Michigan State postgame nuggets
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Here are some quick notes to pass along from Nebraska’s postgame press conference following Saturday’s 23-20 overtime loss to No. 20 Michigan State…
Head coach Scott Frost
***On the punt return for a touchdown, head coach Scott Frost said the kick was supposed to go to the right side of the field. Instead, it went to the left, which Frost guessed was about 40 yards off its designed target.
***Frost said he had a “spirited talk” with his team in the locker room after the game. He told his players not to hang their heads and that they were still a good team. But he added, “the little things need to change.” He again used the “same movie” analogy and said the Huskers have “got to change the record.”
***Frost said Nebraska’s offensive line works on procedural discipline and knowing the snap count every day in practice, with offensive line coach Greg Austin yelling “move” and the defensive flinching to try and make the o-line jump.
He said he wasn’t sure what more the staff could do to try and fix those false starts, which again were a major problem on Saturday night.
“They've got to their job,” Frost said of the offensive line. “We’ve got to punt the ball. Those mistakes cost us the game.”
***Frost said there were “a ton of guys that battled their butts off” in the loss, “but this team has to change the record… I can’t go out and stay set for them.
“I’m sick of it. They’re sick of it,” Frost said. “We’ve got to be able to count on guys to do their job.”
***Frost said NU’s defense was playing really well this season, and they played well enough to win on Saturday.
“We didn’t have any business losing that game,” he said.
***On the first play of overtime, Frost said Levi Falck was open down the seam for a potential touchdown, and Omar Manning was also available for a big gain, but Adrian Martinez didn’t throw it to them.
Frost said Martinez missed another throw on second down, and they called a play on third down that they had worked on all week just for that situation but didn’t execute.
***Frost said the only way Nebraska would be able to figure out all of its problems would be if the players got “on guys to get stuff done.”
***Frost was clearly upset about the special teams errors, and not just the botched punt at the end of the game. He said they let way too many punts hit the ground and bounce up the field, costing NU valuable “hidden yardage” that “you can’t get back.”
***Frost said they wanted to try and score on the last drive of regulation, but after Martinez was sacked, he decided that “more bad things could happen than good at that point” and ran out the clock.
***Frost said all of his players were “sick of it” and had done so much work to improve this year. He said the Huskers were a way better team than when they first started, “but we have to get the pilot light lit and win some of these games.”
***Frost said Zavier Betts was not available to play in the second have due to an injury.
***While Frost was hard on Martinez for some mistakes, he also said the quarterback was “one of the best players I’ve been around and one of the best players in the country.” Frost said Martinez “did enough tonight for us to win… It’s a crying shame.”
***Running back Rahmir Johnson said Nebraska “had them, but we just gave it away. We have to play better and get these W’s.” He said all NU could do was “flush it” and come back harder next week.
***Martinez said Saturday ranked “near the top” of the most painful losses he’d experienced at Nebraska. “I’ll leave it at that.”
***Martinez said he needed to watch the film of the overtime drive, but from what he saw during the first play, he didn’t have a good throw down the field, which was why he checked the ball down.
He took the blame for the interception, saying: “I needed to throw a better ball.”
***Martinez said he never thought he would miss more than a drive or two after being knocked out of the game with an injury on the opening series.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before I was back on the field.”
***Martinez said Nebraska’s defense was “outstanding” against Michigan State and that the “rest of the team needs to step up.”
“They’re the backbone of this team,” Martinez said of the Blackshirts.
***As a captain, Martinez said his job this week was to make sure Saturday night’s loss didn’t ruin the rest of Nebraska’s season.
“We know the type of team we are, and this isn’t going to discourage us…” he said. “We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s as simple as that.”
***Tight end Austin Allen said Daniel Cerni’s punt returned for a touchdown just went off his foot the wrong way. “That’s just football,” Allen said, adding that the rest of the team needed to respond better.
***Allen said Nebraska “played a good game against a good team,” and the Huskers weren’t “going to croak” just because they lost.
***Linebacker JoJo Domann said the defense could have done more against Michigan State because they didn’t take the ball away more with turnovers.
***Domann said moments like this would “define us” with how they responded going forward. He said the Huskers’ identity wasn’t just wins and losses, but they knew that at some point they needed to see the rewards for all of the hard work they’d put into this season.
“It hurts. We want to win,” Domann said. “We’re competitors. That’s why we play the game.”
***Domann said NU had no other option other than to keep fighting and try to get this thing right.