Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Casey Thompson Isn’t Perfect, and He Doesn’t Need to Be

August 29, 2022

Casey Thompson is a football junkie. He’s told us as much. He’s also a perfectionist that thrives on routine. He’s told us that too.

But he doesn’t have to tell you that for you to recognize it. Teammates have pointed out Thompson’s dedication to the game since his arrival to Nebraska in January. He’s usually studying film or talking shop with someone on the football floor of Memorial Stadium. Reporters took note the Sunday prior to Nebraska’s departure for Ireland when Thompson rattled off Northwestern’s defensive schemes like he may have been the one to draw them up personally.

But Thompson isn’t perfect. He can’t be, because perfection isn’t something any quarterback—or team for that matter—can be.

“But when I walk back into the locker room, obviously I look myself in the mirror,” Thompson said following the 31-28 loss to Northwestern. “I have to try to be perfect every day, every practice, every game.”

Against the Wildcats, Thompsons finished the day with 42 pass attempts for 355 yards and a touchdown, as well as two interceptions. Of those 42 passes, 25 were completed and six were dropped.

Frost was complimentary of Thompson post-game, saying the quarterback “did a lot of good things.” However, Frost added that there’s a “learning curve” to the Big Ten, one Thompson will have to continue to adjust to after transferring to Nebraska from Texas and the Big 12 style of play.

“I’ve gone through it,” Frost said.

Frost is still going through it. But this isn’t a story about Frost. This is a story about Thompson.

And there were moments where Thompson highlighted what can make him special at Nebraska. One moment—the 58-yard throw to New Mexico State transfer wide receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda—stands out.

“It was third down and I was just trying to make a play,” Thompson said about the moment. “My first few reads were not open. I think I had a little pressure, so I tried to run to my left.”

Except a Northwestern defender was there waiting. Thompson saw Garcia-Castaneda, who had thrown his arms up to signal he was open, and the rest was history.

Twitter exploded, as one would expect. It was a big moment for Thompson, who highlighted his composure in a stressful situation.

But there was also this moment earlier in the game.

Thompson’s play dropped in the second half, which is when the two interceptions happened. However, it wasn’t just Thompson slightly out of sync by that point. The Huskers’ offense as a whole looked a little more off than it had in the first half, and a pass attempt late in the fourth quarter to Wyatt Liewer sealed the deal when Northwestern linebacker Xander Mueller picked it off.

So, what happened?

“I was approaching it like practice,” Thompson said. “The key in football and in life and especially at quarterback is you can’t get too rattled. You don’t want to get too up, and you don’t want to get too down. I have full confidence we can drive the ball 90 yards, 80 yards.”

There will be plenty of questions this week about play calling. As Nebraska prepares to face North Dakota at home, Frost’s comments about the offense being able to “cooperate a little bit more” and get a more creative will come up again. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple speaks to the media on Wednesday, so it would be surprising if he’s not asked for his perspective on those comments from Frost.

As for Thompson, he’s expected to speak at the podium for Nebraska’s weekly press conference (which has been moved to Tuesday for the week due to travel schedules). He’ll surely have a full report on his play from the loss to Northwestern. It’d be more surprising if he didn’t. The Huskers landed back in Nebraska early Sunday morning—reports had them on the ground in Omaha around 3 a.m. CT—which was intended to give the team the day to recuperate before getting back to it.

Thompson likely spent his Sunday reviewing film. Because that’s what Thompson does. He’s a football junkie, a perfectionist.

But Thompson doesn’t need to be perfect for Nebraska to improve. It would be an impossible standard for any one player to take on. How Nebraska—and Thompson—respond over the next week will be interesting but it’s going to be about more than one player or coach improving. It’s a team effort, after all.

There was a moment post-game on Saturday where edge Garrett Nelson joined Thompson and tight end Travis Vokolek at the podium. Thompson and Vokolek had already been speaking for a few minutes before Nelson arrived. Nelson—who is a captain alongside Vokolek—spoke about the team sticking together. He shared thoughts on everyone “keeping their heads up,” while admitting it’s hard for even him to do sometimes.

“We’re going to be fine,” Thompson responded.

It wasn’t a response to the room. It was just a comment passed between teammates. The rest of us were just there to witness it.

Thompson can’t be perfect—he doesn’t need to be—but he seems determined to try.

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