Nebraska Football QB Luke McCaffrey Against Illinois
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

They Said It: Nebraska Players Talk Huskers 41-23 Loss to Illinois

November 21, 2020

Nebraska players met with the media on Saturday following the Huskers’ 41-23 loss to Illinois. Quarterback Luke McCaffrey, defensive back Dicaprio Bootle and tight end Austin Allen were the three players who spoke.

Here is the full transcript from their question and answer session.

Quarterback Luke McCaffrey

On preventing teammates from getting discouraged from a result like today:

“You need to bring the energy in practice. That’s something we and me personally, didn’t do a great job of this week and then we need to get better at.”

On the passing game:

“You know the number one thing is you can’t turn the ball over. I did that too many times today and that’s probably a big reason the scoreboard looked like it did.”

On when he noticed the team’s lack of energy:

“You know the whole week we addressed it, we discussed it, but we didn’t really change it too much. Again, me specifically the attention to detail and the energy that I brought to practice showed up in the game.”

On the impact of the first play of the game:

“You can’t have critical errors. That was one of a couple that I had and to be on the first play hurts your momentum. So that stinks.”

On the locker room mood after the game:

“Yeah, we’re angry. We’ll get back to practice tomorrow and we’re going to have to attack it.”

On if knowing he was the starter at beginning of the week affected his performance:

“I’m not sure if that had too much of an effect.”

On what was going through his mind in the first play of the game:

“I thought it was a pass, but I can’t make a critical error like that. If something’s there I probably should have just ran that and got what I could. I got stuck trying to make a play and you can’t try and make plays. You just have to do your job.”

On if he felt the game started to get away from the team or if there was too much inconsistency:

“Probably more inconsistency if that answers your question. I’ll definitely have to go back to the tape and see the specifics of it, but it’s a little bit of everything.”


Defensive back Dicaprio Bootle

On what he saw Illinois do well on offense:

“They did a good job on offense today. They just dialed up the plays how they wanted to. Basically, just put together a game plan that that was really good for them. You know, we had to do a better job of taking away what they do best and just being physical. Obviously, the scoreboard indicates that we didn’t do a good job at that today and we just need to continue to get better.”

On if the secondary and defense played with the edge they have been playing with this season:

“Anytime we were out there we were just trying to make things happen. I mean, a lot of guys out there playing hard today. Sometimes it’s just that that one play, that one play that you wish you could have back that just leads to opportunities for their offense. We just have to get cleaned up and guys are going to continue to fly around and try to make plays.”

On if there was anything this week that worried him for the game:

“I wouldn’t say that I worried at all. We just understand that hindsight is 20-20. You are always going to look back and always think about what you could have done better. Are there things we could have done better during the week? Yes, of course. Now we see that we could have done a lot better. So, you know it’s a lesson in everything. We just got to look for lessons and make sure we learn from them.”

On Collin Miller’s injury:

“It’s heartbreaking. This is the game we love. This is the game we’ve been playing, some of us, for our whole lives. You love the game. You give so much to it and sometimes things happen. Sometimes bad things happen in the game. Nobody on the field, I don’t even think Illinois would ever wish that would happen to any player, regardless of their caliber, their status, whatever their role is. At the end of the day, that’s part of the game. You put on those helmets and shoulder pads and we understand the risk of potentially being in a bad position. But at the end of the day, it’s the game we love. Just to see Collin down there like that, my friend, my brother since we came in, it really hit me. Heartbreaking just knowing how much that guy puts in. Just knowing at times how he’s just like the heart and soul of our defense. And you know, really coming out, bringing the energy all the time. So, to see him go down, that really hurt. But once they were getting him up on the stretcher, I told him he’d be good and God’s got a plan for him and God is with him. He’s not going to leave his side and I’ve just been praying for him ever since. I just want my guy to be good.”

On Illinois’ third down conversions:

“We just all have to be better on third down. The unique thing about third down is offenses, they try to get that first down and defenses, we try to stop the first down. But one person out of place could cost us a first down. Cost us a chance to get off the field. Or not being aggressive enough in the game for us on third down, hitting yardage. Maybe it might be third and seven. They run a draw, maybe just hypothetically. You know, and we hit it to where it would be fourth and three, but it bleeds to fourth and one. Now the offense has a decision to make. We just got to be better in knowing what we’re going to get and just being more dialed in on third down and everybody being able to do their job. If everybody does their job, it’s really hard for an offense to succeed. So, on third down we just got to really, really dial in and crank it up again.”

On the team’s overall confidence:

“I’m not concerned about confidence because I know everybody in this locker room don’t like this feeling and I know that we’re going to come out the next day and right our wrongs. We’re going to try to scratch and claw and never give up. There’s nobody down in that locker room that going to give up on anything. So, we just have to continue to keep our heads up. When we get punched, when we get knocked down, we got to stand up again. I’m not concerned about confidence. We just go into every game, take it one game at a time and just scratch away at it.”

On the momentum coming out of the half:

“We definitely wanted some momentum coming out of the locker room. We had our talk in locker room, got some things fixed, made some changes. But we definitely knew that we had to go out there and make a stand coming out of locker room just to play a better half football. We get we get off the field and the punter runs for the first down. Even then, that didn’t deter us. We still ran out there, we knew that we had to continue to play defense. We know that they still had to drive the field on us. At the end of the day, we are just going to take our opportunities and just try to make the most of them, whether we got to go back on the field or not. Definitely going down the field and them putting some more points on the board, it’s definitely going to make it hard to win the game regardless of what time in the game it was. So that’s just like I said. There’re some things we need to get better on it, some things that we need to fix. The coaches will probably stay here all night and work on fixing it. We got a short week and the players are also going to look at this film and learn from it.”

On the decision to wear alternate uniforms:

“I can’t tell you why it happened. I just know that last night when we came into locker room, they weren’t there. This morning, they were there. When we put those black shirts on, we got to own it. We got to play with that edge, play with that swagger, play with that chip. Today, obviously the scoreboard indicated that we didn’t. Anytime you put those things on, we have to understand exactly what’s going on. Regardless, when we put on that red, you got to feel the same way. When we put on the white, away, you know we got to feel the same thing. We just got to know what we’re defending, what’s at hand, what’s at stake. Just understanding that ‘N’ on the side of the helmet means everything.”


Tight end Austin Allen

On something not being quite right during practice this week:

“In my mind I think it was just a lack of execution throughout the week. I think we had a decent game plan during the week. We didn’t execute those plays in practice and when things don’t execute in practice, it’s hard to execute them in a game. We have to be locked into the details coming in this next week with it being a short week. That’s all we can do, take care of what we can during the week.“

On the locker room morale post-game:

“This one hurt for sure. It hurt even worse because one of our brothers (Collin Miller) is down, got taken off the field. It’s a part of football, but I can’t imagine the pain his family is going through right now. In the football game, the lack of execution is what hurt us, and I think everybody felt that. We all knew that this week coming up was big one and we just have to take care of us moving forward.”

On Collin Miller’s injury:

“Like I said, it’s part of football. You see it happen all around the country, but it hurts a little bit more when it hits close to home like it did with Collin. But you could tell on the sideline that we felt the presence of him leaving, he’s a leader on his team. But I think Luke Reimer, Garrett Snodgrass and others stepped up in the end there and played some decent football.”

On hurdles in the passing game:

“It’s not necessarily a lack of not knowing the offense. We only have a certain amount of plays every week, and we lock into this set of plays every single week. We just need to go out and execute it, whether that be giving Luke (McCaffery) or Adrian (Martinez) a little bit more time so we can get through our reads, or as a receiving corps getting off our jams that much quicker so we can get into the read a little bit quicker. Nothing across the board, execution needs to pick up.”

On offensive execution:

“Just giving half a second more time to throw. Getting that much quicker off blocks to create quicker throwing lanes for Luke. I mean it’s just executing plays on offense, simply. It’s just got to happen, period. I don’t think it was there completely today.”

On anything during the week that led him to think the team wouldn’t be prepared:

“We can’t take any week off for granted coming off a win. I mean, that’s something we need to get used to around here is winning. I think coming out the gates this week we were very businesslike. We were doing the right things. Just the lack of energy going into practice. We’re doing the right things, getting what we need to get done. It’s just we’re just going through the motions. And that’s on us as leaders to notice that and pick this up.”

On the team’s blocking this season:

“That’s something I do have to go back and see on film. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing that as soon as I can because we can learn from this even with the shorter week. Coach Frost preaches it all the time. You can tell how good an offense is going to be by the way their receivers block when they’re not in a pass or whatever. When they spring that last block 30 yards down the field, that’s instead of a 30 yard gain a 60-yard gain for a touchdown. Then you can gauge an offense on how good they are based on how their receivers block. I’ll have to go look at it and we’ll keep working on being a great blocking team.”

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