Huskers looking to finish strong over final 3 weeks of season

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Scott Frost and Husker players talked about some of the good things they saw in the Ohio State game and what still needs improvement during Monday's weekly Husker press conference.

Nebraska hosts Illinois Saturday with a kickoff time set for 11 a.m. The Huskers will wear "Memorial Tribute" alternate uniforms for the game.

Despite the loss to the Buckeyes this past weekend, the Huskers saw a lot of good things and know they're moving in the right direction. And even though the final three games of the season won't mean anything for the team in terms of making a bowl game, the team talked about the importance of finishing the season strong.

Mohamed Barry said the team wants to send the seniors out on a good note, and Jerald Foster, one of those seniors, said the older guys want to keep building the foundation and habits that will benefit the program after they're gone.

You can watch parts of the press conference by clicking on the links above.

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

Scott Frost, Nebraska Head Coach
On if the coaches have alternate uniforms for the game
“Not that I know of. I don’t know what the coaches wore in 1918 and 1919, ties? Yeah I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

On if he would like to mix up uniforms more often or keep it traditional
“In general, I think there’s maybe a dozen brands in college football and uniforms that you recognize and those schools probably are better off, in my opinion, just sticking to the tradition. We have a strong enough tradition here where everybody in the country when they see the ‘N’ on the side of the helmet, knows what is stands for. Not to say we won’t mix it up occasionally, but there’s power in what we wear every Saturday and I don’t see us wearing something different every weekend.”

On the job Greg Austin has done with the offensive line
“We’ve gotten a lot better, really kind of with the progression improvement of the team. I think both young tackles are getting better every week, I’ve said that. Boe Wilson is doing some really good things, Tanner [Farmer] and Jerald [Foster] have both gotten better as the year has gone along too. We’re giving Adrian [Martinez] a little more time to throw and we’ve done a pretty good job running the ball this year. Greg [Austin] is a great coach and everywhere he’s been his players not only play well, but continue to improve.”

On how the defense played Saturday
“They played a good team on Saturday and I thought they battled. Statistically we gave up too many points, we need to get some field goals instead of touchdowns and do better in the red zone. Overall I think offense and defense both played well enough on Saturday to win a game and I’m not sure you can say that about our special team’s performance. You’ve got to put all those things together to win football games, and we are getting closer and closer every time we go out. There were some signs of things happening on defense that were really encouraging to me; forcing turnovers, playing as hard as we did, getting more hats to the ball, being a little more physical, seeing some big hits. Every week it’s gotten better and they probably played their best game even though they gave up 35 points, they probably played their best game on Saturday.”

On how pleased he’s been with Erik Chinander through the challenges of this season
“It hasn’t been easy for any of us, the players, the coaches, I’m sure the fans. We’ve had to struggle through some things and the best thing to do as a leader when you’re struggling through things is to be consistent and stay the same and keep your messages the same and keep encouraging. I know I’ve said this before, but after this season regardless of how it finishes the thing I’ll be most proud of from this season is most teams, if they have the start to the season that we had, would have shut it down, would’ve started fighting, would’ve gotten worse. This team keeps getting better, keeps having more fun playing, culture keeps getting better, there’s relationships being developed, there’s a lot of the things being built even through some trying times and that’s not easy to do. A leader like Coach Chinander and others are the guys that help see that through. Not one coach turned on any players, players aren’t turning on each other, players aren’t turning on coaches. I said this too, the best thing I heard all week is one of my young guys came to me and told me that one of the old guys told him that he was so jealous of the young guy that he was going to get to be around here for three more years because of what the players can feel is happening or where they know it’s going. That’s great to hear that even a senior going out the door wishes he could stay here with us a while longer and with this team a while longer.”

On if Devine Ozigbo approaching 1,000 rush yards means a lot to him
“It would. Our first goal is obviously to win games and we’ll do whatever we have to on offense to win games, but I’d love to see Devine [Ozigbo] get to 1,000, I’d love to see Stanley [Morgan Jr.] and JD [Spielman] get to 1,000. I was just kind of made aware of their numbers today, cause I don’t really look at that, I think it’s possible for all of them to do if we play well on defense and if those guys hit those benchmarks it probably means we put ourselves in the position to win some games.”

On if those numbers will help in the recruiting process
“Yeah, probably. I think out on the recruiting trail kids see what our offense is about and man if I was a young player in high school looking at our core of young players and especially our freshman quarterback, I’d want to come catch balls from him. I think a lot of those things speak for themselves, but it always helps to have to proof on paper and Stan [Morgan] and JD [Spielman] and Devine [Ozigbo] are all close to hitting a milestone.”

On if he’s surprised there hasn’t been much depth at wide receiver behind Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman
“I’m a little surprised. We’re going to play the guy that we think gives us the best chance, and we’ve been waiting for someone to really step up and take it and at times certain guys have done good things and other times other guys. We need more weapons on the field and we’ll keep searching until somebody steps up and takes that spot.”

On trusting the young tight ends
“I think all three have improved. I’m excited about the future of that position like any other or a bunch of others. Jack [Stoll] is a sophomore and Austin [Allen] and Kurt [Rafdal] are both freshmen. We’re going to have those guys for a long time. They made a big jump from spring to fall and they’ve made a big jump since the start of fall to now. You’re starting to see them show up in the passing game, they’re all blocking pretty well and they’re all young so looking forward to the development at that position and it’s great to see them get involved.”

On whether the (Cameron) Jurgens decision was easier knowing he had those three around for awhile
“I suppose it made it a little easier. But that didn’t really have much to do with it, it was just trying to find the best spot for him. We try to do what’s best for each kid individually and I really believe Cam will thank me someday for making that move.”

On whether he saw a difference in how Illinois played last week after they fired their defensive coordinator
“There’s something different. You can tell it’s obviously in the same scheme. I finished my career in Tampa. Hardy (Nickerson) was a legend down there, got a ton of respect for him and Lovie (Smith). I’m familiar enough from those days back then with how that defense works to kind of recognize things. There’s some differences, but I don’t know how much of that difference was just a game planning thing for that team and how much is going to carry over. We have to be prepared for what they did Saturday and what they did the rest of the season before that.”

On how a guy like JoJo Domann can make things difficult for offensive play-callers
“I told JoJo today the best thing that he did on Saturday, he just made plays. JoJo can play safety, he can play outside backer, but when he got his chance he went out there and made some plays. And not just a tackle here and there, he made some game-changing plays. Man we’ve been waiting for more guys to step up and do that. Awesome to get him back. I hope he keeps having the success that he’s having and him knowing enough spots to move around, that’ll give us flexibility and hopefully make it a little harder on the other team.”

On seeing Domann on the field after what he’s gone through the last couple months
“He’s been through a lot. He had bad luck this year, he had little nagging things that kept him off the practice field and kept him from getting his chance earlier. Life doesn’t give you that many chances and when you get them you have to take advantage of them. Given his chance he’s done a great job so expect to see him on the field a bunch.”

On how the offensive wrinkles get created
“Just from watching a lot of tape. We invent some really good things and some other times I laugh at myself after the game thinking what was I thinking that was never going to work. But as a staff we can usually balance each other out and tell each other when one of the ideas is stupid. We had some good stuff for them Saturday. We’ll try to put our guys in good positions again this week. You just have to keep being creative. I think one of the secrets to what we do is running some different stuff every week and keep people guessing. We’ll go back to our bag of tricks and see if we can find anything else.”

On how choosing plays works
“We go in as a group on Sunday night and Monday night and kind of all present our ideas and then we build off those ideas and come up with new ideas based on what somebody else is thinking. Come up with wrinkles, even our GA’s and interns and quality controls get involved. Any and all ideas are welcome, we try to fit it all together so things are coupling with one another and setting things up. We have a great staff from that standpoint because there’s no egos. Ton of stuff gets cut and usually more gets added as the week goes along and we try to land on the best set of stuff that we think we can possibly land on to win a game.”

On Urban Meyer’s quote about Nebraska being the two-win team nobody wants to play
“I suppose that’s good to hear. It’s not much of a consolation. We’ve had some great moral victories and those don’t count for anything.”

On Breon Dixon and his development this season
“Well we wanted to redshirt him and we’re within our last four games so we’re going to get him on the field. Hopefully he can help, he’s still got a long way to go in some areas but we need more depth and more guys on teams and on offense and defense so hopefully he adds something.”

On Tyrin Ferguson and his possible role in the last three games
“I hope so. He’s been hampered by a minor injury for a while so hopefully we get him back and healthy. Gosh we need more depth, more depth will help us on defense, more depth will help us on special teams. Having a few guys hurt, not able to go hurts us from that standpoint.”

On whether they wait until the offseason to examine what’s going wrong on special teams
“Listen, we watch every game, every snap. Practice, game, we know what happened and what went wrong. Some things can be fixed now, some things are going to need other help to get fixed. The blocked punt on Saturday was a miscommunication. That can’t happen. Those guys have done that 200 times in practice and they changed protection on one side and one guy changed and didn’t tell the other two. Those things can’t happen in a big game. Some of the other things that happened we’re probably going to have to wait and address in the offseason.”

On how Maurice Washington reacts to the environment of a big game
“Maurice is going to be fine. I don’t think there’s a moment that’s too big for him. His biggest issue, I’ve said this all year, is he needs a year in the weight room and a year to get bigger and stronger and a little more durable. He went up to Wisconsin and had his best game to date at that point in a tough environment. He just got a little nicked up on Saturday, we couldn’t use him as much. But both guys are good to go and were practicing today.”

On his impression of AJ Bush and what he expects to see on Saturday
“I can only guess. I know AJ by name and a little bit of tape from a long time ago and not much more. I know he played well last Saturday. And I know if I was playing a team I used to play for and came back I’d be excited to play. My guess would be he has a lot of fond thoughts and memories of this place because it’s hard to leave here without thinking that way. He’s a good player and he certainly played well on Saturday, and their offense looked completely different with him in there.”