Noah Vedral said it late after the game Saturday night. This was a “one-game season” for the Huskers going into the following week. Nebraska (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) travels to Minneapolis this weekend for a meeting with unbeaten Minnesota, but after that is the first of two bye weeks in the span of a month. The one-game season thing figured to have come from head coach Scott Frost in the locker room after the game.
Then, Monday morning, running back Dedrick Mills called this a one-game season. Then tight end Austin Allen called it a one-game season. Then guys who got up in front of the podium said it. By the time it was Frost’s turn to step to the dais, it was clear what the message is this week.
He wants one thing from his team.
“Everything,” he said. “Pour everything into this week. It’s a one-week season. … Then we get to rest and recuperate and recover mentally, too, as we prepare ourselves for the next stretch. Whatever our guys got, they have to pour into this week to try and give us the best chance.”
There’s rest looming on the horizon. Some much-needed recovery time. Nebraska is dealing with significant injuries to several key players (quarterback Adrian Martinez, wideout JD Spielman) and a bunch of other guys have bumps and bruises.
But Nebraska’s either going to wake up Sunday morning 5-2 and feeling pretty good, sitting in early October with a better win total then it accomplished in each of the entire 2017 and 2018 seasons, or its going to be 4-3 and questions of progress will persist another week.
“This is our most important game of the season,” Allen said.
Minnesota hadn’t looked particularly great in any game this season heading into a Week 6 meeting with Illinois, but the Gophers then blasted the Illini 40-17. Before that it was 4-0 with an average margin of victory of five points, so do the Gophers get credit for just simply finding a way to win those games or knocked for them being so close? Nebraska only beat Illinois by four.
Either way, these Gophers offer up a little bit of a role reversal. Minnesota is the top-receiving vote-getter in the latest AP poll and earned the 25th and final spot in the latest Coaches poll. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings agree with the human polls, slotting Minnesota at No. 26.
The Gopher offense ranked 14th in S&P+.
Some were annoyed by the Gopher attention this offseason, when it was trendy to talk about all the returning production PJ Fleck had in his locker room. Even if you want to lump this team into the same tier as Northwestern, Indiana and Purdue — Nebraska’s four games before Wisconsin — and it’s completely fair to do so, Nebraska is going to have its work cut out for it.
This will be a test.
So the mindset has to be attack.
“We’ve just kind of got to push through at this point,” corner Dicaprio Bootle said. “One more game before the bye week. This is a game that we need. We need this game to be in control of our own destiny. Still be able to reach our goals, do the things we still want to do. Right now you've kind of got guys banged up, bruised up, but just about everybody is trying to put their head down. Just keep working, keep on pushing. Keep fighting.”
Worry about recovery later.
“Coach is going to take care of us,” Allen said. “He shows it all the time. In fall camp he took care of us. We’re going to leave it all on the field for Coach because we know he takes care of us all the time and that’s the mindset I’m going to go into it with.”
With Martinez’s status up in the air and two off weeks in the next four, there was a question as to whether Nebraska would just let him sit until Wisconsin.
“If Adrian is healthy, he will go,” Frost said.
If he isn’t, Noah Vedral will be the guy. And Nebraska will expect the same level of play.
That will be the case for everyone.
Enjoy the ice bath during the off week.
There’s one game left.
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.