Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Looks to Cut Down on Turnovers, Special Teams Errors Against No. 3 Oklahoma

September 13, 2021

Nebraska football has had a successful past two weeks, racking up wins against Fordham and Buffalo with ease. 

Despite the favorable final scores of those games, the Huskers haven’t been able to shake their issues turning the ball over. They’ve recorded a giveaway in each of their first three games this year. 

Along with that, the Huskers have made at least one special teams error each week as well. Against Illinois, it was Cam Taylor-Britt’s safety and Connor Culp’s two missed extra points. Taylor-Britt then muffed a punt against both Fordham and Buffalo. 

Culp, the 2020 conference kicker of the year, also missed multiple field goals against the Bulls. He hasn’t done nearly as well as he did last season, when he didn’t miss an extra point and only was off target on two field goal attempts all year.

The Huskers are bottom three in the conference in field goal percentage, extra point percentage, average punt distance and turnovers per game. Head coach Scott Frost said not making mistakes will “absolutely” be more important this coming weekend against No. 3 Oklahoma, one of the top teams in the country. 

“Turnovers and special teams, if you’re going to beat a team that’s really talented, you got to win those,” he said. “Make a big play on special teams, get a turnover here and there. We’ll see if we’re up to the challenge.”

Nebraska’s had just three games since 2018 without a turnover. In eight games against ranked teams under head coach Scott Frost, the Huskers have won the turnover battle just once. That was against No. 8 Ohio State in 2018, when they only lost by five points. 

Quarterback Adrian Martinez was responsible for the team’s lone turnover in that game as a true freshman, and his ball security has been a question for the majority of his time with the Huskers. He lost a game-changing fumble in the season opener against Illinois as well, but that remains his only turnover on the year. 

“We need to execute, start fast and finish. Start to finish, we have to come play our game, need to be able to run the ball and need to be able to execute, no turnovers. It’s stuff we’ve been talking about all year long as a team,” Martinez said. “They’re obviously a top-five ranked team in the country and a very good team so we need to come ready to go in all phases of the game.“

Oklahoma showed vulnerability in a narrow win over Tulane to open the season, and lost two straight conference games to unranked teams early last year. The Green Wave fumbled three times in the first half of that game, but still ended up with a chance to win on their final possession.

Wide receiver Samori Touré said he doesn’t think Nebraska has to be flawless against the Sooners, but the team can’t make the same avoidable mistakes it made in the loss to Illinois. 

“I wouldn’t say we have to play a perfect game, but we definitely have to be dialed in on everything,” he said. “We can’t beat ourselves, that’s the one thing that we can’t do. I won’t say we have to play an absolutely perfect game but we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We got to play disciplined, that’s for sure.”

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