They Said It: Husker Players Talk Nebraska's 37-21 Loss To Wisconsin
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

They Said It: Husker Players Talk Nebraska’s 37-21 Loss To Wisconsin

November 16, 2019

Nebraska players met with the media following the Huskers' 37-21 loss to Wisconsin. We heard from quarterback Adrian Martinez, linebacker Mo Barry, defensive lineman Khalil Davis and running back Dedrick Mills.

Here’s the transcript from their question-and-answer session postgame. 

Sophomore Quarterback Adrian Martinez

On the game

“There are positives to take away from it—us being able to move the ball. But it comes down to finishing drives and not taking sacks in the red zone like I did. That is something we are going to continue to work on. Against a team like Wisconsin, you have to take advantage of those opportunities.”

On making a play versus scrambling

“I think, obviously, when the play is going well, when we are moving the ball as an offense and we are able to utilize tempo and get the defense on their heels it is kind of a good feeling. I think it is empowering as a quarterback. But even a negative play happens or a bad play, you still have to continue to fight and continue to play hard and make it work. Just because one play doesn’t go right or I threw an interception—whatever the case may be—it is not an excuse to give up on that series or give up the next set of plays."

On his run game today

“I think our guys came out and fought hard and had a good mentality. Dedrick (Mills) played his tail off and was really running hard and breaking tackles. I think our offensive line did a great as well moving those guys up front. We just wanted to fight today, we wanted to come out and play hard. I think that is a product of playing under Coach Frost. I think that is a product of wanting to fight for each other and not giving up on the season. We didn’t quit in that game and we’re not going to the rest of this year.”

On Coach Frost’s comment that the team is “miles away but close”

“Well, I think we can all see it. At least the guys in the locker room and the players when we watch film as a unit, when we have – not to reflect on the past too much – but this game, too. We are a few plays away, a few mistakes [away.] Like I spoke on earlier, that sack in the red zone, that hurt us. Our defense was playing really well. They gave up a kick return for a touchdown and an interception to give Wisconsin good field position and I feel like we pretty much had outplayed them in the first half to that point. It’s the little things, it is the details. It is not the first time it happened this season and it is something we are going to continue to harp on and realize we have to get better at. We are not going to be the team we want to be until we can get those things corrected.”

On his performance

“I fought my tail off out there this weekend. I didn’t always make the perfect decision. I have a couple of bonehead plays, but I played my tail off and I was fighting for my teammates. It felt like I was getting back to myself out there.”

On the run game

“I think it helps a lot. I think that goes with really any offense. But, in this offense, when Dedrick (Mills) is hitting chunk yard, running plays, and stretching the defense out, I think it just opens us all the possibilities of this offense.”

On if the success of the offense today surprised him

“I wouldn’t say it surprised me. It may have surprised you guys, but it didn’t surprise me. I think that is, again, a part of playing under Coach Frost. He scripts certain plays for a reason, and I think we came out today with the mindset that we were going to be able to run the ball on them and Dedrick (Mills) did a great job of that. Our offensive line did a great job of working up to their guys and I think they did it all game.”

On losing yards a play

“I didn’t want to lose the ball. I wanted to get away from 56 (Wisconsin outside linebacker Zack Baun). I wanted to throw the ball away. That is what I was aiming to do and I just have to be better. Whether that would be throwing the ball away early or finding a way to make it happen. It is inexcusable.  It puts Coach Frost and the rest of this offense in a tough spot when it is 2nd and 30.”

On Coach Frost’s contract extension

“I am pumped about that. I think Coach Frost deserves it and he is going to get this thing right. Ultimately it is going to be up to us as the players to go out there and execute. I am excited for him. I think it is a good thing for Nebraska football and we are going to continue to build this thing.”

On the past couple of weeks

“I would be lying to you if I told you it was easy. It is tough seeing some of the things and hearing this or that, but I have my family, I have my teammates, and more importantly these coaches who believe in me. I am more than thankful for that. No one has turned their back on me as a player or as a person. I will be forever grateful. The guys inside this building who truly know me and know what I am about know I am very thankful for that. I have been working as hard as I can to get us where we need to be. I am going to continue to do that and try and play my best to give this team the best chance to win.”

On making it to a bowl game

“I think we have to take it one at a time and we have to focus on beating Maryland. Right now, it is kind of still the 24-hour rule and [I will] kind of regroup and watch this last game. Then we will move on to Maryland and plan on winning. That is what it comes down to. We are going to be determined and fight and we are not going to quit.”

Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry

On the defense

“I thought we did well. Traditionally we don’t do real well versus Wisconsin. Since the time I was getting recruited here. I remember 2015 and 2014 watching how those running backs ran against us for years and years and years. I think today we did a good job of containing those running backs. A lot of push the pile plays where the linemen assisted the running back and drove the tackler back as well. I think we did a good job with our run defense. It was just critical downs when we needed to make a play and we didn’t. That was a big part of the game, you have to make those critical plays when you face a top 25 team.”

On Wisconsin’s play

“I think it was just bad momentum from the kickoff return. Everyone knows that sometimes there’s an emotional imbalance when that happens. Guys know traditionally we get whooped by this team and maybe it’s like ‘oh snap, here we go, it’s the first quarter, it’s about to go down hill.’ We bounced back from that. That’s what I was proud of today, I feel like our team grew today. This is a good team, good defense, good offense and I think we played our part. We played well in this game. We found ways to beat ourselves instead of getting dominated and we competed to our highest level. We could have won that game, everybody knows, until two minutes in the fourth quarter we could have won that game, and we didn’t.”

On if this game reminds him of the Ohio State game

“Yeah, that’s crazy, it does remind me of that game. Ohio State, we had the lead going into halftime. This game, it felt like if you watched the game, if you were in the game, you feel like ‘we can win this game.’ The entire time, that’s what I was feeling, that’s what I thought was going to happen. We have to win all three phases. We have to make critical plays in all three phases and we can’t let them beat us in all three phases and that’s the biggest thing. They made mistakes, we made mistakes, we just have to figure out a way in critical moments to win. This is a great team, and we competed with them.”

On the mood as a unit

“I think that I didn’t feel a difference in the energy. I feel like people were more focused for this game than the Purdue game. I don’t know if it’s because we are at Memorial Stadium, the best place to play. I don’t know what it is, I felt the focus, I felt the energy. And again, this team, they can lull you to sleep and then destroy you if you let them. We didn’t let our will be broken, and that’s why I’m proud of my defense today and my team. We had a lot of naysayers in these two weeks, we had a lot of criticism in these two weeks. We could’ve just came here and they could’ve gotten the lead and we could have just broke down like the teams in the past did, and we didn’t.”

On the defense playing more free this week

“Yeah that’s a good point. I feel like people were playing free. I could feel the energy, like I said it has been a long time since I truly felt it. I felt for myself that I played free this game, that I was flying around, that I understood that even the greatest players make mistakes on one down, and just make more plays than mistakes. Make the critical plays. I think that’s what a lot of players were doing, and like you said as a spectator that’s what I felt also.” 

On the young guys on the defensive line’s play

“They were doing a good job, I didn’t notice the difference out there, they did their part. The biggest thing was us communicating to them when it got loud in our stadium. Going down there and make sure they jump over and stop the gaps. That’s how we helped them out. They did a real good job, Ty Robinson as you all know, will be a good player and Keem Green also. It was a good game by them and I didn’t even notice the difference between them and the starters. Of course Los [Carlos Davis] is a dominant player, not taking that away from him and Darrion [Daniels], but they did a good job filling in.”

On winning two more games to go to a bowl game

“I think what I have to say is going to be to them you know for a long time I just felt like saying stuff to the media doesn’t really matter in the great scheme of things because I don’t get it across the team and that’s what I am really focused on. For everyone out there, we grew up in this game, it’s easy to say that we could have got destroyed by Wisconsin like everyone predicted. It’s easy to say we could have just laid down and let 23 [Johnathan Taylor] run down our throats and we didn’t. We competed, we could have won that game. We found ways to beat ourselves and these next two games we are going to compete just like that and win them.”

Senior defensive lineman Khalil Davis

On the defense

“Our job was to stop run. It felt at times we did that, sometimes we didn’t. You just have to keep fighting and try to get 3-and-outs to get the offense the ball back.”

On how he felt the younger guys played

“I thought they played really good. We have full trust in them. Coach (Tony) Tuioti has trust in them. A couple of the older guys were down today, so they had to get in. They had a third-down stop in the red zone to force a field goal. I trust them. They know what they can do, and they’re good.”

On what it means to try to win the last two games and become bowl eligible

“It means everything because I will do anything to be able to play with my brothers and this team. I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve been with these guys every day. It means everything to have another game to play with them.”

On the general feel of the defense with how the season has gone

“It is what it is. You can only correct what has happened in the past. What we are worried about now is that we just have to keep fighting. We have a lot of seniors on this D-line. They keep the morale of this defense high. We've got guys like Darrion (Daniels), Mohamed (Barry), Ace (Alex Davis), me, and Carlos (Davis), we keep [getting] in those guys ears. We keep it positive. In times like this, that’s the only thing we can do.”

On what Coach Frost’s message has been to the defense

“Just get off on third down. For today, just to get them 3rd-and-5 or longer and make them pass. We did that a few times. We just have to be better.”

On how he felt they handled the physicality today

“I thought the defense played really good at times. They came off, but they weren’t the best we’ve seen. They played hard. We played hard.”

On when he knew Carlos Davis wasn’t going to play today

“Today. He practiced all week. He just said he wasn’t good enough to go, so some of the younger guys had to step up today.”

On how he felt like they did against the run fits and some of the mental things

“I thought we did a lot better today with the run fits. Our job was to hang the tackle and guard, so that the linebackers could come off and make a play. I thought we did that really good at times. Sometimes we didn’t. We just got to keep getting better.”

On how big of a surprise the tackling issues were

“We work on tackling every week. I thought we were good at tackling sometimes. There were just a couple plays where we were poor and didn’t really tackle well. That’s just on us. We've got to make a tackle and bring them down.”

Junior running back Dedrick Mills

On his performance

“I just got the opportunity to get out there and run the ball. That’s what I did. I ran hard and physical. What I’ve been told all week. What I’ve been told all year. What I’ve been told my whole life running the ball, run hard. That’s what you all saw today.”

On his determination

“I was more determined. I couldn’t let (junior Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor) do better than me today. They’ve been talking about him all year, so I had to go out there and prove myself, show everyone what they can expect from me and anytime I get on the field from now on.”

On hitting gaps

“We ran mids a lot today, and that’s what you see, I was breaking it every time. That is pretty much a common weakness of their defense. They can’t hold the mid zone, can’t fill gaps, but we just hit the holes really hard and just ran to give a second effort and not letting one person make a tackle.”

On making it to the goal line and not scoring

“It’s frustrating. We have to finish. Once we get down there, we have to finish. We have to find a way to dig deep down inside and give everything we’ve got to finish and get in the endzone. Then you can take your break when you get on the sideline.”

On almost scoring but stepping out

“I feel like I had it, then I leaned a little bit too much toward the sideline and ended up going out of bounds. I wish I could’ve got that one back because I wish I would’ve scored on that one.”

On eagerness for the ball on the goal line

“I wanted it the whole time we were down there. I wanted it. Back to back. I don’t care. I need it.”

On readiness to compete

“You can expect me to carry the ball as many times as they need me to. I’m always prepared. I’m always ready.”

On the holes created by the O-line

“They were the biggest I’ve seen all season. You saw I was hitting them and trying to make cuts, running my own players over because I couldn’t get around them.”

On gaining confidence

“It’s brought my confidence all the way up. I’m past the sky right now. I played really well today. I felt good for the offensive line because they really blocked their tail off today.”

On the third-down play

“It’s just a replay. You could pull it, or throw it, or run it, or you can just give it to me, and I’ll run it.”

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