Transcript: Coach Hoke Postgame

Brady Hoke answers questions about Denard, about Bellomy's night, about the running game, about the defensive effort, more.

Statement: We have to give Nebraska a lot of credit; they played well. They – second half obviously, especially late in the third quarter, we didn't tackle very well as a defense, and when you don't tackle well, big plays can happen. We didn't keep the ball inside and in front well enough, and we need to do a better job of that. Offensively, when you count on field goals, and we did the week before, and you get in the red zone, and you're not scoring touchdowns, that will hurt you against big games and games against good competition, and that's what happened.

Brady, how would you evaluate the team's performance today?

You know, until you watch it all and see it all, we'll see.

Brady, what happened to Denard, and why didn't he come back?

Same thing. He hit a nerve, hits it the wrong way, hits it hard.

Is it different than before when he came back quickly? What's the difference?

The difference is he didn't come back. It gets better and better as time goes on.

Do you expect him back this week?

I don't know. I think so.

Did you consider using Devin Gardner at quarterback?

No.

Why not?

Because he hasn't practiced there a whole lot.

Was there any consideration of replacing Bellamy?

No.

When Bellamy's struggling, do you say anything to him on the sideline, or in the locker room at half time?

I would think so. That's part of coaching. Wouldn't you do that? If someone was struggling in life?

What did you say to him?

Just, you know, ‘Keep going, we believe in you'.

Brady, this is a pretty high powered offense. How do you think your defense stood up?

I didn't think we tackled well. I know we did a lot of things well. The defense kept us in the football game for three quarters of the game.

What is the third option – what is the option behind Bellamy?

It would be Devin.

Did your game plan change when Denard went out?

You know, it changes a little bit obviously. There's some runs in there that Denard's very good at, but we ran the right plays still, and Russell took it up in there a couple times, you know, didn't get a whole lot of yards, but it's a factor for you. Thought he did a nice job on the scramble. You know, got a first down for us, but you always will change a little bit.

Brady, until Denard got hurt, did you like the way the game was playing out? Could you take crowd out of the game?

Yeah, I mean, you always like that, and that's a part of it, but you know, I think we probably, defensively, I still never felt real comfortable. It never felt comfortable, and keeping the jet read a little bit under control; they got outside a couple times, and missing tackles once it got outside, so I don't know if we ever felt – I didn't feel real comfortable at times.

Was there any point in the second half when you thought Denard might get a chance to go back in?

I talked to Smitty a couple times, and Smitty checked with me and would give me an update, but you know, he just couldn't grip a ball well enough. Didn't feel like he could throw well enough.

Denard got hurt on a play where he could have ducked out of bounds. Like you said, he was fighting for a first down. That's a high risk, high reward situation.

Well, you have a guy who's a pretty good competitor, and sometimes competitors are stubborn. You know, he was trying to get it in the end zone. For me to say he shouldn't have done that, I'd be a hypocrite, you know? So, you like competitive people, and he's a competitive guy.

Brady, you said you never considered putting Devin in, as a third option. What would have had to happen for him to go in?

Well, Russell probably had to get hurt.

Was there no pressure about how he played, how - ?

No.

Regarding the run game in the second half, were running backs not hitting holes?

No, I don't think we blocked very well. You know, we had – Fitz had an opportunity, and if we get up to the second level, he's still running probably, but we have to block more consistently.

Was it more upfront or is that Fitz?

I think it's probably always a combination of both.

Do you think Bellomy's performance was just because nerves or inexperience, or…?

For me, to speculate why a guy plays – you know, he hadn't played a whole lot for us.

Did you consider putting Rawls in as backup?

No, Fitz ran the ball hard.

Do you feel like you have enough options at quarterback?

Yeah, we really have four. Because Jack Kennedy's the fourth quarterback.

I was only counting three.

Well, when you have Devin, that's four.

You said he hasn't worked a lot at quarterback. How much has he been working at quarterback in practice?

He is some. Not a lot.

Like a period, two periods?

He works some.

Not enough to put in the game?

Not this game.

Will you practice him more at quarterback this week?

We'll talk about it.

Brady, was Bellamy kind of (confused)?

He seemed like he was pretty good. You know, I mean, Russell's a very competitive – he really, you know, wants to do well, studies. He does all the things a quarterback should do, and he's going to be fine.

At what point did you realize that Denard wasn't going back in?

I don't know if I realized that he wouldn't, ever. I mean, it's – if he had progressed a little further, he would have played there at the end, but it just wasn't happening.

It looked like you patted Russ on the back when he walked into the tunnel. What did you say to him?

That's between Russ and I, I think.

You said the offense had struggled. They haven't scored a touchdown in eight quarters now. What is your frustration level?

Getting in the red zone, and not taking advantage of it. When you have those opportunities, frustration level can vary from, you know, not blocking the line of scrimmage, maybe a guy's not running a good route, quarterback not playing as well, you know, all those things. I think it's always a combination of everything. It's never one guy's deal. I mean, we have 70 guys, and coaches, and staff, and this is on all of us.

Could you talk a little bit more about the defensive performance? Roh had a big stop and kept them out of field goal range on that one stoppage. Just in general, the defense looked like they played well.

Well, they did, but you know, you – they don't score, they don't win, and the expectations from us from a defensive standpoint – I think the players, and the coaches – are, that we have to play better. I mean, if we're giving up points, we have to play better. You know, we have to tackle better. I just didn't think we tackled very well. It will be interesting to watch the tape, to see how many missed tackles we had.

What is Frank Clark's status going forward?

He should be alright. He just banged up an ankle.

Next week, you think?

I hope so, yeah.

Can you talk about the little bit of a tough turnaround – you forced an interception, and then almost a fluke play where Smith goes to the ground, the ball pops up…

Yeah, you know, I thought they were reviewing it, and they said they were…I don't know. Was it tough? Yeah. But that's football.

Defensively, it played out kind of like the Notre Dame game. Not turnover-wise, but their backs against the wall much of the game. How emotionally draining is that to know you're – ?

Those guys who play defense for us are on scholarship, and they have a responsibility to our team to play defense, no matter what situation is.

How much did the defense wear down?

I don't think it was very much. They only played 65 plays. That's not very many plays.

Denard has gone through this injury before. What's the rehab? I mean, is it just pure rest?

Just time. I guess that would be rest, but just time.

When you had Russell in the game, because he doesn't present the same running threat Denard does, did you notice that Nebraska's defense was playing more aggressive?

I think I answered that once. I think the one thing they did in some third and long situations is they could be a little riskier. They could bring maybe two linebackers, where before there was always the – you have to be a little more careful, because what Denard can do if he finds an opening or a crease.

On Nebraska's first touchdown, against the secondary. Was that just miscommunication?

Well, we had one that was communication, one of the throws was; and we missed a check as a defense, that was another one of them.