Usual disclaimer: I’m typing as fast as I can while coach is speaking. These are not exact quotes, but my best paraphrase at what I could capture. If something needs clarification, let me know in the comments and I can look up exact quotes.
You said the team didn’t have the juice or enthusiasm - how can you coach that?
It is our job to coach it. We have a lot of guys that have that but it wasn’t there as a team. It started in practice I thought. We got a young team that won one game and thought everything was good...I think our players learned a lesson.
The last two years you’ve headed into the Iowa game after win. Is the energy different coming into a rivalry game off a loss?
No, I don’t think so. We had much better energy today. They are excited to play Iowa. It will be a black and blue game like it always is.
Did you think differently about your QB play after watching film - how can you instill confidence in them?
Pace has been good, they’ve been running hard. Timing on throws has to be better. We’re young outside so that isn’t all on the QBs. Both of them believe in the type of player they are...they have the capability to be really good.
Does it make it hard for a QB if they can’t trust their WR to be in the right spot?
Oh yeah. That’s the passing game. We’ve thrown for a lot of yards in the past, but we probably won’t do that this year. We’re young - we have a couple veterans that are doing a good job. We need receivers to be in the right spot, our QBs need to trust them. It was better today.
This is a different year. How are you planning to manage Thanksgiving, practice and travel?
This whole year has been rough. We’re going to treat Thursday like it is a normal Friday. Some guys are ready to head home and see family...but we’ll have to work that out...school is ending but we still have a few weeks of football. Outside of a nice team meal, it will be a typical day before the game.
You know what it takes to play QB. You’ve been a QB coach and been a part of developing guys like Marcus Mariota and Makenzie Milton. How close are your QBs to those other guys?
They both have enough talent to be those guys. We haven’t gotten them playing there yet. Luke is in his second start. That’s tough. Adrian has all the talent in the world. It’s on us coaches to get them there.
JoJo said you practiced as hard as physically possible - what is the thinking behind that?
Other than trying to get guys to play hard and practice hard. We didn’t do as well as I wanted last week, and execution wasn’t there. I think the intensity was better today.
Every game is important at Nebraska - but how defining is this three game stretch to show progress?
It is important. We’re so much better in so many ways. We weren’t Saturday and that’s what frustrates me. We’ve got more talent than past years. A lot of the players playing are freshman. To win in this league, you have to not only have the right athletes and right Xs and Os but also the execution...The progress is evident inside these walls, but it has to show up on the football field.
Can you update on Collin Miller? When you talk about juice in practice, does it help knowing it is Iowa?
It shouldn’t. We shouldn’t need that to get excited, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.
Collin was at practice, but he didn’t participate. It is doubtful he returns this season. We’re going to be careful. His long term health is important.
How do you adjust - game day stuff, schemes...a performance like that?
We’re always looking for ways to get better. We’re not going to change a formula that has been successful for a long time but we always self-examine. We didn’t play well and that started in practice. We have to get them ready to play better.
You haven’t had a solid go-to running back. Is anyone standing out? Update on Jack Stoll?
Mills was kind of our lead RB, but he’s knicked up. That puts us in a position to use Wan’dale but we want him at receiver, but he can do great things with the ball. The freshman are battling it out, no one is on top right now.
Jack is fine. (Jill’s note: Coach said more, but I didn’t catch it - my connection was a bit fuzzy at the time)
When you’ve been through a shakeup at QB, is there concern about going down that road again and how much to you have to consider if it is unsettled there?
I don’t think the rest of the team is going to be affected. I care about those two so deeply. I’ve been benched here for short time during a game and got booed when I came back in the game. Sometimes you need that shakeup, sometimes it puts a chip on your shoulder. I have no doubt Luke is the future. But right now, we have to play the one that gives us the better chance. I feel good about both, we just need to keep coaching.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving memory or food?
Memory - one of the challenging things about being in football, you lose Thanksgiving a lot. I like cranberry sauce on my turkey. I know not everyone is into that, but I like it.
What have you noticed defenses doing to do to try and take away Wan’dale?
They are aware of where he is all the time. Some of the option routes, quick screens, they know where he is. But taken anything away, no?
You know your starting QB?
No, we’re letting them compete.
From the middle LB perspective. What do you do there now with Collin gone and Luke got dinged?
I feel good. Luke is going to be find. We can move Nick back to that spot. Snodgrass has been doing good things, getting some playing time.
How do you keep people motivated in a year like this with covid?
Freshman years are hard and you are used to being the star of the show and then few freshman are capable of playing and starting in this league. No fans in the stands.
It is weirder because of no fans. But overall, kids need to learn to be patient, you won’t get everything you want, you have to just keep getting better. Some will learn it, some may learn it somewhere else and won’t stay, but we keep working on it.
Any more on Collin?
They’re still testing. They’re calling it a spinal concussion. I only know what that sounds like to me. I don’t think they’ve found any serious issues. It sounds like he just took a hit in the exact wrong way, but everything should be fine in the long run.