Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

They Said It: Nebraska Players React to 52-7 Win Over Fordham

September 04, 2021

Nebraska players met with the media on Saturday following the team’s 52-7 win over Fordham. We heard from Adrian Martinez, Markese Stepp, Samori Touré, JoJo Domann and Deontai Williams.

Junior quarterback Adrian Martinez

On Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams

“Big momentum boosters, those guys playing really hard and Fordham had gotten a couple big plays but the defense held up. And I think it goes a long way and just our continued building of what we’re trying to do here and trust on both sides of the ball.”

On the end of the first half and the start of the second half

“It was huge. One of our coaches was kind of preaching, probably early last week just about how big the last five minutes of a half are and the first five minutes of the second half, right, and so that was really big for us going in the locker room and then coming out, finding a way to get the ball back and going down and scoring again. And we did what we were supposed to do.”

On the running game

“That’s going to be huge for us. We can go back on film and see what we need to get better on but you hit it on the head, you know, big for this team and I think just what we needed.”

On getting backups into the game

“We have confidence in who we are as a team, and what we’re capable of, so that means games like this we need to come in and take care of business and we did what we were supposed to do. There’s a little element of that but you can’t take anyone lightly, you still need to come out and play your tail off because they were excited too, you know, they’re playing football, they’re guys who want to be there so have to treat them as such.”

On the fans

“That was pretty cool, a special moment for sure for me. I always appreciate that support and I know it’s not like that everywhere, it isn’t. And it’s something to be thankful for, which I am, and part of what makes Nebraska so great.”

On Samori Toure

“I have a lot of trust in Samori. It is kind of funny he is over there cheesing at me so it is hard to talk. We built a lot of trust over the offseason and I am glad we got to showcase that today. I knew where he was going to be and he knew where I was going to put the ball and that is a big piece of the passing games just having trust and I trust him.”

On knowing what plays to make

“Coach Purdue does a great job of mixing in different drills during the week and one of those things is moving within the pocket and finding space to throw the ball and it is a fine line knowing when to take off and knowing when to maneuver and make it throw downfield.”

On the pitch play for a touchdown

“I do not want to get too into the weeds with that one but I will say coaches are looking for a specific look and it is traditional some options we ran in the past and yeah I will leave it at that but it is really not incredibly complicated it is nothing crazy for our guys for us to execute.”

On the linemen and his success

“100% they are the key. The key to this offense and they brought it today. We got each other grills a little bit and I loved it. It is what we need. We need more of that and we brought the energy out of each other. And those guys stepped to the plate and that is what we need as a team. That is what we needed today so we are going to need it moving forward.”

On accountability

“I will just talk about today, but today we love each other. Right? We call each other out need to step up whatever need to bring more juice and it goes both ways is all I was trying to say.”

On difference between this performance and last

“I would say as a unit we performed a lot better. And for me personally I was a little bit calmer and making sure that I was staying level headed with my footwork with my decision making and having trust in our guys.”

On being calm

“First game out of the way. I would not put too much stock into it. I just felt comfortable with our guys and what we were doing and we got to trust our teammates.”

Sophomore running back Markese Stepp

On game environment and crowd

“The crowd was great. I have been in a couple other hostile environments as well. It wasn’t really hostile today because we’re at home, but with big crowds, it was nothing too new to me. But there’s no fans like people here. I haven’t seen a fan base like this ever. We had barely had about 40 people on a regular basis. The fan base here is insane. It was pretty fun to run it.”

On the offensive game plan

“We work really hard, everyday. It wasn’t a surprise to me or anybody else. Because we know what we’re capable of when we do our job. We don’t make mistakes because we have our assignments. We could do this against any team day in and day out.”

On the third quarter

“I think we got pretty downhill all game, in my opinion. Sometimes it’s not going to be there. But I keep hitting always because eventually one will break. I felt like we had a couple of good long runs. The offensive line blocked really well today. They were moving the line of scrimmage, which makes our job a lot easier so hats off to them and them doing their job. After taking all the criticism last week they came out here and did their thing today and I’m proud of them.”

On team momentum

“I feel like we always had confidence, not to talk about last week. But we beat ourselves. I felt this was the game that we were supposed to win. But you always have to respect any opponent you play. There was no difference in the preparation from last week to this week. We continue to work hard like always and we’ll continue to respect every opponent. They came out and they were hitting especially player 47.”

On the support the team has for each other

“You know all summer we had a chip on our shoulder. People questioned what we’re going to do this year. But we knew what we had in the room and we continue to support each other no matter what and we continue to compete. We’re all close off the field which makes it even better because it’s genuine. When somebody has success we all succeed which you don’t see at all schools.”

On the culture of Nebraska football

“Sometimes, people can get jealous, but here we have each other’s back no matter what. It’s so unique to see everybody coming together even if their number isn’t called. Having that positive energy on the sidelines makes a difference because if your number is called you have to be ready. If you have a negative attitude you’re not going to perform on the field.”

On Nebraska spreading the ball around playing a factor into having each other backs

“Honestly that doesn’t play a factor at all. Regardless if you don’t get in at all we’re still going to support each other. I don’t think it matters who gets the carries or how it’s divided. I think it’s because we’re genuine people in that room. We really truly support each other no matter if you don’t get a play.”

On the younger backs learning how to play at the collegiate level

“I know from when I was younger, it’s definitely a process that you go through. For the majority of people it takes a while to learn because holes close faster on the college level. You may think you have it but then it closes up and you have to think quickly with another plan. I think they’re doing a pretty good job honestly. Compared to when I was a freshman, they are way ahead because they come in to work. They’re very mature and made the transition easy. Everybody is really committed to getting better day in and day out. There’s competition every day.”

On the difference between the Fordham game and the Illinois game

“We eliminated the mistakes. Especially in the Big Ten, the margin for error is so little. At the Illinois game, we had a big play with a holding penalty and that changed the whole game. Today I feel like eliminating mistakes really helped to win the game.”

Senior wide receiver Samori Touré

On being Adrian Martinez’s go-to receiver

“Obviously every receiver wants to be their quarterback’s go-to. That is just something that comes with the game, something that comes with the position. So yeah, you know I want to be his go-to target. I want to be someone that he feels comfortable throwing the ball to, so like I said we have a deep receiving corps. A lot of guys that can go out there and make plays, so we’ve all got confidence in all our guys.”

On running option plays

“It’s super fun because again I’ve got all the trust in the world, and Adrian to make the right read. I know if I get the ball for a reason I am just trying to make something happen, and so I think it is something that definitely opens up our offense a little bit.”

On quarterback and receiver chemistry

“I think that drive going into halftime, we connected on a couple corner routes and it is just like it was in practice in fall camp and in spring ball. I come out of my break where I am supposed to and the ball is exactly where it is supposed to. I think that is just our chemistry and our practice coming to fruition.”

On reps helping games

“We definitely got it in the spring. We just got so many reps, and we got on the same page in the spring and you are right, it just carried over to fall camp to where we started fall camp without missing a beat.”

On playing in Memorial Stadium

“That is what I was thinking to myself running out of the tunnel looking at 90,000 plus, this is why I came here. To play on the big stage in front of big crowds that is exactly why I came here.”

On what the win meant for the team

“We definitely needed this one, and we knew we were going to come out and play like this just like I said after the Illinois game. We are going to respond. That is just the type of team we are, not going to let a first game loss hang over our heads for too long. We came out here, we did what we are supposed to do and we just have to let this carry over to the next game.”

“I think it was just communication among the team like we know we cannot come out slow cannot come out soft, we have to come out guns blazing like we did in that second half and that is something that we definitely need to fix. I believe we are going to come out next game strong and do what we are supposed to do.”

Senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann

On his first career interception

“I knew that was coming from you. It was special. That is why you play defense because you want to make plays on the ball, and you want to stop the offense from doing what they are doing, so to take the ball away for it to really just come to me was just a blessing. It was a long time coming. I pray for moments like that, and I know I’m already ready for the next one.”

On adjusting and control

“They were taking their time lining up in a look and then adjusting to what defense we were in, so we just have to have the ability to switch defenses when you know the offensive scheme is doing that to us on top of regardless of the scheme. We misfit some things out there, which is just on us as the players. So we have a lot to learn from this game. We’re excited about the win, but we are always looking for ways to get better.”

On rallying the guys

“It felt similar or felt like a similar situation. I was just excited to be able to make another play. This is what you live for like this. This is our job. We are defenders. We are defending them from scoring. We are put in an unfortunate situation, we are going to go up and get the job done. Those are the type of moments you live for as a defender, and I’m glad we got the job done on that drive.”

On what it means having fans in the stands

“Everything. It means everything. That is what this is. This is why we love Nebraska This is what makes Nebraska special. Everybody coming together for one cause, for Nebraska football. So for the whole Husker Nation family to be back together, it was a blessing out there.”

On this being a long week and the taste of victory

“It is everything. The most important game is always the next one, so I mean last week was a long weekend for us to come out here and get the job done. We still have a lot of things to correct. Win or lose. We can always look for ways to get better and that is what we are going to do. Glad we are evened back up, and we are on to Buffalo.”

On staying focused

“I have to stay locked into my assignment and understand that the ball is going to come my way. One of these days one of these times and that I can still make an impact away from the ball. If that is you know pursuit or if that is making a direct impact on the player cross for me. I just got to be ready and yeah it is a little mental strain not being involved in the game all the time but that is part of the game. When they run away from me I will be ready for when they run to me.”

On his counterpart having 30 tackles

“30? Respect.”

On importance of younger players getting time in the game

“I said it before the game, this is a program game. We get to show what we are made of as a program from the top down. Obviously we wish we could have got some of the younger guys in earlier. But needless to say we got them in and that is huge, like to get in front of a crowd to get like real reps where it counts. The stakes are higher. That does something to your psyche, and for young guys to get adjusted to that, acclimated to that early is what we need, so that if we need them you know in critical situations down the line they are more prepared than they would have been.”

Senior defensive back Deontai Williams

On settling in after first quarter and a half

“Basically we found out what they were trying to do and their game plan, and we got in the huddle and coach told us what scheme they were trying to do and I am not going to lie they had a great scheme at first and then we caught on and then we had to shut it down.”

On the blocked field goal

“Oh that was a great play that just gave us more momentum that we need.”

On his two interceptions

“Two picks was just preparation I have been doing all week. Man-to-man coverage, just working on my technique and stuff that I worked on in the summer with my dad – nose over toes.”

On his position

“Just to show that I could cover the scouts and all that, just to show that I can cover. I am one of those guys that can play corner. I am one of those guys that can play nickel. I am one of those guys that can play safety and be the hard hitter that they want me to be.”

On being put in hard positions

“We know who we are as a defense. We know that we have the confidence to do what we need to do to get the job done. That is something we work on in practice, sudden changes, stuff like that. So we just have to touch and feel and blow up.”

On playing in front of fans

“The sight, the energy that crowd brings is just joy. You know you have to give them a show when there is thousands of people out there. Just on that it was great. Great first impression. If somebody had never seen me play I want to give them a show.”

On energy and being a leader

“Just the passion that I have playing a game. Being a captain, it just shows that every day in practice I am working hard every game. I am going hard as I can. I am going to give you what I got, and I need it back so just in that alone.”

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