As I was finishing up last week’s report card, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts announced that he had terminated Scott Frost with Mickey Joseph designated to finish the season as the interim head coach. The best explanation I’ve heard for the decision was that Trev wanted to control the discussion on Fox’s pregame show. Instead of “how hot is Scott Frost’s hot seat,” the story instead is “who will be the next Nebraska coach.” Makes some sense, but I’m not sure that was worth $7.5 million. But they don’t pay me to make those decisions.
The reason Trev gave, though, was that he wanted to give the team a “different voice” and try to salvage the season.
But we needed to do something. We needed to inject something into this team to give them the confidence and hopefully help them compete.
At least for Joseph’s first game as head coach, the exact opposite occurred. After a year-long run of close, single digit losses under Frost, the dam broke under Joseph. It’d be tough to argue that Joseph made Nebraska more competitive with the Sooners in this matchup; in fact, the evidence suggests just the opposite. It’s one game, though. Don’t read too much into Joseph’s debut under tough circumstances. That being said, let’s lay off the talk of Joseph keeping the head coaching job in 2023 until we see major signs of progress on the field. Just because we want to see a former Husker succeed doesn’t mean Alberts should not pursue the best possible coach available for the 150 or so players that will be on next year’s Husker roster. We owe that to the present and future Huskers, we owe that to Joseph’s fellow alums who are no doubt pained by Nebraska’s futility on the football team. We owe that to the fans who have sold out Memorial Stadium for 60 years.
In the meantime, it looks like it’s going to be a rough season. The offensive and defensive lines are the antithesis of “Husker! Power!” — and that’s something that isn’t going to get fixed in a few weeks. 2022 looks like it’s going to rival 2007 and 2017 as painful experiences for the Nebraska football program and it’s fans. Nobody is coming in September or October to rescue this season; changes will simply have to wait until December. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is support these players and keep filling the stadium, no matter how painful it is. Nebraska’s 60 year sellout streak is a celebrated tradition and is something that Trev can leverage to convince the best coach he can find to come clean this mess up next year.
If you disagree with that, then please explain how the sellout streak somehow hurts the program. I get that some don’t care about the sellout streak, which is fine. Tell me how it hurts. That and any other feedback are, as always, welcome in the comments.
QB: Casey Thompson wasn’t the reason this game got out of control...but he wasn’t the answer either. The horizontal passing game was a failure, and Thompson was under seige, getting sacked four times before giving way to Chubba Purdy. Purdy looks intriguing; he’s a better runner than Thompson and a better passer than Logan Smothers. (That cross-body throw into double coverage being an exception.) He might turn out to be NU’s best overall quarterback, giving the I-backs a complementary threat to run the ball without sacrificing the passing game. Grade: C+
I-Backs: Anthony Grant’s jitterbug running style wasn’t a great matchup against the Sooners D; he could wait for holes to open against teams like Georgia Southern, but the Sooners simply tackled him. Ajay Allen had a solid game in his limited carries before leaving in the second half after an injury. Grade: C
WR: Two second half fumbles scuttled any chances the Huskers to get back into this game. Trey Palmer had a great first half, for what it’s worth. Grade: D
OL: Yuck. With Teddy Prochazka’s season over, Turner Corcoran is back at left tackle, and it looks much like the Bryce Benhart/Corcoran combo is trying to repeat as the worst set of tackles in college football. It’s a revolving door at guard; Ethan Piper saw time about the time Casey Thompson started fearing for his life. Grade: F
DL: So ineffective, but let’s recognize rush end Ochaun Mathis, who had seven tackles and Nebraska’s only quarterback hurry. Grade: F
LB: If Nick Heinrich was the missing link against Georgia Southern, his return was overshadowed by Oklahoma’s superior athletes, compared to the Eagles. I dare say that the success that Luke Reimer and Heinrich enjoyed last year was largely the result of the defensive line eating up blockers. Grade: F
Secondary: Oklahoma receivers open all day...and the Keystone Kops attempts to chase down Sooner QB Dylan Gabriel was laughable. That was the turning point of this game. Grade: F
Special Teams: The only thing that’s improved on special teams is the actual punting, and that’s solely because of Brian Buschini. But Buschini hurt his leg in this game, and the booming 50 yard punts from previous weeks are going shorter...and being returned for big games. Nebraska did try to finally return a punt this week...and lost a yard. I still lament that NU sacrificed one of the best assistants on the staff (defensive line coach Tony Tuioti) to have a full-time special teams coordinator. The result is that special teams still suck, and now so does the defensive line. There are other reasons for that, but the bottom line is becoming a bad trade. Grade: F
Overall: F Mickey Joseph claimed responsibility for the blowout loss, which is admirable, wrong and concerning all at the same time. Accountability is admirable...but expecting to be able to fix most of the things that are wrong with Nebraska football in a week is unreasonable. And frankly, that statement is pretty much coachspeak for “I don’t know what I’m doing here, and I don’t know what else to say.” It’s unfair to make any long-term conclusions about Joseph as a head coach based on a single game after getting thrown into the role, but by the same time, it is concerning to see his team fold the way they did against the Sooners.
How would you grade the Huskers for their 49-14 loss to Oklahoma?
A - I didn’t watch the game
B - I didn’t watch the game, but I didn’t want to make it so obvious
C - Oklahoma is just that good.
D - Disappointed they didn’t put a better effort out there.
F - Failed everywhere
Z - Sub failing. Z for zero points awared. Have mercy on your soul.
Elsewhere in College Football
In the past, I’d pick out noteworthy tidbits, either good or bad (WTF, Northwestern!) from across college football. But right now, I think a better use of this space is to point out what the legitimate candidates to be the next coach to try and fix the Huskers did this week. (i.e. I’m not going to evaluate Urbz suit and tie combination.)
Chris Klieman, Kansas State: Upset by Tulane 17-10. Adrian Martinez hasn’t had a turnover yet this season, but Tulane was able to shut down star running back Deuce Vaughn, holding him to 81 yards on 20 carries. As a result, the ‘Cats only converted two of 15 third downs. The only touchdown for KSU was a well thrown pass from Martinez to fellow former Husker Kade Warner. The jury is still out as to whether Martinez’s surgically repaired shoulder is healed.
Lance Leipold, Kansas: Beat Houston 48-30. Undefeated Kansas might be ranked this week, believe it or not. Houston might not be great, though they lost last week to Texas Tech 33-30. The Jayhawks defense isn’t very good, but they are putting up points offensively.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State. Beat Ohio 43-10. The Cyclones sprinted to a 30-3 halftime lead and played lots of reserves in the second half. Remember when Nebraska used to do that?
Dave Doeren, North Carolina State. Beat Texas Tech 27-14. A late Raiders touchdown in the fourth quarter made this game look closer than it was.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati. Beat Miami-Ohio 38-17. The Bearcats started slowly, falling behind by ten in the first quarter, but outscored the Redhawks 31-0 over the final 44 minutes.