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What Happened Between Ohio State's Punts Against Nebraska
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

They Said It: Nebraska Players on Huskers’ Loss to Ohio State

November 03, 2018

Nebraska players met with the media Saturday afternoon following the Huskers' loss to Ohio State, 36-31.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez, defensive end Ben Stille, linebacker Luke Gifford, tight end Austin Allen and safety Tre Neal all fielded questions from the media. 

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

Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez

On the mood in the locker room:

“Well we’re disappointed. We came into this game expecting to win and we didn’t. At no point is losing acceptable.”

On what plays he thinks about the most right after the game:

“Second half we stalled a little bit at times. There were a couple throws I’d love to have back. There were a couple misplaced balls on my part. Things that could have changed the game. Also, my turnover. Obviously, it was a terrible mistake. There are always things to look back that you could have changed that would have made a difference. Especially against a team like Ohio State. A talented team ranked 10th in the country. I needed to perform better.”

On his thoughts about third quarter struggles:

“Sometimes we aren’t putting ourselves in the best positions getting caught in third-and-medium or third-and-long. Especially against a team like Ohio State. I need to perform better. There were a couple of misplaced balls on my part that would have helped us extend drives.”

On where the growth has come from in the program:

“It’s just come with time, unfortunately for this team. Gaining confidence and learning what our coaches are trying to teach us. Putting that on the field and executing better. It really comes down to belief. This team has really come to believe what coaches are telling them and their own abilities. We know we can compete with anyone and that includes Ohio State.”

On the different feel between this game and after Michigan:

“Definitely. I’m proud of my teammates and the way we fought today. At Michigan, we were leaving with our tail between our legs. I think it was rock bottom. Like Coach Frost says, we hit rock bottom and we push off. This thing is taking off. Obviously, we need more wins. It’s hard to be optimistic at 2-7 but I know where this thing can get. I know the team believes where we can get. We are going to have to keep pushing.”

On his redzone turnover:

“Like Coach Verduzco says, I can’t make stuff up. That error is obviously completely on me. I should have just taken the loss and decide to pull the ball. There are different options on that play that I should have taken. I made a bad decision.”

On Ohio States defense athleticism:

“I think there is a reason why they’re ranked 10th. That defense is definitely fast. I couldn’t tell you if it was Minnesota if I would have broken those runs. I put everything out there to run away from those guys. If they caught me, so be it but I was going to fight.”

Sophomore defensive end Ben Stille

On the mood in the locker room:

“Obviously pretty disappointed. We had chances to beat them for sure. You come here to play a top-10 team and we didn’t make enough plays to get it done.”

On seeing a performance like this coming:

“Definitely. Everyone was confident after winning two weeks [in a row]. That was the thing early in the season. Guys weren’t confident because we weren’t winning. We had a good game plan for them. We knew this was going to happen.”

On the emotional boost forcing the initial three and out:

“Again, them going for it on fourth down early, it was good to get off the field. That’s just as big as a turnover. We forced quite a few turnovers. Getting off the field on fourth down was huge.”

On if they turned heads about where the program is at:

“I’d hope so. Just from the standpoint of where we started the season. Guys are obviously playing hard and guys are getting better.”

On what exactly they do better now than earlier in the season:

“On defense I thought this was our most complete game. We stopped the run well. We didn’t rush the passer as well though. Our defensive backs did a really good job this game and that was awesome.”

On what is helping them create turnovers:

“I think part of it is confidence. Guys are out there hitting guys. If you are hitting guys that hard, the ball is going to come out. If you are out there, you hear those hits. There were a lot of guys running to the ball. If you hit a guy from behind and he doesn’t see you coming, you have a good chance to knock the ball out.”

On what JoJo Domann means to the defense:

“JoJo is good. He plays all over the field for us. He can come up in coverage or in run support. It’s good we finally got him out there. I don’t know how many of the first games he missed but he’s definitely made an impact.”

On people talking about moral victories:

"I think a lot of the fans, their mentality is, 'Oh, you guys played a top-10 team close.' None of the guys on this team came here to do that. When you come up short of your goal it’s definitely just anger, disappointment and failure. Nobody is OK with that result.”

On getting seniors wins and sending a message about 2019:

“That’ll be big for us. Carrying some momentum, getting wins and gaining confidence. That’s what Coach Frost talked about a lot was getting some wins for these seniors, sending them out the right way. They aren’t going to see this program fully change but they are definitely the reason it’s starting to change. They are a huge part of it.”

Senior linebacker Luke Gifford

On how he’s feeling after the game:

“It was a big game. You try to leave everything you have out there. I feel like we didn’t. We were right there and had opportunities. We didn’t close it out. It was frustrating for sure.”

On the seniors’ feeling about closing the gap with OSU:

“I think there’s a lot of frustrations because we wanted this one really bad with everything that has happened the last two years and how the games have gone. There is a lot of optimism, too. I think the guys on this team should be really excited for what’s coming. We have three games left and we feel like we can win all three of them. We will be ready to roll on Monday and are excited about the last three games.”

On being so close to a win:

“We are a completely different team than when we played Michigan. I think it was Northwestern week when Coach Frost talked about how the culture and program and general had changed. We didn’t win that game so it was hard to see but we knew within our walls that things were changing. I think obviously we didn’t get it done but what happened out there on the field, the difference from what it’s been like the last few years definitely shows a lot of progress.”

On what the turnovers do to help the defense:

“It’s huge. They had quite a few yards but when you are able to get those takeaways like that, it completely changes the game. We had a couple more opportunities when balls were on the ground. There was a pass interference call on the tipped ball I dropped. I thought we did a really good job to give ourselves the opportunities. We are definitely on the right track with takeaways. It’s probably the most we’ve had all year. We were extremely ball aware all week. It’s something we have to keep going.”

On if they surprised Ohio State:

“It’s hard to say. I think probably after those first couple drives they realized it wasn’t going to be the same type of game from the last couple years. It was pretty evident with us that it was going to come down to the wire and we’d be there until the end.”

On if their running backs were the difference in the game:

“Yeah they probably were. They run hard and are big physical dudes. I missed one on first down that ended up being second and short. If I make that tackle at the line of scrimmage then maybe it goes differently. They are good backs. We knew they were and they ran well today.”

Freshman tight end Austin Allen

On remembering the game last year versus Ohio State:

“It seems like last year, once we hit adversity we’d curl up in a ball and almost quit. When we hit adversity with this staff, they are going to push us to attack.”

On the difference in the approach versus last year:

“We knew we were in for a dogfight. They were coming off that loss. We knew that they were going to give us their best shot. We had to withstand that burst of emotion. We came out scoring. I think we came out with a great mentality compared to last year.”

On if they caught them by surprise:

“Yeah. A lot of teams are underestimating what we can do. A lot of teams will be surprised by what we can do when they step on the field with us.”

On Frost saying guys were mad in the locker room:

“Oh for sure, that’s the No. 10 team in the nation and we were right there. It gives us fire in our belly that we can be there too if we take care of what we can take care of.” 

Senior safety Tre Neal

On how close they are to Ohio State:

“We came into this game expecting to win. Watching their stuff, we felt like we matched up really well. You guys saw it. In crunch time they executed and we didn’t. That’s something we have to work on now and in the future. Guys can make all the plays in the world when you are up 40 points. When it’s time down by a possession and you need a stop or a score, that’s when execution has to be perfect.”

On winning for the seniors:

“Win or loss, I love these guys. I’m always going to cherish the opportunity. They have taken me in with open arms. Im never going to be made at them for losing games. It sucks because looking back in hindsight we’ve been so close in these games. It’s little things. I try to tell the young guys who aren’t used to losing, I see the process. If we clean up the little things, we can be a 6-2 or 7-1 team. That’s just part of the process, working out some of the kinks. Once you get that out, this team will be fun. I think you guys can see it. This is the number ten team in the country and we can compete. That means great things in the country.”

On how he’d feel if Nebraska gets good in a couple of years:

“I’d be glad to be part of it to start. I don’t want all the credit, I’m happy to be part of the team now. Of course, I want to win games. To show these young guys the way and little things, I feel like I’ve done my part.”

On importance of turnovers:

“It’s a good thing because our offense was humming early. Getting the ball back to them. When that offense gets rolling it’s hard to stop. That’s the main thing we work on is getting the ball back to them. Getting the turnovers on defense is crucial to getting in us the ballgame.”

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