Nebraska Preparing for Chilly — and Windy — Matchup with Illinois
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

With Huskers’ Losses and Mistakes Pilling Up, Scott Frost Seems Fed Up

September 30, 2018

Scott Frost is fed up.

That much was evident following a 42-28 loss to Purdue on Saturday. The defeat dropped Nebraska to 0-4 (0-2 in Big Ten play) in Frost’s maiden voyage and meant the Huskers have now lost eight straight games for the first time in program history. Afterward, Frost was as raw as he has ever been as a head coach.

“I’m tired of coaching an undisciplined team,” he said.

Nebraska moved the ball against Purdue; Frost isn’t upset with that.

The Husker offense looked uneven to start but caught fire in the third quarter — Frost said they were “shredding” Purdue for a stretch, and they were

No, Frost is fed up with the fact Nebraska moved the ball and, once again, it didn’t make a difference.

“This is the second time we’ve lost I think with almost 600 yards of offense,” he said. (The first time happened against Colorado.) “That’s not supposed to happen, but it happens when you make all the mistakes. It happens when you beat yourself. It doesn’t matter how many yards you have when you beat yourself.”

He’s fed up with that, too.

“In my opinion, we honestly look like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, and it kills me because it isn’t like we aren’t trying to give them messages, it isn’t like we aren’t trying to hold them accountable,” he said. “I don’t want to be the only one that won’t put up with it. The team has to not put up with it.”

In every game this season, Nebraska has been flagged at least 10 times. Against Purdue, that number was 11, but the yardage attached to those penalties hit the 100-yard threshold. That hurt. Bit it’s not just about the penalties — Purdue had 10 penalties as well — it’s about the timing.

Nebraska picked off Purdue quarterback David Blough in the second quarter with the Huskers down 17-7. Safety Marquel Dismuke broke on the ball and returned it inside Purdue territory. The play was wiped out because junior corner Lamar Jackson was flagged for defensive holding.

Before and after the play, Jackson was jawing with staff and players on the Purdue sideline. He was immediately benched and didn’t see the field the rest of the way. One drive later, Nebraska was flagged for a late hit out of bounds when Dismuke hit a Purdue wide receiver well beyond the boundary.

“They look like they love losing, and they look like they’re undisciplined,” Frost said. “We got another penalty on special teams and instead of starting at the 30 [yard-line], we started on our own 8. We get penalties on 3rd-and-20 and we get penalties when our drives are going and we kill them. I’m tired of looking at it.

“There’s really no difference from a coaching perspective from 'I can’t do it' and 'I won’t do it'. The people that won’t make good decisions, the people that are hitting people that are 3 yards out of bounds, if that keeps up I’m just going to ride with the guys that are doing it the right way.”

And Nebraska has those guys. Frost has a number of the “warriors” he’s looking for. He singled out defensive end Ben Stille, he singled out running back Devine Ozigbo (who ran for a career-high 170 yards), he singled out quarterback Adrian Martinez for standing in the pocket and taking shots, he singled out linebacker Luke Gifford and wideouts Stanley Morgan Jr. and JD Spielman. He’s just fed up with the negatives outweighing the positives where it matters.

Accountability, Stille said, has been something missing from the program since he’s been in Lincoln. Tight end Jack Stoll said finding that horizontal leadership throughout the team isn’t something that can just magically appear overnight. Frost acknowledged Saturday that he’s working through things he didn’t expect to have to work through.

“Every time we’ve addressed what we need to address we find another way to shoot ourselves in the foot, but it all comes down to caring enough to do it right,” Frost said. “Not just on the field. It comes down to caring enough to do it right on Monday, on Tuesday, when you’re supposed to be in study hall, when you’re supposed to be at class, the way you treat the people that serve you food in the lunch line.”

Frost said he knows what the issues are. He declined to publicly identify them, though. But whatever the “little things” are that have plagued Nebraska for four straight games, fixing them remains within reach. Gifford said they’re fixable, and that makes it “hurt worse.” It just comes down to effort.

“Block in the back [on special teams], stuff like that, that’s crazy. There’s a technique we teach on how to avoid that, so don’t do it,” he said. “Don’t be lazy and push the guy in the back instead of doing the technique you’re supposed to.”

Stoll said Nebraska just has to be smarter. Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle said if guys don’t want to play the way Frost is asking them to play, that’s fine, but “get going.” The issue is these are the same things Nebraska has said for four weeks.

Maybe Frost’s candor Saturday starts the move in the right direction. Bootle said seeing him bleed for them earns some trust with everyone. “Emotional, fiery, I wouldn’t want it any other way,” he said. “I don’t want a coach that’s just going to go up there, sit down and just be like, ‘It’s okay that we lost.’ Nah, I’m behind Coach Frost 100 percent.” But everyone needs to get to that point.

With a two-game road trip against No. 15 Wisconsin and Northwestern (who held a 17-0 lead over the same Michigan team that took Nebraska to the cleaners a week ago) now facing the Huskers, it’s past time for things to change.

“We’re trying to break a lot of habits,” Frost said. “We’re trying to teach them how we want things done, because I know when things are done that way you win and you win championships. As hard as this team has played and a lot of guys on this team have played well enough to win, we’re not going to win as long as those [mistakes] are happening.”

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