Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said it’s good to enjoy the Huskers’ win over Oregon but he doesn’t want to dwell on it too long. With that in mind, he said he would take questions and talk about the Ducks on Monday but he’d be ready to move on after. He’s focused on Northwestern now.
With the Huskers headed to Evanston, Illinois, on Saturday, there are plenty of topics to address. The two most popular at Monday’s press conference? The alternate uniforms that Nebraska will wear against the Wildcats and the long grass at Northwestern’s Ryan Field.
Riley said he’s been told many times about Ryan Field and that the grass is “the tallest grass you’ve ever see.” As a result, he said the Huskers have let their own field grow out the best they can and the team will practice on it.
He plans to not let the grass field be a distraction though, which Riley said could happen if not addressed.
“I think a lot of that will be a mindset, too,” Riley said.
When it comes to the alternate uniforms, Riley thinks they’re good but isn’t completely sure why the Huskers are wearing them on the road. “I don’t know,” he said when asked.
Are the players excited to wear the alternates?
“We’re excited,” wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp said. “In my opinion, they’re the coolest ones we’ve got since I’ve been here so I’m really looking forward to wearing those.”
Take that with a grain of salt, though. Safety Kieron Williams thinks they’re fine but he’s not getting too caught up in them.
“I think once you start doing that and you start trying to get pretty, it’s not football,” Williams said. “It’s modeling. If you wear those uniforms and you lose, what do those uniforms matter?”1
Speaking of alternates, Riley said that the coaches will wear black pants, in place of the usual khaki, against Northwestern.
On to some other news and notes from Monday’s press conference:
>> Riley says he is pleased with the specialists so far.
“Drew [Brown] is really having a consistent year,” Riley said. “Caleb [Lightbourn] has his best day punting the ball. We got a couple of fortunate bounces but he did hit the ball better and more consistently. And Ober is doing a nice job snapping.”
As for punt returns, Riley was particularly happy against Oregon.
“We got out best punt return in two years which was good to see,” Riley said. “Nice to see De’Mornay [Pierson-El] break out.”
>> Offensive balance was something Riley was particularly proud of against Oregon. The Huskers ran the ball for 228 yards and threw it for another 200.
>> Pierson-El threw a touchdown to quarterback Tommy Armstrong on a reverse pass last time Nebraska played at Northwestern. Fair to expect another one?
“You’re going to have to talk to [Langsdorf] on that one,” Pierson-El said. “I don’t know.”
>> Riley doesn’t believe quarterback Tommy Armstrong will have any lingering effects from the cramps he experienced on Saturday. “I think he’s fine,” Riley said.
As for Armstrong, he said he has to drink pickle juice often to combat cramps. He’s used to the taste now.
>> Wide receiver Brandon Reilly is the biggest question mark over the next few days.
“He’s made progress for sure,” Riley said. “He’s run a little bit, so we’ll see where he is for tomorrow. I sure hope he can play. It would be good to get him back.”
>> Hardest thing about road games, according to Riley? Focus. He said he does his best to communicate with players and their families to avoid distractions and get the team to the hotel.
>> In case you were ever wondering, Williams has to dye the back of his head red every two weeks. He wanted to dye it permanently, but thinks his mom might have a problem with that.
“I think I’ll just keep dyeing it,” Williams said.