Joseph Meets Media For First Time As Husker Head Coach

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Photo Courtesy/Scott Bruhn/NU Communication

Nebraska Interim Head Coach Mickey Joseph met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium to discuss his new role leading the Huskers, as they prepare for Saturday’s game against traditional rival Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Kickoff between the Huskers and Sooners is set for 10 a.m., with live national television coverage from FOX. The game will also feature the FOX Big Noon Kickoff Show in Lincoln.

A full transcript of Coach Joseph’s meeting with the media follows.

Opening statement
“Right now my number one focus and the staff focus is the boys, the players that we make sure that they are OK. I appreciate Trev (Alberts) and the administration for showing faith in me to lead the program. This is about Nebraska football. It is bigger than me or than anyone else. I want you all to understand that. It is bigger than me or than anyone else. I want to thank the fans that continue to support us and that ride with us and stay with us through thick and thin. They have done that. I want you to know this is a great opportunity for me and my family. We understand that. We are here to represent the University of Nebraska to the fullest.”

On changes in day-to-day operation
“The practice schedule. The off day is now going to be on Mondays. We will bring them in on Sundays, but everything else will stay the same.”

On the last 48 hours
“It is a little weird. I did not wake up Sunday morning knowing this was going to happen, but it did and I had to accept it. My message to the team was ‘I know you are hurting.’ (Scott) Frost is like a brother to me. He gave me an opportunity to come here and coach at my alma mater, to coach at the University of Nebraska. I will always love and always appreciate him. I will always respect him. The kids will always love him, but I know they are hurting. At the end of the day that ball is going to kick off on Saturday so mentally we have to get them back and get them ready.”

On being the first African-American head coach at Nebraska
“It is about Nebraska football. It is bigger than me. I have not really thought about that because I have been a football coach, I have been a black football coach all my life. I have not thought about that. I am more concerned about the boys and getting the boys ready to play on Saturday. It is bigger than me.”

On having a fresh start
“Just like you said, we tell them we start from scratch. We move everything to the past and we start from here. We have nine more opportunities and we are capable of winning games, and that is why they understand the first opportunity is this weekend against OU – a really good opponent, a really good football team.”

On addressing issues on defense
“I met with Coach Chinander and we are going to play faster. We are going to tackle in practice. We are going to detail what we are doing with our kids. We are going to make our kids hold themselves accountable and we try to fix the problems.”

On giving the team hope
“Confidence and letting them know that I believe in them. Block out the noise, block out what everybody is saying. Come to the building every day prepared to win that practice and knowing that you are capable of getting the job done and do not doubt yourself. That is what I am feeding them. I am feeding them confidence.”

On how his role as a recruiter helps
“I think everything has to do with relationships. And I have pretty good relationships with a pretty good percentage of the team. And I think they understand that.”

On how the players have handled the hurt
“Like champs. Like champs. The guy that recruited them and that sat in the living room is no longer there. I’m sure we have all been in that situation before, so understand how you would feel. They understand that they play for the University of Nebraska. And it’s time to move on. It’s time to get ready for OU on Saturday. They understand that. But they handled it like champs. They bounced back today.”

On who will handle the receivers
“(Mike Cassano) is going to handle the day-to-day operations, but I’ll still be involved with it.”

On if Mike Cassano is now a full-time assistant
“Yes, sir.”

On what he thinks is the number one issue for the last three weeks and how to fix it
“We haven’t played well in three phases of the game. So now we have to get better on offense, defense and special teams. That’s how you win games. And that’s what we have to do. You can’t just put it on the offense. You can’t just put it on the defense. You can’t just put it on the special teams. Everybody has to pull on the same side of the rope. And that’s what we have to continue to talk to the team about and get them to do.”

On how his offensive mind is going to play into getting the defense back where it needs to be
“When you’re an offensive coach, you better understand defense and what it should be. And I always use my brother for example. He was a college quarterback, but he was a defensive back in the NFL. He was a college quarterback and now he’s a defensive coordinator in the NFL. You have to know what’s going on on the other side of the ball. You know what it should be. It’s football, guys. It’s either fourth down or third down, it’s either two high or one high.”

On his family support
“We talk every day, we all are really tight. We don’t have too many friends in htis industry. We have each other. We talk, and I can lean on my brother Vance, I can lean on my cousin Terry, I can lean on my brother Sammy, my cousin Derek. I can lean on them, because one thing they’re going to do, is they’re going to be truthful, with what they tell me and I respect their opinion.”

On what he hopes happens now
“We have nine games left. As a coach, you have to stand up and say, we’re trying to win nine games, but you’re not worried about nine games right now. We’re worried about this game, this week. We have to take this one at a time with these kids, we have to take this one at a time with the staff. So we have to take it one week at a time and we’ll see where we’re at. But this week, the most important thing is preparing to get ready for OU.”

On the possibility of being the permanent head coach
“I think when you accept the interim job as the head coach, I think that is the opportunity you are working towards to become the head coach. But we understand what goes along with this profession. It is wins and losses and that is what it is going to depend on.

On the Oklahoma rivalry
“Well I played in the Big Eight. We had to face (Oklahoma) every year. And it was always a big game. I have friends over there. They are excited. It means a lot to see OU come here. When they went to the Big 12 it kind of split it a little bit. It is an exciting time. It brings back old memories.”

On advice from Coach Osborne
“Well he still talks to me like I am a 19-year-old. That’s cool. He gave me good advice that he believes in what I am going to do and discussed what he thinks we need to do. I do not think I need to go into that and what our conversation was about. But he still believes in Nebraska football. He is still a wise guy, so it was good to talk with him yesterday and I will do that weekly.”

On defensive coaching changes
“(Erik Chinander) was already back there will the nickels, and so we let him work there with the safeties, so we can give them some independent coaching. And (Travis) Fisher will go straight to the corners and the nickels. If you look around the country, everybody in the country has two defensive back coaches because it is two different positions. Safeties and corners. If you look at the NFL they have two defensive back coaches. We were the only one in the country I think that had one defensive back coach. Fisher has two eyes. He cannot see all of that. So it makes sense to have a coach back there with the safeties. And usually it is the coordinator and that is why we decided to put Chinander there. And he agreed because we have to do what is going to help us get better.”

On the run defense
“Anytime they have long runs it is gap integrity. You have to be in your gap. And we have to fix that. We watched the film and we see what is going on. It is gap. You don’t just miss a big run when someone is there in the gap. If someone isn’t in the gap you are going to give up a big run. Those are things we have to fix and we will be working on.”

On the program culture
“We haven’t been winning here but I would not say it is a losing culture because a losing culture is kids that don’t come to work. Now these kids have played in a lot of tight games. I don’t think they have ever been blown out. They are playing in a lot of tight games. So now we have to figure out how to get them over the hump. I have to do a better job with the players before they go to interviews and make comments like that.”

On reaching out to recruits
“Yes because at the end of the day they don’t sign with a coach they sign with a University. You have to make that clear to them. All of the committed kids were in good shape. You got to understand these kids are 20 and 21 now. They bounce back. They are going to be OK.”

On the opportunity they have against Oklahoma
“This is an opportunity that our kids welcome. We are going to prepare for OU and get a game plan together to try and beat them. We respect everything that they do. It’s a big opportunity for the players and I think they’re excited.”

On what stood out in Oklahoma’s first two wins
“They’re a solid football team. They play really good defense. They are solid on special teams and they are really good on offense.”

On tackling in practice
“I thought they tackled good today. When they have the opportunity to do it they do it well. It’s just something that’s muscle memory. Some things you have to do a lot to get it done. Tackling is not easy. When I talk to my brother he says what happens when he gets college defensive backs they don’t process really well and they don’t tackle really well. When we say we have to adjust the tackling issue you can’t attack the tackling issue without tackling and that’s what we did.”

On Nick Henrich and Travis Vokolek
“They are both day to day.”

On how Casey Thompson is doing
“He’s a really smart kid. He comes from a really great family. Casey understands situations like this. Coach Whipple will continue to guide Casey. I’ve known Casey since he was a kid. Casey understands that I’m going to be the same old coach for him and get on him when I need to and hug him when I need to hug him. He understands. He’s a really good leader.”

On how the offensive staff is getting along
“I think they are in a good place. They understand that their job is to score points.”

On his career preparing him for this moment
“If you look at my resume I have been on every level. I got opportunities to be under a lot of head coaches so they prepared me for this moment so when you do get this opportunity it’s not too big for you. At the end of the day I have to be myself and that’s who I am. I am going to be the same person I was. I tell them that I am going to be truthful with them and that’s how I survived in this profession.”

On his Louisiana upbringing
“Shake everything off and you move on.”

On what parts of his personality he hopes rubs off on the team
“I am going to be detailed and high energy. I expect them to leave it all out on the field. I thought today at practice they did that.”

On the tradition of playing Oklahoma
“You knew when Oklahoma week was. The fans let you know. The students let you know. You knew it was a big game and you knew they were going to come in and be just as talented as you. At that time it was Oklahoma and Nebraska and Colorado. That was the three top dogs. You were excited because you got to play a really good football team. This was your opportunity to come out and show the world that you were a really good football team.”

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