One week at a time.
That’s an old adage in sports that is often repeated. It has never had more meaning than it does this football season. No game is guaranteed from week to week, so the Huskers are taking that message to heart. All the team can do is stay focused on the next game ahead, which is now Illinois for Nebraska.
The Huskers tasted success for the first time of the 2020 season with the win over Penn State. There has been some concern over whether or not the team will have a letdown against Illinois after a win. It seems like Lovie Smith’s crew has Nebraska’s full attention.
“The key for us is, you know, we’re playing another good team,” Coach Scott Frost said on Monday. “They got their first win just like we did. Guys in this building can’t win one and relax. They have to let that elevate them and go back out on the field and work that much harder to get even better and keep moving this ball down the field. I think the team’s mentality is in a good place.”
Nebraska won a close game over Illinois in 2019, taking the matchup 42-38 in Champaign. It’s a game that is remembered as Wan’Dale Robinson’s breakout game, but Illinois was certainly a physical team too.
“First of all, I compliment Lovie (Smith) for one,” Frost said. “He is just an exceptional person and a really good coach. They hit the crap out of us last year. We ended up winning the game, but the guys were sore after. They did a good job running and hitting. They hit our receivers. They played physical up front and you wouldn’t expect anything less from a Lovie Smith-coached team.”
The Huskers have possibly faced the three toughest defenses they will see all season. Ohio State, Northwestern and Penn State all present unique problems for opposing offenses. The problems were magnified while breaking in young players all over the place. That now includes a redshirt freshman quarterback in Luke McCaffrey.
Don’t expect the Huskers to act like they are catching a break with the Illini defense though. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick spoke on Tuesday about the quality of defenses in the league.
“We played three great defenses,” Lubick said. “The one last week might have been the most athletic defense of them all. But at the same time in this league the big challenge that our guys have to understand is that every defense is good. If you don’t come prepared to play every team in this league can beat you. Every defense in this league can give you problems. You have to treat it as a faceless opponent and prepare each week.”
Lubick went on to say he didn’t think there was an easy defense on the schedule and you have to prepare that way.
The Huskers have a different test of sorts this weekend. It is a sign of growth in the program if the Huskers come out focused against an Illinois team that they are double-digit favorites over.
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.