Nebraska's Ground Game Looks Closer to Taking Off
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

They Said It: Nebraska Players Discuss Huskers’ 44-8 Win Over NIU

September 15, 2019

Nebraska players met with the media Saturday night following the Huskers’ 44-8 win over Northern Illinois. The Huskers rolled in the game even if it wasn’t perfect at all times. The coaches were able to empty the bench and get a lot of players snaps in the game. 

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

Sophomore QB Adrian Martinez

On the first half 

“I think that our mindset was right coming out in that game and a couple of possessions I think we should have translated into touchdowns but, in general, I think our offense was in the right mindset to go out there and make the plays work. Go execute and let’s play how we should.”

On winning 

“It was great. I think it was great for our team. I am really excited for Maurice (Washington) and Dedrick (Mills), two solid games there. I think our offensive line played well and spread the ball around a little bit. I got in there and I think it was good for our team.”

On the mindset

“I think last Saturday we had the chance to put the game away. I think we came out today and offense wanted to prove something, and then in the second half wanted to finish the game. I think we did that and that is what I mean by mindset. I think that is half the battle, and our guys approached it the right way today.” 

On motivating the team 

“I think part of it was talking in the locker room and the other piece of that was not saying too much. You don’t want to be that guy who is always talking. I think our guys understood the message. They knew what we needed to do and there wasn’t much to be said at that point. Go out there and execute. Let’s go play hard and play fast. That is what we did for the majority of the night.”

On scoring late in the first half

“Regardless of how much time is on the clock, or any point in the game, I am always confident in our guys and Coach Frost. That is something we practice all the time and we had three timeouts, so I felt great going out there. I thought we could score, and I think that was a big moment for us – getting a score there at the end of the half.” 

On how the team played

“I think that our special teams played really well. Our defense obviously played great, but I think our offense turned a corner tonight and we played hard, we played fast, I think our tempo was better. I think that is a key thing, and I think we executed. There weren’t any penalties, which is a big deal. Ball security is something I think we need to continue to work on, obviously we had one turnover there. We are going to get better. Again, with the mindset, that is our mindset each week, we are just trying to get better. If we can keep on getting better at this rate, then we are going to win a lot of football games this year.” 

On offensive lineman Brenden Jaimes getting injured

“Any time one of my guys goes down it is tough. Luckily Broc Bando was ready to go, ready to come in and play and he did a good job for us. But, I think Brenden (Jaimes) is going to be all right. We will just have to see, I don’t know anything about the situation.”

On if he was more excited than normal to play tonight

“I wouldn’t necessarily put it that way. I would say this: any time you get the chance to come out in a night game, which this is my first one at Memorial Stadium, and play here with my brothers, I mean it is a special moment. I was excited tonight and that feeling was shared with the rest of the team.” 

On Maurice Washington

“Maurice had a great game, he is a stud. I think that was on full display tonight.” 

On going into conference game play 

“Well, I think tonight was a great building block heading into Big Ten. I think the rest of the guys realize that it is time for conference play. Just keep chugging along, I wouldn’t say our mindset even changes. Like I said earlier, keep on building off what we have been doing in practice and games each week and we are going to be the team we want to be.”


Junior RB Dedrick Mills

On how it felt to finally break through

“It felt amazing. I’ve been trying to get one of these for two weeks since I’ve been here, since I’ve been playing the game at this level. When I got the opportunity to get one tonight, it felt amazing.”

On what he thought the difference was from tonight than the first two games

“The first couple weeks I was just rushing. Just rushing the run instead of being patient and slowing down, finding the right holes and making the right cuts. In this week at practice, I really focused on and emphasized slowing myself and making the right holes and making the right cuts. So that’s what I did tonight.”

On what Coach Ryan Held told him after the fumble

“You've just got to forget about it. That was the past. You've just got to forget about the past and move on to the next play.”

On if he thought he was going to score on his first breakthrough run

“I thought I was. Unfortunately, I got caught. That’s something I've got to work on is my speed and breakaway speed.”

On what kind of 1-2 punch he and Maurice Washington can be

“I feel like we can do some amazing things in the backfield between me and Maurice. We both did that today, and we will continue to do that the rest of the season.” 

On if he took off the area codes off his helmet

“We don’t take them off. We've got practice helmets, and we've got game helmets. The game helmets got our area codes and the practice ones are just plain.”

On if he expected the offense to produce this many explosive plays

“This is what I expected. We could have been better at details, and we could have executed faster. Tonight, was really good. We did what we’ve been doing all week at practice.”

On how nice it was to come out strong in the second half

“It felt amazing to not let them back in the game. They scored five points in the first half, and they scored three points in the second half. The defense did what they were supposed, and we did what we were supposed to and came out and scored two more touchdowns. I was happy and satisfied with what we did today. We can always do more.”

On how much of an emphasis it was to spread the ball around

“It was an emphasis all week. We have been working on some different things all week. Things we’ve been working all week is what we did tonight. Everybody got the chance to touch the ball. I was happy. I wanted everybody to touch the ball. I wanted the younger guys to get some action and get the ball to. I wanted everybody to play.”

On why he thought more people touched the ball tonight

“We had that mindset like Adrian [Martinez] said it’s that mindset. Last week we played three quarters of football instead of four. Tonight, everybody came out with that mindset that we had to dominate and defeat all our opponents.”


Senior defensive lineman Carlos Davis

On how important it was to get things rolling on both sides of the ball

“We were just trying to put everything together, offense and defense and just have the perfect game. Last week we didn’t close it out like we were supposed to, and that was the focus coming into this week to just have a complete game. There’s still stuff we have to work on, but it was better as a whole group to take and move forward into next week.”

On how big the goal line stand was

“It just shows the type of defense we got. We take pride in stopping the run. They only had like 60 yards or something like that. That’s our goal every game is to keep them under 100 [yards].”

On if the defense came together to produce that goal line stand

“That drive right there, we just didn’t want to give up a score. They tried to run it twice then the third time they threw it. They could have ran it on that third play, but they chose to throw it. That just shows the strength of our defense. It was a big play.”

On what it means to keep a team out of the end zone for four quarters

“It means a lot to us as a defense, especially the defensive line. We’re up front. We've got to knock them back and reset the line of scrimmage.”

On what it means to begin Big Ten Conference play in his last season knowing what they’re chasing

“It means everything. This team is just growing and growing. We’re not perfect, but we’re working on it. We are fixing the little things. We’re going to do this thing right.”

On how ready the defense is for Big Ten play

“I think we needed those first three games to get ready. Last year, we missed a game and were kind of behind. Now, we are ahead of the game and ready for Big Ten play.”

On what the defense did to finish strong compared to the first three games

“It just comes down to preparation during the week. I thought we had a better week of preparing for this game all the way from Monday down to Friday. We were a lot more focused and executing. We just wanted to finish this thing right. We had a bad taste in our mouth last week, and we didn’t want to have that again. This team came in two years ago and beat us real bad, and we didn’t want that.”


Senior cornerback Lamar Jackson

On the second team defenders getting in the game and rolling for the win

"As a whole group we trust each other and like I just got done telling somebody about, when Braxton [Clark] got that pick, he came to the sideline and almost went into tears. I just told him, I know what it's like to get an interception, I know what it's like to make a big play and it changes everything. You become addicted to it and you want to repeat that feeling and I just know at the end of the day, it's big for Braxton and the young dudes. They're always questioning this and questioning that and if they just stay on it, everything's going to happen. Just keep working and keep working and tonight, when he got rewarded with that interception and helped secure the win, it's big for everybody."

On sending a message early defensively 

"Not even sending a message, we just knew we had to play four quarters of shutdown football, and we let one get away last week and we knew that. We used that all week and fuel the fire and just made sure we got through this week and do exactly what we did and put up a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. So I'm really just ecstatic for the group and help us move into the conference."

On the preparation to moving into Big Ten Conference play

"I mean, each week we're going to prepare and each week we're going to be fixing things and keep moving forward. I think coming off a win coming into Big Ten is completely different than coming off with a loss. At the end of the day, the momentum and everyone's going be happy and everyone will be a little bit more willing, so the natural things that just happen in a victory is going to help the team continue to be on the up."

On the goal-line stand at the beginning of the fourth quarter

"That's big, that's what everybody wants to see the Blackshirts do. That was probably one of the best moments for me during a game. I mean, my guys operating in the back end while they were trying to motion and do this and that, but we were just able to get a big stop and I mean that was a great moment in the game for the Blackshirts and for the whole team."

On taking another step as a team each week 

"We definitely took a step tonight and I think at the end of a day like this it's emphasis, everything each week depending on the opponent and we've got to get better. We can't go backwards, the whole group and the whole team everyone's got to keep improving. At the end of the day we got a victory, but it's a whole lot of stuff once we break down the film. So we just always have to remain humble and keep working towards success and get better each week."

On playing four solid quarters of defense as a team

"For the most part, I thought we played great out there. Like I said, we're going to watch some film and really know what happened out there, but for the most part with the win and the yards, I feel like we're going to like the results."

On playing a complete game and building confidence going into Big Ten play

"It's big, and like I said, we played three quarters of great football and we showed last week that it wasn't enough, so tonight that we played four together and get a win, now we know the right way and know what we've got to do. That's the emphasis for this week, is finish, I need the whole 60 minutes and the whole four quarters and we put the emphasis on it and to execute, so we're trying to do our best."

On Cam Taylor-Britt leaving the game early due to injury

"I mean, that's one of our soldiers, and if anybody goes down it kind of hurts you, but I think that we had to shout a quick prayer out and just to go and do it for Cam. Luckily, Cam's going to be all right, so that's a blessing and that we were able to get it done without him and I'm pretty sure once we get him back, we're going to keep it going."

On the walk-on defensive players having big nights

"Walk-on or not, they’re part of the DBs and we meet together, eat together and we are one. So I think that we can feed off each other and everybody's confident and everyone's got to think that we've got that next man mentality. Like you said, the plays on special teams, we've got to make a difference on special teams each and every weekend. I'm happy with [Isaiah] Stalbird, I mean he's one of us and that was another great moment of the game."

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