On a pair of fourth quarter interceptions at Minnesota signify the secondary turning a corner
"I think it did a little bit. But, I think the game in general helped the secondary turn the corner a little bit. I think the defensive backfield was starting to pick up the smaller details in the defensive scheme, and I think the transition has been kind of difficult for some of the players including myself, but I think each week we’ve gotten better and I think that that’s all you can ask of the guys and that’s all that the coaches are asking out of us you know. Just show up each week, every Monday and give your best effort, and I think the defensive backfield is improving."
On specific difficulties in the transition for the secondary
"In a transition, you know, with last year, you know, we did a lot of eyes on routes. And this year we did more kind of free up, depending on what type of routes you get, you know. But, then again, you know, down the field, he kind of presses you to do more man-to-man coverage, and the routes develop, and some things with the eye prediction are a lot different than what we used to do this year. Last year, we would look the receivers and now we look the complete opposite way so, yeah it’s just one of those things that comes with a lot of practice. One thing in football is that you have to have good eyes, and especially in the defensive backfield. I think the guys are doing a great job. Each week we’ve gotten better, and we’re still playing in the scheme. I think the kids are still developing within the scheme, and they’re doing a pretty good job so far."
On forcing the fumble at Minnesota
"I think I just kind of met him in the hole, and then my left hand kind of just poked it out one side and stood him up a little bit."
On the frustrations of not forcing turnovers
"It’s stressful at times, but it’s one thing that we emphasize each week, you know, Coach Banker always emphasized each week, including Coach Stewart. As many times as we can get the ball back to our offense and get a chance to win, that’s our job as the secondaries, to force turnovers and be able to force a fumble and spark the defense. That’s all we need in a game like that."
On his fourth-quarter interception at Minnesota
"Honestly, I think I kind of just looked up probably too early and saw that there was so much grass for me to run, I think I just got a little anxious."
On his veteran leadership to the secondary
"Just to keep pushing, you know. Ever since I’ve been here I’ve looked up to guys like Ameer (Abdullah), Kenny Bell, and Quincy (Enunway), and you know, one thing you see with them is that they just never quit. For example, last year against Michigan State, a lot of people thought we were out of that game, but we didn’t, you know. We just keep fighting to the end, and the defense just kept fighting to the end, and that’s just one thing you’ve got to tell your defense, just keep fighting. Especially in the defensive backfield. You get beat once, you've just got to come back again to another play. I think that one thing that this team really does have is really good character, and that’s just being part of the Nebraska tradition and just the fight that we have each week."
On whether the secondary takes it personal when an opponent throws against them
"You know, we talk about it every day. I think coaches too, kind of emphasized it yesterday. It’s just one of those things that you've just got to keep in the back of your head and show up to practice each week and work on the smaller details. A lot of the mistakes and a lot of the passes that we get thrown on us, maybe some leverage issues or some eyes issues. It’s not like we’re getting beat athletically, we’re just kind of hurting ourselves, and it’s just going to take a couple practices to transition in this new defensive scheme. I think the guys are doing a great job as of now. We've just got to keep working."
On prospects for the rest of the season
"You know, I think one thing that we just kind of are talking about as a team is just treating each week as week-by-week. Everything is going fall into place if we just worry about who we've got on Saturday and go out and do what we've got to do. There’s still a lot out for this team regardless of championships or bowl games or whatnot. I think this season is going to teach us a lot, and I think all we can go from here is go forward."
On being surprised by the length of time in making the defensive transition
"Especially during the season, it can get difficult. You do change up your scheme just a little bit depending on who you’re playing, so it gets tough at sometimes where in the spring and in the fall you’re kind of learning the basics in the defense and you think you've got it narrowed down and stuff, until bullets are flying and we are switching everything up. That’s where everything gets hectic. I think the guys are starting to pick up a lot faster. I think the guys are able to progress a lot better, and I think that from here on out all we are going is forward."
On relying on specific teamates on the defense
"I’d say Maliek. Me and Maliek have always talked to each other, and me and him have been pretty close since we both came in here together. He’s always one of those guys that you can always count on. He’s a captain, he’s a leader too, and you always know Maliek is going to show up each day, no matter if he’s sick or what, he’s going to show up each day. Just to be able to look up to a guy like Maliek, having someone that’s been there through all the things that I’ve been through, and he knows the type of pain that I’ve been through and stuff like that. Just to know that you’ve got someone like that to keep pushing you, keep making you go forward."
Did that grow more as you guys became captains?
"I think it’s just a friendship thing, it’s just the type of person Maliek is. He’s just an overall good guy, and it’s not like you want to be on his bad side either."