Pelini, Players React to Loss

Posted by: Sports

An interview with:




THE MODERATOR:  Coach, an opening statement?

            COACH PELINI:  I apologize to everybody associated with Nebraska football with how we coached, how we played, and it's not acceptable.  I'll take any questions.


            Q.  Bo, can you just sort of recap what happened with your defense tonight?  Why Wisconsin was able to take you off guard with some plays?  What went wrong?

            COACH PELINI:  There was nothing taking us off guard.  We practiced 99 percent of what they showed us today.  For whatever reason we didn't execute.  We didn't make tackles.  We didn't make plays, obviously.  We didn't coach it well enough.


            Q.  You said you practiced 99 percent.  What would you say that one percent is that you were not ready for?

            COACH PELINI:  I don't know.  Obviously we didn't play well enough.  We came unglued.  I wish I had the answer, but I don't.


            Q.  This was a team that was really mature, a lot of veterans.  You thought you were sort of past this point.  What, I mean, I imagine shock has to be your first emotion?

            COACH PELINI:  Shock doesn't even begin to ‑‑ shock doesn't even begin to explain that.


            Q.  When did you feel like it was getting past the point of repair?

            COACH PELINI:  I mean, it was like a leaking boat.  It was one thing after another.  One problem after another.  You get one fixed and you talk about it.  There were some things that we corrected and it happened again.  Like I said, I don't know if I've ever ‑‑ I've never been a part of a game like that as a coach.

            Like I said, at the end of the day, it falls on me.  It falls directly on my shoulders because I'm responsible for how those kids play.


            Q.  You were able to keep pace with them offensively there for a little while, then things got out of hand late in the first half.  Can you talk about what they did to take you out of some things that you were trying to run?

            COACH PELINI:  Well, obviously the situation in the game.  I don't know how we would have played offensively because it got out of hand.


            Q.  Surprising that their speed seemed to get to you.  I mean, they haven't been known as a fast team.  Were you surprised by that?

            COACH PELINI:  We played them early in the season.  I feel like we had a pretty good idea of how fast they were.  I don't know.  To play the way we did, I don't have an answer for that, unfortunately.


            Q.  You played Cam [Meredith] a lot, and he seemed to struggle.  How much did Baker's absence hurt you on the line?

            COACH PELINI:  Boy, the problems that happened out there went far, far beyond Baker Steinkuhler.


            Q.  What were some of the problems?  Just generally what were some of the things that didn't happen that you thought would?  What did your defense not do right?

            COACH PELINI:  Well, what do you do?  What is defensive football?  It's play your gaps.  Handle your responsibility.  Be where you're supposed to be and make tackles when you're there.  We did none of the above.  You have to have 11 guys on the same page doing the right things.  I mean, it wasn't much different than, to a large extent, than what happened at Ohio State.

            I mean, some of those plays that we ‑‑ I wouldn't say, but a lot of those plays we saw tonight, we saw the first time around.  We played these same plays in Lincoln, a lot of them, most of them.


            Q.  If you could go back to the first quarter, what are some things that stick out in your mind that you'd do differently?

            COACH PELINI:  I don't know.  That seems like it was ten years ago.


            Q.  I know you're having a hard time coming up with the words, but how do you explain it then?  The end of your five, you think you have ‑‑

            COACH PELINI:  You can try to put a big thing on it.  It's on me.  Put it on me.


            Q.  Is it representative of the foundation of the program, or do you think it was a one‑game blip?

            COACH PELINI:  We just won six straight.  We went 10‑2 in the regular season.  What do you think?


            Q.  I'm asking you, Bo.  Do you think it was an aberration or do you think it was indicative of the foundation of the program?

            COACH PELINI:  It's not an indicative of the foundation of this program.


            Q.  I know you said that a lot of the plays were very similar to the first meeting that you guys saw.  But Wisconsin did get out on the edge a lot more in this game?

            COACH PELINI:  Because we let them out on the edge.  That's what happened.  We didn't execute.  We didn't turn the ball back the way we were supposed to turn the ball back.  Falls on me.  I obviously didn't coach it well enough.


            Q.  Do you think the fact that Wisconsin kind of had this thing locked up three weeks ago ‑‑

            COACH PELINI:  No, I don't want to put any excuses on it.  It has nothing to do with it.


            Q.  How do you gauge this season?  I know you made no bones about the fact that the goal was to win the conference championship.  How do you look at it now after this?

            COACH PELINI:  We failed.  We failed to win a championship.  That was the goal coming in and didn't get it done.  I apologize for it.  I apologize to the football team.  I apologize to the coaches, the fans, like I said, everybody associated with it.  Because at the end of the day, it falls on me.  I'm the one responsible for it.  We didn't get it done.


            Q.  That had to be a really, really tough post‑game locker room.  Did you get a chance to say anything to those guys or not?

            COACH PELINI:  Yeah, absolutely.


            Q.  Can you share some of that?

            COACH PELINI:  That's private.


An interview with:





THE MODERATOR:  We've got P.J. Smith and Kyler Reed.  Questions?


            Q.  P.J., it's probably tough to come up with the words, but how can you ‑‑ how would you sum up what went wrong on defense out there?

            P.J. SMITH:  Everything.  I mean, everything went wrong.  It was a great game plan.  Like I told Coach, I said, it wasn't your fault.  I'll put this on the defense.  We didn't step up.  We didn't do what we were supposed to do.  It was a great game plan; we just didn't finish the plays.  There you have it.


            Q.  Did they surprise you with anything that they did?

            KYLER REED:  No, I mean, everything they did was practiced.  It's just we've got to make the play, and we didn't.  This type of defense, one player messes up, and they're going for a six, and that's exactly what happened tonight.  It's frustrating.  I don't put that on Coach.  I put it on the defense.  I put it on the secondary.  You know what I mean?  We didn't step up to play.


            Q.  P.J., I understand that it's the way Bo's defense works and everybody's got to play their assignment.  But if you saw a lot of these plays, which you did in September, what didn't you guys do specifically tonight that you did back then?  What didn't you guys do tonight?

            P.J. SMITH:  We didn't execute.  Bottom line.  No execution.  We didn't tackle.  Every time they ran in for a big play, two guys hit them.  Just broke the tackle and went for six.  So, no execution, no tackling, lack of communication.


            Q.  Did you feel ‑‑ I mean, was there some point in the game where you guys felt like you didn't feel like you had any confidence in stopping them?

            P.J. SMITH:  No, we kept fighting.  We said we just do the things Coach asks us to do and we could stop them.  They didn't do anything special.  It's just, I don't know.  It's hard to explain.


            Q.  Kyler, was there anything during the week of practice or in recent days that indicated something like this might happen?

            KYLER REED:  No, I think we had a great week of practice.  I won't speak for the defense, but on offense, I think we were flying around and making plays all week.  So, no.  This was the most confident I've ever come into a game.  So I don't think it had anything to do with ‑‑ I think we were ready.

            But obviously, we didn't execute like P.J. said.  That's what it comes down to.  We didn't do the little things right.  We didn't make plays.


            Q.  P.J., when you guys came off the field, coach was coming over and talking to you guys and asking questions.  What were some of the things that he was asking you guys what kind of adjustments were you trying to make in between series?

            P.J. SMITH:  He was just trying to figure out what happened.  You know what I mean?  Did we give a certain call to a certain person or something or what routes they ran or in the running game, did the guy sway back?  How did they block it?  We made adjustments; we just didn't step up to the challenge.


            Q.  The bigger picture question for both of you, could overconfidence have been an issue?  You guys had won six straight.  They were a 7‑5 team?

            KYLER REED:  No, I don't think we overlooked them, if that's what you're saying.  I don't think you can be too confident.  I mean, you can overlook a team, but I don't think we did.  We talked about it all week how good of a team they were.  It doesn't matter what their record was.  They're well‑coached on defense, and they play hard.  They've got smart linebackers that fly around and make plays.

            So, I mean, I don't think it was overconfidence.  They made plays and they executed and we didn't is what it comes down to.

            P.J. SMITH:  No, we talked about it all week on defense.  Like Kyler said, we know this is a really good team.  They're going to give us their best shot.  We knew it was going to be a dogfight and that we were going to get their best shot.

            I don't know.  It was a weird game today for some reason.  We just didn't do nothing right on defense, nothing, nothing.


            Q.  Kyler, with a month now to think about this, how do you guys salvage this loss and move on to a bowl game now?

            KYLER REED:  We've had a lot of time to think about it.  It's going to be our last game.  We've got 29‑something seniors or something like that.  So no one wants to go out with a loss.  We don't want to repeat last year.  So basically you've just got to dig down deep and find the will to keep pushing.  I mean, there is still something to play for.  That's all you can really do is keep pushing.

            P.J. SMITH:  Push and get 11 wins.  Take care of the bowl game and win that, and then you've got 11 wins.  We came short of our goal and that's frustrating.  But the season's not over yet.  We have one more game to leave our mark some type of way.             So it's about getting that 11th win.  It's going to hurt us, but we're all men.  Just got to fight through it and move on to the next game.


            Q.  I know it's kind of a weird question, but you guys didn't do a walk through yesterday.  You probably just got on site here today.  Did you feel like once you got in that atmosphere that maybe you guys got nervous or the stage was too big or the footing was weird?  Was there anything that was foreign or strange about playing on that field tonight?

            P.J. SMITH:  That's not even the answer.  It's a game of football.  I don't know.

            KYLER REED:  I think it was a normal week.  We had a walk through.  We got here yesterday.  We came in to see the stadium this morning.  It was a typical week.  We didn't practice Sunday or anything.  We didn't do anything extra or more.  We just did like a normal week for regular season games.  We did the walk through before we left Friday, like we usually do, and it was a late game.  We haven't had a late game for a while.  But we've played in them before.  So it was a typical thing.  We saw a movie.  It was normal, actually.  Very normal.  I don't think that really had anything to do with it.