Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich
As you might well imagine it?s not been easy coming off of a loss at Oklahoma State. We were not real satisfied with the overall performance of our organization in terms of getting the game won and being able to move forward. It?s been a while since we won on the road. That?s been extremely disappointing to all of us. We had our chances in the Oklahoma State game, but were just unable to put together a strong defensive effort or a great offensive effort, in terms of point production and the ability to come away with a win. We had felt that we had gathered some momentum coming off the two previous games and that the team had played very well in the Missouri game and accomplished some things that we felt gave them confidence and had us all moving in the right direction. The Oklahoma State game is a setback for us, but one that we will have to overcome. The attitude of the players has remained good, they have worked at trying to piece it together to move the football team forward and get done what they need to get done in order to try and make things work. The team unity aspect of it I think has been excellent. There have been players that have been around the program for a while that are very distraught and very down, but on the other side of it they have remained very unified and very much positive in their approach in what we want to get accomplished.
The game against Texas A&M will be a major challenge in a lot of ways. The fact that we haven?t won on the road, and the fact that Texas A&M is an excellent football team, probably playing it?s best football right now, they have been very strong throughout the course of the season, and have made adjustments that have helped them put points on the board and become a very explosive offensive football team. It will have to be a complete game on our end of it to make it work, and we?ll need to play great defense. We?ll need to be able to play some great offense and finish some drives off and put some points on the board, and really find ways to not hurt ourselves on both sides of the ball.
On the Key to Winning on the Road
The key to winning on the road is lining up and having some good things happen. The way you have good things happen is, one you make them happen and two, maybe you get a bounce, or you get a break here and there. I think our football team has been one that, to a degree that we?ve been our own worst enemy. We?ve caused ourselves problems in some ways and not being able to overcome those has really put us behind in terms of trying to win on the road. There is no secret in terms of preparing a team to play well on the road. You address those issues throughout the course of the week we?ve done that week-after-week. We work with the crowd noise we work at the confidence factor in trying to get off to a good start trying to take a crowd out of it. The bottom line is, whether you?re playing at home or on the road you have to play four quarters of good football. If you play four quarters of good football you can win at home and you can win on the road. If you don?t, with the kind of teams that are in the Big 12, and in college football in this day and age you?re going to struggle. Those struggles can carry on at home as well as on the road. Putting together four quarters of football is what we?re all about. I don?t care where those are played, here or in someone else?s backyard. We need to strive torward putting four quarters of great football together.
On I-Backs Dahrran Diedrick and David Horne
In my mind and Coach Gillespie?s mind, we see them as co-number ones. There is going to be snaps for both of them in the game. When you look at both of those two I-backs what you really see are guys where one, Dahrran (Diedrick) can give you the strength, the inside running in terms of short yardage, the yards after contact type of guy, not that David (Horne) can?t supply that for you. But probably the size difference and a little bit of a strength difference gives the edge to Dahrran (Diedrick) in that way. Looking at the abilities to make people miss, the ability to make a big play, David is great in that aspect. David (Horne) has gotten more carries in the last ball games by quite a margin than what Dahrran (Diedrick) has gotten. The bottom line we?re going to need both of them in certain situations to make it work.
On the regret of not having David Horne come out of red shirt earlier
We were in a process of trying to find a guy that would give us what David (Horne) is giving us right now. We do have some other backs in our system that have shown flashes of giving us that. There have been some runs, by Cory (Ross) for instance, that has shown that. There have been some other factors that have entered into it. Some of those guys in a stretch of time probably didn?t get as much done as they hoped they?d get done. Cory (Ross) went through a stretch where he was injured with a foot, and I?m sure that took him out of having his great quickness and cutting ability. There was one thing after another that transpired as we went through a series of I-backs trying to make sure that we had the best guy ready to go.
On the Huskers? Offensive strengths
We?ve been able to produce enough yards on the ground. It hasn?t been in a fashion that we?d like to see it. What we need to do is get better on first and second down plays so our offense is not caught in third and long. We?ve been finding ourselves in third and long because of a combination of reasons. One of the glaring reasons is that we?re taking ourselves and putting ourselves in poor position as far as extending drives because of penalties and because of breakdowns. We made pretty good progress in the two games prior to this last ball game in terms of actual breakdowns. You look at this game on both the offensive and defensive side again and you, find that we are having more breakdowns that what you can afford to commit and have it work for you, especially against good football teams. We?re having more breakdowns at this point of the year than what you would expect. The penalties on the offensive side of it has really hurt us, not only their timing in terms of, them but sometimes trying to overcome two penalties within a drive, like we did the second drive of the second half last week. We overcame one but weren?t able to overcome two penalties. Most teams aren?t able to overcome penalties period, and we?ve had some very untimely penalties that has really kept us from being more point-productive. The bottom line is in our style of things we need to run the ball well, and build off of that. Are we running well enough? I guess that?s the question you?re asking. At times yes, at times no. We need to be more consistent at it, but I think David has given us some flashes of what can happen if things aren?t done properly and yet a back is able to make a play and give you a first down and keep drives alive. That?s a very positive force for us right now.
On giving up the offensive coordinator position
I?ve given a lot of things a lot of thought throughout the course of the season. The fact is that we?re not being as productive as we?d like to be offensively or defensively and the whole thing comes back to me. I?m constantly evaluating and looking at what I can do, what we can do to make this day-by-day and game-by-game what we want it to be, so that we can continue with year-by-year what we want it to be. Nothing is out of the question.
On advice from Congressman Tom Osborne earlier this week
We talked about several issues. I had a chance to visit with him personally when he came up, and then I think he went around and visited with many guys on our staff and that was really appreciated. I think Coach Osborne understands the game of football, he understands how things can work and to get a pat on the back from him and have some sort of understanding was great for us as a staff.
On preparing for Texas A&M
They seem to be more explosive offensively and are able to put things together better offensively than what some other Texas A&M teams have shown. Right now they are combining a great defense with an excellent offense and that?s tough on any opponent. To combat that you have to first of all play great defense yourself and not give up big plays. We have to make sure we?re working on being able to establish field position because field position becomes to critical in a football game. For instance we pinned Oklahoma State down on the side on the 20 yard line three times and it looked like we had an opportunity to establish great field position and have it work but it did not play out that way. Once we?re able to utilize our kicking game and the other aspects of the game to establish field position then we need to take advantage of it. We need to do it from the offensive standpoint and also from the defensive standpoint. It will be a key that we work at creating some turnovers. That is something we have not been a great team at. One turnover in the past three games has been created and that does not establish field position and that does not give you opportunities to control the clock and the football. We need to take care of the ball. We did a pretty good job of that this past week and really the past three ball games, but that will need to continue to be the case as we play Texas A&M, because you can not afford to give them anything. You have to work for everything you get and when you have opportunities and chances you have to produce.
On a win against Texas A&M
A win down there will be extremely important. A win?s a win for one, and two we?d all like to go on the road and get a game won. The bearing that it will have on Texas, well, Texas will be here when that game comes about. What we need to do is focus on where we?re at and what?s happening and make sure we?re doing everything we can to be as productive as we can be, and not look in the road or down the past. We need to build off everything day-by-day.
On the difficulties of Texas A&M at home
I think it?s difficult for teams to win anywhere where you have an excellent football team as the home team and you have a great crowd. That?s what Texas A&M has. They have excellent athletes, great tradition, outstanding football teams, they fill up their stadium. Their crowd gets into the game, so there should be no secret as to why they have success at home. There should be no secret as to why we have success at home, why Florida State has success at home. As you go looking around at the top programs in the country, there are built-in advantages to playing at home and I think Texas A&M has maximized all those advantages.
On Building Confidence among the team
I think in this business you always move forward in a positive vein and you look at not only what is going wrong but what is going right. You need to encourage and build off of what is going right for you, your staff and your team. Look at the corrections that need to be made by yourself, your staff and your players in order to give yourself the best chance of winning a football game. I think if your staff understands you?re moving forward in that direction as a head coach and your players understand that the staff is moving ahead in that direction, you?re going to get continued effort from your players. With continued effort and maximizing the abilities that everybody in the program has then you count on it working.
On using more Freshman this Year
It?s a sign that we had very experienced football team, not only last year but the last couple of years. If you look at many of those guys, Tracey (Wistrom) and Eric (Crouch) guys that had been starters in the program for some time and you look at the number of wins that those guys produced there was a reason for that. They had some people built around them when they were early in their career, starters at Nebraska that helped make it work. I think probably we are starting an inordinate number of freshman and young players in our system compared to the way its been over the years. When you lose the quality of people in a program in the numbers that we lost, you will have some pains as you go through playing some of those young players. We feel good about those young players that are playing. They earned a right to be playing at this point. If you look at us as a football team, the players that returned that were mature players, we certainly had a very mature football team on the kicking aspect of it. We have guys that have been through the battles that are very good athletes and don?t have mistakes. That?s why we?re playing so well at the kicking game. We?re probably as good a kicking game team as there is in the country. Part of that is because there is such great experience. Everyone that handled the ball in the kicking game last year is handling the ball in the kicking game last year. We do not have experience on the defensive end of it, on the offensive end of it, and to a degree that is showing. We hope that as this team continues to go through this season that we will cut back on the number of errors that have been made particularly on the offensive and defensive side of it. If we do that we?re going to give our players a chance to win games regardless of whether they?re inexperienced young or seasoned. That?s what we need to do.
On Reassessing Goals
We have never, since I have been involved in the program here, shared our goals with anyone. When you look at making goals up, as I?m sure you?ve done in your profession, you?re not going around sharing those with everybody. That?s part of how you operate when you?re in a goal-setting group. We won?t share those goals, but it?s obvious that this team had very high expectations, very high goals. The same high lofty goals that other teams at Nebraska have had. At 5-3 in our season, some of those goals will not be met. The bottom line is when you look at it as a coach, when you look at it as a player there are probably several reasons why you play this game. Maybe one of the most important reasons is your love for the game and the fact that you want to play it to the best of your ability, regardless if you?re playing in front of 70 or 80 thousand people or whether you?re playing in front of no one. The pride that is involved in any athlete to perform at a level that is his very best, and to perform at a level where the team is at its very best comes into play regardless if you?re talking about goals that are being met, or not being met.
On Freshman Tight End Matt Herian
There are several young players in our system that we feel good about getting involved in the game more, both on the offense and defensive side of it. Matt has responded every time that we?ve asked him to respond in terms of great routes, great hands and he has excellent speed. Will we, and are we attempting to utilize that more? The answer is yes. Matt is performing very well for us. Will he become a better blocker? Will he become and grow into a bigger and stronger tight end? There is no question. But can you use him from a tight end spot, we are. Can you get him out wide in sets, I think you can do that, and we?ll attempt to do some of those things as we try to utilize his talents.
On the Seniors
As a coach you?re in a constant mode of talking to your seniors and talking to your leaders. There is always communication going back and forth there and it?s obvious that no one is satisfied with where we?re at, from a player to a coach to a fan, to the media you could probably keep going. 5-3 is not what any of us wanted. Coming out of spring the expectations and the kind of attitude this club had and the way things developed, there was a great excitement moving into the fall. Then early on, some things worked well for us. We got off to a good start then we played some outstanding football teams and played them on the road, we didn?t respond very well and now we?re still trying to get over that. We?re trying to get over that as a team. The bottom line is we have the kind of players that do respond, that don?t just slide backwards and continue to slide backwards. They address every issue, as everyone is in the program, to try to make it work and try and get to the level we want this football team to get.
What do you Communicate to the Seniors
You communicate to them in a manner that the only thing you can do is take things one day at a time. You don?t look at what happened in the past and you don?t look too far down the road. Let?s just come out, let?s just practice the way we?re capable of practicing. Let?s figure out why we?re 5-3, let?s look at things that have not worked well, look at ways to correct those things. Some of those things you address specifically with your teams, with groups of players, with your captains and your leaders. Then you move forward from there.
On the Frustrations of the Team
It is very frustrating for all involved. But, it?s reality. The thing that you do is you don?t deal with frustration. You deal with what?s going to get you want you want to get. That?s how you approach it, and that?s how you go about getting your team and yourself as a coach, doing the things that it?s going to take to give your team success. We?ll just keep addressing those and working on those and we?ll see how it plays out.
On the Inexperience of the Team
We?re not using anything as an excuse. We?re not saying that inexperience is causing us to be where we?re at. There are several factors that have caused us to be where were at. The bottom line is winning football games, you need to do that with mature players in the system, and with young players in the system. We?re just making too many mistakes. Those mistakes need to get corrected. There are other factors that are involved, those need to get corrected and ironed out. But, there are no excuses. We have not made excuses about where we?re at. Where we?re at is 5-3 and we?re moving forward.
On the Effects on Recruiting
We have stayed in contact with recruits around the country as everybody does in the recruiting business. We have been received very well. Maybe football recruits who play the game of football understand to a degree how things can work, so they understand that you can be a 5-3 team. Many of the guys that we?re recruiting are on those kind of teams right now. Consequently, there is no negative feedback coming from recruits and the parents of recruits. That is the encouraging thing about this business.