LINCOLN, Neb. – After Nebraska’s 43-10 win over Fresno State on Saturday night, Nebraska coach Mike Riley was visibly frustrated with simple mistakes the Huskers made. On Monday morning, most of those mistakes were still bothering Riley.
“I just wanted to be cleaner,” Riley said. “You can eliminate celebration penalties, you can eliminate the targeting, you can eliminate the late hit play, illegal formation, we can be cleaner on substitutions, the blocked punt that was a simple blocking assignment, it was was so simple, that’s a day 1 thing.”
Overall, cleaner is Riley’s message.
“The one thing for sure I learned a long time ago, you can’t overlook in a win what you wouldn’t overlook in a defeat,” Riley said. “We just gotta clean that up if we want to be a team that we want to be. We get rid of some of the things and that game is even better.”
Some more notes from Riley’s presser:
- Some positives Riley listed off offensively: Nebraska had more than 400 yards of offense, ran for 292 yards with no turnovers and was 5 for 5 in the red zone. Notable players Riley liked the play from were Dylan Utter and Nick Gates. He also liked the way Terrell Newby and Devine Ozigbo had good rushing games.
- On the defensive side of the ball, Riley liked how Nebraska kept the big plays down. Fresno State’s biggest three plays were 32 yards, 19 and 18. Beyond that, Riley said he thought the defense did better than they’ve ever done in his time here keeping the big plays in check. He also loved the play of Dedrick Young, Josh Banderas, Chris Jones, Ross Dzuris, Kevin Maurice, Josh Kalu and Kieron Williams.
- Riley was not pleased with the punt return game. Jordan Westerkamp was the punt return man on Saturday.
- The main concern Riley had on Saturday were the celebration penalties, of which Nebraska had two. One after holder Zack Darlington spun the ball in the end zone after a two-point conversion and one on Kieron Williams, who celebrated after a tackle. “I felt like after every good play we were going to get a penalty,” Riley said. But that wasn’t necessarily on the refs, Riley said. That’s a Nebraska problem. “I think they called it right.”
- Nebraska ran the ball more than 50 times on Saturday, which was more of a commentary on how uncomfortable Riley still is throwing the ball, he said. Riley said he didn’t think Tommy Armstrong looked “crisp” when the quarterback did throw the ball, which led to the massive amounts of run plays. Riley said in order for Nebraska to be successful going forward, Armstrong needs to be more consistent so that the play calling can be more balanced.
- Riley said the last time he remembered being a part of a game when his team only threw the ball 13 times was when he was playing quarterback. He also mentioned the Huskers “didn’t have anywhere near the balance” they need going forward in the passing game.”
- Riley said in the past the Foster Farms Bowl win over UCLA was going to be some sort of blueprint for the Nebraska offense. But in that game, Riley said, when Nebraska did pass, they were efficient. In the opening game against Fresno State, Riley said the Huskers threw just six less times than the UCLA game, but it wasn’t as sharp. “I think that we’ve not yet looked crisp in the passing game,” Riley said. “We can do that with better consistency.”
- The Huskers did not break off for any long runs on Saturday, which Riley attributes to not good enough blocking by the wide receivers.
- Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf were both upstairs on Saturday. Riley said Cavanaugh might come back down to the field next week
- Overall, Riley said the team should be happy with the win, despite his grievances about the simple mistakes. “I don’t want to be a downer,” Riley said. “After the game I want them to feel good about winning.”