Hot Reads: Harbinger or Just a Hard Day at the Office for Huskers Offense?
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

They Said It: Nebraska Players Discuss Win Over South Alabama

August 31, 2019

Nebraska players met with the media Saturday afternoon following the Huskers' 35-21 win over South Alabama. It was a less-than-ideal win on some fronts, but a win nonetheless. 

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

Sophomore QB Adrian Martinez

On his evaluation of the offense as a whole

“It’s no secret, as an offense we played very poor. It’s probably the worst we’ve played in a long time and it’s not acceptable. We’re not happy with it. We’re happy that we got the win, our defense played great, special teams made some plays. But offensively, we need to be a lot better. Pretty simple.”

On if he was surprised at the offensive performance after a good fall camp

“I would say we came out good in fall camp. This week in practice I think we could have had a couple better days. We just have to know that we can’t come out with that type of effort and execution. We started the game pretty strong, scored a touchdown, but we learned this lesson last year. We have to be consistent, and I think it’s a good lesson for this offense going forward.”

On how big it is having this game heading into Colorado

“I think it is a big deal and I think it’s good that we can get this out on a win. At the end of the day, that's what matters, we won the game. Obviously, our offense didn’t come to play the way we wanted it to, but we get to fix it. We have another week, another game, and we’re going to look back at the film and get better from it.”

On if he was conservative running the ball

“I would say they kind of didn’t give me the option on some of the plays. Some of the plays we were running they did a good job of shutting that down for me. There were a few I kind of forced and it didn’t work out well. They were good on that front. A couple scrambles, maybe I could’ve got some more yards, but I wouldn’t say I was conservative. I don’t really approach a game conservatively, if I get my opportunity I’m going to take it.”

On how it feels to have a defense and special teams unit that can score

“My confidence is real high in my teammates. They proved it all fall camp. Our defense knows the offense is going to step up next game, moving forward. They haven’t lost confidence in us. This game was great for them to show it, great for their hard work to pay off. I wouldn’t say I am any more or less confident in them because I believed in them from the jump.”

On not having an offensive snap in second half until 6:41 in the third quarter

“It kind of made it a little difficult to get into a rhythm there at the beginning of the second half, just because we didn’t get a possession until six minutes left. But there’s no excuse. That’s football, it’s not going to go perfect. We’re not going to get a possession right away, whatever happens you have to be ready to react, and I did a poor job of leading the offense. Plain and simple.”

On what he felt disappointed about in his play

“There were probably around four or five throws that I could’ve made that I think would have made a big difference offensively for us. I obviously threw an interception, kind of shorted the ball there. I just need to step up as a leader and football player out there on the field and do a better job. This falls on me. I think a lot of guys did their job well on offense today and I didn’t. It’s what it comes down to and we’ll get it fixed.”

On how far off a snap needs to be to affect him

“Us quarterbacks get some training like that in practice and it really doesn’t affect me unless it goes 20 yards down the field. But it’s part of the game, guys aren’t going to be perfect all the time and it’s something we’ll adjust to.”

Sophomore DB Cam Taylor-Britt

On if he thought he was going to return his interception for a touchdown

“Yeah I did. The dude that actually face-masked me is one of my friends, so after the game I asked him ‘what were you thinking?’ and he said ‘I knew I had to get you down or you were going to take it back.’ It was Jared Wilson. He’s from Troy, Alabama so he went to South Alabama and we were friends in high school. He came up here and he was talking, talking and said 'I’m going to get you' and when he face-masked me I was asking ‘where’s the flag?’ but it’s all good.”

On how good the forced fumble sack felt

"I didn’t know it was a forced-fumble sack, I just knew I hit him hard, really hard because I hurt myself a little bit. When I saw the scoreboard, I just saw them falling on the ball in the end zone and it was crazy. To be in Memorial Stadium and play like that and see everybody cheering, it’s great.”

On if he thought he could sack the quarterback and force a fumble

“Yeah, the tight end was in so we were just like. 'hey here I go.' It was my first snap at safety in college and that happened, so I was thinking maybe I can do this.”

On turnovers 

“It proved a lot defensive-wise. Everyone was getting to the ball and competing for tackles, forced fumbles, and pd’s. We’re all in competition right now, so we’re just trying to hold ourselves to a high standard. Like Mo Barry said, we are in competition and everybody wants to get to the ball.”

On the amount of reps at safety during fall camp

“Very little. I was more nickel and corner, but whenever they need me at safety that’s what I’m going to do.”

On Eric Lee

“He had a great day. He was already good at fall camp, he just showed up today. He really showed up and showed everybody what he can do, so we know, we the guys on the field, we can move around. We can move DiCaprio Bootle to safety if we need to and move me down to corner and move Eric Lee down to safety. There’s a lot of people that can do a lot of things on that defense. To see Eric Lee ball today made us all happy.”

On the offense

“It was just a bad game. We went against this offense fall camp and they’re very explosive, they have a lot of weapons. When they get the ball in their hands and get things clicking Frost is going to get it going and Adrian Martinez will do his thing.”

On if you joke with the offense on a day like today

“Yeah, we do. We tell them that we got more points than them. That’s a thing for us this year, they may put up 21 and we’ll try to put up 21 on defense. That’s a great game for us.”

On what he’s thinking about on a clear blitz 

“It’s like slow motion knowing that I have a free lane to hurt you. If you aren’t going to turn around and look at me then alright here we go. It’s just a slow-motion thing and it’s kind of crazy.”

On if things sped up once contact was made and the ball came out 

“Yeah, I heard nothing but fans and didn’t realize what happened. I didn’t see the ball, so I ran to the sidelines and thought I did a good job.”

On how many South Alabama players he knows

“I know a few, just Jared Wilson by name. We Facetime all the time, I check up on him and he checks up on me. Before the game they were calling me saying what they were going to do and I just said I'll see you on the 31st, that’s it.”

On his interception contest with Eric Lee

“Yeah he got me, but I’ll try again next game." 

On being confident this season

“I’m more comfortable this year not being a freshman cornerback and now playing DB. Just being here is a lot better. I know a lot more than I did last year, so it helps that I can be loose and play my game.”

On the move to safety

“I was running off the field and Coach [Travis] Fisher told me to stay so I was like ‘OK, alright let’s do it.’ I saw the tight end, and the quarterback didn’t look my way, so I did what I had to do.”

On backfield players being able to play every position 

“It makes the defense great. We can move guys to different positions without it being a problem. If someone gets hurt, we can just throw someone in and they can do the exact same thing.”

Senior S Eric Lee Jr.

On having a day like today

“Since I committed here back in 2014, being able to finally reach this day and make the plays I’m capable of out on the field to showcase it on this level. I’ve been waiting for that my whole life.”

On his back-to-back deflections and pick six

“I think the tough part about playing that D-ball, I mean it’s a D-ball, it’s a 50/50 you want to make sure you don’t leave your backside cornered just give him away, put the scope on him. Being able to play between the fieldside too and the boundary runs. Being able to do that and then, the good thing is, watching film and being able to know the formations and what possible routes come out of those formations.”

On popping the ball out on the deflection

“I suppose. I couldn’t tell you. I just ran through it.”

On moving from corner to safety

“I’m definitely glad. I feel like it allows me to come down and make a lot more tackles and that’s something I’ve always been good at. Then just from a mental aspect, you just do so much more mentally. You need to know so much more. It just keeps you engaged more a tremendous amount.”

On the offensive struggles and the defense’s rise

“Whether it’s the offense struggling or whether they’re just cooking off cylinders. Defense we always, in particular the secondary, we always want to put the team on our shoulders, and we want to try and make all the plays that are in our favor. The secondary, we just try to make all the plays we can and try to elevate everyone else’s game and continue to grow and grow as the season goes on.”

On thoughts of leaving Nebraska

"Yeah, to be realistic, yeah. I’m thankful to have my dad. He always talked myself into it. Talking back into staying saying ‘Just keep your head down. Keep working. Keep working.’ Like when I called him after the game, he was in tears just saying how proud he was of me. Just being able to keep working, keep working, putting my head down and I’ll see some of the results that came from this first game.”

On when he had those doubts

“I couldn’t remember a time.”

On playing Colorado

“Hopefully we can get Deontai [Williams] back next week as well, as he’s a vital portion to our defense. Just being able to go back to Colorado. I had last year’s game circled on my schedule and I have this year’s game circled on my schedule. Being able to go play against those kids, and I know a lot of the kids on their team. I’m just excited to go back out there and take CU down.”

On family in Colorado

“I have a lot of family, a lot of friends there. Excited to beat CU and see all my family and friends afterwards.”

On the defense’s motivation

“We’re not looking to prove [anything]. If anything, we’re looking to prove each other wrong. Me and Cam Taylor were talking. He got a pick, I got a pick six, he got a pick and we we’re just saying ‘I’m gonna get the next pick.’ I think the biggest thing is just competition within each other has increased our play a lot.”

On the defense

“We work trying over stuff all the time. Just seeing all the drills and things that we practice every day come to light. Makes you want to go hard and harder every day.”

On Eli Sullivan

“Eli, I mean, he’s like having a coach on the field. In meetings sometimes he’ll argue with the coaches. In a good manner. Just the easy stuff like what he think we should do and stuff like that. Uptalk, he’s definitely extraordinarily smart. He’s also just a physical tough guy more than capable of playing safety just like the rest of us out there.”

On today and the rest of the season for him

“I wouldn’t say I’ve flown under the radar. I’d just say from my aspect I just try to do everything I was supposed to do and just keep it from them.”

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