During the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday, Nebraska coach Mike Riley fielded questions about his history with Oregon, the type of resources he has now at Nebraska that he didn’t have at Oregon State, and the importance of scheduling teams like Oregon in the nonconference portion of the schedule because of the College Football Playoff.
Here’s the transcript of his answers:
Q: On being in the shadow of Oregon while at Oregon State
Mike Riley: I never really looked at it like that. We certainly had a rough time with them a good bit of the time, but a lot of people did and it was focused on us because we were the rival. We just went about our business and tried to basically do the best we could without focusing too much on that until the game came up.
Q: What’s the biggest difference with your secondary this year?
Riley: I think that the No. 1 thing is the experience of our corners. Getting a chance to finish up last year, we finished up with Josh Kalu and Chris Jones at corner and I think them playing was good for them. Of course, Nate Gerry has been a factor at safety for some time. And the growth of our safeties in the program, Kieron Williams, Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed. And we have a good corner in Eric Lee and a true freshman in Lamar Jackson. So we have more depth, and we’re playing smarter and sounder there.
I know we have to play sounder as we go on.
Q: What resources do you have at Nebraska that you maybe didn’t at Oregon State?
Riley: I think a lot is made of that. I don’t really look at it like that. We enjoyed every minute at Oregon State. We never though of ourselves as disadvantaged in that role. We had a lot of fun and did a lot of things there. We built part of the new stadium, new practice fields, new players lounge. We put a lot of time in and raised a lot of money for our buildings. So we felt great about what we were doing. We didn’t try to focus on what we didn’t have or what others had.
Of course ,at Nebraska with their history and resources and facilities, we’re doing the same thing. We’re trying to utilize all that and focus on the job on hand here. This place doesn’t need rebuilding, but we’re trying to establish what we do on the football field. I’ve never really tried to focus on haves and have nots.
Q: Are you sensing that teams are making an extra effort to schedule tough in the nonconference because of the College Football Playoff?
Riley: Yes. I think that you’ll see more and more of that. You certainly saw a great start this season with some great matchups from across the country. I think it adds a lot of intrigue and excitement to the season. And you’ll probably see some more of it as we go.
Q: How does a game like this against Oregon help prepare your team going forward in the Big Ten?
There is no doubt about that. This will be a great game for our team to see where we are against a team that is nationally ranked and has been a team that’s been ranked for some years now. This will be great for the Huskers for prepare for how the season goes on. Just being in the Big Ten for a year, every game is competitive and teams are ready to play, so this will be a great step for us to ready ourselves and hopefully get better each ballgame.