Posted by: Sports
Nebraska Head Coach
"I assume you'll want to jump right into Idaho State questions. About Saturday, I wasn't feeling good before the game and got worse during the game for about a quarter period. I just wasn't feeling well. So when we went in at halftime, they wanted to get me checked out. They didn't like the way a couple of the tests showed up and at that point, they decided that they had to take the cautious approach, which was the right approach. That was to make sure that nothing was going on. I went and had tests run to make sure there wasn't more going on. Upset stomach and some of the symptoms weren't leading to something else. I have a clean bill of health, I feel great, no problems. I was released later that afternoon and was able to go home and relax on Saturday night. It was just a little bit of a scare. I feel great and there are no issues. I'm ready to move on to Idaho State. I was back at work yesterday. I got to work on Idaho State and look at the Arkansas State film. I saw a lot of positives from that football game. I thought we did a lot of good things offensively, defensively and special teams-wise. I thought we made some progress. My biggest concern was obviously the turnovers on the offensive side of the football. We've been pretty good in that area, and we gave the ball up. That will hurt us down the road. It's not often you are able to win a football game by 29 points and be minus-two in the turnovers. That will reach up and bite you if you don't get it fixed. I liked the penalty area. We were pretty good there. We were efficient. We didn't give them a lot in terms of making mistakes. But obviously the turnover aspect is something we've got to fix. I thought we made some progress defensively. I thought there were some positives there. That's about as crazy of an offense as you're going to see as far as the tempo, the things they threw at us. There's not a lot of conventional football going on there. I think our defense has grown up a lot over the last three weeks. We've seen a lot of offenses; the multiplicity, the spread, the motioning. Some of that was a little bit different than what we are going to see in the Big Ten as we move forward. There are going to be some carry overs. I think some of the guys that weren't as experienced really grew up a lot over the last three weeks. I thought that we handled it pretty well on Saturday. There were a lot of positive things about our performance on the defensive side of the football on Saturday. I think we are progressing along as a football team. We're not nearly where we want to be yet. We're moving forward and working each day to become the best football team we can."
On what led to physicians checking his pulse in the game on Saturday
"I wasn't feeling well. Like I said, I had some symptoms that they weren't really comfortable with. It's as simple as that. I don't think we have to expand on it. I have never had health issues. I still don't have health issues. I feel great. I didn't feel well going into the football game. I didn't feel well in the locker room, and it got progressively worse. To be honest with you, it alarmed me a little bit. In the end, when I got the clean bill of health, everything came back perfect, I'm not just healthy, I'm very healthy, and I wanted to ask what could cause it. They said any number of things coming together. When you're not feeling well and you're talking about the heat, there are a number of different things that can happen when you feel like that. I think we did the right thing. I didn't have a choice. They told me what I was going to do, but I'm glad they did. Let's move forward."
On if they were checking his heart
"They checked a number of different things. That's obviously what the biggest concern is all the time. I don't have any heart issues."
On how his staff handled it
"The staff handled it great. I got a lot of calls and text messages. I appreciate all the concern. I appreciate people reaching out - fans, media. I appreciate the well wishes. I feel really good about that. As far as the staff, I thought they did a great job. I'm glad I wasn't watching when it became 28-10, and they had the ball down deep, because then I probably would've had a heart problem."
On how hard it was for the physicians to say he had to leave at halftime
"Well obviously if you know me, it wasn't something I wanted to do. Like I said, there comes a certain point where if they don't like something, you have to listen to what they say. They're the experts, not me. It's nothing to apologize about. First and foremost is that you want to be healthy and you don't want something to happen that doesn't need to happen."
On if he had chest pains
On if he's needed to change anything in his lifestyle
"No. One thing I don't want is anybody to make this out to be that I'm overstressed or this or that. I've never had one issue. It was an isolated incident. There were a number of factors that probably contributed to it. I am healthy and there are no issues there whatsoever, because honestly I wouldn't be sitting here today. I have tremendous balance in my life. I'm not a really stressed out person. I'm just not. Probably the biggest stress I have is getting from here to my kids' games and making sure I'm handling the time here along with the duties of who you want to be as a father. You have to make sure you have balance. There are no issues going forward. I feel great. There are no problems and let's talk about Idaho State."
On how it was decided that John Papuchis would be leading the team on the sideline
"That was the logical way to proceed. J.P. is down there and Tim (Beck) is upstairs. It would not make sense to us at that point to move people from the box. I have tremendous confidence in my staff and the football team that they were going to handle everything the right way, and they did a great job. It was business as usual as far as what we had to do to win that football game."
On if Papuchis' fiery reaction during the third quarter pleased him
"J.P. is an emotional guy. He's probably the one who needs to see the doctors. You get to the point where it's getting a little hairy. I thought we had the game pretty well in hand when the first half ended. A couple of things happen and it gets a little tense and a little emotional. I've seen that out of J.P. before. I've been around him for a long time."
On if he watched the game from the TV in the hospital
"No. I caught the very end when we were running out the clock."
On how many hours a day he works
"It varies day to day. You do what you've got to do to get the job done. I probably work different hours than most coaches, and I've talked about that before. There are a lot of times I'll leave for my kids' games or to have dinner and go home and come back. It's just whatever you have to do what it takes to get the job done."
On if he was dizzy
"Those were part of the symptoms as the half went on. I wasn't like that during the game, but I was when the game was going on. There were just a couple of things that I felt that caused concern. A lot of things can cause that."
On if senior I-back Rex Burkhead will play this week
"Rex will play. He'll be out there practicing this week, so we are anticipating that he is going to play. We'll see how he progresses during the week. He probably could've played last week, but I really like how we've handled it. I've leaned on the trainers and the doctors. I think he's ready to play. He's anxious and nipping at us to try and get him in there. Right now I think is the right time. I think he will be a heck of a lot more ready this Saturday than he was this last Saturday. I think he'll be pretty much 100 percent."
On how they will manage his carries with Ameer Abdullah
"We ran the ball a lot the other day. I thought in Rex's absence, Ameer has run well. Braylon (Heard) has done a heck of a job and Imani (Cross) showed what his potential is down the road. I'll add Rex to that mix. It's a pretty good tandem of backs. I like what we have going forward and we'll manage Rex, especially this week. We'll want to get his feet wet. A lot of that depends on how the week goes for him."
On if Burkhead has been practicing since the injury
"No, he hasn't been practicing. You know how Rex Burkhead is. It's been a pretty aggressive rehab. He's been doing most of his stuff on the side, just keeping him out of piles. We didn't want to do that. He's been doing things, running back-type drills and things for now a good week or 10 days or so."
On how he's been handling that scenario
"Like you would anticipate Rex handling it. He's handled it with fire. I had a pro scout who was at practice last week and he was talking with me about how Rex was working out and he was commenting on how hard he was working. That's just who he is. He's listened to the trainers, listened to the doctors and he's attacked the rehab the way he does everything else. That enables you to get back in a hurry."
On how important a game like this is for Burkhead so he can be ready for Big Ten play down the road
"I think it's good to maybe shake a little rust off. Practice will give you that. Rex has played a lot of high quality football for a long time. It's not like he all of a sudden forgot how to run the ball. He knows what he's doing, and first and foremost we wanted to make sure he was feeling healthy enough."
On why he called a timeout after the first play of the Arkansas State game
"I thought the officials did a great job on Saturday. We talked about it at length before the game how that was going to be handled when they change personnels and they were going to get up on the ball in a hurry. They screwed that one up. The one guy said it was his fault because we had talked about it. The ball was getting ready to be snapped and we were changing personnel and they weren't up on the football. As you noticed as the game went on, when they changed personnel, they walked up there and we were able to get our guys on and lined up. There were really no issues after that. It was just the first one. From an officiating standpoint, like I said to the guy, I understand that happens. They are not sure what the tempo of the game is going to be, either. It happens and it happens fast. We're setting up on personnel up there and the guy is walking up to the ball and I wasn't going to let them snap the football. I wasn't sure what was going to happen at that point. You are better off calling a timeout and talking to the referees to make sure we were on the same page and see how it's going to be going forward. You hate to use a timeout, but it's better that than you turn somebody loose going down the middle or whatever could happen in that situation."
On the differences he saw in his defense on Saturday compared to the UCLA game
"I thought we tackled better on the perimeter. I thought as fast as they were going and the things they gave us personnel-wise and alignment-wise, I thought our guys' communication improved. I thought our guys just settled in and played football. They didn't have a lot of busts. I just saw a lot of progress. I thought we were able to get off blocks pretty well up front. There were a lot of positives, but believe me, we're not anywhere near where we want to be yet."
On what he thought of linebacker Zaire Anderson
"I thought Zaire played well. I thought (David) Santos played well in the snaps when he was in there. I thought they made some young mistakes and had some plays I'm sure they want back, but I thought they did well. I thought having a healthy Eric Martin helps us. Across the board, I thought there were a lot of positives. I thought Mo Seisay came in and played some great football. I thought we made some good progress. I thought we would be challenged defensively with that offense. They are a pretty good offense. They had a couple weeks under their belt, and I think they are going to be an offense that's going to be tough to defend as the year goes on. Gus Malzahn does a good job."
On how much he pays attention to other Big Ten teams during the non-conference season
"I see the scores, but I don't have much of a chance. I try to stay on track and I'll glance at a game here and there on Saturday night. Sometimes it's good to get away from it, too."
On what he's thought of Abdullah so far
"We thought he was special when we recruited him. Obviously he's gotten in there and played quickly. We had confidence to play him as a true freshman and he's a hard guy to tackle. He runs low to the ground. He's a powerful guy for a guy his size with tremendous balance. He's a heck of a weapon and a terrific football player."
On what the rationale is behind having a three-man line
"We've always done that. We're really prepared to go three-man or four-man all the time. We mixed it in throughout the game the other day, and I think it creates issues for the offense. It enables us to use different packages in different places and you kind of figure out as you move along that we need to put our guys in the best positions to have success. It just adds to your versatility. We've always had it and mixed it in and out and will continue to do that."
On how he gets the team to focus on Saturday as opposed to the Big Ten opener
"Believe me, the last thing we are worried about right now is the Big Ten opener. It's about what we have to do today to progress as a football team. That's our only concern and we'll pound that into our guys' heads this afternoon until Saturday. The worst thing you can do is start looking ahead. That's for other people to talk about. All we are concerned with ourselves is Idaho State and today's preparation and what we can do today to make ourselves feel better. We have a long, long way to go as a football team right now. We've got to stay hungry and we have to put in the work each and every day. It's a long haul. We have nine regular-season games ahead of us and it's a long haul. What you're going to see around the country from teams in week nine and 10 will be remarkably different. For us, it needs to be remarkably different. We need to make progress each and every week."
On what type of a football team Idaho State is
"Offensively you're going to see a spread-type offense. A different one than we've seen the last couple weeks. There will be some similarities but some differences. They like to throw the football. It's going to be flying through the air for them. On the defensive side of the ball, they are aggressive. They've played Air Force and played another school I can't remember, but they play an option offense and a more conventional offense. We've seen a lot of different things from Idaho State as far as what they could possibly give us and how they are going to see our offense. It is a little bit unconventional defensively and we are just going to have to kind of wait and see what they see in us and their game plan and try to react to whatever they do."
On what they can learn from playing South Dakota State a couple years ago
"It's a little bit what we talked a little while ago about. It's first things first. To be where we want to be down the road, we have to get better this week. You look at it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and your test is on Saturday. You have to make progress. Your approach can't change. If we approach it that way, we'll play the way we want to. We can't just roll the ball out there and say it's going to happen. It doesn't work that way. You have to stay on edge. That means bringing it every day, every week."
On why they schedule games like this and South Dakota State
"You try and do what you can to schedule the games. I'm not big on playing these games. I'd rather play all I-A opponents. I'm not sitting here trying to talk bad about Idaho State. I'm just talking about the things we would like to do as a football program. You look across the country and a lot of coaches aren't really fond of playing these games, but there are a lot of scheduling conflicts and issues. You find times where it's hard to find an opponent. There are a lot of issues of how that all works out and you hope to keep them to a minimum and eliminate them altogether, but it's not always possible."
On how difficult it will be with the playoff trying to schedule teams like Idaho State
"It's an interesting dynamic that's going on. Unfortunately a lot of our scheduling is scheduled out. A lot of times Jeff Jamrog or Coach Osborne asks me about a game in 2020. It's like goodness; I'm trying to get through today. There are issues that are going to come up. I think it's across the nation-type of issue. It's something that once they start instituting the playoff and they start changing the roles and such, that's part of the role of the scheduling ramifications with it all. There are a lot of issues besides the playoff. I really don't know the answer to it. I haven't really wanted to play these games. Every now and then, you're going to have to."
On how badly the team needs to play seven home games
"I think you do need seven. It's an interesting thing. I think it depends on how the landscape of college football goes. I don't think Coach Osborne and our university officials would ever be happy with six. Our fans deserve more than that. At the end of the day, you'd like to have eight. But at the minimum seven. Our fans wait all year for football season to come all year and to give them six, I don't know if that's fair either. I don't think it will ever come to that. You hope that if you get some contracts in place and the further out you go, you can avoid some of these things in the future. I would be shocked if we ever went less than seven at home."
On if they tested his heart
"They did multiple tests. Everything came back and I'm as healthy as can be. You guys are going to be stuck with me for a while."
On if his staff had to make a lot of calls to recruits to insure that everything was all right
"Like I said, I tried to put out a statement as quickly as I could. I've never had a health issue in my life. If you feel something that you've never felt before, you exercise caution. That's what we did and I'm glad that we did it."
On if there is heart history in his family
"Going back to my father. But I've never had anything. None of my brothers or sisters has ever had heart issues."
On if he had chest pains
"No. The symptom I was concerned about was that I had severe heart burning that was going through my stomach and up. It started with an upset stomach, then it kind of felt like heart burn and burning. That's something that made the doctors take caution. Have I ever had chest pains? No. I didn't have chest pains. It's kind of hard to describe what I felt. I know this, I didn't feel good."
On what it was like to be out of it
"I wasn't. I was in it. I was into what was going on and everything. You listen to your body. At the end of the day, I want to make sure I'm walking in and seeing my wife and kids. That's my No. 1 goal. I want to give my wife and kids a hug. When the doctors became concerned, I listened to what they told me. I'm glad I did and I'm glad I don't have any issues. One thing I do is I take care of myself. I always have. I haven't had any health issues and I'm not going to have any going forward."