The Nebraska defense went into halftime at Memorial Stadium last Saturday staring down the barrel of a tie game with FCS North Dakota.
They just allowed the tying touchdown on a 16-play drive that went 80 yards and melted nearly 7 minutes off the clock. North Dakota moved the chains on first-and-10, second-and-6, second-and-3, third-and-12, second-and-6, and fourth-and-1. Then the Fighting Hawks were in the end zone.
“It’s just guys not doing their job,” defensive tackle Ty Robinson said during Monday’s press conference. “We’ve been saying, feels like the last few years, it’s the little details and guys not doing their job.”
Robinson said defensive coordinator Erik Chinander met with the defense at halftime and told them to keep their focus within their task. If they did that, they’d be a successful defense. The Huskers stiffened, forced a turnover and shutout the Fighting Hawks in the second half to seal the 38-17 win.
Head coach Scott Frost said the team has done well to have a good Monday of practice on the heels of its first win in nearly a calendar year.
“It’s been a process to get everybody working together and on the same page and new pieces, knowing the little details and things that it takes to make players work and make plays on defense,” Frost said. “That’s what we’re going to continue to work on. I think the kids are in a good spot and understanding and confident in where they can go and knowing they still have a lot of things they can fix.”
Northwestern ran for 214 yards against Nebraska in the opener. North Dakota ran for 175. While the Huskers are more likely to see a pass-centric offense against Georgia Southern on Saturday, coaches and players alike know they have to toughen at the line of scrimmage.
Frost said coaches will pit the first-team offense against the first-team defense more in practice this week. That’s something Huskers on both sides of the ball were excited about.
Quarterback Casey Thompson said that will help him get a better feel for the defense and matchups receivers may face. Receiver Alante Brown said it’ll ensure the offense doesn’t get the same looks in practice. Linebacker Luke Reimer said that shuffle will help the defense see real looks and tackle at game speed. Safety Myles Farmer echoed the benefits for the secondary.
How can Nebraska build momentum off its first win of the season while building toward its potential?
“Finishing.” Brown said. “Everything we need to do is about finishing. Do our job, 11 man, do your part, finish. You tired, go harder. That’s just how I see it.”
>> Frost said offensive coordinator Mark Whipple “did a great job” in the second half of Saturday’s win over North Dakota. The whole staff improved and “the more communication and collaboration there is, the better,” Frost said on Monday.
>> Following up on a FCS opponent with Georgia Southern of the Sun Belt, the Huskers view the upcoming game as another opponent looking to make a reputation off beating Nebraska. “Georgia Southern is pretty good, we’re going to take them as just another Big Ten opponent,” safety Myles Farmer said.
>> Frost said Frost said he feels good about progress made on special teams.
>> Thompson said the Huskers look to expand on their fast starts. So far this year Nebraska has scored on its first drives of each half.
>> Frost credited “selfless” players like Chancellor Brewington and Rahmir Johnson. Brewington caught a touchdown against North Dakota. While Johnson didn’t see significant playing time on Saturday, Frost said he’s “too good” of a player not to be more involved.