Same song, different verse. Another frustrating loss.
It’s almost like Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”; in the 1993 movie, Murray finds himself stuck repeating the same day over and over. Like Murray’s weatherman character, aren’t we becoming almost despondent over this happening over and over and over again?
Eventually, Murray finally accepted that he had to change himself to break out of this cycle of despair. But not before he seemingly tried nearly everything else.
In his postgame comments, Scott Frost lamented that for some members of the team, “just OK” seems to be good enough. Many players agreed with that in their post-game comments.
But isn’t this an indictment of Frost? We’re now 20 games into his tenure; this is HIS team now. Which is true, but while Frost has flipped much of the roster, the act of flipping the roster was not without it’s own downsides. And frankly, some of Frost’s roster flips have become flops.
It’s an imperfect Husker program right now. And has been for years. We’ve tried coaching changes: some helped a little, some made it worse. Scheme changes the same way. But the maddening losses keep occurring.
Against Indiana, there were a lot of things to like...but a lot of things that simply weren’t good enough. 31 points and 514 total yards should be enough to win most games...and it probably would be, if not for all of those mistakes.
So here’s the report card, and as always, your feedback is welcome in the comments below.
QB: I have to admit that when I heard that Adrian Martinez was practicing, I expected him to play. In my eyes, Noah Vedral played extremely well, except for one crucial play. I side with those who say that Vedral was trying to flip the ball to Dedrick Mills while being sacked; technically a forward pass, but expecting officials to overturn that fumble isn’t realistic. That poor decision was a 10 or 14 point swing in the game. Luke McCaffrey’s performance was absolutely stellar. Combine the two stat lines: 102 yards rushing, 19 of 22 passing for 272 yards. You’d take that just about every week. I can’t give an “A” with that fumble, though. Grade: B+
I-Back: Dedrick Mills had a good first quarter, and then disappeared just before halftime for some reason. He was in for a handful snaps in the second half, but never touched the ball again. Instead, the bulk of the carries went to Wan’Dale Robinson, just two weeks removed from an injury that looked more serious than it was. Both backs averaged 3.8 yards per carry, so I’m not sure that making Robinson the every down back paid much of a dividend. In fact, I suspect that Mills is one of those backs that would wear down a defense given that workload. Grade: B+
Wide Receivers: Some good, some bad. JD Spielman caught some big passes at the beginning and end of the game, but frankly disappeared in the middle of the game. I’m not sure that’s exactly his fault. Nebraska threw eight passes in the first quarter and nine in the fourth. Only six combined pass attempts in the second and third quarters. Is one of those “Just OK” areas the receiver room? (BTW, Indiana outscored Nebraska 22-10 in the second and third quarters.) Kanawai Noa had two great catches; the 16 yard catch on the first play of the game and 24 yard touchdown pass just before halftime. But that fumble at the start of the fourth quarter was a killer. Nebraska had an outstanding day passing (other than the turnovers), so I’m not sure why the coaching staff shifted away from it. I think the only reason why they threw the ball late was that they didn’t want Vedral running the ball with a bad ankle. Mike Williams made a beautiful catch in the second quarter, but four plays later, lined up incorrectly on a fourth down conversion. “Not enough attention to detail” was one of the complaints by Frost. That penalty forced Nebraska to try a field goal (that was missed) instead of having first and goal. Grade: B-
Wan’Dale: In this game, Robinson became mostly an I-back, though he was much more productive as a receiver. I wasn’t expecting to have him available this week, and given his sleight stature, I’m not sure 29 touches is sustainable long term. Grade: B+
Offensive Line: Nebraska’s quarterbacks were only sacked once, on that Vedral fumble. And that wasn’t on the offensive line; that sack was due to a safety blitz. Snaps were on target too. Grade: B+
Defensive Line: When Darrion Daniels left the game, any semblance of a Husker pass rush disappeared as well. With empty backfield sets, Eric Chinander had a tough choice. Create a pass rush and leave guys uncovered for IU quarterback Payton Ramsey to find, or try best to cover and hope that the coverage would hold. Basically, a complete failure. Grade: F
Linebackers: When Stevie Scott motioned out of the backfield, nobody seemed to follow him, which left him wide open as an outlet for Ramsey. Or Indiana tight ends releasing downfield. And don’t get me started on trying to cover Whop Philyor over the middle on the underneath routes. About the only defender who even seemed to have any idea how to cover Philyor was Jojo Domann, and sometimes Indiana. Yes, Nebraska held Indiana’s ground game in check, but the Hoosiers weren’t really trying to run the ball this week. Grade: F
Secondary: While Philyor caught the majority of the passes, it’s not like there weren’t other receivers out there open. Giving up a 38 yard pass on 2nd and 20 in the fourth quarter is not winning football. Grade: F
Overall: D+ Yes, Indiana has put up 30+ points on everybody other than Ohio State this season. But Nebraska had their opportunities to win this game, but once again, made just too many mistakes to win the game. So now the Hoosiers are going bowling, and Nebraska is simply going to have to scramble to do the same.
Grade the Huskers for their performance against the Hoosiers
This poll is closed
B - But for a few mistakes, things looked better on offense.
C - Offense was outstanding, but the defense had some issues.
D - Great offensive performance spoiled by defensive failures.
F - Failed to win. Yuck.
Elsewhere in College Football
Ohio State: A+ Yes, I haven’t watched much, if any, SEC football this season. Still, I’m not sure how anybody can justify a ballot casting Ohio State third or lower.
Illinois: A Three weeks ago, I admitted my preseason prediction about Illinois was wrong. I’m now retracting my retraction. The Illini are now 4-4, and with games upcoming against Rutgers and Northwestern, Illinois is now a serious candidate to send Santa Lovie to a bowl game for the holidays.