“Time moves quickly.”
In fact, it’s already been a month since Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts joined Sports Nightly for his monthly radio show. Since then, the Huskers have played five football games. That’s where Alberts first questions of the evening were focused.
“I really thought the last two games were really interesting,” Alberts said. “Those were two ranked teams and well-thought-of teams. I thought the team went down to Norman without a whole lot to lose and played well. For those of you that weren’t there, that was one hot football game. I thought our team held up well.
“I’m just really proud of our defense. There’s certain parts you can really learn about in terms of effort and determination. Certain things aren’t about talent. It’s about effort and will and that defense has played so well.”
Nebraska may not have a Ndamukong Suh or a Grant Wistrom on its roster right now, Alberts said, “but this is a team that plays together. They understand their role. “Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has done a great job. A lot of progress in some key areas and some areas of real concern and frustrating, but proud of the effort and proud of the focus. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I think we’re making a lot of progress.”
Some of that progress? Alberts felt Nebraska dominated in ways against Michigan State that he had not seen in a “long, long time.”
As for the areas that need more work, Alberts pointed to special teams. He said coach Scott Frost will have to earn fans’ trust on that, and that won’t happen until improvement is made.
“We’ve had issues in kicking and we’ve had issues in receiving,” Alberts said. “That’s two glaring, obvious things.”
Overall, Alberts said he has been pleased with how the athletes have responded despite the losses. He did share concern that the players still need to see the work pay off, but he feels good that it’s heading in that direction.
“If you never get rewarded, you’ll eventually start asking yourself if it’s worth it,” he said. “This is going to sound a little bit odd but I was pleased with what I saw from the reaction of the players after the Michigan State game. There was general . . . anger is a bit strong but what that tells me is that there is an emotional investment involved. When it hurts that bad, you understand how much it means to them and how much they’ve invested in it. I thought the response was good and obviously the response after a tough loss is hard but I’ve thought the coaches have done a nice job getting them refocused for the next game.”
With that said, Alberts was clear that he believes every game is winnable for Nebraska. However, “there is a very small window and a small margin for error.” That means more focus needs to be put on attention to detail and discipline.
“None of those have to do with talent. They have to do with things that we can control, so that’s our focus.”
Nebraska is set to face Northwestern on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT.
More news and notes:
>> The FieldTurf at Memorial Stadium is set to be replaced next summer. The caller that asked about the FieldTurf wanted to know if Alberts would consider grass. While unlikely, he said the question at least piqued his interest and he will bring it up in conversation.
Also of note, the FieldTurf was originally scheduled to be replaced last year but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
>> Could Memorial Stadium see theater-style seats in the future?
“I think it’s part of a larger vision that we’re starting,” Alberts said, while adding that Memorial Stadium is essentially a museum. It needs to be modernized, he said, but it’ll be a bigger decision beyond his own. He speaks with a community group and they’re set to dive into solutions. For Alberts, he and the group will look at things like capacity, fan experience, cost of attending and more. One that he’s proud of is the Red Carpet Experience, so that may be an example of more opportunities to come in the future.
“We’ve got to make it intuitive to be a Husker fan,” he said.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.