Nebraska players met with the media Saturday night following the Huskers’ 38-31 loss to Indiana. We heard from sophomore quarterback Noah Vedral, freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey, freshman wide receiver/running back Wan’Dale Robinson and senior linebacker Mo Barry.
Here’s the transcript from their question-and-answer session postgame.
Sophomore quarterback Noah Vedral
On when he knew he was going to start
"With Adrian [Martinez] being day to day, I was prepared like I was going to play from Monday. Again, they tell you Friday or Friday night, but more than one of us was ready to go. You always have an idea and you want to prepare like you're the starter no matter what and that's just what I did this week."
On how he felt physically
"I was good. Our training staff does a great job with us here. (Assistant Athletic Trainer Jason Amadio) Jason's my guy he does a great job helping me rehab my ankle and stuff like that so I felt pretty good, I felt pretty good in the first half even with what happened a couple weeks ago."
On how he felt coming back into the game in the fourth quarter
"Good enough. Coach Frost just wanted to know if I could do what he needed me to do and that situation I told him I could and he let me go out there."
On the lost fumble in the first half
"My eyes are in a different place but obviously if I could do it again I'd hold onto the ball. That was a big play that came back to haunt us, but if I had it to do again I'd hold onto the ball."
On what happened during the fumble
"I was trying to pull it back in, but it got away from me."
On freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey
"Luke's a sparky kid, I'm sure you guys have gotten to talk to him, so sometimes just keeping him calm keeping him focused, but he did a great job of that. I have no critiques for him, he played well, he did his job which is all we can ask of anyone on our team and that's one of Coach Frost's themes, just do your job so he did his job."
On what makes a team better than just OK
"It comes down to the little things. I think you can watch in our losses there's just a few little things that come back and there's that really fine line between winning and losing games that boil down to those 1-2-3-4, maybe 5 moment in a game or maybe you go a piece of the block when you needed it or you hit him in the left shoulder when you were supposed to hit him on the right, just stuff like that, that come down to being okay at your job and being perfect or excellent at your job and that's what he [Frost] is preaching to us and that's what we are going to continue to strive to do at practice each week."
On the decision for which quarterback would lead the final drive
"Really just which one of us was more ready to go. Having played in the first half the nod came to me because I played it, I was in it, and I was ready to go again. Like I said, the trainers did a really good job, they spatted me up really well, and I was good enough to do my job so that's what went into that."
On frequent injuries by Indiana
"That hurts. I don't really want to speak to much to that though because I don’t know if those guys are really hurt. I think in sports you have to give those guys the benefit of the doubt, but it can hurt your tempo in a game like that with injuries and stoppages, but again, I'm not going to accuse them of anything because if they are injured they deserve the benefit of the doubt."
On the tackle after the fumble and catching a pass from JD Spielman being part of the little things
"That's a start. As a player on this team and with Coach Frost preaching to us to do our job, that's my job. I'm the closest person to that guy and I think I can catch him, it's my job to catch him especially if I'm the one that fumbled that ball. On that catch that's my job, I got to catch that ball if it's in a catchable vicinity. Just trying to do my job and do the little things to help us have a chance to win."
On not being able to convert on two first half possessions
"Those kind of hurt. We would've really liked to have those two possessions back and convert on those, but it comes down to just being okay and being excellent and that's where excellent teams make those happen and make it work."
On preparing to be the starting quarterback
"Like I said earlier, any given week every quarterback in the room is to prepare like the starter. The reps get divided up as they may, but from Monday of last week and getting healthy you prepare with the mindset of a starter, watching tape, practice, pay attention, take mental reps when you're not in, and you make the most of the reps you can while you're at practice. Regardless of where you are on the depth chart or whatever the plan is. I think Luke [McCafferey] is a good example of that, being ready, taking reps like you're the starter, and being locked in throughout the course of the game because you don't know when your time is coming."
On seeing anything different from Indiana's defense
"No they were pretty stable. They would stem to an odd front a little more than we had anticipated but again that's not something we haven't seen before, that's an easy adjustment for us and we got it corrected and pointed out and people aware of it. They were pretty stable, a lot of what we saw is what we had seen on tape of previous weeks."
On the message from Darrion Daniels before the game
"In my own opinion, which I think is pretty in line with Coach Frost, the little things and being okay, often times don't come from practice. I think a lot of that stuff comes from the classroom, from off the field, cleaning up your locker at the end of the day, picking up the bottle that's lying beside the trashcan. It's the little things like that and I think what Darrion [Daniels] got after today was a little bit of that. Guys being a little lax and he wanted to snap us back in to being focused and ready to play in a big game for us. I'm appreciative of Darrion doing that and I'd echo what he says, we need to be focused and locked in for stuff like this. It's the little things that happen away and outside the game that can resonate through the game."
Freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey
On what his emotions through the week knowing he was going to play today
“There’s a lot of excitement. Each week though, we should always prepare to play. If you stay ready, you never have to get ready. Nothing changes too much from any of our parts.”
On what he liked the most about his game today
“It was a solid game offensively, but we got to find a way to win and finish. That’s the next step as a program is not to talk about but just go out there and do it… find any way we can to win.”
On if he feels like there are guys in the freshman class who can lead the team back to the culture where it needs to be
“That’s where it starts. Us as young guys, Wan’Dale (Robinson), Garrett (Nelson) all these guys, we have to be the cornerstones. We have to be the guys who flip this program, so we will take it upon ourselves and do what we can.”
On what it felt like to get significant playing time today
“There were little jitters at first. After that first play, it’s back to the game we have been playing since the first and second grade.”
On what he saw on his touchdown pass to Kanawai Noa
“It was well executed. Kanawai had a solid route. We had great protection. That’s about as easy as it gets.”
On how he felt like he handled the moment
“Back to my last quote, if you stay ready you’ll never have to get ready, so you just have to go out there and play football. It’s the same game we’ve been playing. Hopefully we can start to put things together and get some wins.”
On if he wanted to go out for the final drive of the game
On what the coaches told him before the last drive
“I was a little banged up.”
On how the four game redshirt rule changed his perspective knowing there was a chance he could play in some games this season
“It is very encouraging, just the ability to get that experience and take another step in my development is something that I’m a big fan.”
On his chemistry with freshman wide receiver/running back Wan’Dale Robinson
“He’s amazing. He’s a dynamic playmaker. He has the ability to take over games when we need him and a hard-nose back when we need him. He can really fill in anywhere. He’s a glue guy.”
On if he feels like he should be limited to two more games to preserve the redshirt of if he should play in more
“That’s really up to Coach Frost, Coach Verduzco and the rest of our staff.”
On how he feels how he can help the team the rest of the way
“The plan for me is to redshirt. Anyway I can get on the field and help my team win games is encouraging.”
On Wan’Dale Robinson’s toughness
“He’s a tough kid. He got great morale, great spirit. He’s a guy hopefully moving forward that we can start leaning behind and using him as an example for what we want in this program.”
Freshman running back/wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson
On practice time
“I didn’t practice Monday, Tuesday, and I practiced on Wednesday. Did a little bit of individual and some other stuff but nothing too much just to make sure I was ready for this game. I felt like I was really really ready for this game, too.”
On the workload
“Obviously with [Maurice Washington] going out, a little bit. I expected however many touches they needed me to have. I expected anything that they need me to do, I’m going to do no matter what the circumstances are if they need me to carry it 30 times a game, I’ll do it. If they need me to catch the ball 10 times a game, I’ll catch the ball 10 times a game. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do.”
On the mentality
There’s still some guys on the team that aren’t bought all in with our mentality that Coach Frost is wanting to, for our team to have for years to come and we have to start that now. We can’t just wait for that to come. Getting that mentality and trying to preach that to the other guys. Even though I’m a freshman, I’m still trying to get [it] into the older guys’ heads. We just have to get better at that type of thing.”
On being a freshman and the challenges
“Now it’s not too bad. It helped coming in early. I was already pretty cool with the guys so they already respected me enough and now I’ve proved myself enough in practice and things like that so they’re respecting me enough. If I say something then hopefully they take it into consideration and then just hopefully my actions show, too.”
On quarterback Luke McCaffrey
“It’s what’s going to become of whenever it’s his time to take over the reins. Luke’s a really really good player. He works just as hard as anybody in practice. He’s always making sure that he knows what he’s supposed to do. But I love Luke.”
On Luke’s physical skill set
“You’ve all seen him run. He runs like a running back a little bit too. He also has a really good arm. That ball that he had to Kanawai [Noa] was really really good. He just has all the tools you need for a quarterback in this offense.”
On McCaffrey’s screen passes
“He had like two of them. One or two, but both of them were really really good too.”
On his injury in the Minnesota game
“Oh yeah, definitely. Not being able to put weight on my own leg and thinking. They were like ‘Hey, we need to go get X-rays’ and I’m thinking alright well I don’t know if I’m going be back. Once they told me nothing was broken, nothing was torn, I was like alright, it’s time to get back to work, so I can play next week.”
On the last four games
We should have a lot of confidence. Guys are getting back healthier. Some guys went down today but just being able to bring everything together, being able to have the fundamentals and then knowing the [wrinkles] we have. Just having all that and hopefully next week we’re playing a full game and we play all four quarters the way that we can.”
On the last drive
“Yeah, just a little bit. I actually didn’t rep that too much in practice. It was just a little miscommunication. But we’ll have to get that fixed."
Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry
On what Indiana did to keep Nebraska off balance
"We thought they would be a heavy run team which they weren't. We were able to knock out the run for the most part. I think how they attack our cover threes or some of our zone coverages was smart by them and maybe the key to how they won this game. But we were in perfect position some times to make plays and we didn't and that's the story of this game."
On what Nebraska needs to do for the next game
"The leaders got to lead better. I said at the beginning of the season that everything we don't accomplish is because of the leaders, and I am going to hold myself to that. And I'm going to hold all the leaders, the seniors to that. What coach was talking about the small things, that shouldn't even be a question. By now we should have eliminated that prior to this game. And that's what we do during the week. Just not caring about people's feelings. It's all about how you approach the work week and the details and everything you do, and you've got to look at yourself first and then look at everyone around you."
On if losing a close game affects the team's mental toughness
"No. I think my teammates are tough. When I say that if you let a game like this, a game you could have won make you a loser forever, I think it's stupid, you know. So you worked and you could have won this game. The reason you lost this game is because of you. It's not magical. It's not because the team is better than you in an overarching way. It's you beat yourself. So we are not going to divide off of that but the leaders got to lead better and that's what we are going to do."
On the pregame attitude
"It shouldn't even be a question about this morning. That's my take. That should have been squashed. Since we passed a midway mark that shouldn't have been a question since the beginning of the season you know. It is a trend that we mess around sometimes, try to get loose before the game and you know that's not how you do it. You are supposed to be focused during game day especially."
On what caused the need for Darrion Daniels to address the team
"Every person has a way they get ready to play you know. You got Odell Beckham, he likes to dance or something like that. And you got Ray Lewis he likes to be focused and have fire and generate that energy. I guess that time most of the time is for people to find that and I think that's how guys took it prior to what Darrion said and before what he said during that day. But we want to be more uniformed about it. We want to be you know everyone locked in and everyone serious about it so we can do our stretches and get our bloodflow ready and get our bodies ready for the game."
On the loss in the Blackshirt jerseys
"We wear those jerseys in practice so it should sting every time we lose."
On Indiana's third down performances
"Every down it was something different but I would say just the details. In third down, fourth down situations the details you've got to be so precise that it's crazy. That's one of those downs that you can't expect something lucky to happen. You have to be precise because those quarterbacks those offensive coordinators even defensive coordinators that's what they live on. That's where they make their money is on third down. That's where they want to be in their best plays. They want to put their best plays. We want to put our best coverages and our blitzes on third down. So you got to be real precise."