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The Morning After: Loss to Wisconsin Provides Sources of Disappointment and Encouragement

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There is a lot of room for improvement, but we knew that. Improvement is what we saw on Saturday.

Wisconsin v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

I’m disappointed. Again.

However, unlike the games against Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota I didn’t walk away discouraged after the 37-21 loss to Wisconsin. I was relatively encouraged actually.

This might upset some people but I do believe it is completely natural and healthy to be disappointed and encouraged at the same time. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

I left the game disappointed because many of the same issues continue to haunt Nebraska. Poor tackling. Inability to get off the field on third and long. An apparent allergic reaction to the thought of capitalizing on opportunities and finishing drives. To me these are the three main things which need to get fixed before expecting to contend with the likes of Wisconsin.

They have been addressed. Many times. However, the issues have yet to get fixed.

I left encouraged by the play of the offense, particularly when it came to running the ball yesterday by one of the best rushing defenses in the entire country. Dedrick Mills ran for a career high 188 yards. In fact, it was the most rushing yards given up by Wisconsin all year long.

While there was some poor tackling by Wisconsin (at least it isn’t just Nebraska), there were some large holes for Mills to run through throughout the game. To me that shows a lot of improvement by the offensive line.

We aren’t seeing improvement from the offense against a team like Northern Illinois. We are seeing improvement against Wisconsin. That means something and that is one of the reasons I walked away encouraged.

Adrian Martinez has also improved, though admittedly, he had been playing so poorly that he almost had no other choice than to play better. He accounted for 309 yards of total offense, again, against one of the top defenses in the country.

Coach Frost said that health has plagued Martinez all year long and the play around him has not been good enough. This is where perspective comes into play. You can choose to label those things as excuses for Martinez’s play or you can label them as mitigating factors.

If Martinez, who relies on athleticism, has not been healthy then he will not play as well. If his teammates around him have not been good enough, then he as the conductor of this offense will not play as well.

Even with those mitigating factors (or excuses if you will) Martinez has made many poor mental mistakes and missed on some game-changing throws this season.

His poor play is a combination of health, below average play around him and less than desirable play himself. This is called nuance. It does not have to be “either/or.” It can be “both.” The 2019 season has been a bunch of both.

Adrian Martinez needed to play better and he did. He did that on Saturday against the one of the best defenses in the country.

There are many reasons to be disappointed but that will not stop me from being encouraged at the same time.


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The Cornhuskers offense at times moved so quickly down the field to score it appeared UW was fielding a unit full of reserves.

UW three times had to settle for field goals when it appeared close to punching the ball into the end zone.

Yet when the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the Badgers had escaped with a critical 37-21 victory in front of a crowd of 88,842.

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