Frost faces tough task as Nebraska continues to slide
Scott Frost is certainly not on any sort of hot seat in Lincoln, but his football team seemingly continues to find new ways to lose each week.
Nebraska dropped a 31-27 decision to Purdue in windy West Lafayette on Saturday when David Bell scored the go-ahead touchdown from nine yards out with 1:08 remaining.
The Cornhuskers are 4-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten after losing three straight (Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue) and four of their last five.
“The last two games are games that we easily could have won, and we didn’t for a lot of reasons,” Frost said after the loss. “And there’s stuff we all can do better.
“The guys are hurting right now.”
Nebraska’s maligned defense actually played well in the first half, but the offense wasn’t able to take control of the game. Purdue was able to stick around and even had a 14-10 lead at halftime, and the second half turned into a shootout.
Simply put, it was a game Nebraska should have handled easily.
“We gave too many chances away,” Frost said. “That’s on all of us to figure out how not to do that.
“Collectively we made too many mistakes…sooner or later that stuff has to stop.”
The Boilermakers lost starting quarterback Jack Plummer to a right ankle injury during the game, just the latest in a long line of Jeff Brohm’s players to be sidelined by injuries. The Boilermakers also lost quarterback Elijah Sindelar and All-American receiver Rondale Moore this season. The Huskers had a clear advantage in depth, and they should have been extra motivated with offensive leader Adrian Martinez back under center.
But, in the end, they fell short again.
Martinez returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a left knee injury sustained against Northwestern in early October. He was 22 of 39 passing for 247 yards with an interception. He rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries and scored twice.
But there were several missed reads and throws, and Martinez needs to play better for this offense to be in sync. Perhaps he just needs time to find his rhythm following the injury, but even before being sidelined he did not resemble the player we saw during his fantastic freshman season. Getting him to play better is one of many challenges for Frost and his offensive staff.
The Cornhuskers will have a week off before returning to host Wisconsin on November 16. They need two wins to be eligible for a bowl game, which is so important for this coaching staff and the players. Extra practices during a rebuild are invaluable.
But Frost has a tough job ahead of him. His players are reeling, and it’s a team that knows it should have more wins. Entering the final four games of the 2019 regular season, Frost is just 8-13 after his 13-0 2017 campaign at UCF. A culture change and rebuild take time, but this is a team that has missed several opportunities to win games they should have won.
“We all need to get better,” Frost said. “Coaches, players, everybody needs to get better.”
The Huskers will have extra practice time to get better before the Badgers visit. It’s a more formidable opponent than the ones they have already lost to this season, but it’s also a team that was upset on the road against Illinois. Nebraska’s wins this year have come against South Alabama, NIU, Illinois and Northwestern. There is clearly room for a quality win.
It’s still early in the rebuild, but reclamation projects can be accelerated as well. And the Huskers have given away too many games this fall.
“We gotta get to a point where all three phases are playing well,” Frost said. “And that’s on the coaches, that’s on me, that’s on the players, it’s everybody.
“Because these are games we should win.”
He’s not wrong.
Despite hosting a very strong Badgers team the next time we see the Cornhuskers, it’s certainly a winnable game. At the very least, the Huskers need to put forth a complete effort.
“I came back to Nebraska to get this fixed, and I’m gonna do it,” Frost said. “We’re gonna get it there. I won’t let anything else happen.”