is great, and hopefully that will take us where we want to get.
On the comparison of Texas to Miami
Every time we?ve lined up against Miami they have had great talent and that is also true of Texas. I think if you look at overall team speed, I think you see that Miami and Texas both have it. They really have it on both sides of the ball. Texas right now is establishing a running game that was very effective in their last game. I?m sure they?ve very encouraged and feel very good about that. There?s no question that they have great receivers, a great quarterback and their offensive line is playing very well. When you look at Miami and try to compare the two offensively I think that you see big-play guys. They have Cedrick Benson, a big play guy at the running back spot as Miami has always had. You?re looking at great receivers, and quarterbacks that can get it done. Defensively, you look at team speed. Texas is able to line up and play man coverage all day long if they want to because they have great corners with outstanding speed and cover ability and their safeties are able to cover the inside receivers extremely well and support the run very well. When you talk about athletes in general there are a lot of similarities.
On the Win at Texas A&M
It was important for us to line up and win the football game last week. I think it was also important for us to get some confidence in our ability to make a comeback. That?s not something that you want to line up and do every week. On the other side of it, there have been moments when we have been down and not able to generate enough offense, defense and special teams play to make the comeback. There?s a fine line if you get behind, to have a game where if things go right you have a chance to get back in it and have a comeback, versus a game that separates itself and the score looks to be a little ridiculous. We were able to get some things done to establish ourselves and get some points when they were critically needed to get back in the game, and we still had enough time on the clock once those scores occurred to know that we had a great chance of getting it done. I think our team played with great confidence. All through it you look at that and you think that you have moved in a direction that you want your team to move. That game to us was critical in terms of being an away game and getting the job done on the road. Our players responded to that. This will be a challenge that will be probably even greater than what the Texas A&M challenge was of winning on the road. Texas with their record right now and the way they?re playing, there?s no question that they?re one of the top teams in the country. We?ll have to be on top of our game. Both games are critical for us to get where we want to get.
On the rest of the Nebraska schedule and the degree of difficulty
There?s not an easy road here. We start it off with Texas this weekend, and I think we all understand the challenges that lie there. But, then you look at Kansas, who is an improving football team, I think they?re playing much better than what they have, and then our last two games, playing Kansas State at their place and then taking on Colorado who is gathering momentum as they go through their year. It?s a very challenging schedule. If you look at some other Big 12 teams and you look at their schedules, I think you see some siimiliarites that there are a lot of challenges out there for everyone in the Big 12. Certainly, ours are right there in front of us, and they are big challenges, but our team is ready to address these challenges and do everything we can to make this thing work.
On homefield advantage playing at night
I think a night game under the lights, with everyone getting ready all day long for the game, can build some momentum. We expect that the crowd will be electrified and very loud as usual.
On Chris Kelsay
I feel he (Chris Kelsay) has a chance to play, and I think Chris feels he has a chance, but there?s no guarantee there. We?ve always stated in Chris?s case it?s always been a day-by-day event here the last couple of weeks. When you look at the kind of injury that he has, once you start to recover from it you can recover very quickly. We?re hoping that we?ll be able to line up with Chris playing for us.
On Nebraska?s Receivers
We had a total of six really big plays of 20 yards or more. You don?t get those kind of plays unless you have receivers involved in the game, not only through touch and go passes that give you the big play but when you talk about running backs that have opportunities to make big plays, wide receivers have to be critical to getting things done. Our guys have been outstanding. We have a real combination of players that Coach Brown shuffles in and out and that we use very well. I think they are a very physical group. Some young players in there have stepped up to the plate and shown very well, and taken on the spirit of the players that have been around for a while in terms of what our offense is all about, and being able to contribute as blockers as well as receivers.
On the Offensive Line Against Texas A&M
We were physical. I think in terms of the game this past weekend we were as physical as we?ve been all year long in terms of up-front play, when you talk about guys coming off the ball. There were a limited number of mistakes which I think was critical to us playing well. That was cut back dramatically, not just the offensive line, but the entire offense. When you have that ball and are able to get some very good yardage on first and second down plays it makes everything fit together a little bit and we were able to do that enough early in the ballgame to where we were able to establish the running game and once that does get established we?re going to be in pretty good shape. The problem is getting it established at the level that you want to get it established at. We were able to get that done, and a lot of that came back to us being very well-coordinated on the offense in this game and guys just coming off the ball.
On Jammal Lord's number of carries against Texas A&M
I think offensively you do what it takes to move the ball and put points on the board. I think every offense is geared to approach it from that angle. In our case, if you?re running some options and the options are working well, and you?re also building some running plays around your quarterback and having success with those, you feed off of that a little bit in you?re play-calling. In this case, I knew Jammal was carrying the ball a great deal as we went through the game. I was surprised that the total reached 30. I felt that our I-backs did contribute heavily in what we got done. On that end of it, it was a good combination of quarterbacks and I-backs contributing heavily in one of those positions where the guy has the ball under his arm. I think we?ve had Eric carry as many as 27 times. Jammal is showing to be a very durable player. He has good size, strength and toughness. If you have a player like that, and things are going well with him, you use him every which way you can.
On the team coming together against Texas A&M
I think you gather confidence from what we got done this past weekend in terms of the line, offense, running backs and quarterbacks. From that you hope that you continue to build from there. We didn?t play a perfect game. The great game is still out there for us, and we?re going to continue to strive to get to that. Certainly, there were penalties that set us back from the offensive standpoint. Some very unnecessary penalties that can not happen to you, should not happen to you, if you expect to be a great offensive football team. We have a lot of areas that we can attack to make ourselves a lot better and we?ll continue to tackle those areas.
Texas is 7-1 right now and they?ve had a lot of big games in there. When you line up in college football anymore, every game as far as the coach and players are concerned are big games. There are some matchups that attract everybody?s interest from coaches to players to fans and overall, I think when you add all that up, they?ve done a very good job. Have they won all the games they?ve wanted to win? Has it worked the way they wanted it to work for every game? It just doesn?t work that way. But, they have been very successful in what they?ve accomplished. They?ve had great teams year-after-year. They?re always in the thick of it in terms of the Big 12 Conference and generally in the thick of it when it comes to some national teams.
On Texas Quarterback Chris Simms
I think he?s an excellent quarterback. He?s got good size, a great arm, he knows their offense extremely well, and he?s throwing to very good receivers. What they?re doing on their offense is not only trying to have a running game at times by operating with Benson and two-back sets, but they also go no-backs, and are very effective in a no-back offense. There are very few quarterbacks that can go into a no-back offense and be extremely successful like Chris is and do as much as they do. I have a lot of respect for him and what he?s gotten done.
On the Texas Defense
They change up probably more than any team that we play in terms of showing you different alignments and spacing. Their coverage are not quite that way. They?re somewhat static in their coverage. But, they are up-front in their design of their schemes. They are complicated, and there has to be an awful lot of coaching that goes on to be able to line up in as many different looks as they line up and be as sound as they are. That?s always is a challenge for an offense, when you have a multiple package that you?re trying to work against. Just as it is for a defense when you have a multiple package that you?re working against from an offensive standpoint.
On Jammal Lord reading the defense
He?s been very good. If you look at the games lately as he?s gathered experience, he?s done a great amount of audibiling, changing plays getting them to the right play whether it be a pass or a run. He?s been very effective with that as of late, and I think that?s coming from the standpoint of he is a very talented athlete, that he knows what he?s doing right now. He?s confident of it because he?s gathered the experience to be successful.
On the most difficult matchup against Texas
There?s all kind of matchups that can be explosive for you. If you look at the Texas receivers they are a talented group and make big plays. Chris getting the ball to those guys in deep or short throws are where they make big plays. Controlling them from making big plays with Benson also in terms of running the ball and making big plays, that?s always a concern. I guess you look at them from the defensive standpoint and they are very physical up front with their line play, their rush end play, their line backers and then great speed to match up and play great man coverage like they do an awful lot of the time. That can free up some people in terms of helping stop the run game. Those kind of matchups are always a concern when you talk about the talent level they have.
On the Texas Offense
As I watch them on tape I think they?ve been productive and I guess it depends on the level that you?re talking about in terms of total yardage, touchdowns and big plays. I feel they?ve been very productive. They?ve used their wide-outs very well. They have great talent at the running back spot, they have great talent at wide receiver and quarterback. Just trying to utilize all that talent is not easy. If you have pretty good talent but you have one or two guys that are just pure standouts that are so much above everyone else, then you try to build them into your offense and your offensive thinking. They?ve got talent every which way you look. They?re trying to utilize their talent by having a running game and also having a passing game that can utilize wide receivers, as they do when they get into no-back or one-back offense.
On Nebraska?s team speed
I think we have good team speed, if you look at some of the young players that we?ve thrown into the mix and have helped us on both sides of the ball in terms of overall team speed. We feel good about the talent level of the athletes that are lining up for us. What you do have is parity in college football and you?re lining up against a lot of really good football teams and athletes, so you have to be on top of your game every time you step on the field. I think we have enough team speed to play very good football. Do we have team speed at every position that you strive to have? I don?t know if I can say that, but we do have overall good team speed.
On I-Back David Horne
He?s an I-back that can make something out of not much. He?s a guy that can create some things when he has the ball in his arms. He?s got very good hands in terms of handling any kind of pitches or if he comes out in the pass route. So you?re comfort level with a guy of that ability is very good. I think he has added a lot to what we?re getting done right now.
On being both offensive coordinator and head coach
I continually evaluate that because there is no question there is a strain when it comes to being an offensive coordinator and combining that with being a head coach. Sometimes that?s probably reflective in how you operate and what you get done. I don?t want to do anything that will hold this program back or keep it from being a great program and being at the level that we all want it to be. So, I will continue to evaluate that not only on a yearly basis, but really because you do have to have some foresight and look down the road, I continue to evaluate that on a game-by-game basis.
On the powerhouses of Texas and Nebraska
When you?re a great program your chances of attracting really great athletes are there. Texas has been able to do that and it has played out for them. But, the challenges are out there, and the challenges will exist for every program in college football. Sometimes I think you?ll see programs meet those expectations the way we all like to see the program meet them, and sometimes it won?t work that way. I don?t think anyone is immune to having it happen to them.
On Pressure Facing True Freshman David Horne
You always are a little concerned about the pressure, but if you look at how most players have handled it in the past here and how they?re handling it around college football, most men want to come in and get things done right away. I think David was very mature. He never pressed to play this year. At one time, he felt that redshirting was going to be the best thing for him. In being mature and being able to handle things as he came through that phase of it, before we took him out of the redshirt, I felt very comfortable that he would accept the challenges ahead and that he would respond to those very well.
On playing freshmen
There?s no question in my mind that?s a fact. You?re going to continue to se it year-after-year. There?s probably not going to be many schools, if any, that will continue to line up where a percentage of those guys are not either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen.