Nebraska Cornhuskers offensive lineman Matt Sichterman working on drills during practice Friday
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Departed Assistant Coaches’ Impact, Challenge From Frost and More Notes Ahead of Wisconsin

November 15, 2021

The Huskers had a major shakeup in the coaching staff one week ago. There were performance issues that led coach Scott Frost to this moment. The different offensive groups had their ups and downs but each coach left an impact on the young men they led at Nebraska.

In most cases, the players we talk to on a weekly basis were recruited to Nebraska by those departed coaches. That was the case for running back Markese Stepp. He was recruited as a transfer from USC by former running backs coach Ryan Held. Stepp found out  about the news during an emergency team meeting. Looking back on it, Stepp saw Held in the parking lot earlier that day. The look on Held’s face gave him a clue on what was happening but Stepp didn’t say anything to the coach who played a big role in his recruitment.

“He’s a big reason I’m at Nebraska. He recruited me and he did a good job,” Stepp said. “That’s why I’m here. He was a big part of that honestly. He was the main guy. Coach Held was a big reason I was here and I want to give him thanks for giving me the opportunity to be here. Because without him, I wouldn’t be here.”

Offensive lineman Matt Sichterman started his relationship differently with former offensive line coach Greg Austin. Sichterman was a freshman when coach Mike Cavannaugh was let go at Nebraska. He didn’t know what was next for him and if he would have to transfer. There is always a worry that a new coach is going to want to bring in his own guys.

“Coach G [Greg Austin] showed up and I could not have asked for better,” Sichterman said. “He’s a great teacher and a great life mentor even outside of football. I’m just really appreciative that I got the chance to play for him and learn from him. I definitely look forward to keeping that relationship going for a long time.”

Sichterman believes that Austin always fought for him. That’s even more important since Sichterman spent a lot of his career at Nebraska as a backup. It would have been easy for him to get lost in the shuffle and transfer out. The lineman said that Austin and the other players in the offensive line room are the biggest reasons why he came back to Nebraska this season.

Sichterman didn’t know what to think after learning about the news in the team meeting. It was tough news for everyone to respond to so he took some time with other offensive lineman to talk about it. They all decided that ending the season on a high note was the priority now. Sichterman is a veteran player who has seen coaching changes in his college career. That gives him a different perspective.

“I think the biggest thing is just to keep an open mind about it,” Sichterman said. “We don’t really hear what’s happening behind the scenes but I know they’re going to work to get some good coaches in here. The first thing is just keeping your head down and keep working and see how the pieces fall and when they do decide what’s the decision for you.

For me, that was sticking around here working to finish up my degree and then sticking around so I could end up playing this year.”

More news and notes:

>> Frost recently said that Nebraska’s problem was not the special teams this season but the specialists. That’s quite a statement and kickoff specialist Brenden Franke was asked how the room took that comment from the coach.

“We receive it like he’s just challenging us to be better because he expects more out of us,” Franke said. Which he should. We are a Division I program. We should be doing things and executing them the right way. When we don’t do that you can understand how it’s frustrating for him that way.”

>> A lot of the players have talked about ending the season on a high note. There are still two games left for the program that will not go to a bowl game. Senior defensive lineman Ben Stille has a clear picture of what ending on a high note would look like for him.

“Obviously, there haven’t been a ton of overwhelmingly joyous moments for my class or a lot of the older guys,” Stille said. So, we really just want to do right by that. Send these older guys out on a good note for sure.”

>> Each individual assistant coach change has had a big impact on the team. One thing that almost gets overlooked is that Frost was granted the chance to return in the 2022 season. Stille spoke about what he sees in Frost that gives confidence he’s the right coach to lead the program.

“His passion and his want to is as high as any coach especially for this program,” Stille said. “I think that plays a huge piece into it. As a leader the program he does a really good job there. I have all the confidence in the world in him. If he can’t get it done I don’t know a lot of coaches that can.”

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