The theme of the day in Nebraska? “Nasty.”

Huskers head coach Scott Frost mentioned it more than once — thrice actually.

“I think overall we are playing with a nasty attitude at a lot of positions,” Frost said during his Monday media session. “We need to find that nasty attitude at a couple of others. Shaking things up and giving other guys opportunities will hopefully lead to that.”

Getting the line in line

While punters took the brunt of the postgame pain, Frost’s target was the offensive line Monday.

“We are playing with maybe the most athletic quarterback in the country, and he still got sacked 7 times, so there is a lot to fix there,” Frost said.

And he zeroed in on exactly which positions.

“We need to find a left guard and we need to play better at right tackle,” Frost said. “But it is open competition everywhere.”

Players who want to win those position battles need to display a certain characteristic.

“I want to see more of an attitude. More nasty,” Frost said. “We talk all the time about playing with a desire to excel and no fear of failure. And you can talk that all you want, but I want to see them come off the line and rip it. Strike people and run.”

Quarterback Adrian Martinez had his line’s back and even took some of the blame.

“I have faith in those guys. I do,” Martinez said. “They are studs. We have all the talent we need in that room. We have a great coach in Greg Austin, and those guys are going to get right. Part of that is not all their fault. There are some plays I need to make. Some reads I need to do better. And it is a process, and we are growing as a team and as a unit.”

Have a seat

Frost believes some of that progress can be achieved by some time on the bench, citing himself and his quarterback as success stories. He said it’s something he shared in “a long talk” with the team earlier Monday.

“I talked to them about how I essentially got benched for half a game my senior year,” Frost said. “And things worked out pretty well. I benched Adrian last year when he was not playing well enough, and he is playing at an elite level right now with some of the things he is doing. That happens. That is life, and if those guys bounce back — a couple of them, they are going to be fine. You have two choices when something like that happens, and I hope they pick the right choice. And overall I think it is going to make us better as a unit.”

On the other side, the Huskers might find what’s been missing.

“Overall I think we are a tough team physically,” Frost said. “I think we need to be a tougher team mentally.”

The question is: Will they find it soon enough to prevent the mistakes that Frost said already “cost us two or three games this year”?

Northwestern’s next and the two NUs have a history of exactly what ails Frost and his Huskers: Close games. They can’t afford to lose many more.