Unlike other weeks, I didn’t listen to the press conference live. These are quotes, taken from the transcripts provided by the athletic department. They do some cleaning and light editing, but you can look at these as the official message the program wants to be distributed.
Overall, it appears there is some soul-searching going on in the Husker football program. Not only about who should play, but in how all the pieces need to come together. There was (and is) some level of ‘it has to be perfect before it is deployed’ in the program. I think there is good and bad in that (and I didn’t characterize that statement perfectly).
The good is that there are long-term goals and a plan. The bad is that we will always see some short-term pain that is justified as long-term good. Nebraska isn’t ever going to be the program it was in the 90s. I think we will always have some positions or parts of the program that are in flux or aren’t as ready as they need to be. The coaching staff might have to learn to live with that.
So will we.
Head Coach Scott Frost
On the plan heading into the week at quarterback
It’s going to have to develop. We had a lot of kids play well. A lot of young kids that are I think ready to play, and I think our team understands that we’re going to compete and let them compete on the practice field and play the guy that practices the best and gives us the best chance to win. So there’s a bunch of positions that will be that way this week, including quarterback.
In the past, Frost has been unequivocal in his support of Martinez. If I’m being honest, Luke isn’t quite ready for prime time as a QB (he is someone I want on the field though) but do you take the guy who is going backward or the guy who might still move forward?
On Adrian Martinez’s efficiency at quarterback against Northwestern
I talked to him about it. I think there just needs to be some decisions that are made a little quicker and more efficiently. Then a few balls that we’re just errant or out of bounds that needed to be put on the money, but for the most part I think it’s just processing information quickly, getting the ball out on time where it’s supposed to go at a better clip, and just eliminating the plays that are killing us on drives and just a couple plays here and there that will kill you in a game.
How well Adrian absorbs this coaching will make the difference in the Huskers’ season.
On the offensive tempo so far and the impact the quarterback’s play has on determining that tempo
Some of the tempo is a quarterback, and some of it is our decision to do that or not. I was impressed and pleased with how our defense has progressed these first two games. You know part of the reason we haven’t gone light speed around here is we didn’t want to leave the defense on the field that long. I’m really impressed and happy with how they’re coming along. That will free us up to potentially get a little more aggressive with tempo on offense.
This is a coaching staff thinking about how all of the pieces fit together. I’m starting to think all of that thinking gets overthunk at times.
On the impact of offensive penalties
I’ve said this a bunch, but our margin of error isn’t big enough right now to overcome those things. That was the emphasis all week in our message to the guys what we emphasized in practice. We still had too many. There’s been too many drives where we start 1st-and-15 because we jump offsides. They were shifting up front. That cost us a couple. Our guys got jumpy and moved when they yelled shift and moved, but that’s a focus thing and that’s a discipline thing and just as an entire football program we’re going to get that fixed.
We’ve heard this for a while now (even before Frost became the coach). It’s time this stops or the coaches figure out how to call a game in which they know these penalties are coming and compensate for that disadvantage.
On Penn State and Coach James Franklin
I know him really well as a person. My first job was at Kansas State in 2006. He was the offensive coordinator, and I was the defensive GA, so he and I are friends. I haven’t watched them very much on tape going back, just because we haven’t played them. They’re a really talented football team. You look at their defensive guys and just the length and speed they have everywhere. You know they’ve had kind of some unfortunate things happen to them here at the beginning of the year. I know they weren’t expecting to be where they are, but it’s a really, really good team, a really talented team we have coming in here.
I am actually terrified the Huskers are hosting a talented team that is 0-3 and looking to make a statement. Given Nebraska’s struggles to stay disciplined, I’m not sure this will be a close game between two winless teams.
On Luke’s McCaffrey’s performance on the final two drives at Northwestern
Luke came in and did a good job. We had a play on 1st-and-Goal at the 2 that we made a mistake on. He kind of got us in the wrong thing. That’s a first game thing. Obviously the interception was unfortunate. That’s got to be a high ball, high and inside. So there’s a couple mistakes, but Luke’s personality in general, he’s a sparkplug. He’s just got energy that exudes out of him, and I think people rally to that. And that’s kind of why we did it. We felt like we needed a spark and just his nature provides that spark.
On the status of center Cam Jurgens
He’ll be day-to-day.
On young wide receivers Zavier Betts, Marcus Fleming and Omar Manning
I thought those guys played well. There’s a couple mistakes here and there, but you know just looking at the film, honestly there’s no doubt with those guys on the field that they help us stretch the field more. We’ve just got to keep bringing those guys along, and for all of them it’s a matter of getting practices under their belt. I mentioned this, but they’ve all for different reasons missed part of our preparation up to this point. Now they’re all up and going, so we’re going to fast track and see how fast they can pick everything up and again evaluate the practice and play the guys that we think give us the best chance. All those guys are coming along and we’re anxious to have them know the whole system so we can get them out there.
On what has pleased him the most with the defense
It probably starts up front. You know we played Northwestern, I think was leading the league in rushing going into our game. Ohio State’s probably one of the best teams in the country, and I didn’t think we got pushed around up front in either game. At the very least, held our own. We’re starting to get more speed on the back end and getting linebackers to plays, and getting the secondary to plays. There haven’t been a lot of busts where we’re just giving guys easy things that have happened in the past. There haven’t been any loafs where guys aren’t giving effort. So we keep doing those things and our defense is good enough right now to help us win games or keep us in games, and we need the offense to put up points to correlate with the numbers of first downs and yards that we’re getting.
The linebackers, especially Luke Reimers, have been a pleasant surprise for me.
On the pressure he is putting on himself to turn things around at Nebraska quickly
Too much. You know I’m always going to point my thumb at myself and not the finger at someone else. The state of Nebraska means so much to me. This program is everything. This is my life right now and I’m doing everything I can to get this where everybody wants it as fast as possible. It certainly hasn’t gotten there as quick as I want it to, but I haven’t for one second lost hope and belief in where we’re going and what we’re doing, and just being around it every day and seeing the progress, seeing the talent that’s been infused into this program. Seeing us being competitive again. It’s about turning the page and finding a way to win a game and then getting on a roll and getting some momentum, and I think once that starts to happen we have all the pieces in the program that we need to win and win at a good clip. But nobody is more impatient than I am and nobody’s putting more pressure on themselves than I am.
Again, I’m seeing positive signs of a long term plan and goals of how this program should operate. I think there may need to be a little more improvisation to adjust for aspects of the program that aren’t at that point, but no one has ever offered to pay me to be a football coach, so...
On the running backs
Ronald (Thompkins) had missed a few practices and so he wasn’t available in the game really to us. Marvin (Scott), you know we talk about competition at the position and we thought going into that game that Marvin had probably practiced the best and we rewarded him. I was impressed with him in his first few carries. He ran the ball hard. He did a good job on some plays away from the ball, and that is going to continue to be a competition.
We knew this position group would be young and would take their lumps.
On Nebraska’s energy on the sideline at Northwestern
I thought it was good, maybe not quite where I want it yet. But again, success kind of breeds enthusiasm and enthusiasm breeds success. We’re fighting through a lot of things here, but we’ve got to get over the top and get this thing rolling. This will be certainly a tough opponent this week, despite their record, to make that happen, but the guys are anxious for it to happen and so are we.
After re-reading my comments behind each quote, I feel like they are a tad too negative. I get what Frost has said recently about the program being close to turning a corner. We are seeing progress in some aspects of the game even if penalties and turnovers continue to plague the team. We can see progress in places and that is probably why this (losing a close game) is frustrating.
It took time to adjust to how far the Huskers have fallen. It will take time to adjust to how long and slow a climb it will be to get back to being a solid competitor again. When we see progress, we want to see ALL OF IT. Now. We also have to recognize there will be many steps backward. Hopefully last weekend was the backward step and the upcoming game sees the Huskers move forward.
Go Big Red!