Has Nebraska “closed the gap” with Wisconsin? The Huskers hope so, but they’ll have to show it on Saturday.
For Coach Scott Frost, he looks at the last two years against the Badgers—as well as the recent loss to Ohio State—for where Nebraska is. He still sees too many mistakes, which need to be fixed.
“If you look at the two Wisconsin games and this past Saturday, our mistakes have kept us from having better performances,” Frost said.
However, Frost hopes the loss to Ohio State is an early lesson for the team. The mistakes made against the Buckeyes can’t happen against the Badgers, especially with how consistent Wisconsin is. He said the Badgers “wait their turn, and when they get their shot, they’re ready to go.”
“That’s what we’re trying to get to as a program,” Frost said. “They’re quite a ways down the road on that.”
The Huskers are currently 1-8 against the Badgers since joining the Big Ten Conference in 2011, something the team would really like to change in 2020.
Brenden Jaimes thinks Nebraska has closed the gap, at least when it comes to the offensive line. As a four-year starter for the Huskers, he’s been through a lot with Nebraska against Wisconsin. He sees growth and development on the line, which is a credit to the experience at the position.
“We have an offensive line that a lot of people played last year and all those guys back this year,” Jaimes said on Monday. “The inexperience excuse should no longer be a thing. It shouldn’t be an excuse we should fall back on because all of us do have experience and have games under our belt.”
Part of closing that gap with Wisconsin requires the offensive line to stick to what they know how to do. Jaimes also said the team would have to be disciplined against the Badgers.
With that said, nothing is guaranteed with Wisconsin. The Badgers are a “formidable foe,” according to quarterback Adrian Martine.
“This week has a lot of significance for us and we’re going to attack it that way,” Martinez said.
Senior Dicaprio Bootle has never beaten Wisconsin in his time as a Husker, which plays into what this matchup means. He’d like to change that.
“They’ve got a little streak going against us,” he said. “I’ve never beat them in my time here so obviously that would mean a lot to me to go out there and give it my best shot and give it my all.”
If Nebraska is able to show it has closed the gap and get the win, Bootle said it would “change the narrative” on what the game means. He also knows what’s ahead for the Huskers against the Badgers.
“It’s going to be hard-nosed, physical football,” Bootle said.
More news and notes:
>> Frost said they are “still evaluating” tight end Jack Stoll’s injury. No further update at this time.
>> Any issue with energy on Saturday without fans? Senior linebacker Will Honas said no and that the team was “antsy” and ready to get back on the field.
As for playing at home without 90,000 screaming fans? Senior defensive lineman Ben Stille said it won’t be the same, but the communication on defense should be “a hell of a lot easier.”
>> Did Nebraska take a step forward in Week 1 against Ohio State?
“The scoreboard is what it was, and that’s the ultimate indicator,” Stille said. “. . . A loss by 30 isn’t necessarily the step we’re looking for.”
>> Honas felt that Nebraska’s run fits “were pretty on point throughout the game” against Ohio State. That will be just as important against Wisconsin, who does a lot of window-dressing and pre-snap stuff. He said the defense needs to play sound.
>> Who will step up with Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams out for the first half against Wisconsin following targeting calls? Bootle said it’s the whole room, including the young players.
“All of them have to step it up,” he said. “It’s a team game.”
As for those calls changing how defensive backs play?
“Any real defensive back isn’t going to sit and complain,” Bootle said about the penalties. “You’re just going to continue to play ball whether it’s a good call or a bad call.”
Frost doesn’t expect any kind of appeal on Taylor-Britt or Williams. He said he doesn’t think the Big Ten has a process to appeal it.
“We might be stuck with the outcome whether we agree with it or not,” he said.
>> Speaking of the penalties, Bootle could potentially be used in place of Williams at safety against Wisconsin in the first half. He said he always works at safety during practice, and he was used at free safety for a series against Ohio State.
>> You can expect to see new wrinkles in Nebraska’s offense each week, which Martinez pointed out would continue to work between him and Luke McCaffrey. He also said the two have a great partnership.
“Luke and I make a great team and we’re going to continue to build on that the rest of the year,” he said.
>> Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID-19 and is waiting for the results of the PCR nasal swab test to confirm the diagnosis.
“I hope for his health he’s OK,” Frost said.
>> Frost said he was happy to honor George Flippin, the first Black football player for the University of Nebraska, with helmet stickers against Ohio State. He also said he didn’t know much about Flippin prior to this year and encouraged fans to read more about him.
Head Coach Scott Frost on the helmet stickers honoring George Flippin ⬇ pic.twitter.com/9uQG3pjCAy
— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) October 26, 2020
>> A quick schedule note: Kickoff for Nebraska-Northwestern is set for 11 a.m. CT on Saturday, Nov. 7. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.