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First Downs and Second Guesses

Blog #161- September 2018

The Nebraska Husker football team fell to 0-2 for the 2018 season with a 24-19 loss to Troy.  Combined with the 33-28 loss to Colorado, the Huskers have lost six games in a row dating back to the 2017 season.  The last Husker team to start a season 0-2 was in 1957.  New Husker coach Scott Frost is still looking for that first win in his Husker coaching debut.

     The same problems plagued the Huskers in both games: turnovers, penalties, and poor special teams play.  In the Troy game, the punt team gave up a punt return for a touchdown, which turned out to be the difference in the score.  The Huskers also played the backup quarterback the entire game since their starter was hurt at the end of the Colorado game.  He threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that sealed the Troy win.  

    Give credit to Troy.  They've won six straight road games.  They won at LSU in 2017 and at Clemson in 2016.  So coming into the Huskers' 364th consecutive sell-out stadium had little effect on their play.

     From a psychological standpoint, I'm wondering how the season-opening game again Akron that was cancelled because of lightning has played in the minds of the coaches and players.  Frost and his players say they were never more prepared and ready to play than they were for the Akron game.  And then there was no game.

     That put the team into a mental and competitive deficit right away for the Colorado game.  Colorado had a game under their belt when they came to Lincoln and it showed.  The mistakes they made in their season opener had been remedied.  Plus the confidence of winning their first game was a big lift coming into Lincoln.  The Huskers would have to experience their first game against a more experienced opponent who already had game experience under their belt.  And it showed as the young Huskers shot themselves in the foot enough times to lose the game.

     Coaches often say that the biggest improvement needs to be made between game one and game two.  That didn't happen for the Huskers against Troy.  The offense and defense had their bright moments, but not enough when it counted.

     It doesn't get any easier for the Huskers as they travel to Michigan to play the Wolverines next.  Most likely they will play without their starting quarterback again.  But getting away from home might be a good thing.  A team can bond more easily on a road trip because they're together all the time.  If the team can eliminate the errors that have cost them their first two games of the season, it might be a competitive game.

     A goal for this team was to become bowl-eligible by winning six games.  They have a long road ahead of them with the brutal Big 10 season looming.  Frost could end up short of that goal this season.  But you can be sure he's laying the foundation for a program culture that will foster winning in the near future.

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