On closing ranks during the bye week
Bill Callahan: “I think our team is just trying to focus and really trying to concentrate on the task at hand, and that’s Colorado. We’re doing everything we possibly can to win this game. We’re just trying to stay tight-knit, a ‘circle the wagons’ mentality and just really try to zero in on our preparation.”
On his expectations for his postseason meeting with Athletic Director Tom Osborne
Bill Callahan: “I’m not worried about next week, next month or next year for that matter. I’m just really focused on this game. That’s all I’m focused on is the preparation and performance of our team against Colorado. That’s where I’ve been for the last week or so in my mindset and focus, and I hope our team has the same way. No disrespect, but we’re just focused on Colorado.”
On Colorado’s defense
Bill Callahan: “They have great players at all three levels. You look at their defensive line, you look at how they’ve been able to accomplish putting pressure on the passer. They’ve done excellent there.
”Their linebacking corps is fast and has great speed. In their coverage, I think they have the ability to play a lot of man-to-man, so we’re going to be challenged in a lot of aspects.
”We don’t get too high ourselves here. We just try to stay even-keeled and try to approach it like any other team. But our plate is full this week. Their defense does as good a job mixing coverages and playing a versatile package, a pro package. (They play) a lot of bracket coverages, a lot of man-to-man, a lot of zone, and a lot of pressure on the passer. I have to compliment what they’re doing and they’re vastly improved on that side of the ball, especially in their pass defense.”
On adding a lot of trick plays in a bye week
Bill Callahan: “What we did is we analyzed our offense and defense, looked at where we’re at in terms of our tendencies. What we try to do is play off those tendencies and create new things. I’m sure they’re doing the same things. I’m certain they’ll have tricks up their sleeve and gadgets and specials and exotics and anything else that you want to describe it as. It should be a fun game. It’ll be a competitive game. There will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
“I’m sure the environment will be exciting for both teams. It’ll be Senior Day for them. We know how our Senior Day went here. It’ll be emotional. We’re expecting all those things. Our guys are in a good frame of mind right now and we’re just anxious to conclude our preparation and go out there on Friday and play.”
On the 10 a.m. Mountain Time start helping Nebraska
Bill Callahan: “I don’t know. I haven’t gotten into crowd analysis yet. I will say this: we practiced early this morning. We were up early, and I think you have to be ready to adapt to the early kicks. Last year’s Cotton Bowl was an early kickoff, so I just reflect back to that. Young athletes, young men are resilient. Like today, they’re up at 4:30, getting taped over in the facility. They came out at 5:50, and they’re up, they’re running, they’re bright-eyed, they’re working, they’re going hard. It’s amazing. Young people have a lot of resiliency and I think they have a mindset that they’re accustomed to playing at any time, whether it’s night, day, early, late or whatever. They adapt pretty well.”
On this game as a must-win to stay at Nebraska
Bill Callahan: “I just say this: I’m not worried about that (his future). I’m just worried about winning the game. That’s my focus. That’s all I’m concerned about and whatever happens, happens. I’ve never been one to get all tensed up and tightened about anything like jobs. I said that before earlier in the year when the contract was extended that that I didn’t get into this for money. You go out, compete and do the best you can. Whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about it. I’m just going to do the best I can to energize our kids and our players to go play a competitive game.”
On the speculation about his job status affecting recruiting
Bill Callahan: “I think that’s probably one area that’s been most difficult. I came out weeks ago and talked about the uncertainty that this situation has put recruiting in. A lot of questions are being asked by parents of recruits of that nature. Recruiting is a long process. Kids have the ability to change their minds, back and forth. We’ve all been down that road.
”It’s tough, when you put together a good class and you put all your time, efforts and energies in the offseason building your class and you try to do the best you can for the future of your program. That, in and of itself, is a big task. In this day and age of recruiting, it’s so much different and it’s so much more difficult to find the types of players for a system that you want to feature, so you have to spend a lot of time in the evaluation process, and then you have to go out and sell your program and sell your staff. When you lose a quarterback who’s an outstanding player to another school within your division, that hurts, because you can see the potential of that particular player. But again, that’s one player. There’s a lot of players out there. We’ll continue to recruit to try and find the best that we can. I think there’s always the next player.”
On recruiting during uncertain times
Bill Callahan: “You just keep recruiting. You just hang in there and keep recruiting. You tell the parents that there’s uncertainty about where we’re at right now. That will all get finalized in the future and just ask them to hang in there for the betterment of their own son. We certainly understand the decision-making process that they’re going through as parents. They’re looking for what is best for their sons and, if they so desire to look elsewhere, I certainly respect that. That’s a part of it. That’s a part of the process that we all understand.”
On the effects of uncertainty on players currently on the team
Bill Callahan: “I’m just going to try to stay on task this week getting prepared for Colorado. I think as this conversation goes on, we’re getting into a lot of different areas and I’d really like to stay on task in terms of Colorado. I think we can sit here and speculate all we want, but really, the jist of it is that we have to get ready and prepared to play a good Colorado team, and that’s where my focus is at.”
On CU quarterback Cody Hawkins
Bill Callahan: “I think (he’s helped the CU offense) quite a bit. I think he’s a playmaker. They do a lot of different things. They’re pretty versatile in terms of the multiplicity of personnel groupings, formations. They’re doing a lot of things for a young quarterback at an early stage, which is really smart.
”He just continues to get better. He’s a good decision-maker. He’s done a lot of positive things on the field, so you can only see his growth continuing to improve. From that aspect, we’re challenged. They have a lot of speed at wide receiver. Hugh Charles is an outstanding back, a speed back. We see speed. That’s the one thing that sticks out as we assessed their offense. There’s a lot of speed, a lot of playmakers on the field.
”This will be a game where you have to adjust to a lot of different personnel groupings. All these different groupings factor into the game pretty rapidly so our ability to adjust, not only to the groupings they are in, but also to all the multiplicity of formations and the things they do off them will be a real challenge.
“He can make plays with his feet, so I wouldn’t dismiss that notion. All these guys can make plays with their feet when they have to make them.”
On Colorado running back Hugh Charles
Bill Callahan: “I think the one quality that sticks out is his speed. You’d have to look at the fella from Texas (Jammal Charles). He had that type of burst that, if he gets into the open field, he could take it to the house. That’s the concerning element of his play. They run a lot of off-tackle, lead draws and isos, things of that nature, so if he does get into the secondary, he can make life tough on you. He can accumulate a lot of yardage in their run game. They do a good job with their running game. He’s that type of back. He’s versatile. He can do a lot of different things. It’s going to be important to gang-tackle, wrap him up and hit him pretty good. That’s where we’re at. He’s an awfully good back.”
On the Nebraska/Colorado rivalry
Bill Callahan: “I think it’s an important game, a really important game. I know this: They’re excited about it. It’s Senior Day there. It’s an opportunity for either program to go to a bowl game. I know they’re pouring every moment and every ounce of energy into their preparation, as we are. It’ll be a really competitive football game, I can assure you of that. We have a lot of respect for Colorado and Coach Hawkins. What they’ve done in a very short period of time there, I think, is impressive. You look at what they did this year against the (Big 12) South, they beat Oklahoma, they beat Texas Tech in Lubbock, which is tough to do. They beat Baylor. Those are impressive victories. Victory escaped them last weekend, on the last play of the game. They’re a good football team. You can see them progress and getting better. They’re coached well on defense. They run hard. They tackle well. They’re a good football team. You don’t beat Oklahoma and Texas Tech and not do it in a physical manner, and they certainly displayed that.”