“All right, on to Nebraska. You know, last ball game, it was a tough loss for us obviously. It’s time to move on. I thought for a lot of that ball game our kids competed, played very hard. Obviously there’s things we had to do better. Can’t give a score up before halftime like we did. But watching the tape, I thought our guys fought very hard. It wasn’t good enough.”
Brady expressed concerned on pass defense. What needs to improve?
“We have to be tighter. We have to compete more. There’s a difference between being in the right place as a secondary guy and competing. The bottom line is everybody on that field has a job to do and has an alignment and has a responsibility. And then you’re either successful or not successful based on what happens in your area. It’s like a five-technique defensive end. You can play the C-gap, and if you open that C-gap up too much, then it’s going to make it harder on somebody else. I’m not saying the secondary is the reason. Everybody has something that they have to get better at. One of the things that we have to get better, and it always goes with pass rush and getting to the quarterback, is tightening our coverage up and contesting throws a little better.”
Are you concerned about how you competed? The defense seemed to keep you in the game.
“I was pleased with how we competed until the very very end. I would have liked to see us try to find a way to get the ball, get a turnover, and keep trying to give the offense a chance. You’ll never hear me say, ‘Boy I thought we played pretty good. It’s too bad we lost.’ If you’re a great defense, you find a way to do something. We had the ball on our sideline, we could have gotten that one. Who knows what other turnovers you have to try to – as far as effort, as far as them being prepared, as far as them doing the work they had to do to be in the ball game, I guess they did that. When it came down to it, at the bottom line, it’s a team [effort] all the way. If you’re a great defense, you find a way to win that. We didn’t do that. I’ll never say we’re pleased when you lose the ball game.”
Raymon Taylor had good numbers. Did he play well?
“There were some good things, but there were some things we have to get much better at. Whenever you look at tackles, you want to find out where those tackles were. Was it a tackle right when he hit them, or was it a tackle after he got dragged for five yards? So I don’t ever go by stats that way. I think he, like a lot of our players, have got to be more physical. We have to play harder to the football. We have to compete harder. I think that’s all of us. That’s everbody in the defensive program. The coaches, the players, everybody.”
You mentioned tightness in the secondary. Why hasn’t it been tight?
“I don’t know. It’s got to be. If I knew that, I would probably feel a lot better about that, but we have to. We have to get tighter in coverage. We just have to. We have to contest more balls. And that’s what we’ll work on very hard this week.”
Did you see Willie henry play another step?
“Willie Henry played a very very good football game. I hate saying this, but Willie Henry played the best game since he’s been here and showed the signs that if he keeps working and keeps being hungry – he’s a very talented young man. He’s a redshirt freshman that played very very hard. Jibreel Black played very very hard. Brennen Beyer. I could go through – I thought the linebackers may have played the best game as a linebacking crew that they’ve played. The inside linebackers. They were getting off blocks. They were very very physical at the point of attack. There were a number of bright spots, but we’re not in a position to have some good bright spots. We’re in a position where we better do everything right so we can win the football game.”
MGoQuestion: Coach Borges talks a lot about self-scouting and self-evaluation over the bye weeks. How involved are you have during that process? Do you have any input towards the offense?
“No. We work day and night for two weeks for our game plan defensively to be ready for Michigan State. I don’t have any time to ever go on that side of it or have somebody go on that side. If there’s something glaring – you know, we’ve got some great coaches here, and they’re going to see it without somebody like me saying, ‘Boy, that should be done there.’ I’ve got all I can handle on my side.”
MGoFollowup: When your defense goes against the offense in practice, are you able to identify any of the problems on the offensive line?
“I don’t look at it. I don’t – to be honest with you, throughout an entire practice, I couldn’t tell you who the offensive guard is or who the offensive center is. All I’m trying to do is watch my guys and watch our guys to make sure our guys are improving the best they can. I couldn’t even tell you who was in there. And I really don’t know. It’s really true. If somebody told me that somebody was moved to this position, I’d go, ‘Really? I don’t know.’ Other than our side. And I’m being honest.”
Chris Wormley’s development?
“Chris Wormley continues to improve. He still needs to turn it loose more. There’s times when you see him and you go, wow. That’s just what you’re looking for. And then there’s other times when you say, ‘Turn it loose!’ Again, there were times in that game when you said, ‘Yes, that’s what we’re looking for up front.’ It’s just got to be consistent. I don’t care how many plays it is. It’s just got to be consistent no matter who it is. Every guy has to be accountable each and every play.”
What would you see them improve as a group?
“As a group, what I want to do on film is go through all 11 guys and say, ‘You were accountable to the other ten’ and not say, ‘These nine did a great job. What happened to you two?’ That’s when you have a championship defense, when they’re all accountable to each other. We weren’t that way. It was a lot of really good things. But we’re not there yet, and we have to get there.”
Is Dymonte Thomas close to cracking the lineup?
“The thing with Dymonte is Dymonte is at a position where he’s behind Blake [Countess]. Blake has been pretty consistent. That’s what hurts Dymonte in terms of getting into the rotation.”
How does Taylor Martinez’s absence affect how you prepare for Nebraska?
“They’re all good enough quarterbacks. Number four for them runs the same offense Taylor Martinez runs. It’s the same plays, same offensive line, same running backs, great running back, great receivers. Taylor not being in there, I mean, their quarterback that we play against will be very good.”
How often do you practice hail mary defense?
“We do that every Thursday. When I saw [Nebraska do that against Northwestern], my heart dropped because I was here against Colorado, and I remember it. I think defensive coordinators wake up in the middle of the night seeing that. When you’re part of one, you just hope that no coach has to be a part of that on defense.”
Do you coach your players to knock the ball away rather than try to intercept it?
“Yeah. That’s why we put Funchess back there. You know, the one of the things that you learn in that situation is they’re going to beat the guys running down the field. The guy behind needs to ride that guy all the way out of the end zone. You can’t stop and play the football there. When you’re on that guy, you need to keep riding him and stay on him. Don’t stop and try to jump, because when it’s a jump ball, it’s anybody’s. You don’t want to put yourself in that position. That’s why we put a guy like Funchess back there.”
Who would you compare Ameer Abdullah to?
“I’m not into comparing. All I know is he’s really really good. He’s fast, he breaks tackles, he’s a really good athlete, he steps over people. He could be one of the best running backs we’ve gone up against. In my opinion he can do it all.”
How much do you think the touchdown at the end of the half contributed to Connor Cook’s confidence in the second half?
“That’s the other part of it. If you harass and you play really really tight on guys, pretty soon that gets into the quarterback’s head, too. A quarterback trying to throw the ball into a small window is a lot less accurate than a guy that’s got a guy pretty open. That’s what we have to get better at. That and getting hands up and getting into the quarterback’s face. A lot of quarterbacks don’t throw very good passes when they get hit.”