LINCOLN, Neb. — Last season, Nebraska laid a few eggs in Big Ten play with bad losses to Illinois, Purdue and Northwestern.
This time around, with the win at Northwestern in the books and the Illinois ahead this week, Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley feels like Nebraska is now, in a way, on a redemption tour.
“It also feels like a new year,” Riley said during his press conference on Monday.
Nebraska is 4-0 and could match its win total from the 2015 regular season with a win over Illinois on Saturday. And though Riley said he hasn’t brought up the idea of a “redemption tour” to his players, he thinks they probably feel the same way that he does; that this year Nebraska has something to prove after a seven-loss 2015 season.
“It’s really, really for us more than just coach speak to really stay in the moment and play and enjoy the prep for this week get ready to play our best game,” Riley said. “We certainly have many areas to improve in that we have to focus on and we’re going to play a team with week extra of prep so we just really just need be ready to play a good game regardless of a history.”
Some more notes from Riley’s press conference:
- Riley announced injured senior WR Alonzo Moore (shoulder) and sophomore OT Tanner Farmer (high ankle sprain) will likely be out for the game on Saturday.
- The main negatives from Saturday’s 24-13 win at Northwestern came on the special teams, Riley said. He called the kickoff coverage “average at best.”
- Riley spoke briefly about the three players who kneeled during the national anthem on Saturday. His main message within the locker room is respect, he said. “There are 140 guys in that locker room. We’ve all grown up different. So we start out, the very first word I use at the start of each year is respect. Because we have guys from all kinds of background, all parts of the country, we have a nice, and I love it, a melting pot. And you have a bunch of kids in college, where they are in college. I even remember, you gain a whole new awareness of the world in college. And you start to form opinions of who you are for the rest of your life. Which is why it’s special for us to be with these guys through this part of their life. What you try to do is appreciate and respect the differences right in this room and basically when you are a member of a team, you don’t let those differences affect what you’re trying to do as a football team. And that’s a big chore, but it’s a reality for the rest of their life.”