Nebraska returns home to Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Huskers will complete nonconference play against Northern Illinois. Kickoff under the lights in Lincoln is set for shortly after 7
p.m. CT, with national television coverage on FS1 and radio coverage available on the Husker Sports
Network from Learfield-IMG.
Nebraska will come into the game against Northern Illinois with a 1-1 record, after a tough 34-31
overtime loss at Colorado last Saturday. The Huskers jumped to a 17-0 lead in the game, and led by a
touchdown in the final moments before a Colorado score forced overtime, where the Buffs prevailed.
The Huskers will look to rebound against Northern Illinois and extend their winning streak at Memorial
Stadium to six games.
Northern Illinois will also bring a 1-1 record to Lincoln on Saturday. The Huskies opened the season with
a win over Illinois State, before dropping a 35-17 contest at No. 14 Utah last Saturday. Northern Illinois
is under the directon of first-year head coach Thomas Hammock, who took over at his alma mater after
spending the previous five seasons on the Baltimore Ravens coaching staff.
Saturday’s meeting is the second game in a four-game series with Northern Illinois. The Huskies won in
Lincoln in 2017 and have two additional future visits to Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska and Northern Illinois will meet for the fourth time on Saturday evening, with the Huskers
owning a 2-1 edge. All three previous games were played at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska posted
victories in 1989 and 1990 while NIU won in Lincoln in 2017.
• In addition to Saturday’s game, Northern Illinois is scheduled to visit Lincoln in 2021 and 2023.
• Nebraska is 5-1 all-time against members of the Mid-American Conference, with the lone loss
being the 21-17 setback against NIU in 2017.
• Including the two future games with NIU, Nebraska has five future games scheduled with members of
the Mid-American Conference (NIU-2021, 2023; Central Michigan-2020; Buffalo-2021; Akron-2025).
Head Coach Scott Frost
“A lot of things stuck out and a few that kind of pop more afterwards. A lot of things we said, we’re right on. We’ve got tp have the right mentality after halftime. If we score on offense anywhere in the third quarter, I think the game’s probably over. We can’t let any team stay in a game that long. We played three really solid quarters on offense. Good enough to win at least. Third quarter was poor. Defensively we had played close to three quarters of as good of football as I’ve had a defense play. And then it fell apart. I think we did get a little tired. I didn’t think that was the case after the game but looking at the tape we weren’t playing as fast. But that’s on us, as an offense as well for leaving them out on the field as long as we did in the third quarter. There’s some other things. Offensively, I don’t know if I said this, we had 13 or 14 possessions. We only had four without a sack, a penalty, or a tackle for loss. We scored on all four of those. So we’re just not efficient enough to be as consistent as we want to be, but a lot of good things happened in the game. We’re all heartbroken and disappointed, nobody’s more disappointed than the coaches and the players, but I love how the guys responded today.”
On the run game
“We’re getting there. It was a lot better. We were a lot better on offense this week than we were the week before and that’s because we practiced well. Practice with detail. Practice with intention of making the plays work. I’d like to see us run it more consistently, like to see us pass it more consistently. There were a few that were close to going. I maybe should have committed to the run game a little more in the third quarter, particularly after we got stopped a couple times. But we’re going to be who we are, too. I think it’s headed in a good direction, but just like everything else it needs to be a little better.”
On the depth chart
“We’re not trying to make any statements with this depth chart, we’re just trying to reflect it as much as we can without talking about our kids’ injuries and putting them at risk. I don’t know if we’ll have Barret (Pickering) or not this week. I know he’s getting better. I just don’t want to leave him on there if he’s not the guy, just to be honest. I think putting Isaac (Armstrong) in that situation, he did a great job on the first field goal, putting him in that situation. He didn’t know he was going to kick until Thursday or something but that’s what we had. I admire him for going out there and doing what he did. He can do the job if we need him to.”
On Nebraska’s margin of error
“Our margin of error’s pretty small right now. We had a pretty big margin in that game and as a head coach I’ve got to find a way to get that down and the consistency too, and the players do too. There needs to be a sense of urgency to get it done. I think, third quarter our offense needs to out with a purpose a little more. Defensively, I don’t know if we got tired. I think it might be a little bit of mentality things. Instead of thinking, ‘let’s stay on the attack,’ we’ve got to be thinking, ‘is this gonna happen?’ It happened to us once or so last year, and that’s a hurdle you need to get over as a team to make sure you win those games. And again, that’s on us as coaches to make sure that we get that mentality. “
On getting more wide receivers involved
“We’re trying. I’m really surprised the ball hasn’t found Kanawai (Noa) yet. He did some really good things in the game, blocked well and ran some good routes. The ball just didn’t find him. In game one he wasn’t out there as much, but [the] ball will hopefully find him in this game and a lot more. Some of the other guys, too. We design some things for certain people and the rest of the time we run our offense and throw to the open guy. If they’re open in this offense, the ball’s going to get to them.”
On the run game and tight ends
“Two tight ends or one tight end depends on the looks we’re getting and which formation we find things in that we think we can exploit. Both those guys are doing a really good job. Jack (Stoll) and Austin (Allen) in the run game and the pass game. Depending on what the team’s giving us, we’ll have the best formation and the best guys out there that we think will help us move the ball.“
On Northern Illinois game two years ago
“I remember seeing the score. I remember seeing the highlights a little bit. He was asking me about margin of error. I’ve said this all summer, we’re better, there’s no question we’re better. I think the offense played good enough to win for three quarters, and we’ve got to do it for four. The defense played really well for three. We’ve got to do it for four. But we’re also not so that good that we can have penalties and setbacks on offense and overcome 2nd-and-16. And we’re not so good that we can make mistakes and give people big plays and expect to win. Everything else in that game stays the same and we win the turnover margin. Like we’ve talked about a hundred times in meetings and we probably win the game. It’ll be nice in the days around here when we’ve got so much talent we go out and play like we’re supposed to and hopefully people won’t have a chance. Right now, no matter who you’re playing, you have to play well, and if our margins are small we need to execute well.”
On what specifically it takes as coaches to finish a close game
“Pretty specifically, without talking about too much what goes on inside, right before we left the locker room at half time I had the whole team up and I said one of two things is going to happen. We mess around and don’t finish this and let this team eventually get back in the game and it gets interesting, or we go out and finish them right now. They were all excited looked ready to go to me. I just didn’t maybe feel the sense of urgency, especially on the offensive side in the third quarter. Looking back at the tape, there’s always a few play calls you want back on offense and defense. We had them in some good stuff, we just didn’t quite do the little things right that we needed to finish it. I think more than anything it’s a mentality to get over. The expectation to win and desire to go out and make the play that’s going to make it happen.”
On if the altitude was a factor in the team’s tiredness
“Again, I never noticed the altitude when I played out there. It might have had something to do with it, but for three quarters we were flying around. Then we had one series where we missed too many tackles and gave them their first touchdown. And then it was just a busted coverage and bad eyes on a flea-flicker. If we just make them drive the ball on those two drives and earn it. One, they hadn’t really done that the whole game and two, there would have been a lot more time off the clock and they may not have time for that at the end. So a lot of things went wrong for us and those are the things we have to address.”
On what the flag was for on the fumbled kick return
“It wasn’t on me, there was a member of the staff that bumped into a referee on the field.”
On the 24-hour rule and how they responded and if it was their best Monday practice
“I think that’s true. It was a really good Monday.”
On what about Northern Illinois catches his attention
“What got my attention first was looking at the score before I went out for the Colorado game, and I had been in the Pac-12. I know what Utah is all about as a program and seeing them in a tight game with Utah in the second quarter caught my attention. Watching them on tape, I think they have some receivers that can hurt you. Their quarterback does a good job. He’ll surprise you with his feet and make some plays, and he did against Utah. I think they have a good scheme. Defensively, man they fly around. They’re like a swarm of bees or fire ants or something that you’re trying to block. There’s movement on the defensive line all the time. There’s linebackers sprinting through the line of scrimmage through gaps. We have to be able to block moving targets this week. They’re going to load the box with that and make us earn it on the ground. So we need to complete some balls to our wideouts and be able to block them with movement and get some runs.”
On if they’ve changed with their coaching change
“We really only have two weeks to go on. We can look back on some other things and places that other people were and personnel, but anytime there is changes on staff you find a little different of a product. We don’t have a ton of tape to go on but I’m impressed with them.”
On Adrian Martinez’s play so far
“I said before the season we’re going to go as far as Adrian takes us. I don’t think he played his best game week one. He played really well on Saturday. Just like as a play caller, there’s a few plays that I want back. I’m sure there are a few plays he wants back where he could have done something a little better. He operated really efficiently and made some really good plays. I thought he played courageously and he can still get a lot better. That’ll show up too when we’re a lot better around him.”
On the importance of pace in the offense
“It impacts it. When we get a first down going, we are going to be on the field longer and then I feel confident about using tempo more, getting in a rhythm where you can set something up with something else. When we are not operating quite efficiently enough, then those don’t just flow. One play here or there leads to another one, leads to another one. At times we get that rolling and it looks really pretty. Other times we kind of sputter and cough, then we have trouble finding our rhythm. It’s just a matter of executing a little better and giving ourselves more opportunities with more plays.”
On Isaac Armstrong
“I haven’t seen Isaac since we got back to Lincoln. He will be fine. The kid is a gamer and a good person and he will be just fine.”
On Cam Taylor-Britt
“Cam is a good player. He does a great job and he’s one of our leaders. He has played nickel, he’s played corner, and now he is going to be pressing duty a little bit at safety, and he can still play other places. We trust him at just about every spot and that is why he as a Blackshirt.”
On the freshmen
“We are looking for more depth, particularly at skill on offense and some other spots. It is just kind of on their own time when it just kind of clicks for people and we can start using them. I would have liked to think we could have gotten some of those guys in in the first couple of games. Those two guys you mentioned in particular are pretty close. Darien (Chase) and Rahmir (Johnson) are both doing some really good things in practice, they just need to be completely comfortable with the scheme.”
On sophomore wide receiver Kade Warner
“We expect Kade back pretty quickly.”
On freshman inside linebacker Luke Reimer
“No, I think Luke has a bright future around here so we will continue to look for opportunities and avenues to get all those talented young guys on the field.”
On junior safety Deontai Williams
“I can announce that. Deontai had his shoulder surgery and is done for the foreseeable future.”