Same old, same old leaves just 1 question: Where does Nebraska go from here?
For the 3rd straight season, Nebraska and Iowa played a football game that was decided late in the 4th quarter. And for the 3rd straight season, the Hawkeyes left with a win.
In the bigger picture, Iowa now has 6 consecutive wins over Nebraska, and Black Friday’s 26-20 loss was another heartbreaker for a fan base which has gotten used to being so close, yet so far away from getting over the Hawkeye hump.
It wasn’t a blowout — just like the Northwestern game, the Huskers’ defense played well enough to win.
Nebraska fought like heck and stood strong against Iowa’s run game, holding the Hawkeyes to 129 yards and 2.9 per carry. Iowa won the field-position battle all day, but the Hawkeyes were forced to settle for 5 field goal attempts.
The front 7 manned up against the Iowa offensive linemen, and linebackers Will Honas and Luke Reimer did a good job of cleaning up. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander deserves credit for holding up his end of the bargain.
But Scott Frost’s offense and special teams didn’t do their jobs Friday, and it led to a loss in a winnable game.
Frost came in with the idea to start Adrian Martinez for the fist 2 drives with Luke McCaffrey taking the next 2. Martinez played better and showed that he should be the one taking the majority of the snaps the rest of the season.
The junior from Fresno, Calif., led scoring drives at the end of the first half and beginning of the third quarter, which helped turn a 13-6 deficit into a 20-13 lead for the Huskers. He threw first-down completions to Wan’Dale Robinson on a 3rd-and-7 and Austin Allen on a 3rd-and-23. Though he didn’t throw down field too often, Martinez was efficient on Friday going 18 of 20 for 174 yards with zero interceptions.
3rd & 23?
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) November 27, 2020
Yes, McCaffrey can be used in certain situations and on Friday he showed he can be effective as a Wildcat-type quarterback. Considering starting running back Dedrick Mills hasn’t played in a while, McCaffrey — as well as Robinson — will most likely get more carries than backup running backs Marvin Scott and Rahmir Johnson from here on out.
But once again, the little mistakes showed their ugly face and made a big difference.
First, it was the snapping issue. Huskers fans have to watch the most inaccurate snaps during a game than any other fanbase in the country. Cam Jurgens is held in high regard in the state and respected. He’s a local product from nearby Beatrice and is playing a position he never played in high school. It’s a tough job, but his snaps are costing Nebraska’s offense.
If fans want to blame Iowa’s coaching staff for intentionally clapping on the sideline to try to mess with Jurgens, that’s fine. But it’s not a stretch to say opposing teams — players or coaches — mimicking snap-claps to cause confusion isn’t a new thing in football.
The physical execution was bad. But the early snap into 2AM that no one was ready for could be explained by the Iowa coach simulating a snap (clap) before the play. Check the coach out by graphic. @damonbenning pic.twitter.com/2dKdwAKoKy
— Steve Selk (@stevenselk) November 27, 2020
Another mistake was Cam Taylor-Britt’s muffed punt. After Nebraska’s defense forced a 3-and-out, the senior corner couldn’t haul the ball in and Iowa recovered. Hawkeye kicker Keith Duncan then made a 37-yard field goal 6 plays later to put Iowa on top 26-20.
Down by just 6 points, Nebraska’s offense was still in position to tie or get the lead with a touchdown. But faced with a 3rd-and-10, O-lineman Ethan Piper false started, turning it into a 3rd-and-15. Nebraska receivers were running open down the field on the next play, but a free runner on a well-timed blitz got to Martinez for a sack before he could even get a chance to read the defense. Centers are commonly the ones who make protection calls before plays. It’d be interesting to hear a coach’s explanation on that sack.
Nebraska lucked out when Duncan missed a 51-yarder after a clock-burning drive from Iowa, but Chauncey Golston sealed the win by beating Nebraska right guard Matt Farniok and sacking Martinez, who fumbled the ball into the waiting hands of Zach VanValkenburg.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 27, 2020
Where does Nebraska go from here? Tough to say, because it doesn’t look like there are any answers. If there are, Nebraska’s players and coaches haven’t found them yet. The same mistakes keep popping up every game.
Every. Single. Game.