Momentum and moments. That’s what it’s all about right now for Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin.
Veteran offensive lineman Matt Sichterman explained what that meant following Tuesday’s practice.
“Coach G’s big thing has just been momentum and taking advantage of our moments to build that momentum,” Sichterman said. “We’re going to get a moment obviously on Saturday to prove to people that we’re the offense that we want to be. We’re the team that we want to be but we got to come out hot and be hitting on all cylinders.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to build that momentum as we go forward.”
The Huskers did not start out hot against Fordham on Saturday. None of the first three drives of the game ended in points for Nebraska. The offense looked disjointed and even put the ball on the ground with a fumble. The offensive line was not playing up to par during those first few drives either.
Then there was a spark that quarterback Adrian Martinez detailed after the game.
“We got each other grills a little bit and I loved it,” Martinez said post-game. “It is what we need. We need more of that and we brought the energy out of each other and those guys stepped to the plate and that is what we need as a team. That is what we needed today and what we are going to need moving forward.”
Austin heard that exchange over the headset as he was trying to make adjustments during the game. He loved the fire he saw from the quarterback and described Martinez as very animated.
“When your team captain or your leader, especially on offense, is getting after guys to be honest with you we needed more of that,” Austin said. “We need to continue to drive more of that home. Those things are culture builders. That was encouraging for me because I’m like, ‘Hey, we got to pick our stuff up. Everybody has to pick their stuff up.’
“If you’re going to yell at somebody, then you probably got your stuff together or you got to get your stuff together as well. It holds everybody else accountable.”
This is exactly what Austin was talking about a couple weeks ago when he spoke with media about ‘horizontal leadership.’ He wanted to see player to player exchanges where they were coaching each other up. That doesn’t always have to come from the coaches to the players, although Austin joked that he would prefer Martinez waits until after Austin is done making his adjustments on the headset.
“Oh yeah, I heard him in my right ear,” Austin said. “He was yelling at me. I was like, ‘Bro, let me just get these adjustments done. Then you can say what you want to the team.'”
Sichterman was pleased with how the offensive line rallied after the slow start. He felt it was necessary to drive home the point of doing the right things during the game. He approached the line after the game was over.
“What I told my guys after the game is we went out there and we were just kind of wanting it to happen,” Sichterman said. “We were hitting people but we weren’t meshing as a whole as a whole unit and as whole offense. We kind of just chose this is our game and we got to make this run game work at all costs. I think everybody kind of elevated and everyone started playing for each other more.”
Ultimately the offense got the job done. The message that the team has started the week with is that they have to start faster. They’ve been coming out to practice trying to get more realistic reps at the start of practice. That has helped try to get the energy going quicker. That could lead to the offensive line hitting on all cylinders early in the game.
The Husker offense is hoping to bottle up that feeling and carry it forward through the rest of the season.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.