Scott Frost seemed. . . almost at ease?
He got asked about concern, about wideouts not separating, about doubt, about moving forward, and about turning the ball over. Instead of being snarky, he went out of his way to make sure the media knew he wasn’t trying to be.
His team just lost 48-7 on national TV after a week’s worth of national build-up, so he was absolutely upset. But in a night where Nebraska was once again the butt of national jokes, Frost and his football team found something valuable.
A public declaration of how far off they are.
“That’s where we want to get as a football team,” he said of Ohio State, who is probably going to get some first-place votes in the next round of polling.
“Same thing I said this morning on the [College GameDay] set, same thing I’m saying right now is that we’re going to get more opportunities with games like that. … We’re building this thing. The kids know where this is going, the coaches know where this is going.”
All week, Frost has called this a measuring stick game. Now he knows where his Huskers stack up in Year 2. There’s a lot of work left to be done to get to where fifth-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State currently is. There are a handful of recruiting classes needed just to start. There is growth needed from an offense that relies so heavily on youth.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez can’t throw interceptions on three of his first seven pass attempts and three of his first four drives. Not against teams with NFL talent littering the two-deep the Ohio State has. (The Buckeyes turned those into 21 points.)
But where the problems started Saturday night, the answer still lays.
Martinez is still the guy this whole thing is built around.
“Just keep going,” right tackle Matt Farniok said of what he told Martinez after the game. “Nothing in my mind of my opinion of him has ever changed. I know who he is, and I’ve seen what he can do. He’s a hell of a player, and honestly some of that is on us as an O-line. We've got to give him a better pocket. We have to be more dominating in the line of scrimmage. Honestly, I’m fine with putting all the failures on the O-line because that’s the weight we should bear. We should be the group that takes accountability for all failures, because why not put it on us.”
Frost appreciates he has a team that won’t quit. And while sooner or later Nebraska is going to have to reach a point as a program where moral victories mean little, a 10-7 second half provides a lot more to work with than a 38-0 first half.
“I’m proud of the guys for coming out and continuing to battle and play,” Frost said. “I want us to play better, don’t want to see us put ourselves in that kind of hole, but our guys didn’t quit. I love this team. I love the guys on this team.”
Martinez kept Nebraska from getting shut out for the first time in over 20 years. The lone touchdown came late in the third quarter, two plays after he took off down the right sideline for a 56-yard gain.
“This game is not going to define this team. It won’t,” Martinez said. “We’re going to learn from it. We’re going to have 24 hours just like always to mourn or rejoice about it. Whatever the case may be, and we’re going to get back to work. It’s going to be a lesson for us. That’s a really good team there. Got to take care of the football. The things we preach, we have to go out there and execute those things.”
Ohio State had more rushing yards (368) than Nebraska gained total (231). The Buckeyes went 10-for-13 on third down, had just two penalties, didn’t turn the football over and started, on average, at the 33-yard-line.
First-year head coach Ryan Day offered Frost a textbook on how to win this kind of game. The Buckeyes didn’t beat themselves, they leaned on a talent advantage and then out-executed the Huskers until another sellout crowd that had a pregame buzz unlike anything of the past however many seasons was slowly filtering through exits.
If there’s a positive to be found from the field, it’s in Nebraska success when this new-age offense went old-school.
On the three drives when Nebraska mixed flexbone concepts with I-formation power football that featured Dedrick Mills as a fullback and Wan’Dale Robinson at tailback, the offense averaged 6.1 yards a play.
When, on the third drive of the game with the score a manageable 14-0, Nebraska first broke out the ground-and-pound throwback look, the stadium found life and Ohio State looked on its heels a little. An interception ended the march after 49 yards on a tipped pass that fell to Ohio State defensive back Jeff Okudah, but that was something to work with moving forward.
“We kind of went back to some old school Nebraska stuff and it worked and we drove it down the field,” Frost said. “I think our guys executed that stuff pretty well and that was neat to see.”
Asked if that’s something they can build on moving forward, Frost said “We’ll see.”
Asked if that was something specific to Ohio State or something they’d been building toward, Martinez said “I guess we’ll find out.”
That probably says something even in nothing. Farniok at least enjoyed it. Offensively, Nebraska found something to work with from a game where nothing worked.
As a team, it found something it needed on a night where nothing was given.
“They’re a better football team than we are, and we are going to get more shots at teams like that down the road,” Frost said.
Now he knows how far left he has to drive.
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.