Anybody who said they saw this coming from Nebraska football is either an irrational Huskerh8er or lying.
6-6 was the common thought. Some of the more optimistic types threw an 8-4 or even a 9-3 out there. The pessimists threw 4-8.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, put an 0-4 start on the table for the Huskers. Nobody.
But there it is. 0-4. And there are a multitude of reasons why this restoration project is much bigger than anybody thought. Do we need someone to blame? If it makes you feel better, you can point fingers...but pointing fingers isn’t going to do any good. It doesn’t matter who screwed it up.
It’s the responsibility of Scott Frost, his staff and the players to fix it. It’s already forcing Frost to adjust his philosophy. When Frost arrived, he talked about not wanting his players to be afraid to make mistakes. Play fast, and learn from your mistakes.
Except learning just isn’t happening, at least in some circles. And its forcing Frost to take action. Lamar Jackson found his way to the bench after committing a costly holding penalty that negated an Antonio Reed interception. Jackson may find himself at a crossroads in his Nebraska career: either buckle down and fix his game, or not play.
This isn’t to single out Jackson; he’s merely the most obvious example. There are plenty of other players who are going to find themselves in similar positions this week. I’m not sure how Frost is going to handle these problems; injuries and lack of depth are going to limit his flexibility. One radio caller on Big Red Reaction last night called for a zero tolerance policy for penalties; that’s too extreme. You don’t want players to be hesitant to make plays. But repeat offenders will be seeing much less playing time moving forward.
Rather than be totally negative with this report card, I’m going to try to highlight some of the players that Scott Frost says he would want to go to battle with the rest of the season. As always, your comments are welcome
QB: Adrian Martinez showed his inexperience and talent. One fourth quarter drive featured a fumbled snap (whoops), running out of bounds for a loss (instead of throwing the ball away out of bounds, oops), a nifty scramble to get the first down (WOW!), and then overthrowing a receiver for an interception. (OHHHHH NOOOOOOO....) He also missed some wide open receivers, choosing instead to target his well-covered primary receiver. But considering that it was his first full game since his junior year of high school, there’s plenty of good and bad to work with in the video room. Grade: C+
I-Back: Devine Ozigbo may have removed the “-- OR --” from the depth chart with an impressive performance. Troy Walters and Frost may want to lean on Ozigbo more when the ground game is working like this. He’s not going to go for 70 on a play, but he’s consistently blasting two or. three yard gains through the next level to turn it into 15 yard runs. Grade: A-
Wide Receivers: J.D. Spielman had a big game in terms of quantity, but Stanley Morgan caught my eye with the tough catches. Frost and Walters are trying to find a third consistent option out there; Kade Warner got the first chance, then Jaron Woodyard. I do have to wonder if the bigger issue isn’t with Martinez simply feeling more comfortable with Spielman and Morgan, especially with Spielman’s role on the short swing pases. Tight end Jack Stoll had a nice day on the stat sheet that could have been better without a couple of drops Grade: B
Offensive Line: Boe Wilson replaced Tanner Farmer, who missed time this week due to the flu, at right guard. Farmer had to enter the game in relief of center Cole Conrad, who was injured. The results were better than the week before, albeit against lesser competition. Grade: C
Defensive Line: Not a lot of push up front against Purdue, though I do have to credit Ben Stille for running down Purdue’s star freshman Rondale Moore on his long catch. Freedom Akinmoladun was the victim of one of the worst calls I’ve seen in years on that alleged “roughing” the passer foul. Grade: D
Linebacker: You can never question the effort that Mohammed Barry brings on the field. Nebraska’s defense seems to be at his best when he’s paired with Will Honas on the inside; however, Honas’ bid for a Blackshirt may have been derailed by injury. Too many yards given up on the ground, especially on third and long. Grade: D-
Secondary: Our Hoss Reuter noted that Nebraska’s defense went awfully vanilla on third and long..which might explain why Purdue joined the parade of teams moving the chains in that situation. Bad penalties also hurt here. Is Eric Lee the answer at cornerback? Dicaprio Bootle needs help out there. Grade: F
Overall: D Purdue is a better team than most think, despite the record. We saw the offense start to get untracked in the second half, and that’s something to be optimistic about.
How would you grade the Huskers against Purdue?
This poll is closed
A or B: I’m truly enjoying this NU nose dive into oblivion.
C: Kind of OK. Purdue actually is pretty good.
D: Huskers continue to disappoint.
F: Another effin’ loss for cryin’ out loud.
Z: I’m checking out.
Thanks to my son’s hockey tryouts followed by a Cub Scout campout last night and today, I didn’t see any other college football. None. I guess I missed a heck of an ending in the Ohio State/Penn State game, though.
One topic I’d like to touch-on instead is Nebraska’s attempt to remake the Tunnel Walk this season. If you count the spring game, they are 1 for 5 thus far. It didn’t really matter what song they chose for the Akron game tunnel walk; the stadium was deafening as the locker room doors opened. But the players noticed that whatever song was being played didn’t work.
Against Colorado, AC/DC’s Thunderstruck actually seemed to get the crowd fired up; it’s the lone success thus far. DJ Kool’s Throat Clearing mostly fell flat two weeks ago for the Troy game; it’s a song that works after a huge victory, but not before.
Saturday, the HuskerVision folks tried DMX, which did something only Ohio State has been able to do: make Husker fans stand there in silence and disbelief. You could literally hear the air being let out of the stadium as 88,000 fans looked at each other and wondered “what the hell is this crap?”
I guess there is some sort of grand theme that is tied to each week’s walk, and the song is supposed to link to the theme. But NU officials are overthinking this. You’ve got nearly 25 years of experience knowing what works for the Tunnel Walk, and now a rapid-fire succession of fails. NU can either shrug their shoulders and continue on with their plan despite the failures, or acknowledge that their remakes aren’t really working, and respond accordingly.
Our Jon Johnston made an observation that, as a fan who rarely attends games, he couldn’t care less about the Tunnel Walk music. But if he’s not at the game, that opinion doesn’t really matter. TV usually doesn’t show the Tunnel Walk, so it’s like me complaining about the playlist at a Taylor Swift concert. The Tunnel Walk is a stadium experience for the fans who spend millions of dollars to attend the games. (Do the math yourself: each home game brings in over $5 million in revenue to the athletic department; that’s $35-40 million each season. That’s more than what TV pays, once you separate the value of basketball rights from the Big Ten’s $2.6 billion agreement for 14 conference schools.)
The stadium experience does matter, and the Tunnel Walk is part of it.
All that being said, one point Jon made is true. Winning matters a helluva lot. And it’s been way too long since Nebraska has won a football game.
Saturday was yet another opportunity missed.