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Nebraska Football Players at Game Against Iowa
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

They Said It: Nebraska Players Discuss Huskers’ 31-28 Loss To Iowa

November 23, 2018

Nebraska players met with the media Saturday afternoon following the Huskers' loss to Iowa, 31-28.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez, linebacker Luke Gifford, running back Devine Ozigbo, safety Tre Neal and linebacker Mo Barry all spoke to media following the game. Here's the full transcript from their question-and-answer session postgame.

Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez

On the surprise that Iowa went for it late in the game on fourth down:

“Initially I thought they were going to punt the ball. Obviously, you have to be on your toes and ready to go out there at any given moment. I was waiting to see what happened and be ready if need be.”

On the two-point conversion:

“Originally we [looked] towards the left there with Stan [Morgan Jr.]. I think they read that pretty well. I didn’t want to force anything. I trusted myself to extend the play and see what else I could find, a better option. I found Kade [Warner] in the back of the endzone and he made a great catch.”

On what clicked on offense the second half:

“You have to have the same mindset. Just attack and knowing we needed good drives. Being consistent and making good decisions. Somewhere in the third quarter we went for that fake punt. That was a big moment for us, allowed us to continue that drive and let our offense get clicking from there.”

On the offense in the coming years:

“Well whenever you have Coach Frost and this offensive staff, I think the sky is the limit. Obviously, we have a lot of guys returning so it will be exciting to see what we’re capable of next year. Some guys will have to step up but I feel good about the young guys you named there stepping in and making some plays for us.”

On the team being close on a handful of losses:

“In my eyes, its looking at it as moral victories. That’s just called football. The margin for error is small. That’s the difference between average and good teams. Towards the end of the year we got a lot better as a group executing what we needed to. There’s just a little bit of plays here or there that can really make a difference and would win us a lot of those ball games.”

On his fourth-quarter interception:

I was glad the defense was as able to stop them on the back end. I thought the corner was going to play the flat and Stan could get behind him. Obviously, I forced the ball and made a poor decision.

On playing with Stanley Morgan Jr.:

“I’m really happy for him. He’s a very deserving, hard-working guy. He’s real fun to be around. He’s been a real leader for us. He will definitely be missed. 1,000 yards is fantastic. It will help him moving on into the draft and I’m excited to see what happens for him.”

On what he learned from the seniors:

“These seniors have been through a lot here at Nebraska. Unfortunately, they don’t get any more time left with coach Frost and see what we are going to become and build. I know in a few years looking back they are going to have a lot of pride in what they built and laid the foundation for. These next few years we are definitely going to play for these guys who put their heart and soul out there for us and didn’t get the best result. We weren’t necessarily ready and hadn’t adopted the whole culture but at the end of the day they will be proud of what they did here at Nebraska.”

Senior linebacker Luke Gifford

On Iowa’s big fourth-down conversion:

“Honestly, we all thought they’d end up going for it no matter what. You know, they made a good play. They just executed. We tried to bring the house and get after them. Antonio [Reed] did fine, it’s football, they made a good play. You wouldn’t want to go out any other way. That’s the kind of defense we are becoming.”

On Iowa tight end TJ Hockenson:

“He’s really good. The way they run their stretch, it’s kind of different than other teams. Those tight ends do a really good job, it took some time to adjust. For myself, I was trying to figure out how they were blocking it to get involved in the plays. In the second half we did a lot better job of that. He’s a stud. He’s a really good blocker and route running. Same with Noah [Fant]. They have two really good tight ends.”

On seeing the change in momentum after the stop on fourth down in the third quarter:

“Yeah, it was big. We needed that. It was huge. We knew at some point they’d go with a fake. They had been successful with them so we went over a lot of the things they’ve done the last couple of years.”

On the fake punt Nebraska ran:

“That’s been in the playbook forever. We’ve been trying to run it for a long time. I couldn’t believe we actually called it.  We talked about it at halftime. We did a pretty good job executing it. I knew I’d have to make a run and beat someone to the edge. Thankfully I got it.”

On where the program is going:

“Just listening to that guy Adrian sit up here and talk, I can’t even really put it into words to be honest. I’m so happy for these guys. They are going to win a ton of games here and I’m thankful for them. The way they’ve embraced us and looked up to us as captains. They are good kids, they work hard. Coach Frost is awesome and I can’t wait to come back to watch them.”

On Adrian Martinez’s future:

“The sky is the limit. I don’t think he has a ceiling. Especially in this system and the guys he has around him. It’s going to be tough to stop them in the next couple of years. I wouldn’t want to play defense against them that’s for sure. They had it rolling a little bit today. They will be scary with him and whoever steps in after that, it won’t matter.”

On the team’s fight this week and this season:

“I think last year teams would get up and then we would start pointing fingers or do too much. We’d get out of a gap and they’d keep running. They were doing a good job with their stretch in the first half. It takes a bit to adjust because they are so good at what they do. Finally, we were able to execute and get guys in the right spot. The mentality is just so much different than it has been in the past. You could really see that in the second half. We fed off a couple stops and big plays. I was proud of some of the things we did today but it’s not a moral victory. This game is going to be important for years to come. Coach Frost talked about it before the game. This was going to be a brawl. It’s exactly what it was.”

Senior running back Devine Ozigbo

On Adrian Martinez’s future:

“I expect to see a Heisman in the next three years. I feel he’s a guy that can do it. He’s playing crazy for a freshman. Giving this kid more time to grow, develop and learn the offense wil be bad for everyone else. I’m excited to see what he can do.”

On what it means to hit milestones as seniors:

“It kind of shows maybe what wasn’t being used in the past, we’ve always had the weapons but we needed a system to get the ball to them. Now this offense is definitely showing it can do that. If you can make some plays, this offense is great for you. This offense is one you can thrive in. Having the potential and coaching to do so, it just all blew up. It shows what these coaches are doing here.”

On whether the offense can be even more dynamic next season:

“Yeah, if guys can develop. Everyone that’s here this year will learn the offense better. They’ll be able to add some things and execute better. When that happens, itll open up the playbook and calls. If the guys develop and get strong, it’s going to be great.”

Senior safety Tre Neal

On the fourth-down call by Iowa late:

“We knew they were kind of in that no-man’s land where you don’t want to punt it because you won’t get much from it. We knew they’d probably go for it. We were just trying to get after the quarterback and they made a good play. It happens sometimes. We kind of knew they’d go for it. We were trying to get after him and make him uncomfortable. He made a good throw in tough conditions”

On what adjustments were made to slow the running game:

“We really just started playing our gaps and coming off the ball better. Guys early on were not coming off the ball as hard or fitting in the right gaps. In the second half, we were just like, ‘Look, they are just running the ball.’ We had to get in our gaps.”

Junior linebacker Mo Barry

On continuing to fight during the game:

“Just understanding what you are playing for. You are playing to win the game, for your teammates, for the seniors and the state of Nebraska. To quit is not in our vocabulary. That was the thought process for all of us honestly.”

On momentum in the program:

“We were supposed to win that game. You have to make those big plays in the critical times and moments. Some plays weren’t made and should have been made. Those kinds of plays have to be made next year.”

On the strength of last year’s team versus this year:

“I think we were way stronger than last year. Again, we just had to be aggressive like we did the second half to stop that run game. We needed to get downhill and have backside pursuit.”

On next season’s potential:

“It will be tremendous. We have a lot of talent in our young group. We have to get stronger and more physical. We have the team speed to match or surprass any team. It will be the biggest thing to get stronger and bigger.”

On being a stop away in the last three losses:

“You have to make the critical play. Last year we weren’t in moments like that a lot. All of us. You have to grow. There are a lot of lessons learned this season but they are lessons that can make us a great team.”

On Frost saying the team needs more strength and conditioning:

“That’s accurate. That’s our head coach and he knows more than all of us, he’s right.”

On team’s goal of winning the Big Ten:

“We have to. For me, anything less than a Big Ten Championship my senior year will be for nothing. I went through tremendous pain. I have to win the championship my senior year here for this program. For my teammates, for these seniors that sacrificed a lot. That’s what has happen next year and I’m very motivated to do it.”

On leading the team to that goal:

“I’m trying to help my teammates be the best they can be and win games and championships. I’ll be there for them. That’s the biggest thing. I have been doing that and that’s all that has to be said.”

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