LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska football team held a brief 2nd quarter lead but then Wisconsin scored the next 24 points en route to a 37-21 victory over the Huskers on Saturday.
NU fell to 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten, while the Badgers improved to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the league.
Before the game, Nebraska announced a two year contract extension for head coach Scott Frost.
Jonathan Taylor ran for 204 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Dedrick Mills led the way for the Big Red with a career-high 188 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown.
Adrian Martinez added 89 yards and a touchdown rushing, while completing 13 of 23 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown to go along with an interception.
Nebraska now needs to win its final two games of the season at Maryland and against Iowa to earn bowl eligibility.
On the offense
“I was happy with how the offense played. That’s a really good defense we played today, and we knew we weren’t going to get that many snaps. We got, the last I saw, was 60 snaps. We played well on offense. Came up a little short on a couple of fourth downs, made a couple mistakes. For the most part I thought those guys fought.”
On if he thought the defense has improved like he’s wanted
“No it hasn’t improved the way we wanted it to. If it would, we wouldn’t be where we are as a team with our record. There’s good things happening. We need more pieces. We were short some pieces today that weren’t healthy, weren’t out there. We need some more help for those guys. It’s a great opportunity for recruits to come in and help us. There are some other things I think we need to fix as a staff. So, it’s on all of us. It needs to be better. If we can get to a point where we’re giving up less than 30 a game, I like our chances with where our offense is going, but we've got to get there on both sides.”
On the performance of running back Dedrick Mills
“I thought the offensive staff did a great job with the game plan. Credit to Wisconsin for everything they did today but that’s a defense that - I don’t know three shutouts or whatever and holding people to 80 yards rushing - I thought the staff did a great job coming up with a plan to give us a chance with a limited number of snaps. We put him in some stuff that he was a little more comfortable with and he just got more chances today. Also, a bunch of credit to the offensive line. I thought those guys probably had their best run-blocking game of the year.”
On Nebraska's special teams play
“Well we've got to get better in all three phases. Special teams is especially one of them. Against a team like that, if you’re going to upset, when you get your chances you have to take advantage of them. I’ve been telling the team all week, conviction. Go make it happen. Ain’t nobody going to give you anything in life, nobody’s going to give you anything in football. You have to go earn it, you have to go take it and when you go up seven and you have all the momentum and you kick a high ball to the whatever yard line it was caught on, and give up a kick return, you just flushed away a chance to be in control of the game. So that needs to get better. We can’t miss field goals. We can’t give those things up, but it’s all three phases.”
On the defense’s performance
“I thought again at times they did well then there was a couple of breakdowns here and there. If you’re ahead of a team like that, good things are going to happen, you put them in a game they don’t want to be in. We had chances to be ahead in the game. We were. We gave up the kick return, then we get ahead again and tackle poorly on a drive and give up a quick touchdown, and then they caught a break with the tipped pass and you’re playing them toe to toe, looking them right in the eye and matching them blow for blow. Then all of a sudden you look up and it’s 24-10, but that’s where a good team goes out and makes it happen, and I need to keep working to get our team to a point where they believe it and go out and make it happen because we had chances today.”
On the interception thrown by Adrian Martinez in the second quarter
“Kind of unfortunate in some ways, but I think he’ll learn from it. We had a deeper route down field, a route that works against corners on one side and man on the other and he has a check down shallow. They did a good job taking the deeper part away. Kanawai [Noa] was open the whole play, I saw him coming across and Adrian got his eyes back down to him and tried to drop it to him and one of their defensive linemen were just spying him and reached up and tipped the ball. I think it’s unfortunate in a situation like that. Maybe if he moves his feet a little and opens up a lane to him or gets to him just a little quicker. It wasn’t a bad play by him, I think he’ll learn from it, it was just kind of an unfortunate deal.”
On the 20-yard sack of Adrian Martinez in the third quarter
“Adrian played like the Adrian we know. That kid has gone through a lot, through our struggles. I went through it, when we were 11-2 and I was the most hated guy in the state of Nebraska, I went through it. It’s hard. He’s been battling like a warrior; he hasn’t been 100 percent for a lot of this year. We’re not good enough around him yet. He played a lot like the guy we all expect him to be today except for a couple of plays. I don’t really want to talk about those, but we talked in the huddle right before we went out there on first down, we were going to take a shot and I said ‘no penalties, no turnovers and we can’t take a sack.’ I thought he thought about throwing it away, then their best player got his hands around him and I thought he still could have tried to throw it away and it just didn’t get out of his hand. Again, I think we were inside their 40 eight times and came away with 21 points and that’s not good enough.”
On Dedrick Mills averaging 11 yards per carry
“I’m tired of looking for silver linings, OK This team has to decide it’s going to do whatever it takes to change it and we had opportunities today. Again, I can’t say enough about Wisconsin’s defense, their coaches do an unbelievable job, they’ve got good players, they’ve got veteran players, they’ve got a lot of difference makers. We had some guys on offense that played their best game and competed toe-to-toe with a really good defense.”
On the next two games being must wins for the postseason
“I hope they understand their back's against the wall, but I want a team that plays like their back is against the wall in every single game.”
On Carlos Davis not playing
“Carlos told us before the game that he wasn’t healthy enough to play.”
On the sideline penalty
“I didn’t see it, one of our guys was on the right and got run over by an official, I’m not sure who it was.”
On dealing with Wisconsin while missing players
“That’s a good team. We've got to keep bringing more talent into this program, so we are going into gun fights with fully loaded guns and we’ve got some really good bullets on this team. We have some really good pieces, some really good weapons, but we need more. When you come in missing some guys it makes it even harder and that’s why I’m proud of our guys for how they fought; a vast, vast majority of this team came out and fought. We need more of that. We need more guys that are willing to do that. It hurts not having Wan’Dale [Robinson] it hurts not having Deontai Williams, it hurts losing Cam [Taylor-Britt] for part of the game, it hurts not having Darrion Daniels. There are some pieces that would’ve been nice to have that aren’t on the team anymore that are weapons for us, but that’s no excuse. We have to make sure we get the right guys.”
On receiving a two-year contract extension
“I’m grateful, I’m grateful to a lot of people. To Ronnie Green, he came to my office and suggested it and told me it’s what they wanted to do. I’m grateful to him and Bill [Moos] and Susan Fritz, the leadership at this university. This is where I want to be. People in Nebraska know me pretty well and I’m a fighter and I’m not going to quit until this is right. We took the Nebraska job as a staff because we figured we had the runway to build this and build it the right way, in a lot of ways there was more work to be done than we even anticipated before we came to Lincoln, and there’s still things to do to get right. I’ve told you all I’ll talk more about that once the season is over because I want to focus on this team and what we have in front of us, but I’m grateful to the leadership here and I’m grateful to the fan base for believing in us. We are going to get this done. I think everybody, including me, hoped it would flip this year and it seems like we’re miles away and we are this close at the same time. A few more pieces, a few more plays, and this whole thing looks different. It’s not going to happen until we have a team that’s ready to go make it happen and we are trying to get them there every single day. The fans here, we lost three straight games and this place is full, and awesome, and everybody you shake hands with and say hi to in town, in the tunnel walk, is nothing but supportive. We’ve got great leadership here and the best fans in the country. This is where I want to be, and we are going to get this right.”
On how the younger defensive lineman played
“I’m glad they got an opportunity, I know Ty Robinson played, Keem Green, Fyn Anderson. There were some young guys that played out there; Braxton Clark played again, Wyatt Mazour played, Brody Belt played. We are playing a lot of young guys. This young core that we have are special kids not just special players. We need to keep building on that. I need to watch film to be honest with you, on defensive series I’m trying to get the next set of play calls right with the offensive staff and just watching enough to call timeouts if we need to. I know some of those young guys are fighters and I’m glad they are going to be around for a while.”