Instead of running, like the Huskers were unsuccessful at doing earlier in the drive and the four previous times in short-yardage situations, offensive coordinator Mark Whipple wanted to go wide. He told head coach Mickey Joseph he’d call timeout if they didn’t like the matchup. It was the exact play Ohio State successfully ran against Rutgers the week before.
He didn’t call timeout and they ran the play. The Huskers just didn’t execute. Casey Thompson’s pass bounced away from Marcus Washington and the Huskers turned the ball over on downs.
“We liked the look,” Whipple said. “We just didn’t execute.”
Nebraska’s offensive coordinator answered a rundown of questions from media members on Wednesday heading into a crucial game against Purdue.
The offensive line bounced back from the Rutgers game with a positive attitude in practice this week, Whipple said. He admitted the line had its worst week of practice last week with only one hard practice on the condensed schedule. They weren’t great that day and that carried over. So he challenged them this week.
“We’ve completely flipped it,” Whipple said. “This has been the two best days we’ve had all year. And we had a day off, I think that helped.”
Whipple and Joseph maintained conversation through the Huskers’ final drive. They talked through their calls, Whipple communicated with quarterback Casey Thompson and they included defensive coordinator Bill Busch on the sidelines so he could be aware what the defense might face after a punt. The former Pittsburgh OC channeled his days with the Steelers and Bill Cowher in those moments.
Whipple said the schedule change Joseph implemented was good if only for a change. Whipple was used to this current schedule and the players seem to enjoy it. Of course, the players stayed positive and receptive to change throughout the season. Their patience has paid off in a new gear of confidence.
“Hard to gain confidence when you lose,” Whipple said.
Likewise, the coaching staff’s maintained positivity as well. All sides of the ball came together to find a way to win and didn’t get morose on the sidelines at a lack of immediate execution.
Getting Travis Vokolek more involved last week was a positive step for the offense. He’d been dinged up and became a big factor in the red zone with his first touchdown as a Husker.
Tommi Hill moved from defensive back to receiver for the Rutgers game. He’s practiced with the first-team offense this week. Whipple said Hill provides depth and they’re excited to see what he can do.
In hindsight, Whipple didn’t think he did a good enough job informing Thompson that Rutgers liked to submarine linemen in hopes of wrangling the ball in kneeling situations. Line coach Donovan Raiola, however, told the linemen and they were able to get a final push. There were no worries about snap exchanges.
The offensive coordinator said on Wednesday that Purdue’s veteran-led defense provides a significant challenge for the Huskers.
“They’ve got guys up front that can rush the passer,” he said. “They’re physical. The back end is veteran, the corners that have been back there, you look at a senior, redshirt senior, redshirt junior all the way through. They’re not playing any young guys, they’re playing at home, they’ve won three in a row.”