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Red Report: Huskers push back against Michigan contention that they ‘just wanted to give up’

September 25, 2018

Michigan junior safety Josh Metellus turned some heads after Saturday’s 56-10 win over Nebraska when he said he and his teammates knew after the first series that Nebraska players “just wanted to give up. You could just see it in their eyes.”

A pair of Husker upperclassmen pushed back against that notion Monday.

“Obviously they beat us by 50, so they can say what they want to say, but I didn’t feel that way,” senior outside linebacker and captain Luke Gifford said. “A lot of guys on our defense didn’t feel that way.”

Added senior safety and Central Florida graduate transfer Tre Neal, “It’s one of those things where you have to look at yourself in the mirror. If that’s what we’re putting on film, if that’s what they felt, it doesn’t matter what we think. If they’re thinking, ‘These guys are giving up,’ that means we’re not going hard enough.

“Even if we’re down 50-0, 50-3, it should be to the point where they’re saying, ‘These guys are still coming. Everything might not be going their way, but they’re still hitting, they’re still running.’ That’s how it’s got to be. I don’t know if they were speaking about offense or defense, I don’t know about the quote. But it’s just a pride thing.”

[ WATCH: Neal talks about Huskers putting Michigan behind them ]

Blackshirt update: Gifford admittedly didn’t know if he and seven of his defensive teammates would keep their Blackshirts after Saturday’s loss.

He even said he wasn’t so sure they should.

“Honestly, at first, I was kind of conflicted with that,” Gifford said.

But in the end, he’s glad they did and he thinks it sends a message about pushing forward instead of looking back.

“At the end of the day, we still have to play with that same confidence and swagger that a Blackshirt would. What happened on Saturday is never acceptable, but at the end of the day, we still have to be Blackshirts (this) Saturday and we can’t let what happened alter the way we play and think of ourselves.”

[ WATCH: Gifford on Michigan loss, looking ahead to Purdue ]

Williams confident: Purdue, that’s 1-3 Purdue, opened as a three-point favorite in Memorial Stadium according to the experts in Las Vegas. One would think that would irk the members of the Nebraska football team as they prepare to face the Boilermakers. But at least one isn’t bothered by it.

“It don’t get under my skin, because what do they know? We’ve got to play football and Purdue’s got to play football, so I ain’t worried about being the underdog,” sophomore defensive back Deontai Williams said. “If we’re going to be the underdog so be it, but we’re going to win this game.”

Special teams must improve: NU’s special teams struggles are well documented so far this year and Scott Frost had a blunt response when asked where he’d like to see improvement.

“Well, fielding punts and not giving up touchdowns on punt returns would be a good start,” Frost said.

Sophomore receiver Tyjon Lindsey returned more punts after his first-quarter fumble, though Frost did say Monday that evaluations on everybody’s role will continue.

“To be honest we’re going to put the gut out there that we think can do the best job and we’ll evaluate that every week and make sure we’re putting the guys out there that give us the best chance to be successful on every play,” he said. “But we’re also never going to give up on a kid. They need to know that. They need to know that mistakes aren’t going to get them cut or benched immediately and mistakes aren’t going to get them cussed at and the only chance to help someone improve is to support them and help them and teach them.”

Penalties piling up: Nebraska’s been penalized 31 times for 251 yards through three games. That 83.7 yards per game is No. 123 out of 129 FBS teams in the country.

“We’re working on it every day, we have been for three weeks, and some of it hasn’t been corrected,” Frost said. “I think some of them are decisions that we can continue to impress upon the guys. … There are some other ones — hustling down there to try to get down as the gunner and running into a punt returner — that’s mistakes you just can’t make. We’ve got to fix all those things. We’ve been working hard to fix them and we’re going to keep working hard to fix them.”

High praise for Brohm: There’s no doubt Frost has a high level of respect for Purdue’s second-year head coach.

“I think Jeff Brohm is one of the best coaches in the country,” Frost said Monday. “He’s smart, I think he gets his team playing well. They’ve got quarterbacks that can really throw it, they’ve got a big time receiver who’s a young kid. They’ve got some really good linebackers on defense along with some other people.”

— Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett

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