Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Joseph: Players Handling Tough Transition ‘Like Champs’

September 14, 2022

This past Sunday, while mournful for many within the Nebraska football program, came after a year of speculation.

Nebraska was 16-31 under head coach Scott Frost. Athletic director Trev Alberts stuck with Frost through last year’s 3-9 season, albeit with significant changes in staff and contract. When the persistent problems weren’t fixed by the season-opening loss to Northwestern, speculation grew. Then came the home loss to Georgia Southern last Saturday.

Players said they didn’t hear the cries to fire Frost. They didn’t hear the chants from fellow students. But they were certainly aware of the situation’s gravity.

Edge rusher and team captain Garrett Nelson talked about it at Big Ten Media Days in July. Frost told his players not to pay much attention to critics at the time.

“I love him too much not to worry about them,” Nelson said at the time.

Fast forward to Saturday. Behind a podium set up in Nebraska’s weight room, Nelson was asked about the boos and fans chanting to fire Frost after the Huskers’ loss.

“I do not really listen to it,” Nelson said through smeared eye black, still wearing his pads. “The only people that matter are the people in this building.”

Quarterback Casey Thompson dismissed the question as well. He tunes out anything other than the play calls, clock, down and distance.

“During the game I don’t hear any chants,” Thompson said after Saturday’s game. “I try to tune out literally anything.”

Frost was gone the next day.

Interim head coach Mikey Joseph spoke with team about 45 minutes after Frost.

Joseph said he’d always love and appreciate Frost. He’s thankful for the opportunity to join Frost’s staff at Nebraska. Players have that same admiration for Frost. So Joseph empathized with them. They were all hurting.

“But at the end of the day the ball’s going to kick off on Saturday,” Joseph told media on Tuesday. “So, mentally, we had to get them back and get them ready.”

How have the players responded to the last 48 hours?

“Like champs,” he said. “The guy that recruited them that sat in their living room is no longer there. I’m sure we’ve all been in that situation. So understand how you would feel.

“But they understand they play for the University of Nebraska and it’s time to move on. And it’s time to get ready for OU on Saturday. They understand that.”

Joseph was asked about edge rusher Ochaun Mathis’s comments from earlier in the week. Mathis transferred to Nebraska and has only been on campus for a few months. The Georgia Southern game was his third as a Husker.

Joseph admitted the team hasn’t won a lot of games lately. But he rejected the idea of a losing culture at Nebraska.

“Because losing culture is kids that don’t come to work,” Joseph said.

Nebraska hasn’t been blown out. The Huskers have lost close games, almost constantly, for years now. Joseph said he wants to help the players get over that hump. That starts with mindset and belief.

“I’ve got to do a better job with players before they go to interviews and make comments like that,” Joseph said.

The players, as well as Joseph, have a colossal challenge in No. 6 Oklahoma coming to Memorial Stadium on Saturday. It’s the first script on a clean slate.

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