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January 7, 2017

Bo Pelini

Hunter Wells

Derek Rivers

Frisco, Texas

James Madison - 28, Youngstown - 14

THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations on a great season. Give us an overview of today's game, please.

BO PELINI: Well, disappointed. Congratulate James Madison. They've got a great football team. It didn't start the way we wanted. Kind of got behind the eight ball, and they were a good football team. The way we started it, it didn't help. Give all the credit to them. I just told our football team I'm proud of them. The way they fought, the way they came together, what they did for this program. I'm proud of the seniors, and that's about all I need to say. Tough loss.

Q. You made such a point all season about turnovers, and people call it clichéd, and you talk about turnovers and mistakes. Was that the biggest difference today?
BO PELINI: Yeah, that's part of the game. We had a couple balls that bounced not very well for us, and that's the way the game's played. It's a tough game. There's a couple times the ball didn't bounce very well for us today, and we had a young man make a mistake on a punt, and it happens.

You know, these are young kids. You know, that's the way the game goes. You don't want it to happen, but it happens sometimes. Like I said, you go in the game like this, and somebody's going to make more plays than the other team. They made more plays than us. We made a couple mistakes that hurt us, and therefore you get this result.

Once again, I give credit to James Madison. But this isn't a time to point fingers at these young men. These kids, they fought and I'm proud of every single guy in that locker room, coaches, players, staff alike. I'm proud of each one of those guys.

Q. Did they do anything differently, James Madison? They really held you guys as far as the running game?
BO PELINI: No, we made a couple mistakes. We didn't play our best game up front. They had a good front. We got in a number -- one thing we've been doing well offensively, we've been staying out of second and long and third and long, and we didn't do that today, which obviously hurt us offensively.

But we had some opportunities. We had some opportunities, and we didn't take advantage of defensively. We kind of settled in after those two short fields to start the game. Once again, you've got to give credit to James Madison. They were physical, and they've got a good defense. So when you have your opportunities, you've got to take advantage of them. We weren't always able to do that.

Q. Hunter, you threw the ball it looks like 47 times today. Were they doing anything up front that looked like to you that they were trying to take away the run and force you into passing the game?
HUNTER WELLS: We've seen them on film. They did what they did on film. They've got guys in the box to try to stop the run, they did. Like Coach said, I don't think we played our best game up front. It definitely isn't how we wanted to run the ball, but you've got to be able to adapt to that change, and obviously, we didn't. That's why we threw the ball 47 times.

Q. Coach Pelini, was what James Madison was doing with its run defense, did that prompt you in any way to use Nathan at the quarterback position? Did that prompt you in any way?
BO PELINI: No, we do that all the time. He's always part of our package.

Q. Derek, just obviously a great career has come to an end for you. Just your emotions now?
DEREK RIVERS: God be the glory, man. It's a blessing, dude. I couldn't ask for a better way to go out. The emotion I have now is not because of the outcome of the game. It's because it's my last time playing with these guys in that locker room. So, like I said, credit to James Madison. They played a great game. But honestly, man, I wouldn't trade the season we had for anything, man. Just those guys in the locker room, that's the emotion I have right now is I'm going to miss these guys.

Q. Hunter, same thing. Just with you, with the season you've gone through and your emotions now?
HUNTER WELLS: Thank you, everyone, for rallying around us. Thank you, seniors, thank you teammates, thank you, coaches. Obviously, not the ideal season. If you had told us this was going to happen in whatever month it was, no one would have probably believed you. It just shows the character of the team and everyone inside that locker room. I'm really happy as far as the way we fought this season. I'm not happy about the outcome, obviously, but I can't thank these seniors, my teammates, coaches, everybody. Like he said, I wouldn't trade any of them. It's going to suck not having them with us next year.

Q. The bad start, the trailing by 14 and the blocked punt, does that affect the game plan at all? Do you have to make some changes at that point?
BO PELINI: Yeah, it obviously affects the game in a lot of different ways. It creates momentum for them. You know, we kind of started off defensively pretty well. The blocked punt, and then we make a mistake. A guy drops his coverage, and we bust contain on the second touchdown when they had the short field. Then we settled in a little bit, but we settled in a lot, especially defensively.

You know, it's just the way it goes. Yeah, it was a tough way to start. You don't want to start that way, and it happened. So we were fighting uphill all day, and we weren't able to overcome it. We've overcome -- we've been in that spot before. Even in this playoff run, we've been able to overcome it, but we weren't able to do it today. So therefore you have that result.

Q. Hunter, how does that affect you guys on the field when you're down 14-0, and the crowd's kind of against you? How does it affect the way you guys play or the way you're emotionally involved in the game?
HUNTER WELLS: I don't think it affects us at all, honestly. That's something that we've dealt with all season. We've never had odds in our favor to say the least. This team has faced a lot of adversity, and obviously we could have handled it better. But the way our mindset was didn't change. We're still going to play our offense, still going to play the way we're coached. I mean, I don't know.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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