The expectations placed on the 2019 Nebraska football team are lofty. There is no avoiding the fact that Nebraska has been picked to win the Big Ten West in several publications and by many national sports reporters. You can almost feel the Heisman buzz growing for sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, which is supported by his current top 5 odds to win the trophy.
Now that fall camp is underway for Nebraska, reality is starting to set in. The reality that this program has won just eight games in its last two seasons. Junior offensive tackle Brenden Jaimes spoke on Thursday about the reality of the situation.
“Honestly, I don’t really know what [the hype is] about,” Jaimes said. “We went 4-8 for two years. I don’t know why we are getting all this hype. Once we do it on the field then we can have that. As of right now, we are focused on us.”
Jaimes wants to see more guys in the locker sharing the sentiment that they need to take it game-by-game. The lineman said that in the past the team has let outside noise affect them and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. Still, Jaimes and his teammates have specific goals for this season.
“I’ve never been to a bowl game since I’ve been here,” Jaimes said. “That’s one of the things, especially for me that I’d like to do this year. Definitely go to a bowl game. When it comes to hype coming around, we need to take it game-by-game.”
Jaimes isn’t alone. Many of the players on Nebraska’s roster—who are true juniors or younger—have never been to a bowl game as a Husker. That’s something this team would like to change right away.
But there still are those outside expectaions. Redshirt junior offensive lineman Matt Farniok feels them but knows he can’t get caught up in them.
"Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal to whatever expectations people put on us because at the end of the day you should always think you are going to be a winner,” Farniok said. “You should never go into a fight thinking you are going to lose because you are going to lose. Right now, my main goal is to win week one. It doesn’t matter if you can win week 12 if you can’t win weeks 1-11.
“So the main focus for me is every week just take it week-by-week, day-by-day, and just win the next day, win today and that’s it."
That thinking starts with Coach Scott Frost. He didn’t include Nebraska in his top 25 list for the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, but he’d like to see the Huskers on the list by the end of the season. The team will have to earn that though. That begins with the teams’ toughness.
Redshirt junior tight end Jack Stoll has been preaching the message of toughness to his teammates this offseason as well. He believes that needs to return to Husker football and then the team can strive for bigger goals.
“Those teams in the 90s that won championships, that’s [toughness] what they were known for,” Stoll said. “It’s something we are definitely trying to bring back. We want people to come into our game knowing it will be a bruiser. Some other things we want to accomplish are double-digits wins and a Big Ten Championship. I didn’t come to Nebraska to go 4-8. That’s absolutely unacceptable.
“We came here to win a Big Ten Championship and that’s our expectation this season.”
It’s great to have expectations for a season as a team. It’s not a bad thing that a lot of people have high expectations for Nebraska either. How the Huskers handle the weight of all that attention from the outside could be make or break for this team.
From what the players are saying, they’re up for the challenge.
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.