Gary Barnett Talks Nebraska

Colorado head coach Gary Barnett met with the press Monday afternoon as the Buffaloes continue to prepare for Friday's showdown with Nebraska (1:30 p.m., ABC). Inside, some of Barnett's quotes from the press conference.

Looking back on the Iowa State Loss
Gary Barnett:
Had two turnovers not resulted in touchdowns, I think the outcome of the game would have been different. I really believe our defense was playing well enough that we could have withstood the turnovers. When they both went for touchdowns, it was more than we could handle.

As we look back on it, we didn't play well in a couple of aspects. Overall we didn't have a great performance. As a result we ended up losing the game. It was disappointing in a lot of ways but we've had two weeks to get over it. I think we're over it now. We had a really good practice (Sunday).

Looking forward at the Nebraska game
This game becomes huge. Every year it's huge, but because of what is riding on it for us, it makes it even bigger. It's a big advantage for us having this game at home. We need to capitalize on that advantage. We seem to play really well here in front of our crowd. We're 3-3 [against Nebraska] since I've been here and every game except the one in 2001 has gone down to the last possession, if I remember correctly. I think they are in a let-it-go, no pressure situation.

Statistically to me, two things jump out. One is that in every category they are ahead of us in special teams. And we're a team that prides itself on [special teams]. We have a great punter, a great kicker and we've been good in every area except probably kick off returns. But Nebraska is ranked ahead of us in every single category. We are tied in PATs, but they are a little bit ahead of us in kick off returns; a little bit ahead of us in punt returns; they have the leading punter in the league — John [Torp] is second. In kick off coverage we are one [place] behind them. So this is a game where the special teams are going to have to take it on their shoulders to make sure that we outperform Nebraska this weekend.

You always know how big this game is for our fans. I thank [former coach] Bill McCartney for making it as big as it is. All summer, everywhere you go people say ‘you have to win two games — Colorado State and Nebraska. It's so big to so many people, so we feel a responsibility to our fan base in this game. I always feel more pressure personally."

On the Nebraska defense
The second thing that jumps out to you is the number of sacks they have. They have three players that are all ranked in the sack category. They lead the conference in sacks and have three players in the tackles for loss category. We don't have any players in either one of those categories.

They have a defense that has put up a lot of good numbers and causes a lot of problems with their front four — they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

They are a little different than they were a year ago. They were pretty complicated on defense a year ago. They have simplified a little bit—they are playing with a lot more confidence probably because it is a little bit simpler and because it's their second year in the system.

On the Nebraska offense
Offensively, Zac Taylor is way ahead of where they were last year in the quarterback position. They aren't running the ball as effectively or as well as they have in the past. I think it's somewhat a matter of choice. I think Taylor is a heck of a quarterback.

They do a lot of things like we do. They do a lot of shifting and a lot of shifts with motions. They hide guys out of the backfield and do a lot of things which [resemble] an NFL approach.

On whether Nebraska will try and establish a running game Friday
I think so, especially with [running back] Cory Ross coming home and playing in front of family and friends. I think [Nebraska] will highlight him as much as they can. He will want the ball and they throw it to him a lot. He is going to play his heart out and you have to be prepared for that.

On the game's implications
I think I would have liked to wrap [the Big 12 North division] up last week and let all of the excitement still build because it is going to build up around this game no matter what. But we don't have that choice now. I think our players are extremely focused on this game. What drives us are our goals. We want to get to the Big 12 Championship and win it. To get to that game it boils down to beating Nebraska.

Those of you who have been to our practices [the week before playing Nebraska] know that [practice squad players] wear white jerseys, put white tape on their helmets and wear red ‘N' helmets decals. We called the decal company to get a few this year and they said ‘that's funny, Nebraska just called to get some Buffalo decals.' [Former CU receivers coach] Ted Gilmore has shared that idea with them I'm sure, so now we probably have little Buffaloes running around in Nebraska and practicing with black jerseys and helmets that are all taped up in gold.

On Senior Day
Its' a big day for them and it's a big day for me. I've seen these guys four to six years and I've been through a lot with these guys. It's like having your son leave. Probably between each player and myself, we know all of the struggles they have gone through. Everybody has had issues because this is such a growing-up period in their lives. Each guy I know there is something where he and I are the only ones that really know what is going on and to have them step on that field and represent what they have accomplished and been through—to stand there in front of the crowd and be recognized in front of their teammates is a special moment for them. They deserve it. Every single one of those guys will tug at me, especially in light of the last two years.

On the significance role senior James Garee has played
He's a captain and that tells you a lot. [Former Buffalo] Tyler Brayton mentored James Garee and they are out of the mentality. James is blue-collar, he loves to practice. He has never worn an orange or a red or a blue jersey meaning he can't go though contact. He has been through every practice for five years and he has brought energy and enthusiasm and a practice mentality that no one else has on that field. He loves the game, he loves to practice and he loves his teammates. There isn't anyone else like him out there.

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