Head Coach Frank Solich
It?s an exciting week for us. In some ways it?s been a long year for our players and somewhat of a long year for our coaches. As you go through the season, there were some very good things that happened and some things that weren?t so good. We hope to play some great football and end this up the way we want to end the season. I think it?s been a great group of players that have practiced very well throughout the course of the year and have come through a trying season. They demanded it of themselves and their teammates to respond every Monday with good practices and start working towards the next game.
The challenge of playing Colorado is huge. They?re an outstanding football team this year, and that?s on both sides of the ball as well as special teams. They?ve got some great athletes and will represent the North in the Big 12 Championship game.
If you look at them from the offensive standpoint you?ll see a team that will run the ball at you and try to pound you down and where you out. That?s been the philosophy of Nebraska football for many years. You do see more and more schools turning to that a little bit. In the Big 12 North, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas State all are teams that take great pride in running the football. They?ll do it by handing it to Chris Brown and Purify, and alternate backs to keep them somewhat fresh. Four of their five offensive linemen are seniors so they?ve got a great group of linemen, a great combination that brings experiences and the type of players that can operate what they?re doing offensively extremely well. Robert Hodge I thought, has done an excellent job as he?s come through the season. He got off to a tough start which is usually the case when you?re thrown into action the way he was, but he has adjusted very well and is throwing the ball, percentage wise, very well right now. That makes them a threat from the passing game as well as the running game. That?s difficult for any defense to stop. Our defense will be challenged this week in terms of not only stopping the run, but not getting caught on play-action passes.
From a defensive standpoint they will show you a great deal of movement. They?ll blitz inside, and they?ll also come from wide blitzes, they?ll do a lot of slanting, they?ll try to outnumber you at certain times on plays, and try to make sure that they?re athletes in terms of movement, have a chance because of the way they operate their defense. It will be a challenge also from the offensive side of it.
I think both teams have great special teams players. That matchup should be very interesting.
On the running game
As you go through the era of the 60?s and 70?s you see, certainly in the 60?s, the running game, the passing game in the 70?s, Nebraska went to very much with passing quarterbacks and then went back to the running game. I think as you look at the Big 12 conference it?s a very physical conference, where in order to play physical football week after week you better have an offense that establishes some kind of running game. I think that in terms of Colorado and Kansas State when you look at what they?ve done in the running game in a short period of time, it?s an excellent job on behalf of their coaches. More mobile quarterbacks are coming into play. I think everybody is looking for a quarterback with movement. If you have a quarterback with movement then you want to build him into your running game, and I think that?s what schools have done.
On the weight of the game
It?s a very big game for us for a lot of reasons. For one, we?re playing a great football team and another reason is our year has been an up and down year and we want to finish on a high note. It doesn?t get any bigger in terms of trying to get yourself prepared to play a great football team and end on a high note.
On recovering from the CU last year
That was a devastating game for us at the end of the year. But, I don?t believe it had a great carry-over effect. What had more of a carry-over effect were injuries that transpired throughout the course of the season, in preseason also. I believe our players stepped on the field with a great deal of confidence when we opened up the season against Arizona State. We played fairly well against a very good football team. We did not progress as we went through the season. The game against Penn State was a great setback for us and we had a tough time coming off of that and from there on establishing the kind of consistency that is needed to play great football. That?s one thing we have not been able to do, is be a very consistent football team in how we operate, in terms of penalties, turnover ratio, those kind of things have come back to haunt us throughout the course of the year.
On the corrections made from the last Colorado matchup
When those kind of games end you look at them, you try to correct what you need to correct and then you move on. You better not dwell on there being a problem that?s going to continue to pop up. You better be ready to move on and make the corrections where they need to be made and still have confidence that every time you step on the football field you?re going to win. If not, you?re in trouble. This football team, I do believe, has prepared and done what it takes to try and put themselves in the best position to win football games. The fact that we?ve had a series of games where the score has gotten out of hand is certainly disturbing to all of us. There?s a fine line between ending up a game with it being very close, and ending up a game with their being maximum separation. You see that week after week in college football.
On a win over Colorado
It ends it on the right note. That?s what we?re after right now. We can do anything about what?s happened in the past as far as our season is concerned. The only things we can control are the days ahead, which are our practices leading up to the game and how we play in the last ballgame. It will be a great challenge to play them. It will be as much of a challenge for us to step on the field and be able to do things the way we?re capable of doing as it will be to line up and beat an opponent.
On the last game for seniors
There?s been a tendency for us to play better at home, for whatever reason. This being the last home game for a number of seniors in our program, guys who have contributed to many wins throughout the course of their career, it will be special for them. When it?s special for your seniors that makes it special for everyone else. But, the bottom line is, you can play off of that for a very short period of time. What?s got to happen is you have to line up and play four quarters of great football. You have to have a mindset to do that, you have to be ready to be physical and we?re prepared to play that way.
On the effect the season has on recruits
In terms of recruits, if a season like we?ve had would work against you, if a loss would work against you, then several major programs who had a season like we?ve had, some worse, would not have been able to respond and bounce back. You wouldn?t be able to do that if it affected your recruiting. People still look at this program in terms of what it can offer them as far as being able to line up being able to play great football but also to have great tradition, to have great academics and the total package. Certainly, it?s a lift for everybody coming off of a win. It just energizes you more, and enables you hit the road with a little better step in terms of a recruiter. Sometimes how you play in your last game is how your remembered. We?ll do everything we can to make that work. The fact that it?s on TV is a plus. It?s always a plus to be able to put yourself in terms of households around the country, and gives us an opportunity to get something done at a very high level in front of a lot of people.
On the streaks, both broken and maintained
As a coach you don?t have to stand up on a table and try to beat that to them. They know about all the streaks that the previous teams have helped produce. Because of the kind of publicity those kind of streaks have gathered throughout the course of time, it is obvious to everyone when a streak is broken or maintained. It?s been a tough year on that end of it. Our players are determined to try to win football games. We?ve got two now left. But, we haven?t driven home the nine game victory streak, that will be automatic if we play the next two games the way we want to play them. We need to play for more than just streaks. Our guys understand that and will step on the field to play their best football.
On kickoff return man Josh Davis
He?s had many opportunities with the kickoff return game. With those opportunities he has produced. He?s got an excellent group of players that are battling to make it work on kickoff returns. He?s done an excellent job of it. We?re proud of what he?s accomplished there. He?s not gotten as many snaps at the I-back spot as he would have liked. We?ve been able to get him into the passing game some, and we?ve been able to get him in certain formations to get him some reps and when he?s gotten his chance, he?s produced. He?s been very much a team-oriented player. As a former running back coach you really appreciate that the most. There are many years when you?ll go through running backs who would have like to have gotten more snaps, but what it?s all about is how team-oriented the team will remain and they have remained very team-oriented and Josh is an example of that.
On the Colorado-Nebraska series
Last year?s game was certainly not indicative of what this matchup has produced over the years. Many of them have come down to the very last series, sometimes the very last snap. That?s the kind of matchup that when you sit back and look at it, two teams with great athletes and a lot of pride in their programs really put together. There are signs that their program will continue to be very good, and so we?re counting on many great matchups as we go through the course of the years.
On the Colorado defense
The bottom line is they have played well enough defensively to win football games. That means you have to have a combination of things working for you from the defensive line to the secondary and the ability to stop the run and rush the pass. They?ve done a really good job of combining all that and also forcing turnovers. There?s a reason they?re ahead of the game in the turnover ratio. That?s because their defense does a very good job of producing turnovers. They do what it takes to win football games. They?re physical, they?ve very athletic, they show very good movement, and they take advantage of that athleticism by having them on the run on certain defensive schemes.
On Chris Brown
He is a great running back. He will gather (Heisman) votes around the country I?m sure. For a period of time he has led the country in rushing yards per game. He?s a very big physical back, he?s what you look for. He has the ability once he breaks in the open to use excellent speed and also the ability to break tackles because of his size. But he?s got a unique ability also to glide and make you miss. He?s put together everything that?s needed to be a great running back. He has a very good line in front of him, and I think he?s deserving of all of the honors he?s receiving.
He doesn?t get caught once he?s out in the open. The things that they?ve been able to do, people gang up to stop the run, and once he penetrates the line of scrimmage it?s not like he has people coming from different angles. He can just accelerate and use his speed and it?s obvious he has excellent speed once he gets by the line of scrimmage.
On Colorado quarterback Robert Hodge
Coming out of junior college I thought Robert Hodge had shown the ability to be an excellent thrower. He?s not a big quarterback and yet he did show that he had an excellent arm, his timing on releases was very good, and he had mobility. Those are the things he?s using right now to make it work. He is throwing the ball much better, if you look at his percentage in terms of pass completion from about midseason on you see that it really sky rockets. That?s because of him just being more comfortable within their scheme of things offensively. It?s obvious that he?s a tough player. He?s gotten back up and continued to play and that?s really what you look for in your quarterback. They don?t run him a great deal although they will put him on the edge, and certainly will do that off of the bootleg action and when he?s out there he is a threat to run the ball as well as throw it.
On the seniors and their losses
I?m sure it?s tough for them, they want to be part of a great football team, a team that wins championships, that was their goal as well as our team?s goal as we entered the season, and to not have it work is always tough on an individual. You would like as a coach and as a staff to have it work that way, but that?s the reality of it. That?s where those players are when things do go bad. They have reacted in a very positive manner, they have kept this football team together and have done everything they could to make this work. So, you appreciate that in your seniors and what they?ve been all about and that stands above anything else.
On the emphasis of the last game
Our emphasis right now is on winning. Just stepping up to the plate and playing the kind of football that it takes to win football games. With that, streaks will come and hopefully there wont be an end to it. The bottom line is this football team and where it?s at right now they?ve battled through some tough times, some streaks have come to an end, but they?re moving forward and trying to end this on a high note, and I appreciate what they?re all about on that end of it.