Mike Riley started his weekly press conference with a summary of the win over Maryland:
- happy for the win but would have liked to finish stronger
- liked that there were only three penalties on the Huskers
- Nebraska took care of the ball and did not turn it over
- had an 8:1 advantage in explosive plays
- liked how the defense played, save one play
He singled out Ryker Fyfe for his part in Saturday’s victory.
“I’ve gotta make mention of Ryker. I thought he went in there and played with poise. I thought he executed well, had good production, managed the team. I think he played it without a lot of drama, made plays, did a nice job. So, we’re pleased with that.”
He singled out quite a few players for their efforts, and offered this about Terrell Newby:
“I really like the way Newby is playing. I think Terrell has been , for me, the best ball I’ve been around him is the past month. Playing well.”
He then went into the injury updates.
“We are in a unique situation at quarterback right now. Tommy is getting better. We do not know what that means until we start working tonight. We’ll find out a little bit more about what he can do. He has definitely improved. Has he, will he, improve enough for the game? We don’t know yet. I’m probably guessing by, not tonight’s practice but by the end of tomorrow, we’ll have a better idea.”
He followed it up with unwelcome news on backup QB Ryker Fyfe:
“The other, kinda, clinker in this thing is that Ryker actually broke a bone in his left wrist, had surgery, put a pin in it. Will he be able to play? Possibly. We will probably go through the same sort of scenario with him that we’re going to go through with Tommy. How does he do tonight? How does he do tomorrow? How can he function?”
With the uncertainty, he indicated they were going to have packages ready for Zach Darlington, should he be needed.
Drew Brown and Stanley Morgan are both in the concussion protocol with Brown being able to practice like normal since he does not get any contact.
He talked about Iowa, a team that is “the past couple weeks, playing their best ball of the year” and is solid, making few mistakes.
When asked who takes the #1 snaps at quarterback tonight:
“I don’t know”
He indicated that he felt good about what Tommy and Ryker could do, but that they needed to give Zach some snaps too. Riley was also asked about getting someone ready to backup Darlington. The coaches do not want to pull Patrick O’Brien’s redshirt this late in the season. The name that came up was Lamar Jackson, who played wildcat quarterback in high school. Coach Riley was hopeful he could get his three quarterbacks ready, but did indicate they were looking at a contingency plan.
When asked about Devine Ozigbo, who has disappeared from the running back rotation:
“Devine is, I think, the healthiest he’s been in a long time. As we go through the week and we talk about rotation, will he enter into it more than he has? I don’t know yet.”
He went on to say that Terrell Newby was clearly the main player and that Tre Bryant was going to play too and that the “roles between Wilbon and Devine are undefined at this time”. Ozigbo was available for Saturday’s game, but did not play and the way Coach Riley danced around the questions, his disappearance does not seem to be entirely about health. (I am speculating here with no inside information)
Coach Riley made it clear that he felt the offense needed to rally and execute well in order to win do their share against a good Iowa defense. He indicated that the Huskers needed to be balanced, but would need to have good performances out of the run game as well as the pass game to keep the chains moving.
He also talked about the chance to play in a bowl game after a disappointing 2015 season and how that experience helped the team:
“I think our whole team did a nice job of, probably, just deciding if we got a chance to play in a bowl game that we were going to be better. And how we had to be better, you know that whole preparation time for the bowl game, then playing and winning against UCLA...We’ve already kind of rehashed all that in the past, but it was really good for this team, identity wise. It was really good for the coaching staff to see a better picture, and I think everybody gained from that time.”
He continued with a little bit of Riley philosophy...
“But I think the attitude of what you’re talking about for players, for a young person to have an attitude about improving and developing instead of blaming. That’s a big step toward getting better. So, everybody had to look at that. Look inside, coaching staff especially because we’re the adults here and we’re supposed to get a perspective to help these guys. But when the young people do it themselves, that’s a real bonus.”
On the chance to get a 10th win:
“I think it would be awesome to get the 10th win. It’s not that common, right? There’s not going to be very many people in that picture of double digit wins, so it’s like I just mentioned, there’s lots of reasons to win this game.”
Coach Riley especially pointed to two areas that have resulted in the improvement in the team’s record from 2015 to 2016. Those include turnovers and pass defense.
On whether Iowa is a “rival” and whether he talked to the team about them that way:
“No I haven’t yet. But what I think, and you guys have a better sense of it than me. It seems like a really great natural rivalry that will just do nothing but grow and become bigger and bigger. I mean, just the proximity, the like-mindedness. I just think it’s a perfect fit that way.”
So, there you have it. For all of our debates about whether Iowa is a rival or not, our head coach says...maybe, probably.
Our own Greg Mehochko made this for your enjoyment as we enjoy the hype leading up to our grocery store sponsored rivalry week game: