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The Morning After: The Inability to Close Out Drives and Games Haunts Nebraska Yet Again

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and The Morning After

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The most frustrating part of this for myself is that I simply can’t make sense of the situation. It would be easier if there was something to point to and simply say, “that’s why.”

It would never happen, but I personally would appreciate it if Scott Frost came out and told us exactly why things continue to go this way for the Nebraska football team.

There are three games this season which should have ended up in the win column. Those three games are Colorado, Indiana and Purdue. The team would be sitting at 7-2 and we would have a completely different conversation. That is probably the evil part about sports. All that matters is the win-loss record. There could be numerous reasons why you lost. It could be injuries, talent, discipline, coaching decisions or any other number of things.

Did you win? No. Well then you suck and the world is ending.

Did you lose? No. Well then you found a way to win the game and things are all good. At least for a week.

The most bizarre aspect of this team is how both sides of the ball can look competent or even exceptional at times. The offense marches down the field and scores. The defense gets two straight three and outs.

Then for whatever reason the script gets flipped.

The offense looks like it struggles to merely get a single first down. The defense lets a below average Purdue offense march down the field on two soul crushing drives.

It wouldn’t be a such a concern if this happened only in one game. It is a concern that this has been happening all season long.

It first started against Colorado. Nebraska goes into the half-time up 17-0. This is the team that Nebraska fans have been expecting all off-season. Then the offense forgets how to score and the defense forgets how to stop Colorado from scoring. If Nebraska scores early in the second half then the game is over.

Against Purdue, if Nebraska scores a touchdown on the Darrion Daniels interception or if Adrian Martinez doesn’t throw the interception down the sideline then the game is 21-0 and the game is likely over.

Indiana was a slightly different animal but the fact remains the same. Nebraska can’t close. It can’t close drives. It can’t closeout games. It can’t get off the field on third and long.

It can’t close.


Fan Support

Fan support is a double-edge sword. You cannot have a fan base that cares as much as Nebraska fans do and yet expect them to not be uncritical of the product. It will never work that way. You cannot ask people to take out hours of their day to expel emotional energy throughout the week to support a team and not get upset when the team doesn’t perform up to their standard.

With that said, that does not mean that fans should be taking personal shots at players. Grow up. If you are tweeting at players then get off of twitter. It is literally unproductive. There is zero benefit from tweeting at players. The product will not improve by you tweeting at Adrian Martinez.

Fan support is really all Nebraska has at this point. We don’t have great weather. We don’t have a great location. We haven’t been winning. The life support of the program is the fan base.

Don’t poison the well. It literally does nothing to help the situation.


The Morning After...

Christopherson: Martinez owns blame, faces important weeks ahead
Something I truly appreciate about Adrian Martinez is that he very much wears all of a defeat. He seems to know that's one of the payments due when being a quarterback, and some days there's more truth to shouldering that blame than others.

Report Card: New game, same grades
Nebraska took a quick lead in the first quarter — even ran it to double digits for the second game in a row — and then lost that lead and subsequently the game in a 31-27 contest to Purdue.

Mounting losses bring fear of losing the team
Redshirt junior Ben Stille has been through a lot of losses — 21 if we don’t count his redshirt season in 2016 — so unfortunately the defender is well versed in the feeling of a loss, the look of a loss and a taste of the loss, and for Nebraska and Stille, Saturday's loss to Purdue wasn't new.

They Said It: Husker Players Talk Nebraska's 31-27 Loss To Purdue | Hail Varsity
Nebraska players met with the media Saturday afternoon following the Huskers’ 31-27 loss to Purdue. We heard from cornerback Braxton Clark, tight end Austin Allen, cornerback Dicaprio Bootle, defensive back Eric Lee and quarterback Adrian Martinez.

HuskerOnline - 10 things we learned from Nebraska's loss to Purdue
Nebraska fell to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play following Saturday's 31-27 road loss at Purdue.

Here are 10 of the most interesting things we learned from the game...

HuskerOnline - Final take: 'Just OK' once again not good enough for the Huskers vs. Purdue
Saturday was one of those days at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium where you really had to want to be there.

It was a cold and windy blustery day. Of the announced 50,606 in attendance, there were at least 10,000 to 15,000 empty seats. It was 4-4 Nebraska vs. 2-6 Purdue. It was a Boilermaker team down several key players and a Husker team missing some notable names as well.

HuskerOnline - Huskers fall short once again in 31-27 loss to Purdue
In a game that would ultimately decide which team was more desperate to keep its season alive, Nebraska once again couldn’t stay out of its own way.

Purdue 31, Nebraska 27: One of Those Win Things - Hammer and Rails
We’re well past the point of grading this Purdue team on pretty.

Facing its near mirror image today in terms of a Nebraska team battling injuries all over the place both teams had their ugly moments. Purdue looked particularly awful in falling behind 10-0, but in that span the Cornhuskers really could have gone up 21-0. Adrian Martinez scrambled and found Kanawai Noa for a 34-yard pass down to the Purdue 2 to set up the first score. Darrion Daniels then nearly got the greatest of fat man touchdowns ever when he picked off Jack Plummer’s shovel pass.

O'Connell rescues Purdue with impressive game-winning drive to beat Nebraska
Before the questions started, Aidan O’Connell received one more round of congratulations.

Three children – one of whom was Jeff Brohm’s daughter, Brooke – gave Purdue’s quarterback high-fives as O’Connell was about to explain what just transpired inside a chilly Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Clearly, O’Connell is a popular guy right now. And he’ll be thrust into the limelight even more after the chain of events that unfolded during Saturday’s thrilling 31-27 victory over Nebraska, a game that featured four lead changes in the fourth quarter.

Grasping for answers after another disappointing loss, Nebraska faces a lost season – The Athletic ($)
How did this happen? How did Nebraska football get to this place?

I’m not trying to sound overly dramatic; the reality is dramatic enough. But as I stood in the shadow of the north end zone Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium and watched Nebraska’s feeble attempt to mount a winning drive, it hit me like a cold blast of November air in the face.

There appears to be no bottom for Nebraska.

HARDESTY: Hubris trumps humility once again in heartbreaking defeat | Sports | dailynebraskan.com
A lot has changed for the better over the past two years of Nebraska football.

Scott Frost has returned a lot of the tenets that made Nebraska football a powerhouse in its heyday. Players are engaged and playing for each other, a proven strength and conditioning program has been running for over a year and the coaching staff uses schemes that have been successful at multiple programs over the past decade.

So when you look for something or someone to blame for Nebraska’s 31-27 loss at Purdue on Saturday, none of those reasons are the answers. Instead, Saturday’s loss was yet another example of coaches and players alike allowing their own hubris lead to another embarrassing result.