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Report Card: Georgia Southern Eagles 45, Huskers 42

It’s almost an afterthought now...but here’s the report card.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

That statement applies to both the game against Georgia Southern as well as the Scott Frost era. In Nebraska’s 45-42 loss, the offense probably good enough to win the game...but the Blackshirts definitely weren’t. Give credit to Clay Helton and Kyle Vantrease for the victory; Vantrease’s ability to consistently deliver the ball on target was uncanny in this game. Almost surgical precision, in fact. Several passes were placed in spots where only the receiver could touch the ball, and the usefulness of any pass rush was negated by the speed at which Vantrease fired the ball. No way that even Ndamukong Suh could have generated much pressure, what with Vantrease releasing the ball two seconds after the snap. Coverage by the secondary, on the other hand, was another matter entirely.

It wasn’t so much the success of the Georgia Southern “Air Raid” attack that was the problem, it was the gashing on the ground. Mike Leach teams didn’t rush for 200+ yards on the ground. But Clay Helton’s team sure did.

And that’s the problem with Scott Frost’s program. It kind of looks like Frost’s changes on offense are working, but now the defense has sprung a huge leak. And on both sides of the ball, we’re watching relatively young lines getting dominated in a way that’s definitely not Nebraska-like. When Scott Frost arrived, we were told that this might be a five year rebuild, and while I could try to debate that Nebraska is better now than in 2017, what Frost has built isn’t all that close to what Nebraska was looking for. It’s becoming clear that it’s not working out.

UPDATE: I wrote these next two paragraphs earlier this morning, and was finishing up the report card when the word came down that Frost was fired. I’m leaving it because it accurately reflects my thoughts. I thought it was unlikely that Frost could save his job, but I don’t see any advantage to making the move in September. But Trev felt differently, and that’s his decision.

Some want Frost fired immediately, which seems way more insane than the idea that Houston Nutt or Mike Riley could fix Nebraska football. It’s not even mid-September, so nobody is really taking that phone call to discuss becoming Nebraska’s next head coach. We’re still two months away from that process getting really started. There’s also the little factor of Frost’s buyout being cut in half in October. In my opinion, there are only two reasons to consider firing Frost now: One, you think that there is a candidate readily available to step in and audition to be the next head coach. We all should know that’s not the case. Mark Whipple? No. Erik Chinander? Not anymore. Simply put, there’s no Ed Orgeron lurking underneath the program. The other is that you simply want Frost punished for what has happened. Nevermind that it has to pain Frost more than anybody else that it hasn’t worked out. The idea that it has to be done now is an emotional, not logical, reaction to what has happened. I get the frustration, but fortunately, Trev Alberts is smarter than that. And believe me, Trev is already contemplating what his next move is likely to be. But just like you can’t go out shopping for Thanksgiving dinner in September, he can’t go out shopping for a football coach right now. Nobody that Nebraska wants is going to come to LIncoln in September or October to save this season.

We’re simply going to need to be patient and give Trev Alberts room to operate. Taking an extra $7.5 million out of the budget is a dumb idea. The money will be there in the future, thanks to the new television contract. But you want to spend the money wisely, and preferably on the right coach. Trev Alberts is smart enough to do that; this is a cakewalk compared to the mess he turned around at Nebraska-Omaha ten years ago.

With that, it’s onto the report card. As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments.

QB: As Anthony Grant has emerged, the burden of carrying this offense has been lifted off of Casey Thompson, and he’s playing some great football. I don’t know if it’s only me, but I feel strangely confident about NU being able to convert a third and long with Thompson and this group of receivers. And while I don’t think Thompson can run anything like the last two Martinezes, he can do things with his legs four or five times a game. As for the Logan Smothers changeup, unless you are going to line up Smothers at receiver occasionally, I think the Grade: B

I-Back: Well, Anthony Grant didn’t break any runs, but continues to churn out yards. But from here on out, the yards are going to get tougher. Ajay Allen had another nice game in relief. Grade: B

WR: I tend to think that Marcus Washington and Trey Palmer were established receivers prior to their transferring in, but the emergence of Alante Brown is showing me that Mickey Joseph is a keeper as a receivers coach. Here’s hoping that Travis Vokalek is able to return next week against Oklahoma. Grade: B+

OL: Hoping that Teddy Prochazka’s knee injury wasn’t severe. I noticed a bit more of Henry Lutovsky at right guard in this game; I’d really like to see him able to contribute more. Overall, though, this was another somewhat disappointing performance. Nebraska needs to be able to overpower opponents like the first three, and that wasn’t happening. Now the Big Boys are coming up. Grade: D

DL: I was getting a little frustrated initially by Georgia Southern’s ability to complete so many passes, but I started counting, and Vantrease usually had the ball out within 2-3 seconds of getting the snap. A pass rush wasn’t the answer to that; better coverage was. But when GSU’s backs could regularly gain 3-4 yards easily up the middle (and a few times, many ore), that’s a problem. Grade: F

Linebacker: Nick Heinrich is sorely missed. Ernest Hausmann probably is going to be a good player eventually, but he’s not there yet. Grade: F

Secondary: Needed a lot tighter coverage on many of those quick throws by Georgia Southern. Some of them were perfectly thrown, so unless Nebraska was able to jam the receivers right at the line of scrimmage, it was going to be difficult to stop them. And while it was an awful performance overall, Marques Buford had two highlight reel interceptions. He’s getting better. Grade: F

Special Teams: Let’s be honest here: other than Brian Buschini’s punting (another 50+ yard average performance), special teams still are an issue at Nebraska. We’re not able to return punts, and the decisions to return kickoffs have wasted yards and time (like last night.) And we sacrificed one of our best assistants (Tony Tuioti) to create a spot for Bill Busch? Grade: D

Overall: F It was nearly unanimous five years ago that Scott Frost was a home run hire for Nebraska. If Nebraska hadn’t locked him down, somebody else was going to hire him. (Probably Florida.) It just didn’t work out.

Poll

What should Nebraska have done with Scott Frost

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Trev made the right decision today to spend the money to make the change today.
    (255 votes)
  • 40%
    Trev should have made it clear that he was concerned and then acted in October after the buyout dropped
    (227 votes)
  • 7%
    Let Frost have a chance to finish out the season and be prepared to make the change in November.
    (43 votes)
  • 7%
    Scott Frost needed more time.
    (42 votes)
567 votes total Vote Now

One final thought: I’m having trouble reconciling this afternoon’s decision with this quote. Hopefully, someone will ask Trev this question at this afternoon’s press conference.