Nebraska-Minnesota week: Jack Gangwish

Nebraska senior defensive end Jack Gangwish talks about finishing games and his current frustration level.

On how to finish out a game
“For us, at this point, it’s just we have to perfect our craft. We have to fix the little things, fix the mistakes and take a step towards the right direction.”

On if he allows himself to look at the standings in the Big Ten West Division
“You try not to focus on that stuff too much, but yeah, you do want to know. Is there still a way? Is it still possible to make it to the conference championship? Yeah, there is some of that stuff. You look and you wonder, but at the end of the day you have to take comfort in the fact that all you can do is win the next one.”

On where his frustration level is at
“My frustration is that it [Wisconsin] was a tough loss. We are all here. We all want to win games. All of us are competitive individuals and that’s what we’re here to do. Frustration at this point is that we really just haven’t done our job well enough yet.”

On if there’s uncertainty or nervousness when the game is coming to end
“I don’t know if there’s some nervousness because of previous games, but you look at the situation and you’re doing math in your head and, ‘OK there’s three minutes left,’ and ‘OK we have to stop them here,’ or ‘we have to score there,’ or ‘we’re probably going to be on the field this drive and another one.’ Sometimes when you start looking at it that way, you start thinking, ‘alright man, we have to get out there, we have to perform on this one, this one is really important.’ I don’t know if I would call it nervousness, but there’s definitely a heightened sense of what needs to be done when the game is winding down.”

On what it meant to have such a loud crowd for the Wisconsin game
“That’s what’s special about this place. That’s what’s magical about Nebraska. We’ve got the best fans in football. It’s pretty incredible. We’ve been kind of down this year and we still get to walk out there to a rocking stadium and a sold-out crowd and fans that love us and support us.  That’s amazing. That’s something that you can’t put a value on. It’s pretty magical. [In] the fourth quarter the stands are still packed, everybody’s there, wild and cheering and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it so loud out there [as it was after Andy Janovich scored during the fourth quarter of the Wisconsin game]. As a Nebraska kid, as football player, a team captain here, that is irreplaceable; that’s magic.”

On if he had a moment to take in the environment after Andy Janovich scored
“How about Andy Janovich, huh? Man, that guy. He keeps surprising people. But I don’t know if I had a moment to take in the whole surroundings. I was hyped out of my mind. I was on the sideline head-butting people and stuff, but I was pretty excited. There are moments when you’re down there, a TV timeout or something, and you kind of look around. There might be a lull and it’s like, ‘wow, this place is rocking right now. There’s 100,000 people here and they’re all cheering us on, every one of them.’  It [being able to take in the moment] happens once in a while. ”

On if he puts responsibility on himself and other guys from Nebraska when things get down
“I can’t say that I take more responsibility than the next guy that may not be from this state, but I will say yeah, I think there is a deep sense of responsibility, a deep sense of importance of what’s going on here, because I grew up here, because I understand the scope of Husker football in this area. I understand the magnitude of what this means to people. I think that’s pretty common for guys from the state.  We know. We lived it. We were fans first and now we’re football players. For us in this situation, it’s especially difficult. We didn’t come here because we wanted to be 2-3. That wasn’t anybody’s dream.  For those guys that have grown up in Husker Nation, just like everybody else, they’re hoping that next year is the one. They want the glory days back. They want us doing well. That’s what we wanted. That’s what we still want. I think that makes situations like this especially difficult.”

On the frustration of putting so much work in, but not getting tangible results
“College football is kind of an interesting situation. In a normal work place, you might be judged on your craft every day. The product of your work is what you do every single day. Football is somewhat like that, because preparation is the most important part of it, but at the same time, we’re working 365 days a year, but there’s only a few days in here where we’re judged on what we do. You go out there on Saturday and things don’t go your way, you’re bearing your soul for everyone to see, everyone to comment on, everyone to judge you on.  At the end of the day, what the scoreboard says is really kind of the determining factor. As we’ve seen, that doesn’t always go our way either. Yes, it’s very difficult, because we have put in a lot of work. Our boys that have been in this program, this is my fifth season here, have sacrificed a lot, put in a lot of time. Our guys love it, they love this place, they love this team and to see us not do well is tough, but I think it’s important to remember that we are competitors and we are competitive-minded individuals so at this point our focus is on winning the next one.”

On what he expects from the Minnesota offense
“They’re a good team. They’re physical. They run an offense that’s going to stress the point of attack very well in the run game. I look forward to it because I think our defense has done an excellent job in the past. We’ve played some good opponents who are good in the run game. I think that this will be another good test of what we can do.”

On having a record number of players voluntary lift on Sunday and if they talked about it
“No, that wasn’t discussed.  We opened it up for our travel squad guys, and I think I counted yesterday and we had just about all of them there. We had 50-some I think. That’s big. That shows that guys want to be here, they want to put in the extra time. They could have done that lift later in the week when it was mandatory, but they took the initiative, came in and got it done. I think that’s a good indicator where our guys’ heads are at. They’re still here, they’re still grinding, they’re still working and still pressing towards that end goal. I’m happy about that. It was a good environment in there yesterday.”

On how he reacts to instances when they have the opponent far back in its own territory, but let them get a big play and a first down
“It’s one of those things where you have to have a short memory. Sometimes it’s hard to have a short memory because your body doesn’t want you to forget when you’ve been out there eight or nine or 10 plays.  You know obviously everybody wants to go out there and get a three-and-out. It doesn’t always happen that way. One thing that I think a lot of our guys do take comfort on, is that we’ve done a good job at stopping the run. That’s what can be really disheartening on a defense, is when someone says, ‘all right, we’re just going to run the ball and get six yards a pop.’ That’s when it’s disheartening. If you force a team to throw the ball, if you a team to have to make plays to get yards, you’re just going to have to understand that you’re doing your job and that’s going to happen once in a while.”

On if the team has come together even a bit more because of the 2-4 start
“There’s positives and negatives about being in this situation. One positive that I see is that, you know we don’t really have the mentality anymore – I’m not going to say that we ever did, but there's definitely not the mentality that we want to go out there and lose. The mentality isn’t that we’re scared to lose. The mentality isn’t that we’re scared to screw up our opportunity at the conference championship. I think that gets teams sometimes. For us, we’ve got nothing to lose. We go out there, pin our ears back and go. That’s something that I think can help guys come together. I think that’s something that help guys take comfort in their preparation and it can help guys play hard and to play fast.”

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