Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Lacked Energy in Preparation for Illinois, but Now ‘Being as Physical as Humanly Possible’

November 23, 2020

Nebraska players, like quarterback Luke McCaffrey, said they noticed a lack of energy in practice leading up to the matchup with Illinois. “We got beat physically today,” Coach Scott Frost said when asked about the biggest issues he saw in the loss to the Fighting Illini. With Iowa up next for a Black Friday showdown, the Huskers say they’ve ramped up the physicality in practice.

“Definitely this week more in the past week, we’re being as physical as humanly possible,” senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann said on Monday.

Junior wide receiver Kade Warner agreed, noting that Nebraska has “some effort things that we need to fix.” He noted that the team had too many “self-inflicted negatives,” which Nebraska calls SINs. As Nebraska resets itself for the week, Warner noticed a different sense of intensity and detail in practice.

“Starting yesterday and today, we practiced much harder,” Warner said.

From sophomore wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson’s perspective, he specifically thought the Huskers’ pass game didn’t have a good week of practice pre-Illinois. There were a lot of little things, like not running routes full speed, drops, you name it, that played into what was seen on Saturday.

Frost followed the three players on Monday, echoing a similar sentiment. He said the coaches have to do a better job coaching urgency into the players. He also hopes the young players have learned a lesson and won’t experience that kind of lull again.

“Energy’s way better,” Frost said about practice heading into this week.

Frost reiterated something he’s said before, which is that he has the talent and he sees the progress in practice. However, he knows it has to show up in games to matter.

“We’re so much better in so many ways, but we weren’t Saturday,” Frost said. “That’s what’s frustrating.”

If energy is what prevented Nebraska from playing more competitively against Illinois, the team believes that’s different ahead of facing Iowa. Time will tell, as always, but the message was clear from all who spoke on Monday.

“We just want to win,” Domann said.

More news and notes: 

>> Warner said McCaffrey kept his head up on Saturday despite the struggles. He said one of the great things about McCaffrey is that he is “always go, go, go, go” but that “moving forward the trust in practice we have to build that more so when we get in the game we don’t frazzle anybody.”

>> The intense mustache is no more for Warner. He shaved it, although he did say Nebraska players are apparently growing out mustaches ahead of the Iowa matchup.

>> “Overall, our quarterback play wasn’t good enough on Saturday,” Frost said about the performances from both McCaffrey and junior Adrian Martinez.

He reiterated that those in the program now have the potential to be great receivers “but our quarterbacks have to trust them and they have to be in the right spot.” He said the team is working toward that every day, and he felt it looked better on Monday.

>> Speaking of quarterbacks, Frost said the starting position is still up for grabs for this week.

“There’s no doubt in my mind Luke McCaffrey is the future around here,” Frost said, while adding that Martinez has been playing with confidence and maybe a chip on his shoulder the past couple of weeks. They’ll continue to evaluate over the week.

>> Nebraska will treat Thursday—Thanksgiving Day—like a normal Friday, which will mirror a typical day before a game. Frost did say the team will still have a special meal together though.

>> Frost shared that Collin Miller was at practice today but did not take part in it. He described the injury as a spinal concussion, saying he took the hit “the exact wrong way.”

“I gave him a big hug and I think a lot of guys were excited to see him,” Frost said.

Frost also said it’s “doubtful” Miller will play again this season. They want to be careful for his long-term health.

>> Jack Stoll is “fine,” according to Frost. He did not provide an update on his status for the matchup against Iowa.

>> Nebraska’s Dec. 5 matchup at Purdue will be televised on the Big Ten Network, per the Big Ten.

No game time yet. Will be set either late Saturday night or Sunday morning following this weekend’s games.

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