Conviction Needed from Nebraska Down the Stretch
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Conviction Needed from Nebraska Down the Stretch

November 11, 2019

Scott Frost wants more conviction. 

“I wish we would get to a point where some of those mistakes aren’t happening,” the Husker head coach said Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference. Nebraska (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) plays No. 15 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) this Saturday. It needs two wins in its final three games to make a bowl game. 

Junior captain and starting right tackle Matt Farniok hasn’t played in a bowl game as a Husker. He had, a little bit earlier, said the group is tired of making the kinds of mental mistakes that have cost them games. 

“We’re frustrated as hell because we want Nebraska to be Nebraska, and we’ve been fighting and clawing to try and create it,” he said. “Right now we’re our own worst enemy in bringing back Nebraska. We’re just trying to find the correct way to get this done.”

Nebraska hasn’t won more than two games in a row since I joined this beat. Over that time, the Huskers have experienced 21 losses, 11 of them by less than 10 points. The latest came in a 31-27 loss to Purdue, Nebraska held a 10-0 lead in the first half and twice held fourth-quarter leads. 

“Stop making the same mistakes as we did before,” said junior corner Dicaprio Bootle when asked what the team goal was for the last three games. “Just end the season the right way. We have three games and we are looking to go 3-0, taking it one game at a time. This week we are looking to do 1-0. After that, then we will look to the next game and try to finish out the season strong.”

Nebraska’s coming off its second bye week in the last month. The first one was about getting “back to the basics,” but the results over the course of the two games since have featured mental mistakes, communication lapses, offensive misfires and defensive collapses. 

The penalties have gone down, but Nebraska continues to beat Nebraska.

“We are addressing [the mistakes], we are teaching them, the guys are tired of little mistakes here and there, and part of that is having a young team in a lot of places and that has cost us some,” Frost said. “But, part of it is just a mindset to do jobs perfectly and we have to continue to be better as coaches to make sure that happens, and the players have to help us with it.”

“It’s not fun to be in that locker room when we’re losing the way we are losing, so I feel like a lot of the players just found a renewed mindset,” outside linebacker JoJo Domann said. “We are digging deep. This isn’t what we wanted, this isn’t what we hoped for, but it’s our reality so just trying to do our best day in and day out and preparing for this week.”

The young guys thought the same. 

“We just want more fight out of everybody,” corner Braxton Clark said. “We want to come to the games with more energy, it feels like its been down a little bit, and we had a good start to the season, so we’re just trying to pick it back up and have that same energy we had at the beginning of the season.”

To that point, the response seems to have been a good one. “Guys looked like they were having a lot of fun out there today, which is great to see,” Frost said, which isn’t to be discounted. This Nebraska team under this coaching staff hasn’t seemed to quit fighting. Question the determination on a few late-game drives against Minnesota, but those moments are few and far between. 

“I think the vast majority of our kids love the game, like what we are doing, see the direction we are going in and are really optimistic about what is going to happen,” Frost said. “They are enjoying being around each other. The tighter knit your team is, the better chance you have of getting through good times or bad times.”

“I absolutely see it the same way,” added Domann. 

The outside linebacker said he “blacked out” on the final Purdue offensive play two Saturdays ago. The Boilermakers executed a reverse end-around for the game-winning touchdown with 1:08 to play. The play came back to Domann, who tried to make a splash play rather than sticking to his assignment. It cost Nebraska.

“We are close,” he said. “Our offense is close and our defense is close. We've just got to step up and be convicted to do our jobs. When it’s sunny out and when it’s 10 below, and when it’s light outside and when it's cloudy. When our backs are against the wall on the goal line with however many seconds left and they throw the reverse, we have to be convicted to do our jobs and win that play. Once we can do that consistently, those close games are going to start to turn in our favor.”

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