Huskers moving past disappointing loss at Northwestern

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Scott Frost and the Huskers are disappointed by the loss to Northwestern and said they feel they should've won. But, they're moving past it and are looking forward to getting to play at home again against Minnesota on Saturday.

Nebraska will host Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Frost and the Huskers addressed the media on Monday in the Huskers weekly press conference.

Frost and players said they felt confident in the final minutes and in overtime against Northwestern, but just made too many mistakes down the stretch, though they felt they were the better team for the majority of the game.

Still, players said they got back to work on Monday and are working hard to keep improving and start winning. Dicaprio Bootle said that's different than last year's team, because last year the team quit when things got rough, but he said he sees a lot of fighters on this team.

You can watch the press conference and highlights of what Frost and players said by clicking the links above.

You can also read the full transcript from Scott Frost's press conference Monday below.

Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost
On how the team came back today
“I was so impressed with how the guys came back today. I’ve been saying it about three or four weeks in a row, but not only was today our best Monday ever by far, but it was probably our best overall practice of the year. I told the guys after practice it says a lot about who they are to respond that way.”

On the mentality of the team after starting 0-6
“You know I was worried about it on Sunday and this morning before they got here and I was shocked. For the last three weeks I wish people could see inside the walls and see how good the culture is right now and how much it’s turned and how much better it is and how much the guys are banding together. The one concern I have, as great as it was today it was our best practice ever, the one concern I have is I don’t want the guys to get used to losing and be OK with it. I know the vast majority of our team isn’t, but I don’t want them to get comfortable with it either. So that’s the one concern I have, but that’s far outweighed by how the guys came back to work today with an attitude and a smile on their face and went to work.”

On the guys who are making the plays
“There’s a bunch of guys. The challenge last week was to make the one or two plays that you haven’t made before that are going to put us over the top, and there were a bunch of those plays. I watch offense more than defense, but Adrian [Martinez] did some good things. JD [Spielman] keeps stepping up. Devine [Ozigbo] is running like a champ. Maurice [Washington] is starting to become what we know him to be. Stanley [Morgan Jr.] fights every game. Jack Stoll is getting better. The other two tight ends are getting better. [Brenden] Jaimes gets better every week. [Will] Farniok is playing his butt off. Boe Wilson coming in has given us a spark. The other two linemen have improved every week. Offensively we left a lot on the table if you look at that game. We left a lot on the table with stuff that was there that we didn’t take advantage of and little mistakes here and there and that’s been kind of consistent, but it’s getting better. There’s a lot of guys making plays. We came up one play short.”

On if he can see the team getting used to losing
“Well it’s human nature. The one thing I told them this morning, we have a team meeting every Monday morning, I told them I’m so glad I’m their coach. That I hope they can recognize how much improvement they’ve made and how far we’ve come not just on the field, but everywhere. The one question I had is when you get in a situation like that, where you’re up 10 with four minutes, or up seven with a minute and whatever left and 99 yards, or even up seven at the beginning of the game and at that point you have to finish it. You have to play right then to end it right then, and when you get up 14 with four minutes left or seven or 10 or 14, we preach to players to have a desire to play with no fear of failure. I didn’t ask anybody to answer, but I kind of wanted them to think about it at that point. Were you thinking about finishing this or in the back were you kind of thinking, oh no here we go again. I’m sure there were some guys like that, even if it’s wasn’t what the majority of them were thinking it’s probably in the back of their head and naturally so. They haven’t won in a while. We need to get over that hurdle as a group. If you expect to win and count on winning and you know you’re going to win as coaches and players we need to find a way to win that one.”

On what sticks out about Minnesota
“I’ve watched their defense, I haven’t had a chance to look at their offense yet. Defense plays really hard, they fly around to the ball, they run and hit, very similar to the team we just played, not schematically but similar to Wisconsin from that standpoint. It’s funny, I didn’t know much about this league, but on our half there’s not a ton of difference between the teams we’ve seen on our half so far. They’re all good teams and they’re all games we can win if we play really well and teams that will beat us if we don’t play well.”

On what marks the Big Ten
“I think the level of the league top to bottom. Some of the other leagues I’ve been in there’s really good teams and then there’s some games you can play less than your best and win. I certainly haven’t seen all the teams in this league, but I haven’t seen one like that yet. You need to be at your best week in and week out in a nine-game schedule in this league where anybody can beat you. You need to be a cut above to think you’re going to win a majority or all of those. You know we haven’t faced everybody yet, but I’m impressed with the depth of this league.”

On what the team can learn from the first 50 minutes of the Northwestern game
“It’s funny how the story writes itself, based on in that case, the last four minutes or one minute. We make one more play and this story is how Nebraska looks different and did we turn the corner. Instead the story is epic collapse and worst record ever. It writes itself based on the result and that’s the way it should be, we are in a competitive business. We were one play away at the end of that game and on about 20 different plays having some really good things said and some excitement. I want the guys to take that out of that and we certainly have played well enough several times to win games. We haven’t caught a lot of breaks it just hasn’t happened, but it will.”

On the fans
“Well I learned a long time ago when I was here not to pay any attention to what’s outside. What’s outside is outside noise to the people in this building. All we can do is put our head down and keep getting better and that’s what we’ve done and that’s what we’ll continue to do. What I will say is I haven’t come across a fan personally that has said anything negative. Those fans up there in Chicago were incredible. They were supportive before the game, they were supportive and encouraging after the game, that’s what Nebraska fans are all about. I said it I think on the radio show after I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of those people that are behind us. I hope a lot of those people see the progress we’re making. We had a lot of work to do. It isn’t where we want it to be right now, but just wait and see.”

On if Nebraska would’ve played Northwestern wide receiver Flynn Nagel any differently knowing what they know now
“No, he’s a good player. He beat us. Northwestern beat us, but he had a lot to do with it. I went back and watched the entire defensive game on my own and then with Coach Chinander again. I think we had him [Nagel] doubled maybe 25ish snaps in that game. What’s crazy about that game is I think up until four minutes gone in the fourth quarter our defense had given up seven points and after that the bottom fell out, and we’ve got to be able to finish that. We were in zone coverage, we ran blitzes, we were in man we doubled him a bunch. We doubled him and lost leverage and he made a couple plays when we had two guys on him. I don’t think it was what we ran on defense, it was just playing it better and that’s on us as coaches and the kids to make sure they’re using the techniques that we’ve taught them. That’s really what happened watching it. Pressing it when you’re not supposed to press, him beating you at the line, having the wrong leverage. We got lined up wrong once on a 4th and 10, little things like that and that kid was good enough to take advantage of it.”

On how much control he has over the defense during the game
“You know, I’m over on their side of the headset some when I think I need to be, but as a play-caller on offense most of the time that our defense is on the field, I’m talking to the guys on offense about what we want to get to in the next series. Even that last series I was over there some. If Coach Chinander needs anything from me. ‘Do you want to come after him here?’ ‘Do you want to play off here?’ he comes and asks me or asks me on the headset if I’m over. But even on that last drive I had to be prepared to get us in the best place that I could for overtime. That’s the way we’ve done it. It’s worked, it will work again. As a head coach I can’t be the head coach and manage a game calling offense and be involved in defense, I won’t get any sleep. That’s just too much and there’s not a coach in the country that does that. I have a really good assistants. They’ve done the job before, they’re doing a good job, they’re going to get it right.”

On how the sack totals haven’t looked as good as they did in week one and what the team needs to do to get to the quarterback
“We need guys to be better at pass rushing. We need to hit blitzes a little crisper. There’s a few technique things that aren’t quite there and that’s what watching the game with Coach Chinander that I saw more than anything. We didn’t have a lot of busts Saturday. At the end of the game it looked a little like we were tired. I don’t think that’s a conditioning thing, I think it’s maybe a little bit of a lack of depth thing. A couple of our linebackers played 80, 85 snaps in that game. I don’t think they were gassed but they didn’t quite look as quick as they did in the first quarter. Some of the technique isn’t where we want it. We’re not breaking on enough balls in zone coverage. We’re not down in a good stance, when the quarterback throws one way to drive on it and get three hats to the ball. Maybe our pass rushing technique, and honestly it, I don’t want to sound like an excuse that’s kind of first year stuff that you don’t get to dial in the basics and the techniques quite as much as you’re in a hurry to get everything in. We’re improving big-time on offense with our techniques and with some of the basics as we go through it. So is the defense. But some of that stuff is just not quite there, and when the margin is that much, being in exactly the right spot with the exactly right technique makes a difference. We’re going to go back to some of those fundamentals as much as we can afford to as we’re trying to get game plans into week-by-week adjustment for other teams.”

On what the team’s goals are and how they will approach the second half of the season
“I don’t know about the team for sure because I can’t look into their minds but winning a game is, that’s the carrot for me right now. It needs happen. I said at the beginning of the season, I got asked a hundred times what’s a good result this year, what’s a good record and how many games do you want to win. My answer then was the same as it is now, we have to get better day by day. We have a lot to fix, a lot to do, a lot to install. There’s no doubt watching the last three weeks how much better we’ve gotten. Really since that Michigan game it’s really improved day by day and week by week. It breaks my heart for these guys that it hasn’t led to a slash in the win column yet. So we’re not going to ever look forward to what bowl game or a bowl game if we take care of day by day then, I’ve said it before the season and I’ll say it now, we’ll end up in a good place in the not-very-distant future. But we can’t change that thinking right now, we can’t change that message to the players right now, and they’re responding. Today was the best practice we’ve had since I’ve been at the university.”

On how Noah Vedral is being rotated in after being granted immediate eligibility from the NCAA
“I think Noah could make us better, I wish we would have gotten that ruling early. On top of everything else he’s the most familiar with our scheme of anybody on campus. We’re definitely not going to burn a year with him if we can help fact we’re not. But he’s good enough to be on the field for us, so if there’s opportunities to get him in for four games I’d love to see that happen for him.”

On whether he got an explanation for why the decision on Vedral took five games
“I got an explanation and it wasn’t the NCAA’s fault, and I’d rather not comment on it farther than that.”

On whether the play where Adrian Martinez called for the ball and it didn’t come was intentional
“The ball was supposed to come and I didn’t know it and I don’t know if it’s true or not. Adrian said the music was still playing, and I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not, that’s not supposed to happen. Again, I don’t even know if that’s the case or not. We’ve had a couple of those at the wrong times this year. We had one in the Colorado game on our last drive where we just didn’t snap the ball. Our quarterbacks have to be louder, our centers have to be locked in and we can’t make mistakes like that, particularly late. That’s third and one, we probably have two downs to get half a yard. Back it up and get five again, and have a down to get half a yard and then we had our first bad snap in a couple weeks. I feel bad for the guys because those things just seem to keep happening to us, particularly at the wrong time. But hey, when the chips are down and when the game’s on the line we need to be at our best and we haven’t exactly done that yet.”

On whether Breon Dixon will be in a position to be rotated in
“There’s a couple positions where we’re getting really thin, inside linebacker is one of them. Outside we’re still pretty healthy, the minute (Tyrin Ferguson) gets back to 100 percent. It’s all hands on deck and if somebody has four games to play we’re going to do our best to use the personnel as well as we can.”

On what he knows about Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck
“I don’t know a lot about PJ other than running into him at the coaches events for the Big Ten. I know he did a great job where he was before and judging by what I see on tape he’s doing a really good job where he is.”

On what he can point to as most improved in the game
“The lack of busts in the game points to guys being dialed in better to what they’re supposed to be doing. We still had some things that just make you scratch your head. We gave up too many yards but I’m spit-balling and guessing because I don’t know the exact stats, but I bet you 200 of those yards were on eight plays where we just weren’t lined up right, didn’t play the technique right, gave up a leverage that we weren’t supposed to give up, things like that. We’re going to get it fixed. I don’t know if it’s guys making stuff up and not doing it the way they were taught. We’re going to keep teaching it better and make sure they do it the right way. I even went over the stats with Coach Chinander and I think we had six base defensive calls. Northwestern averaged anywhere from point five to three point three yards per play on those calls. Again, the narrative wrote itself at the end of the game because with four minutes gone or whatever in the fourth quarter Northwestern’s offense had scored seven points. Then some of those mistakes and errors happened and again, they happened exactly when they couldn’t happen. Those are habits we have to break.”

On whether he’s seen the alternate uniforms and his thoughts about them
“I have not seen them. Heard about them. Anything to give us a little mojo right now I’m all for so I hope they look good.”

On whether the injury to CJ Smith is serious
“I don’t think it looks real good for CJ. Gosh it’s heartbreaking. He’s a guy that we kept bringing him along and thinking that he can help us at that position. He was just standing around a pile and a guy kind of whiffed on a tackle and rolled into his knee. I’m not sure if we know for sure yet, but it doesn’t look really good for the rest of this year.”

On how he thinks Lamar Jackson has responded over the last couple weeks
“Lamar’s one of the guys that I think has made significant improvement. Still like to see him go make some great plays but he’s doing things the right way now. He’s been a good teammate and he’s got enough talent to be a really good player if he keeps on that track.”

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