The 24-Hour Rule and Nebraska's Focus for Northwestern Week
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

The 24-Hour Rule and Nebraska’s Focus for Northwestern Week

September 30, 2019

Garrett Nelson has a routine postgame. He looks for his parents to tell them he loves them, he thanks them for coming, he chats with any friends there, then he goes home to watch football. The true freshman linebacker says he doesn’t sleep on Saturday nights, so he lays in bed and watches film. If he’s playing, where can he improve? Where are the mistakes? If he’s not out there, what are his teammates doing?

“Watch as much film as I can, try to get better,” he said. 

That change depending on the result of the game?

“Absolutely not.”

That’s what Nelson does with his 24 hours. His grandfather — a high school coach — used to always say, “You’re a better coach on Saturday morning than you were on Friday night.” So Nelson watches what he needs to watch, pockets the things to build on, and turns his attention forward. 

Not much celebration for a win. Not much mourning for a loss, even though the team technically has 24 hours to dwell on it before the coaching staff wants them to move forward. 

Head coach Scott Frost’s message to the Huskers after Saturday night’s 48-7 loss to Ohio State?

“Flush it.”

So, the Huskers’ message to everyone else is that they’ve moved on. 

“With this group — and it showed today — everybody came in energized and ready to attack everything we have left on the table,” outside linebacker Alex Davis said. “We’ve got a lot left on the table, a lot of games, a lot of football to play. I feel like we’re ready for it.”

Sophomore defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt said it’s important to not let Ohio State beat them twice. The goal for the next two weeks — home for Northwestern on Saturday, on the road for Minnesota on Oct. 12 — is to enter their bye week 2-0. That puts Nebraska at 5-2 and 3-1 in league play. 

Or, put another way, that puts Nebraska on track. 

Heading into the season, Ohio State was penciled in by most prognosticators and fans as a loss, yes? Bill Connelly’s S&P+ model projected a 15-point loss. Those who predicted 8-4 included Ohio State in the right column. Those who predicted 9-3 still probably predicted Ohio State in the right column.

The way Saturday unfolded tells the outside world something larger, but what the Huskers are selling is that a loss is a loss is a loss.

“We had a great practice this morning,” Frost said.  “The guys are excited. Everything they want to accomplish is still right in front of them. I told my guys to put that one behind us fast. We need to be focused on this week and concentrating on practicing as well as we can to get ready for this game.”

Nelson said they were planning to take that next step, but it didn’t happen, so all they can do now is focus on preparing for the next opportunity.

Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle said the emphasis is on the details. 

Quarterback Adrian Martinez said he didn’t want to talk about the Buckeyes.

“I’m excited for this new challenge that we have this Saturday,” he said. “It is still an honor to be here at Nebraska, still an honor to play quarterback here and you can’t take for granted a Monday practice and that is what I did today. That is how I wanted to look at it and how I wanted to treat it and set an example for the team and move forward.”

Frost doesn’t feel a need to defend his quarterback. (Martinez finished 8-for-17 for 47 yards and three interceptions, his second-worst performance as a Husker in terms of yardage.) When asked if the next three weeks were important for regaining some momentum, he said a strong Tuesday could accomplish that. When asked if this was a harder job than he expected when he took over, he said this was always going to be a painful process. 

No one seems to be overreacting, and now that 24 hours have passed, no one is still thinking about what could have been. 

An offensively-challenged Northwestern team comes to Memorial Stadium this Saturday for a 3 p.m. CT kick. The Wildcats are 1-3 and maybe missing the starting quarterback of the third-worst scoring offense in the country. But Northwestern has won back-to-back meetings with the Huskers. 

“Time to get back to work,” Nelson said. “That’s all it is. Can’t sit around and cry about it and feel sorry for yourself. We’ve got Monday practice, we’ve got I don’t even know how many games left we can go win, so can’t sit around and cry about it. It’s time to go work harder.”

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