On Tuesday, running backs coach Ryan Held said if you didn’t know better, you’d think Nebraska was preparing for a national title. The Huskers were that locked in to start the week. It sounds like they finished just as strong.
“These guys did a great job with the short week and preparing,” head coach Scott Frost said Wednesday. “We had a walk-through Sunday night just to introduce game plan. Had a Tuesday practice on a Monday and a Wednesday practice on a Tuesday, had our walk-through today like a normal Thursday and I think the guys are as ready as they have been for any game.”
Nebraska’s players are certainly feeling some extra juice for Iowa given what the Hawkeyes have done to the Huskers in recent years, but it sounds like that energy isn’t necessarily directed at the specific opponent as much as it is the outcome.
At 4-7 with the prospects of getting to 5-7, this is likely Nebraska’s final game of the season. Frost said they’re not approaching it like a bowl game, they’re not worried about emotional hangovers and not letting a rivalry dictate how they prepare. Frost has held strong to his belief that rivalries are for fanbases and he’s trying to instill that same thought process in the team.
“You guys always ask me if one means more than another,” Frost said. “We try to kill that in our program.
“I want the guys to be better than they were last week. I answer that question that way a lot but if we’re a better team than we were last Saturday, then that’s a win for us. And if we continue doing that, that gives us the best chance to come out with a victory.”
Seems like Frost thinks they are. A couple new Blackshirts were award this week, the game plan was installed without an hiccups and practice went well yet again. Asked about any letdown after the high of last week’s win in the snow, Frost wasn’t worried.
“They came back and practiced their butts off this week,” he said of his team. “You could say there’s an emotional hangover, you could also say these guys are getting a taste of what it feels like to do things the right way and experience success and they want more of it.
“Hopefully the latter emotion wins out. I know we’ve had another good week of practice and our guys are dialed in.”
A lot of the motivation right now is frankly coming from sending off the senior class the right way.
“It’s a special game because if it’s the last one, the seniors are playing for the last time with Husker N’s on their helmet,” Frost said. “That was special to me, it’s been special for every guy that’s played here. We want to go out and play the best we can. I think the guys are fired up to do that.
“As long as we go out and play with the effort and intensity we’ve been playing with lately, I’m going to be proud to be their coach.”
The final week of the regular season gives the head coach confidence his team will do that. Practices were on point this week, Frost said. The details were minded.
“Football is a lot like life in a million ways and one of the amazing things about football and life is when you do things the right way, it’s more fun,” Frost said. “You have more success. You enjoy what you’re doing more. It’s unfortunate we had to figure that out as this year went along but I’m really happy with where we are from that standpoint.
“It’s easy to coach this team right now because they do everything the right way.”
Other News and Notes
>> Sophomore wideout JD Spielman remains day-to-day as he continues to nurse a foot injury suffered against Illinois.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” Frost said on him being able to make the trip. “I know if there’s any possible way JD can be out there, he’ll be out there. JD’s a competitor so he always wants to be on the field.
“Those two [Spielman and Stanley Morgan Jr.] have been a dynamic duo for us all year so it would be great to see them out there one more time together. Any time JD’s on the field we’re going to have a better chance.”
>> Senior defensive lineman Matt Jarzynka, a walk-on who spent the bulk of this season on scout team, has a Blackshirt.
Jarzynka’s first career tackle came against Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 27 and it came in the best of ways — a sack.
He’s the 15th member of the defense to receive a Blackshirt.
>> The plan, should Nebraska's season officially end after Iowa (again, a good chance of that happening), is for the team to get a week off, then get back into the weight room for a head start on winter conditioning.
"Partly because when we inherited this team last January, the guys had been stagnant for a long time," Frost said. "It caused us a few issues at the beginning with winter conditioning. Our team is going to be in better shape heading into it but we want to make sure not to take an entire month off before we start, so we can get more work done in the winter."
>> Nebraska had a team meal Tuesday night for Thanksgiving, put on by HY-Vee. Wednesday afternoon, it’s heading out to local hospitals around Lincoln to visit kids for the holidays.
“I think it’s a great tradition they’ve had before,” Frost said. “I want these guys to get out in the community and help. Learn how to be givers, not takers. The more they can be reminded how much of a role model they are to the people of the state and how much of heroes they are to the young kids in this state, I think the better for our team. That’s a tradition we’ll keep.”
>> As for the actual Iowa team Frost and company are about to face, Frost said the thing that stands out is just the physical profile of the Hawkeyes’ front lines.
“They’re big and physical on both sides on the lines, their front seven on defense does a great job,” he said. “Their offensive line does a great job protecting and making holes so we’ve got our work cut out for us.
“It’s going to be a battle and I think our guys are more prepared for that than they have been all year.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.