clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2021 Opponent Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Will Scott Frost be coaching against Kirk Ferentz come Black Friday?

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference Media Days Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Frost, man.

If he isn’t throwing his players or past Nebraska coaches under the bus, he’s throwing his compliance department there. Newsflash: nobody was allowed to work out as a team last year!

This joke has been made 1000 times but yeah, if you’re gonna cheat you gotta win and Nebraska hasn’t done that enough by any measure since Frost has arrived. I’ve seen the tweet - now you’ve seen it to - of Scott Frost’s 15 best wins while at Nebraska with lines 13 through 15 blanked out. Yeah, they’ve only won 12 games!

One last Scott Frost fact: He has more losses in 2 and 2/3rds seasons than Frank Solich did in six in Lincoln and he was kindly shown the door for his efforts.

Nebraska is never not delusional, except for the fact that they’re brass seem focused on leveraging what remains of the NCAA to create a “for cause” situation for his firing by year’s end. I respect that in terms of penny-pinching.

Frost’s time at UCF was fine but George O’Leary doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what he built before Frost’s arrival. I mean, O’Leary faked his resume for two decades and is less of a fraud than Frost.

I guess that’s enough.

Anyways, Nebraska has allowed more points than they’ve scored in two of their three seasons under Frost with 2019 peaking at 336 points scored and 333 points allowed.

For reference, Iowa allowed less points in 2019 & 2020 combined but who’s counting.

Nebraska schedule ahead of Iowa

8/28: v. Illinois (in Dublin, Ireland)
9/4: v. Fordham
9/11: v. Buffalo
9/18: @ Oklahoma
9/25: @ Michigan State
10/2: v. Northwestern
10/9: v. Michigan
10/16: @ Minnesota
10/23: BYE
10/30: v. Purdue
11/6: v. Ohio State
11/13: BYE
11/20: @ Wisconsin

What’s the best case for Nebraska football through six games? 3-3? Is Scott Frost even coaching in the Black Friday game? What record does he need to be employed by Nebraska this time next year?

Three guys

Adrian Martinez (QB, 6’2”, 212 lbs, Sr): Adrian Martinez survived the QB controversy that nobody outside of Lincoln, NE really asked for. Luke McCaffrey transferred to Rice via Louisville while the Michigan McCaffrey joined his father (and brother) at Northern Colorado. This is some McCaffrey trivia nobody really asked for.

Martinez completed over 70% of his passes but for a career-low 7.0 yards/attempt. What that tells me is that they built the offense around really short passes and didn’t have any receivers who could get yards after the catch.

He led the Huskers in rushing last season despite playing in just 7 of their 8 games. He was #2 in 2019 and 2018 and can be a dynamic as a runner. The only problem is that he’s also injury prone (started 21 of 32 available games) which makes sense when you’re a QB signing up to run the ball 13 times a game in a conference that isn’t the AAC.

Oliver Martin (WR, 6’1”, 200 lbs, Jr): This is the picture of a man who has been through it.

I’m not here to pile on him, because he has plenty of potential he has yet to find at two Big Ten schools and that happens sometimes. He finished last year with just 5 catches for 63 yards which is 0 more receptions, 35 more yards, and 1 less touchdown than he had in his only season at Iowa.

But he is a breakout candidate at the position since Nebraska needs bodies there.

JoJo Domann (LB, 6’1”, 230 lbs, 6th Year): The man who inspired this tweet:

Domann is a pretty good footballer outside this above play, as he led the Huskers in tackle (58), TFL (6.5), passes defended (5), and forced fumbles (2) in 2020. He added 10 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2019. It’s his sixth year and he’s looking to make the most of it.

Assorted Commentary

Can Iowa make it seven straight?

The Huskers hold a pair of eight game winning streaks over Iowa, but those date back to 1908-1917 and 1931-1941 which speaks to how tough it is for a streak of this length to continue.

The staff always seems to get the kids up for this game, though, and the hope would be it’s a wire-to-wire win with all gas and no brakes. The brakes have been the issues for Iowa in the last three iterations with them coming down to the wire in each of Frost’s attempts. It’s just about the only thing he does better than Mike Riley, who got quadrupled up against Iowa in 2016 & 2017.

I expect Iowa to smell blood in the water if Nebraska needs the game for a bowl berth. Does that save Frost’s job?

Does the game remain in the 20s?

Nebraska’s defense is almost always suspect under Frost but they have brought it to the point of letting Iowa contain themselves to 31, 27, & 26 points in the three aforementioned matchups. They know they do not need to score 40 points to win this game on an average year.

Yet 2021 may not be average. It’s fair to say that Iowa’s defensive line is shallow and may be exposed as particularly shallow if they cannot develop a rotation of 6-8 bodies with an emphasis on defensive tackle. I’m high on Yahya Black and Noah Shannon, but it’s asking a lot from two greenhorns. If Nebraska’s running scheme can keep Iowa moving backwards, they might not need to have Martinez thrown it.

On the flipside, Nebraska’s defense seems like one Iowa can and probably should push around. If both Os can get it clicking, points might be the deal of the season on Black Friday.

Scott Frost is coaching for his job. Kirk Ferentz is coaching to make sure Frost doesn’t have one. Always fun when two staffs don’t like each other.

Let’s hope the good guys come out on top.