Head Coach Ron Prince
“There are a couple things on personnel. Steve Cline will be out for the remainder of the season ACL obviously a big loss for us leadership-wise and he’s a good player for us. We have a number of other players who are in one of these modes where it’ll be all the way until Thursday before we know exactly what their availability will be, whether it will be limited significantly in practice or we probably won’t know anything until Thursday. There’s just too many to mention, but I’ll mention that (Clayton) Cox will be out this weekend. He will not play. He’ll be back at some point, but this week he will be out. So Clayton Cox and Steve Cline will be out. Zach Kendall will be out this week and (Jordan) Bedore will be available this week. (There will be) possible availability later this week once again for Ross Diehl. We’ll see how that goes during the week.
“I’m very disappointed with the game on Saturday. After going back and watching the tape, all the things that we think are important for the game to go the way we’d like for it to go to be able to come out and establish some type of rhythm on offense, have a good stop early, score first, and maybe get a momentum play in the kicking game. All of those things went exactly opposite of how we’ve tried to play in every game on the road, and we gave life, encouragement and points to the other team. Clearly by the time we shook off the effects of that with the first score, and there was a second score, and when we had the opportunity to respond, all we could get was a field goal. Finally, when we did respond, it was later in the second half. We were irregular and out of rhythm for most of the second half offensively and unable to mount a serious run at things, even though I thought the momentum had clearly shifted at the end of the third quarter to our favor, particularly after (James) Johnson’s score. We were unable to take a lead and put the game away. That was obviously never an opportunity or an option. So, a wasted opportunity, a blown opportunity, however you want to look at that, I’m not happy about it. I understand exactly how it happened and what things contributed to it.
“Defensively, allowing them to convert on six of eight third downs in the first half that’s something that’s been a strength of ours, and it was really damaging to our effort. We had pretty good field position playing for that even down by a score, and then they were able to drive the length of the field, chew up a lot of the clock, all those things they had done, they had continued to improve. We really didn’t have much of an answer to it. We went in at halftime and made a few adjustments, but I think it would be ingenuous to say we did a lot of the scheme things differently in the second half. We just tried to bring it to the players’ attention exactly, remind them exactly of how we’re trying to play. So therefore, in the second half, they were one of nine on third downs. It was just a matter of getting our heads in the game and playing properly in the second half that allowed that. We did give up a play in the second half that really hurt us, but defensively after digging such a deep hole, we played better in the second half but not well enough to win.
“Offensively, we were ineffective for a lot of the day. I think it’s very deceiving to look at the third-down conversions and yards in the game, because that doesn’t tell the story of how the game was conducted. It was really a miss-and-hit game. We were off, and other than the performance of Jordy Nelson, there really isn’t much to write home about. So that was that game. As you can imagine, we’ve taken plenty of time to deal with it, assess it, and understand it. Many of our issues are ongoing. There’s a certain way that we need to play from a margin-of-error standpoint. When the game goes real well for us, it goes real well and sometimes the score is deceiving. A game like this one, it’s closer to how a lot of games go. We just didn’t get any of the plays we’d like and we got those damaging plays against us particularly in the kicking game. It had been a common theme and we had trouble. We’ve moved on from that. The coaches moved on from it.”
On the upcoming game against Nebraska...
“We have a real clear sense of what we’re facing here ahead. It might be very fashionable to try to quickly assess this opponent in a certain way. I see this as a team that since October 6, when they played Missouri, has shown steady improvement offensively. Six points in back-to-back weeks, then 25 points against Texas, and 39 points against the No. 8 team in the country at the time. So I see this offense continuing to improve. These games, except for the Oklahoma State game and Missouri game, each of the next games have been highly contested. They led in the KU game two different times. The Texas A&M game was very highly contested and so was the Texas game. So we have our work cut out for this opponent. They can not only run the ball very effectively as they showed in the Texas game but they can also pass the ball. They are a higher rated passing offense than we are. They have a lot of versatility but clearly their running back is one of their very best players. They try to get the ball to him as often as they can. For a first start, I don’t think anybody would argue that having 404 yards passing and four touchdowns is a pretty good way to enter your first start, and that’s what their quarterback was able to do. I think a lot of that kind of stuff gets lost in what happened in the game. They played a great team, a team we were very familiar with. That effort is not lost on us. We understand what are challenges are to defend that kind of team, and we’re looking for some opportunities for us to think that we can try to compete with them from a score standpoint, which will be important. They’ve been very strong in the kicking game. For a lot of the year, they’ve been right among the conference leaders in punting. If you watch the games, they are very physical in the kickoff return. The USC game, that was about as physical of game in the kickoff and kickoff return as I’ve seen this year, and so it will be very much a challenging environment for us. We understand our issues. We’re excited to have a chance to go play again, to have a chance to show that we can play well and win the game, and that’s where our focus is. We’ve got some things to work on, and we’ll give those things our full attention.”