LINCOLN — Dedrick Mills has lost three fumbles so far this season.
The Nebraska running back doesn’t plan on losing any more.
To try and promote ball security, Mills showed up at the weekly Monday morning press conference with a football tucked firmly in his right arm.
Mills told reporters they could try and hit it away if they wanted. No one tried.
“You’re not going to get it,” Mills said. “Anybody can try. It’s not coming out anymore. That’s it.”
Mills lost a fumble in the second quarter Saturday against Illinois. It was one of four fumbles the Huskers lost in their 42-38 win over the Illini.
Mills said he started carrying the ball after practice Monday morning.
“Somebody was holding the football in the locker room,” he said. “They didn’t know what to do with it. I said, ‘Give me the football.’ I told coach I’m going to hold the football all day.”
And all week too.
“I’m doing it all week,” Mills said. “It’s an all week thing. Anybody can try and get it.”
Mills used the same approach as a running back at Ware County High School in Georgia even though he said he only fumbled twice in his prep career. Mills thinks he knows why he’s been fumble prone so far this season.
“It’s just me holding on to the ball with two hands, but when it comes to hitting the ground, I always try to catch myself with one hand,” he said. “Someone always comes in and hits me or hits the ball right on the spot, and it comes out.”
Other than the fumbles, Mills feels good about the offense. He’s much more comfortable in it now than when the Huskers opened the season.
“I’ve got a feel for the offense now,” Mills said. “Things are a whole lot more clear.”
Spielman takes a licking
JD Spielman had a good game against Illinois, but it wasn’t easy.
Spielman caught seven passes for 159 yards, but the Illinois secondary made him pay for each of those catches. The defensive backs hit him hard time after time.
Spielman showed the toughness that coach Scott Frost is looking for from his team.
“I talked to the team this morning and one of the things we talked about is the guys that showed a lot of toughness in that game,” Frost said. “I give a lot of credit to Illinois’ secondary. They were physical in that game.
“They put a lot of hits on our guys and a couple of our little guys. JD is tough. Wan’Dale (Robinson) took some shots and kept going. It is good to see the heart out of some of those guys.”
Fumble call questioned
Frost said he didn’t get a real explanation on the fumble call in the third quarter on what at first appeared to be an incomplete pass by quarterback Adrian Martinez.
The ball was tipped while still in his hand, but flew down the field for a considerable margin. Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen had a chance to pick it off in the air, but the ball went right through his hands.
It was ruled an incomplete pass, but after review the officials ruled a fumble that was recovered by Illinois on the Nebraska 14.
Frost was just told on the field that they thought the ball was moving in his hand before he threw it.
“I can understand watching in slow motion why they thought the ball might have slightly been moving before he threw it, but you don’t see fumbles go 20 yards down field very often,” Frost said. “They also called it a clear and immediate recovery which I’m not sure I agree with.
“Our players all stopped and the ball bounced in the vicinity of a bunch of them and none of our guys reacted to it. I’m not a rules expert, so I don’t know, but I’m not completely sure about that one.
Domann gets Blackshirt
JoJo Domann made some plays for the Husker defense last season, but he never got a Blackshirt.
He didn’t get one this season either when the first round of Blackshirts were handed out late in fall camp. That’s because he missed much of camp will rehabbing from an injury.
Now Domann is a true Blackshirt after receiving his coveted jersey on Sunday.
“It was nice,” Domann said Monday. “It was fun. If you’ve got a dream and you’ve got courage to pursue it, anything can happen. Just me earning my Blackshirt yesterday… I think it’s been a process in the making over the past year and a half. It’s a dream come true.”
Domann has 12 tackles this season, including three for nine yards in losses. He also had two pass breakups.
Senior nose guard Darrion Daniels said Domann’s Blackshirt was long overdue.
“I think I noticed it during walk-through, right after zero-period. I saw him taking a knee and I looked at him and I was like hold on — that’s a shirt on you!” Daniels said. “It was one of those moments where I was just really excited for him because he has been playing some great football.
“He has been making some great plays for us and that is a guy who is well-deserving of it.”
After further review
There were a bunch of corrections to the final statistics that were released after Saturday’s game.
Those changes for the Huskers included:
-- Total yards decreased from 690 yards to 674 yards.
-- Rushing yards decreased from 363 yards to 346 yards.
-- Passing yards increased from 327 yards to 328 yards.
-- Penalty total decreased from 11 to 10.
n Penalty yards decreased from 119 to 70.
-- Adrian Martinez’s passing yards increased from 327 to 328.
-- Martinez’s total offense yards increased from 445 to 446.
-- Dedrick Mills’ rushing total decreased from 62 to 45.
- JD Spielman’s receiving total increased from 159 to 160.
Major Illinois statistical changes that affect Nebraska’s season statistics:
-- Illinois’ kickoff return yards decreased from 194 to 158.
-- Illinois’ third-down conversions increased from 1-of-11 to 1-of-12.
-- Illinois was charged with an additional passing attempt (and one additional total play), increasing the Illini’s total to 9-of-24 passing instead of 9-of-23 (62 total offensive plays instead of 61).
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.