Nebraska players met with the media Saturday evening following the Huskers’ 13-10 win over Northwestern. The Huskers won a classic Big Ten game on a last second field goal by Lane McCallum. We heard from sophomore quarterback Noah Vedral, senior defensive back Lamar Jackson, senior defensive lineman Darrion Daniels, sophomore kicker Lane McCallum and freshman wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson.
Here’s the transcript from his question-and-answer session postgame.
Sophomore quarterback Noah Vedral
On Northwestern's final three timeouts
"I trust Lane [McCallum]. I've played basketball with him for a very long time, and so I know he has that clutch factor in him. I wasn't too worried."
On his pass to Wan'Dale Robinson on the game-winning drive
"It's one of our familiar concepts that our guys know like the back of their hands, so we felt comfortable calling it, and I know Coach Frost knows that, too."
On the mental challenges of the situation today
"Sometimes that's what backups struggle with, just staying locked in. But Coach Frost and Coach Verduzco do a really good job with the quarterbacks as a whole. Even Luke [McCaffery] is ready to go in a moment's notice. They do a really good job at preparing us, and I did my best this week to be locked in and know the scouting report and all that stuff and as the game goes, [it's] sometimes an advantage as a backup. I get to watch that stuff without having to make the tough decisions that Adrian did. He played a hell of a game, so I've got to say thank you to him for keeping us in that ball game and giving us a chance."
On his current thoughts and feelings
"We've got to get ready for Minnesota. We've got a one-week season. It's one-week seasons for us right now. In our division, we've got to be on point every week and be ready to go."
On the locker room environment this week
"The guys were locked in. Coach Frost did a great job at reminding us that everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us. And Northwestern was the first step to that. We had a really good point this week of where else would you rather be on a Saturday in the fall than Memorial Stadium playing football with your guys. So I think that is a really good message that our guys latched on to this week and kind of held in their hearts as we practiced and as we were tied up going into the fourth. I think they thrived in that and I think that was really important for us."
On the dream of playing on Saturdays at Memorial Stadium growing up with family members who played for Nebraska
"It's super special. And it's super nice because it was a super nice day. It wasn't cloudy rainy or cold, which you always worry about in October. It was super fun. I actually got to see my uncle, Jon [Vedral], was one of the first people I saw. He had a sideline pass today, so he came down and that was super fun to get to give him a hug and celebrate with him right after we made that kick."
On the past year since becoming eligible
"Ups and downs. I mean it's hard when you go from ineligible, to eligible, to hurt, to this, to that, but I think everything settled down this spring. It felt like normal football again. Practices were competitive. I felt comfortable. I didn't feel rusty. And that's the way this fall has been. You know with the ups and downs but as of late it has felt pretty steady."
On knowing McCallum's clutch ability
"I played basketball with him since like 7th, 8th grade. We played on Bison. We played against each other in summer leagues. Before I knew him as Lane he was the left-handed shooter from Norfolk that bombed us. I've known that for a while."
On what he will say to his uncle, Matt Turman
"Thanks for the genes? I don't know. It will be fun to talk to him though because we kind of get to compare stories now a little bit, so that will be fun."
On the last sequence
"I think that's fun. It's cool that it was just two Nebraska kids. I mean from here, raised here, weirdly enough we are both transfers which is a weird fact but it was super exciting. It's kind of one of those things that it doesn't really hit you who it is or what it means until afterward. But I was just super excited for Lane, but I was never really too worried about it."
On his thoughts when Adrian Martinez got hurt
"The first thing is just get your arm warm. The first thing I also do is I try to play the game through Adrian's eyes on the sidelines, so look back at what have we've seen in this formation, that formation, this down, in this instance. So, mentally, physically warm up. One of the hardest is just getting your legs warmed up. Stand around for a long time you need to jump up and down, stretch it out a little bit but again, the only thing that any backup should be thinking about is do your job and give us a chance, but that's about all that was going through my mind."
On Wan'Dale Robinson
"Charles, that's what I call him. Charles is a really special kid. He is going to have a really bright future. I think we can all already see that. But he is nice to throw to. Promise you that."
On why he calls Wan'Dale, Charles
"I think that's his real name. I'm just kidding. I don't know. I call him Charles. It's just a nickname. You can ask him about that."
Senior defensive back Lamar Jackson
On if the ball surprised him on the interception
“Yeah, at the end of the day it’s one of those things, right place at the right time. I mean that’s pretty much what happened on my run, it was just a little bit of indecisiveness. It was a blessing, at the end of the day, you can call that a gimme. It landed right in my hands, caught it as I was supposed to, but at the end of the day I was a little disappointed, just because I know what I’m supposed to do, I had to make that play for the team.”
On the interception and end of the game
“It’s just like I say, right place, right time. It hit me in my hands, I knew the game was on the line, either way. At the end of the day, I second guessed it a little bit. I was happy I was able to secure it and that we were able to get it done, and Lane was able to knock the field goal down for the win.”
On the injuries the team has faced on offense
“There was no pressure or anything like that, at the end of the day, we just kind of know, it’s that next guy up mentality. We have all the confidence in Noah. These guys practice, these guys work every day just like everybody else. So we expect nothing else from guys but to step up and do their jobs. At the end of the day we’re holding everybody accountable, including ourselves. It isn’t too much of nothing, I mean of course we want our guys in there, we want all our guys healthy, just to make us a strong group, but for the most part we’re going to play what we have out there, and we’re going to play our best football.”
On the interception
“I watched it. Like I say, thank you God, but I have to do better.”
On where he needs to be better
“Like I say, the first thing about it all was just the pure fact of time and place. I was able to catch that pick, I was able to secure the win for the team, for the most part, but I want to be better where it comes to returning and actually getting some positive yards on the play.”
On what it was like to get the interception
“It’s a blessing. Like I said, each time we go out there we’re expecting to win, we’re never expecting to give anything up, but plays happen. At the end of the day, this win, we just found a way to get it done. There’s going to be plenty more important situations, but each time we’re going to step out there and put out the fire regardless of who it is or the situation. This was a blessing that we were able to get this one done, it felt good. We knew we needed this one.”
On the game-winning field goal
“I couldn’t watch it. I was just kind of sitting around. We shot a quick prayer up. Kicking has been an issue, so at the end of the day we just kind of knew. Of course, we have all the faith in Lane, but at the end of the day we all put our head down and we were hoping for that one. He knocked it down, as he’s supposed to, and it was just a big, happy moment for us.”
On how much they were able to prepare for Northwestern’s quarterback situation
“They kind of split time at quarterback. We kind of just knew, we kind of focused on the receivers and schematic-wise, one guy took more shots than the other, but there was no dramatic difference. For the most part we didn’t focus on them too much, we focused on the overall scheme and what they do with receivers and how they try to get guys open.”
On facing Minnesota’s strong receiving corps next week
“Oh yeah, I’m always excited for the challenge. Let’s go.”
Senior defensive lineman Darrion Daniels
On if the turnover made the difference in the game
"Oh yeah it did. Coach Chinander told us that in the fourth quarter, and as the clock kept ticking, he said the first team that gets a turnover is going to win the game and that was the position we were in. Lamar got them with a great play and the offense drove the field and special teams ended it."
On getting back on track with a win after last week's result
"Yeah I think it helps a lot with our character. Just the ability for us to hit a wall and then not turn away from it but keep fighting it and pushing through. I think that that's huge for all of us in all three phases of the game. It helped build character and it was a tough win. It was something that we had to dig out and we got through. It was just another obstacle that we overcame, and it helps us later on down the road."
On the attitude in the locker room the past week
"Coach Frost said it was big. We didn't change anything that we did. We always practice good, always run around fast. We never changed what we did and our mindsets didn't really change either. We just looked at it like another obstacle and overcame it."
On the capability of the defense carrying the team throughout the season
"I've got a lot of faith in our offense. They do their job. When we need them to drive it, they drive it. When they need us to stop it, we stop it. It's a push-pull and I think we have a good relationship right now. When offense gets momentum, the defense carries it over to our position and same thing vice-versa, so I think we'll be straight on all three phases of it."
On what he was doing when Northwestern took three timeouts before the kick
"Laughing. I thought it was funny and a waste of time. Coach Frost does a great job of putting our kickers in that position. During practice, we put on a lot more pressure. We are literally in all of our kicker's faces and we just keep pushing the ball back so it's just one of those things because we practiced it. I was laughing because I've seen McCallum do it under way more pressure, you know like I said, we've got guys all around him, in his face and behind him in practice, so for him to go out there and be in a better situation, I felt like it was light work for him. I knew he was going to make it. I wasn't pressured or stressed at all about it."
On why the team has struggled lately out of the halftime locker room
"I'm not for sure yet. We'll get it figured out and get it handled."
Sophomore place-kicker Lane McCallum
On if he ever envisioned himself in a situation like this
“Absolutely not. It’s definitely been a crazy journey, God throws you in every situation he wants you to. It’s his plan not yours, and that’s exactly what has showed in the last couple months.”
On what was going through his head
“Praise God. I didn’t think that thing was going in when it left my foot, I looked at it and it was really low and I was like ‘oh crud.’ I give that one to the man upstairs for sure. I didn’t know if that was going to get blocked or not.”
On the name Frost called him to calm him down
“I can’t say that, he definitely relaxed me on that.”
On Northwestern calling three timeouts before the kick
“Honestly, I think I got more and more confident as the timeouts kept coming. Regrouping and settling down and letting the heart rate slow down, it helped me personally.”
On his nerves
“I missed that second one and I just kept the faith and thought this is going to come down to me. I knew I was going to get another opportunity and whether I miss or make, the glory goes up to Him, and I think that’s how I play and whether I make or miss it, nerves don’t really affect me.”
On the celebration
“Isaac Armstrong said we needed to have a race from the starting line to the end of the field and I think I passed him pretty early on, I don’t know where he went after that. I just ran, I didn’t know what was going to happen I just kept running.”
On being at the bottom of the dog pile
“That hurt. That was not very fun. I’ve actually had nightmares, whether it was basketball or football, I think I’ve had nightmares about hitting a game-winning 3 or making a game-winning field goal and getting dog piled and suffocating. Lucky I’m still alive after that one, it was heavy.”
On getting carried off the field
“Glory to God, that’s what was going through my head. I wanted to get to that center of the circle after that game and say some prayers.”
On the feeling after the ball left his foot
“It felt fine I think and then when I looked up the ball was pretty low, and I think it just missed a hand I’m pretty sure, but it went through.”
On getting moved back to kicker
“When it was just Barret [Pickering] in the spring, Coach Crespo and Coach DeWitt wanted me to try some out, but I had a hamstring injury, so I was out the first five weeks of spring ball. I kicked the week of the spring game, but they weren’t going to play me in that just because we wanted Barret to get the touches. On and off over the summer I saw more guys come in and I didn’t think they were ever going to need me to fill a void, I guess. Kicking has always been natural to me.”
On being referred to as a clutch basketball player
“I just work my butt off every single day in practice, and I think that I’ve been a leader in high school and growing up and guys have looked up to me. That’s a nice compliment, but I just work my butt off and whatever happens, happens.”
On moments like this making the hard work worth it
“100 percent. I think being a walk-on isn’t easy, it may seem like that with the praise we get, and I think high schoolers have that sense that it’s going to be pretty easy. Once you step foot in here it’s never easy and you have to earn everything you get. I think a moment like this pays off all the hard work I’ve put in and I praise God once again for the opportunity.”
On his relationship with quarterback Noah Vedral
“It’s crazy, like you said Austin [Allen] and Noah [Vedral] I played ball with Noah since 8th grade I think we’ve been buddies since forever. Right after the game I went over to him and we’re bros, so I think it’s pretty cool that we share that.”
On the thoughts as Vedral moved the ball closer to the end zone
“I feel confident wherever the ball is placed so I don’t think the yardage really mattered, but it definitely helped for our own team just Noah taking command and moving the ball down the field.”
On high pressure practice situations
“Every week it’s something new. We always have a bunch of periods where you need a game-wining field goal to win it, so they bring the whole team around me and scream in my ear and say funny stuff so I’m used to that by now, but it’s helpful.”
On practice situations helping today’s game-winning kick
“I was kind of numb after the timeouts, so it was just noise. I’m focused on what I have to do and I don’t think the noise really affects me, what happens in practice helps.”
On advice from injured kicker Barret Pickering
“He’s been a great mentor to me. I’ve never really had a coach that has coached me with kicking, I kind of just kick the ball, it’s just a God-given ability. The past couple weeks have been really good because he’s always giving me tips and he’s been a great teammate. Today I never experienced that kind of wind, and I was asking him questions like ‘where do I aim this?’ The wind is different in the stadium than it is in the air, so it’s helpful to have him as a teammate and help me out there.”
Freshman wide receiver/running back Wan'Dale Robinson
On what it means to him to have played key roles in both Big Ten wins this season
“I mean, these are the moments you live for as a college football player. I came in wanting to make plays just like this, and I came in wanting to have a big impact like this in a game like this. Just doing what I can to help our team win is all I want to do.”
On if he felt like he needed to deliver an explosive play once quarterback Adrian Martinez and wide receiver JD Spielman went down
“I always feel like I have to give some type of play. I feel like that any play I make will give our team confidence and our fans, giving them something to cheer for. They will get rowdy. So really, anything I can do to help us and having those two go down was a huge blow, but we had a tremendous confidence in Noah [Vedral].”
On his 32-yard reception in the final drive of the game
“It was kind of a switch route, so me and whoever the outside receiver was just switched places. The corner overlapped, so I was just hoping Noah could give me a shot to let me make a play. Obviously, he did.”
On what was going through his mind during that play
“Just make the play. Just catch the football. That’s the main thing. Just put us in field goal range. Just making sure I made that play was all that was going through my mind.”
On if he wanted the ball in his hands on the final drive
“I mean, anytime there is a game on the line, like I said earlier, I want the ball. I want to be able to make the play. I want to be able to give our team confidence. I want to be able to get our team going.”
On the 49-yard shovel pass reception
“I didn’t think he was going to shovel it because of how the mesh point was, so whenever he gave it to me I was like ‘I gotta go.’ Then that guy came down, and I made him miss. I just got to work on my top-end speed a little bit.”
On what he was doing leading up to the game-winning field goal and during the kick
“I was just bending down praying, hoping that he made it. Like Lane [McCallum] said, we have those clutch periods in practice where we’re screaming in his ear and trying to distract him and give him a game environment. He came out clutch, and I’m really thankful for him.”
On if he believes that winning a close game can vault the team
I think anytime you win it will help you. I just think getting that win and being able to persevere through that, it will just help us in the long run, especially when we are in close games like that again.
On if anything that Noah Vedral did surprised him
“Nothing really surprised you with Noah, especially since he’s been in this offense longer than anyone else, since he was UCF. We knew could make all the reads. He can make all the plays. We are just as comfortable with Noah in there as we are with Adrian [Martinez]. It’s kind of like that ‘next man up’ thing. Whoever comes in, we have to have confidence in.”
On freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey’s one play
“I was happy for Luke. When they called the run play, I was hoping everyone would be able to see how fast he really is because he can go.”