Nebraska is looking to hit reset.
Against Colorado, early on, Nebraska looked like a team head coach Scott Frost wants it to be. There were some drives here and there against Troy that got rolling and the tempo picked up and Nebraska’s offense started gashing the Trojans. But Saturday against Michigan? Yikes.
“I don’t know how many first downs we had Saturday,” Frost started. “I don’t care but there weren’t many times Saturday where it looked like I want it to look.”
After the game, Frost said he thinks this is the bottom. So, the only place left to go is up. “You can’t look backward, you’ve got to look forward,” Frost said. And forward is Purdue, a previously 0-3 team that got its first win this past weekend by handing No. 23 Boston College its first loss. Purdue forced four turnovers, held a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, held the Eagles to 3-of-12 on third down and won 30-13.
Frost called Boilermaker head coach Jeff Brohm “one of the best coaches in the country” and said Purdue isn’t in that drastically different a situation than Nebraska. They’re just coming off their first win and Nebraska is coming off what Frost affectionately called a butt whipping.
“They need this win, we need this win,” Frost said. “I know their coach wants to win, expects to win. We want to win, expect to win.”
Practices in the run-up to the Michigan game went the opposite direction of what Frost would like to see. Monday was good, Thursday was bad. He said fixing that requires coming ready to go every day and understanding that games are won on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and not on Saturday. (For anyone doubting that logic, the winning coach Saturday said the same.)
But this week’s open, this Monday morning’s practice, it looked better. It looked, Frost said, like they were back on the right track.
“I think they’re anxious for the results to change,” Frost said of his group. “The majority of the team is frustrated and wants to go to work to change it. I’m not sure it’s 100 percent, I can’t look into the mind of each kid, but judging on how they came out to practice today, I saw a bunch of guys that are fighting back to make a difference.”
What he wants, what he’s trying to develop, is a team of guys who love football and are going to approach each and every day the same way.
“Times when things are going real well and times when things are going poorly, those are the best judges of your character,” Frost said. “When you’re winning and you’re undefeated, do you still come to practice and work like you’re winless? And when you’re winless, do you still come to practice and do everything you can to change your circumstances?
“In both of those situations, if you love football you’re going to come to work and do the best you can because you love the game and you want to be great at it.”
Nebraska has “a bunch of those guys” but not a whole team of them. Frost is working on that part. But he said he’s not going to panic about a 0-3 start and switch up what he’s doing.
“I know what we’re asking guys to do works,” he said. “Maybe this is a little bigger fix, or it’s taken longer than I expected, but there’s no question in my mind we’re going to get it fixed.
“I had other opportunities, I came here for a reason because I want to be here. This is the team I want to coach. We’re doing the same things that we’ve done with other teams to turn them into winners. In fact, we’re working harder at it. It’s going to come.”
Other News and Notes
>> Quarterback Adrian Martinez will be the starting quarterback this week. Frost said it’s safe to say that already.
Asked if they’ll pare down the gameplan to protect him, Frost said: “We don’t have the luxury of being overly-protective with them, we have to call what we think’s going to work in the game. I think [backup Andrew] Bunch’s shown that he can come in and do a good job.”
>> Don’t expect a ton of personnel changes coming for the Huskers. Frost shot down the notion of replacing Tyjon Lindsey as the team’s punt returner and said they’re playing guys on the offensive line that give them the best chance to win.
>> Nebraska scheduled Bethune-Cookman for Oct. 27 last week to fill out its schedule after the Akron cancellation. Frost said giving up the bye week wasn’t ideal, but it was important for the program to give the players a full slate of games.
“I still wish Akron would have played us on Sunday morning,” Frost said. “I’m just grateful somebody agreed to come here and play us and look forward to that.”
Logistically, that means Nebraska will play 12 straight. Asked how that will affect recruiting, Frost said they’re going to try and get coaches out more on Thursdays and Fridays before games where they can.
>> Nebraska is currently the third-most penalized team in the country by per-game averages. The Huskers were flagged another 10 times on Saturday. Asked if there’s a common, correctable thing, Frost said he hopes so.
“We’re working on it every day and have been for three weeks and some of it hasn’t been corrected,” he said. “Some of them are decisions that we’ve got to impress upon the guys, they’ve got to make smarter decisions. There are some other ones… Hustling down there to try and get down as a gunner and running into the punt returner, that’s a mistake you just can’t make.”
>> On 11 different drives through three games, the Huskers have gone three-and-out on offense. Frost talked about the importance of getting drives going so they can use tempo and Frost touched on the same.
“What you don’t want to do as a tempo team is go out, go fast and go three-and-out, put your defense right back on the field and then go do it again,” he said. “Pretty soon your defense is on the field for 40 of the 60 minutes and playing 110 snaps. Offensively if we do better it’s going to help the defense and defensively if we do better it’s going to help the offense.”
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.