Nebraska has only two regular season matchups left on its schedule, but every week seems to be a crapshoot at this point.
Minnesota—who the Huskers are set to face on Saturday, Dec. 12—just canceled its second straight game due to COVID-19. The Gophers have reported 47 new cases in the last 12 days, with 26 of those being staff members. There’s a chance Nebraska will still face Minnesota in two weeks, but you never know.
The Huskers don’t want to take any game for granted, although senior safety Deontai Williams said that preparation ahead of the Illinois matchup was a “disgrace.”
“People weren’t ready,” Williams said on Monday about the week leading up to Illinois.
Whatever the exact reason for that—there was a lot of talk about a lack of energy—Nebraska said it got it figured out in practice last week. The Huskers felt the energy was better against Iowa, although the outcome wasn’t what they wanted. Quarterback Adrian Martinez said it came down to the little things again, but felt confident they could get it cleaned up.
“It’s about grit,” Martinez said. “. . . All we have is Purdue this week and we have to make the most of it.”
From tight end Travis Vokolek’s perspective? He said that no one came to lose, “especially to Iowa.”
“I think we have to approach every week like it’s Iowa week,” Vokolek said.
And so the attention turns to Purdue. Williams said the seniors on the team aren’t thinking about what’s next after this chapter ends, or their next challenges in life.
“We’re just trying to cherish this moment as a whole,” he said.
Coach Scott Frost doesn’t think he has a problem keeping this team engaged. He said “they’re hungry” but also noted the Huskers still have some little mistakes to correct. Frost hopes Nebraska gets three more games, because his team needs each opportunity and all of the practices that come with it.
“I’m worried about the last three games,” Frost said, noting he was worried about some players leaving for Thanksgiving and coming back. He said his players have been doing things the right way though, and so he’s hopeful for how things will end up.
For now, Nebraska is focused on Purdue. The Huskers would like to have more wins under their belt, but the team is looking forward and not back. They still believe there’s more out there for them.
“We’re just playing for our pride,” Williams said. “You put in all this work all season. It’s no need to hang your head now.”
More news and notes:
>> Frost announced that wide receiver Marcus Fleming is not with the team anymore.
“We wish him the best. He’s not going to be on the team anymore,” Frost said. “We’ll move on and I feel good about that position as it is.”
>> What does Taylor-Britt think on the freshmen transferring from the defensive backs room?
“That was those guys’ choices to make,” he said. “And I hope they succeed anywhere they go.”
>> When asked about the challenge that Purdue players like David Bell and Rondale Moore present, Williams pointed to Ohio State and what the Huskers faced in week one with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson.
“Can’t back down from great wide receivers like that,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to go to battle.”
>> Vokolek didn’t have an issue with the quarterback rotation against Iowa and said it worked fine from his perspective. He trusts both Martinez and Luke McCaffrey.
Vokolek also said that the offense runs a little quicker with McCaffrey under center, but was clear that wasn’t a big plus or minus either way.
>> Going back to the Illinois matchup, Martinez was asked about his pregame speech after McCaffrey was named the starter for the day.
“My mindset is that of a captain,” Martinez said. “Captains are voted on by the team and that’s something that means a lot to me . . . I owe it to those guys to give it everything I have.”
>> Martinez doesn’t think the current generation of players likes to be yelled at publicly, but Nebraska’s culture is a little bit about “tough love.” While he believes in a blend overall, he personally prefers to be coached hard.
>> Frost said the snapping issues need to get fixed but he is not considering moving Cam Jurgens to different position. He said he’s “too good of a player” to move.
“Cam cares as much as anyone on the team so he wants to get it fixed,” Frost said.
>> Running back will be an interesting position against Purdue. Frost said Sevion Morrison is not available and the team is “crossing our fingers on everyone else.”
>> As for Dedrick Mills, Frost said he got “rolled up on” against Penn State. Marvin Scott got hit in the head against Iowa, according to Frost.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.