There's Some Sort of Disconnect for Nebraska Football Right Now
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

There’s Some Sort of Disconnect for Nebraska Football Right Now

October 13, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — Scott Frost walked into the visiting team’s media workroom just before 10 p.m. CT on Saturday night. He had a hand warmer from the game in his right hand, something he shook around over and over as he talked.

“I don’t know,” Frost started after a long pause. He thought he had a team that was ready to play, he explained. He didn’t think the weather—which was mostly cold and snowy all night—had anything to do with Nebraska’s performance. His team got pushed around. His team wasn’t physical.

“Whether that’s a mindset thing, I don’t know,” Frost said. “But it’s disappointing.”

It’s hard to explain emotion. What Frost was or was not feeling at the elevated table he sat behind Saturday night is hard to describe with 100 percent accuracy. You’d have to ask him to be sure and he’d have to tell you the truth.

“I know where this is going,” he reiterated, hand warmer shaking in his right hand. “There’s going to be ups and downs. You’re never as good as you think, never as bad as you think, but we need to get a lot better at some basic things.”

Plenty will be written about those things. Rightfully so. Minnesota handed Nebraska a 34-7 loss that’s not very easy to explain away. Not like some of the other losses, like Ohio State who looks like a playoff contender.

Minnesota, which averaged 2.6 yards per carry over its first four games of the season, ran for 322 yards compared to Nebraska’s 151 and had an impressive 6.6 yards per carry. On the other side of the ball, the Gophers sacked the Huskers four times and had five tackles for loss.

That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities for Nebraska. There were plenty, but the Huskers couldn’t take advantage of any of them.

“We started out pretty good on offense on three drives,” Frost said. “Moved it into their territory. I thought Noah Vedral played with some guts, played well and made plays. First time we got it down there we went four-and-out. Second time I think we took a sack and killed the drive. Third time had a penalty. Then the two-minute drive we would have had another first down to start a set and we jumped offside on the perimeter. Those things can’t happen.

“But at the end of the day they rushed for 280, we rushed for 150. I don’t know the exact stats but they could rely on their run game. We couldn’t rely on it. We had some plays.”

So Nebraska needs a more reliable run game, but that run game also can’t rely so heavily on the quarterback. Two of the Huskers’ quarterbacks are “nicked up right now”—Adrian Martinez and Vedral—because of the runs. Yet the runs that have shaken them up are some of the more successful ones for Nebraska so far this season.

“I’m not used to coaching an offense like that,” Frost said, as the hand warmer continued to shake in his hand.

Nebraska is going to take some time off. The bye week is finally here, and Frost needs his team to regroup. He told the players not to come to the stadium Sunday or Monday.

“First of all, I want to get healthy,” Frost said. “There’s several guys nicked up. Several guys have been playing through a lot of things.

“I think the guys need to get away for a little bit and recuperate mentally and physically, but when we come back the basics of what we do need to be better.”

So the Huskers are going to do just that, because it seems like Frost feels there’s a disconnect somewhere. He believes his team is bigger thanks to strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval, but something is still off.

“I’ve seen some of the guys on our team move weight in the weight room and when you move that much weight you shouldn’t get pushed around,” Frost said.

What is it? What’s keeping this team from being what Frost believes it can be? What is Frost seeing that we aren’t? He and his staff are the ones saying practices are better than they’ve ever been. 

“I thought practice was as clean as it’s been since I’ve been at Nebraska, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t win the line of scrimmage,” he said Saturday night, following a week of us all hearing mostly the same thing.

And on a cold night in Minneapolis, with a fading hand warmer bouncing anxiously in his right hand, Frost sat and tried to make sense of the disconnect.

It’s easy to ask the questions. For a team with so many in front of them, though? It’s clearly not so easy to answer.

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