When Nebraska beat Penn State 30-23 for its first win of the season, then followed that up with a sleepwalk performance against Illinois—a 41-23 loss—the preparation was a major talking point. Nebraska, it was said then, didn’t handle success well. Husker coach Scott Frost said after the game it felt like the team won once and thought things were going to roll from there.
Illinois, at one point up 31-10 in the game, was a wake-up call that that’s not the way things work in the Big Ten.
Now, coming off its second win of the season, the question felt a natural fit for Frost’s final meeting with the media before his team faces Minnesota: how was the week of practice coming off a 37-27 win over Purdue?
“Way better,” Frost said. “Absolutely way better.”
Before any eyes roll, Frost never made mention of a “great” week of practice or a “best Tuesday ever.” He instead gave a little kudos for the growth he’s seen since Illinois took it to NU.
“Last three weeks, I’ve really seen some growth on our team, their mindset, their preparation, their execution,” he said. “I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing right now and the attitude our guys have.”
Minnesota comes in for an 11 a.m. kickoff at 2-3, but it hasn’t played a game since Nov. 20. The Gophers will be short-handed, but rested and hungry.
Other notes from Frost:
>> The situation with Marvin Scott III, a freshman running back for the Huskers, caught eyeballs last week leading up to kickoff against Purdue. Scott only took the field for pregame warmups once all his teammates had left. There was a question as to whether he was an emergency player activated after defensive back Myles Farmer suffered an injury minutes earlier, but Frost cleared things up in a radio appearance later that weekend.
Scott has received a positive antigen COVID test and Nebraska was awaiting the results of a PCR test to confirm. The delay in the results meant Scott was separated from the team. The PCR test confirmed the antigen positive had been a false-positive.
“It’s just something we have to deal with, and everybody has to,” Frost said when asked about the potential mischief false-positives can cause. “I don’t know the exact number, but we’ve had over 20 over the course of the season positive antigen tests and I think all but one or two were false positives.
“We take extreme cautions when we get one of those and make sure it’s not spreading around the team. Every school, I think, has different access to their ability to PCR (test) people and get their results back. We get it done really quickly here because of our cooperation with UNMC. Wasn’t quite as fast for us on Saturday, so that kinda put Marvin in a bad spot. It’s been happening all year.”
Nebraska hasn’t been hit by an outbreak like some of its Big Ten counterparts, though, like Minnesota. Between late November and Dec. 3, the Gophers had as many as 49 confirmed positive tests.
The Huskers haven’t had to shut down. They’ve had one game this season called off, but it wasn’t because of an issue on their side. With games getting axed everywhere in all manner of sports, Nebraska’s been something of an outlier.
“It’s probably a little bit of luck,” Frost said. “I compliment the guys on being smart and not putting themselves at risk and trying to do what’s right for the team. We got started with summer stuff a little quicker and I think maybe ours got spread out a little bit more. Maybe we’d have a couple here and a couple there and maybe that kept us from having a big outbreak.
“We still have a lot of guys that, to our knowledge, have never had it, and I think mostly it’s just our guys staying out of situations where it can be dangerous.”
>> Frost had no new information to provide on the Big Ten’s championship week structure. Those plus-one games, originally thought to be West vs. East crossovers and potentially thought to be staged at neutral site domes, could take any number of forms.
“I don’t think anything’s been finalized,” Frost said. “You’re not the only one that doesn’t exactly know what’s going on yet.”
They’re scheduled for Dec. 19. Put another way: those games are nine days away.
>> Freshman running back Sevion Morrison will be available for Saturday’s regular-season finale. The Oklahoma native hasn’t played yet this season, and Frost said he’s had “a couple hurdles to get over” to see the field.
“He’s practiced well. We’ll see if we get a chance to get him in or not,” Frost said. “He’s certainly capable of doing it, just hasn’t had much experience. If we find the right time to play him, then we’ll think about that. Certainly a talented kid with a bright future.”