Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Tuesday July 25, 2017

Mike Riley


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Nebraska head coach Mike Riley.

MIKE RILEY: It's truly an honor, and exciting to be here once again to be representing a great university and great program like the University of Nebraska. Excited, proud to do that.

I'm very, very interested in this team, this 2017 team. There's been a lot of changes within our deal. We do have a good corps of people coming back, but how that is put together we've done defensively in making a move to the 3-4. And the fact we don't have a quarterback that has played a down for Nebraska yet. I don't know how that narrative sounds in general. But that's where we are, but I do have a lot of faith and am very interested in what this is going to look like going forward.

Q. You just referenced you have a quarterback who hasn't played a down yet. He's here. There are Heisman candidates who aren't here. What does that say about Tanner Lee and his development?
MIKE RILEY: You know, Tanner -- the good thing for Tanner and us is he has played in college football games. And the other part of it is he's been with our team for about a year. He had to sit out a year, due to the transfer rules, and his entry has been impressive in just the simple fact that he became a good teammate. Became immediately well liked and through time became very well respected, enough so to be elected at one of our -- not our seasonal yet, but our offseason captains for our offseason conditioning program. And led a team through that time. And got a large amount of votes from the current team.

So he entered in rather not a really dramatic fashion, just became one of the guys and, like I said, was well liked and then eventually well respected. And that's the other thing, the other reason that he's here is that he earned that job through good competition in our spring ball to be our starting quarterback heading into the season. So I thought it was very appropriate that he would be here with us today.

Q. What went into the decision to hire Bob Diaco as a defensive coordinator and what's he brought to you guys both schematically and both from a personality standpoint?
MIKE RILEY: I think when we decided to make the change in defensive coordinator, I was primarily interested in who that person was, but also interested in what they would bring schematically.

I guess back to my roots, coaching defense, I was a 3-4 defensive coach. So I have been for a time intrigued about getting back to playing the 3-4.

And so that was a factor. And then the availability of Coach Diaco with my desire to look into the 3-4, led me to the interview and then the interview was really great confirmation about what else this guy would bring.

I see Bob as a really good teacher, a fundamental, one, two, three, four, this is how it's done. I love that part of him. And I also like the detail of it and I love the enthusiasm with which he approaches it. So there was a lot of confirmation about this guy and about what he would bring schematically as we went through the interview process and I really enjoyed that.

And that has all been confirmed through his initial time with our team. Very impressed with what our team defensively learned during spring practice when you change schematically like that from a big change going from a 4-man front foundation to a 3-man front. And you're looking at people on your team that have to be placed in a little bit different position. So studying your team, who fits where, how is this going to look and then actually teaching that part of it and making it look like football as it goes forward, that's a lot of stuff involved there. I was impressed with what happened in that way during our spring ball.

Q. You lost your all-conference defensive back Chris Jones to an injury over the summer. What is his replacement going to be and how big a loss was that?
MIKE RILEY: I absolutely hated that news about Chris Jones. I think that was -- it was a big, big surprise. I was not in town when that happened. And really disappointing on a lot of levels. This is a very good player, very good guy. Really fun to be around. Loves football. And I'm very hopeful for his return. When that is, I'm not sure. So what you have to do from there is turn that page and figure out what is best for the team.

We are still talking about that. There are lots of possibilities that people that are close to Nebraska would already be thinking of -- does Josh Kalu move back from playing safety to corner? He's been a corner through his career at Nebraska. We love him at safety. We love how that looked in spring ball.

So we are at this time reluctant to say this is exactly what we want to do. And even before we did that I'd like to have a nice talk with Josh about it. So we're going to look at -- continue to look at our team as we head into camp and then figure out what might be very best to do because with all those thoughts about who Chris Jones is and what he has meant to us and what we were looking forward to him, we now have to turn the page and come up with the next best thing to do for our team.

Q. What has been the processing and dealing with the loss of Bobby Elliott and do you have any plans to honor him during the season?
MIKE RILEY: That has been one of the hardest things for me. I guess my relationship with Coach Elliott working with him was way too short. Just a few months. I hired him on the recommendation of Bob Diaco, who had worked with him, and everybody in football kind of knows the background of Coach Bob Elliott and the kind of person he was and the coach that he was and historically what he did as a position coach, what he did as a coordinator. But the things that I learned about him in such a short time were much more dramatic than all of that history of what he had on his resume.

This was a really good person, a guy that really -- I think the thing he loved about what he did was the relationship with the players, both him and his wife, Joey, they really embraced and loved that part of what he got to do as a football coach.

For Bob to get back on the field with the Huskers, for me to get to know him and watch him on the field was really exciting. Bob and I are the same age.

And so I really thought that on a personal level this was going to be a really fun guy for me to work with. But I really thought we would absolutely, through the end of all of this, would be good friends. And so I will really miss that opportunity with him.

We are thankful for the time that we did get to spend with him. And with that, with his relationship with Coach Diaco and with a young man named Scott Booker, who we had hired as a special teams consultant, those guys were all together at one time at Notre Dame.

So through that we were able to basically have Scott Booker on staff that had worked with Coach Elliott and Coach Diaco, and so we moved into what I think is a simple transition of adding Scott Elliott -- or Scott Booker to our staff replacing Bobby Elliott.

And so we have gotten to this point, and like I said we are very thankful for our time and very sorry for what has happened. And, yes, we have plans with our team to be able to remember Bob Elliott through our season.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #2 by #267 at 2017-07-25 15:25:00 GMT

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