Callahan on OU: "They're awfully talented"

Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan talks about Saturday's matchup against Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver)

Below are excerpts from Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan's weekly press conference Tuesday in Lincoln. Quotes are courtesy of

On the magnitude of Oklahoma vs. Nebraska

"I think it's a special rivalry and we're looking forward to it. There's a lot of history involved in this particular rivalry and our kids are educated in that sense, and we'll continue to educate them throughout the week of our preparation. It's a great contest.

"They're a good football team; talented football team. Good in every respect. You don't see any holes. I don't. We don't as a staff. They're very talented. They're a young talented team, but they're awfully talented. They've stacked numerous national recruiting classes together and that talent still shows up particularly on offense where they're starting to generate a rhythm. You can see their quarterback beginning to get confidence especially with what he accomplished on Saturday night. So I see them getting better.

"I see their defense as one of the stingiest defenses in the country. They're physical, quick, explosive. They're range and closure is as good as I've seen in college football. I think they're the most talented defensive team we've seen so far to date. They're awfully talented."

On preparing for whether or not Adrian Peterson will play

"We prepare for everybody who's on their team. We prepare for every contingency and every ramification that would occur. We prepare for their best. You have to go into it with that mindset. I don't think you just say that you just get ready for a particular player. You get ready for everybody. They run the same plays, it's the same system. It's maybe just a different guy doing it.

"They've shown the ability to adapt through injury, playing a number of backs as they have. They put one guy in, like Gutierrez that played, who's really a fantastic back. Watching him play on film you see his speed and his ability to get up in the hole and make you miss...very good, excellent. Patrick, excellent. They're all quality athletes.

"They're not going to put somebody in that backfield that can't generate a plus four or plus five gain for them. And they're offensive line's in sync, and they're getting in a rhythm. You can sense where they're coming and how they're building and where they're going as a team.

"They're offense is getting more confidence with a younger quarterback who I think is terrific. He has the ability to run and make plays just like we saw last weekend if they so desire. If they elect to run him, he can run. He has that type of talent. And he's an excellent thrower. He's getting better.

"His spin on the ball is tight. You don't see the ball wobbling all over. It's a tight spin and quick release. The location is improved. You see all those aspects of his play and he's done very well. He's getting better."

On what this game against Oklahoma means to Callahan

"I think it means a lot to our team. Every game means a lot to our team. That's been our focus. Each week we prepare for every opponent the best we can.

"This is a pivotal game for both teams. Let's face it. Where we're positioned in the conference and divisional races, it's an important game for both teams. Like I said earlier, this is a very talented football team coming in here.

"So our outcome is going to depend on how well we practice this week. But I would tell you it's an excellent football team coming in here."

On the emotions involved in preparing for Oklahoma

"We prepare very focused and very even keeled in terms of how we go about our business. We prepare differently each week for the next set of circumstances that come up.

"Everyone's different. That's how we've trained our players in our preparation and that's what we'll continue to do."

On the importance of getting off to a fast start

"It's huge. It's big that we get a good start. A fast start. We weren't pleased with the way we started the last game. Looking at the first possessions of each half, our defense has done well.

"Our offense hasn't generated as much success as we would like. Our defense has done well with the exception of our last three games. Up until that point we were doing pretty well at a very high percentage. That's important. We look at that closely.

"It's going to be key for us to come out the first possessions of each half and do well. You just have to be able to adjust a little bit quicker and faster than we have the last two weeks."

On the presence of Nebraska's 1995 Championship team at the Oklahoma game

"It's great that they're coming back and being honored and deservedly so. That's a great football team. I remember when I was in the NFL writing up these guys on reports and they were loaded. They had guys left and right and they deserve everything they get.

"They need to be honored and recognized for the exceptional play and performances of their careers. And it's great that they've come back here. But no we haven't bothered them to come back in here and talk to our team. We really haven't.

"We've just stayed focused on what we've got to get accomplished and let those guys celebrate their reunion."

On the fact that neither Nebraska nor Oklahoma are ranked

"I think it's a big game for both teams. We're both battling, fighting, competing. It's a huge, huge game. We look at each game like that.

"Both teams not being ranked, I don't think that factors into how the kids are preparing and how our players are preparing for this game."

On the significance of quarterback Zac Taylor playing the Sooners

"I think it'd be special, but you have to talk to him. I can't put words in his mouth. I would think that it would be pretty important.

"He's a pretty focused individual and I don't think he'll allow emotion to enter into his preparation or his performance."

On Oklahoma 's increasing momentum

"I think they're getting better. Like I said, they're generating a rhythm. They're awfully physical on defense. They're range and mobility and they're ability to get to the quarterback from a variety of alignments is outstanding.

"We're going to have to be at our best. There's no doubt about that. They have the ability to come at you from a lot of different ways. There's a lot of great athletes on that side of the ball.

"Without question, the best linebacking corps I've seen to date. Their ability to fill, to close and enter a gap, they're run entry; it's the best I've seen. No one's been close to this caliber of play in my opinion."

On Oklahoma 's defensive strides

"That's their strength. They play to their strength. That's what has allowed them to function the way they do.

"And offensively, watching the Baylor game, they got consistently better. If you look at the final stats after the game, you realize that there were a huge amount of yards generated by the Oklahoma offense. Close to 500 yards I want to say. Their ability to run the football was very good.

"You can see the rhythm in the passing game. Protection was solid. They've got outstanding athletes at the wide out position. They're a loaded team.

"You don't stack national recruiting classes together and not have talent. This is a talented football team."

On the irony in having quarterback Zac Taylor from Norman ,Okla.

"I don't look at it like that. I just look at the fact that we have an outstanding quarterback in Zac Taylor and we're just putting all of our energy and focus into his preparation to try to help him succeed the best that he can. I don't get caught up in all of that."

On what the Huskers can take from playing Oklahoma in 2004

"I don't think you can take anything from last year. I think it's completely different. It's unique. There are different nuances that have changed in their system.

"Our system has changed, it's different. There are certain plays that you see that come back up again, but to say that you can take a whole game plan and do it again, no. It's different.

"The way they're running the football and the way they're featuring the play action with their receivers and their quarterback. It's much different."

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