Nebraska has a 24-hour rule. From the moment a game ends—win or lose—the players are to spend the next 24 hours doing whatever it is they want to do. For quarterback Adrian Martinez, that time means a few NFL games on TV and catching up on accounting homework. For freshman outside linebacker Garrett Nelson, it’s extra time to watch film and reflect on what he can do better going forward.
For junior defensive lineman Ben Stille, it’s an opportunity to talk about the game with his roommates: junior outside linebacker Pernell Jefferson, junior inside linebacker Collin Miller and junior cornerback Tony Butler.
“I think it's good to just say it, just speak it out loud,” Stille told Hail Varsity. “How the game went, how you're feeling, [the game] from your perspective. We play at different levels, Tony, me, Pernell and Collin, so just from different levels of the defense, different perspective I think is always good.
“Among the position groups and perspectives, if you're not in that position, you can always have different feelings or whatnot after the game. I think that's good.”
That time talking to his roommates was particularly valuable for Stille post-Ohio State. He admits he’s never been more frustrated leaving the field after a game as he was last Saturday. In that walk from mid-field to the locker room, he thought about where Nebraska has been in his four years with the team. He thought about what happened. He thought about what it could have been, if things were just a little different.
That’s where his teammates, and specifically his roomates, come in.
“Just talking with them about the defense, how the game went, that's usually how I process any game post-game,” he said. “We have a little group chat with all of my three roommates. Just discussing with them, I guess, is really how I process through it.”
And that discussion allows Stille—like many of his teammates—to move forward. They only have 24 hours after all. Feelings can’t linger too long.
“Waking up the next morning, you have all Sunday,” Stille said. “I really don't think about football too much on Sunday. I watch a film on Saturday night usually, just keep my mind off it Sunday. On Monday, the page is turning and we're onto the next week.”
Stille cautions from over-simplifying the 24-hour rule though. There’s been a lot of talk about it after the 48-7 loss to Ohio State, and rightfully so. Both of Nebraska’s coordinators brought up moving on after practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Frost mentioned it at both of his media availabilities on Monday and Thursday. The easy way to look at it is to assume Nebraska stops thinking about the last game the moment the clock is up on 24 hours.
But you can’t oversimplify feelings.
“The mood in the morning before you've done anything starts [on Monday], people are walking around breakfast, lifting and what not, you can tell the mood after a win and a loss is different, obviously,” Stille said. “I think [Chinander] does a good job of . . . We have our unit meeting that morning of just explaining that Ohio State can't beat us twice, and really, by the time practice starts, I think is when it really switches.”
Nebraska still has to watch game film on Monday. This last Monday was no different. The Huskers watched every busted play, every turnover, every missed opportunity one more time. So in some ways, the 24-hour rule is a little loose in interpretation. Even offensive coordinator Troy Walters had Ohio State on the brain three and a half days later.
“We hope to play them again,” Walters said on Wednesday. “We hope to take care of business and get better and win our side and play them in Indianapolis if they make it. [Chase Young] is a tremendous player. We went back and watched the tape and if we play them again, we’re definitely going to have to chip and do some things to neutralize his playmaking ability and make sure he’s not disruptive and getting us behind the chains.
“Luckily we don’t play them anymore and a guy like him, but hopefully we see them again in Indianapolis.”
Nebraska has moved on from Saturday. It’s important not to let Ohio State beat you twice. Sophomore defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt said so. Nelson did too, although his version was a little more colorful.
But Stille’s words still ring clear: you can’t oversimplify feelings. The process in which the team moves on is unique to the individuals. The 24-hour rule is in place to help put things in perspective and keep the team from getting stuck on a win or a loss. That doesn’t mean they don’t think about the last game—especially when there is so much to learn from it—outside of those 24 hours. It’s more of a jumpstart to a weeklong journey that allows Nebraska the ability to process, learn and move forward.
And by the time the next Saturday rolls around, it’s a completely different story for the players—especially those that faced one of their most frustrating moments of their careers only seven days prior.
“I'd say I'm definitely excited for the up and coming challenge,” Stille said. “I haven't even thought about Ohio State in a couple days now. At least a full 24 hours, I haven't thought about that.
“I’m just excited for the upcoming challenge.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.