LINCOLN — Whether one calls it the flexbone or the double-wing — as Nebraska football coach Scott Frost prefers — look for NU’s triple option formation to remain, to some degree, in the offense. It had success during one drive against Ohio State when Dedrick Mills, who starred in the flexbone at Georgia Tech, had success at fullback.
“I want that to be a piece of what we’re doing,” Frost said. “I think it’s part of what Nebraska’s been built on and the fabric of what we are that we need to get back to a little bit, and I think we’ve got the personnel to do it. We’ll pick our spots.”
It was old hat for Mills, who ripped off several long runs out of the formation on fullback traps and dives. Mills’ downhill running style has, at times, looked out of place in NU’s shotgun zone read offense, but, at fullback, Mills looks like any other NU fullback from the past only, in some cases, faster.
“I was very comfortable,” Mills said. “It was part of the offense I used to run at Georgia Tech, so it felt normal to me. I was happy to be running the ball the same way again.”
Frost said NU has been practicing the formation for some time, but it found it fit some of Ohio State’s defensive schemes.
“We have some personnel that I think can run it,” Frost said.
Northwestern up next
Frost said he was aware of the contentious recent history between Nebraska and Northwestern, noting the Husker’s 2013 win with a Hail Mary and the Wildcats’ overtime win in last year’s game. Overall, Northwestern won at Nebraska in 2011, 2015 and 2017. The Huskers won in Evanston in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The coach said Northwestern is a smart, disciplined team with a good defense. They’re physical and don’t allow players to run through tackles easily, he added.
“They make you earn whatever you get,” Frost said. “We’re of the mindset we’ve got to go earn whatever yards we get.”
Martinez had one of his best games at Northwestern — 251 yards passing, 37 yards rushing — but still fell short in the loss.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it payback, but I’m definitely aware of what occurred last year,” Martinez said. “I think that was last year’s team’s problem. Northwestern is a good football team; they’re disciplined, just like last year.”
Only 21 points separate Nebraska and Northwestern since the Huskers joined the Big Ten. Each team has won four games.
“There’s a history of a lot of great games being played, a lot of crazy finishes,” Martinez said. “Northwestern is a very solid football team. They’re not going to make a lot of mistakes, have a lot of penalties.”
Coughing up the ball
Nebraska has more giveaways — 14 — than any other team in the Big Ten, but they are not contagious Martinez and Frost said. One mistake does not beget another. Each of Martinez’s three interceptions against Ohio State were different, isolated mistakes.
“They’re more isolated dependent on whatever circumstances that drive has,” Martinez said. “Or that game, whatever it may be.”
NU’s stressed ball security overall — not fumbling the ball — and isolating the mistakes made during interceptions.
Said Frost: “I don’t think turnovers are contagious. Our guys need to be very aware of taking care of the ball. The turnovers last week, a lot of credit goes to (Ohio State). They created a couple, and we had one that was a bad break. But we didn’t put any on the ground, and I just want our guys being really conscientious about taking care of the football.”
Martinez actually did have a fumble late in the first half when OSU defensive end Chase Young stripped him of the ball but he recovered it.
Facility a work in progress
Nebraska officials included the newly announced $155 million facilities project in their presentation to visiting football recruits and their families last weekend. But Frost said the plans aren’t far enough along to get too specific just yet.
“There’s no designs or anything done,” Frost said. “I think that’s going to be done down the road.”
Frost said architects will get plenty of feedback from Nebraska’s various support systems, including academics, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Overall, he added, the location beyond the northeast part of Memorial Stadium will allow players to be closer to campus and spend less time getting around.
“There’s some really good ideas,” Frost said, “and I think the general theory of what they’re going to try to accomplish is going to help us a lot.”
Green makes debut
Darrion Daniels grinned at the mention of Jahkeem Green. For a big guy, he’s come a long way in seven weeks.
The senior co-captain Daniels said he and the rest of the defensive line were thrilled to see their position mate, Green, make his season debut late Saturday against Ohio State. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior-college transfer also collected his first career Husker tackle.
“That’s the brother,” Daniels said. “He’s worked so hard from when he first got here. Just seeing how much he’s developed and just seeing how much he’s bought into the culture ... it was huge for everybody. Everybody was excited to see him get out on the field.”
Green didn’t arrive until midway through fall camp in August as he waited for his grades to clear. Daniels recalls a teammate who was “really behind” physically and in learning the scheme and had to catch up. Making it more difficult was that D-line is among Nebraska’s deepest positions and has consistently rotated six players through.
Coaches have said they would prefer to redshirt Green, who could still appear in three more games and retain another season of eligibility. But the newcomer has proven he’s earned a shot to play too.
“We expect a lot more from (Green) so we kind of pushed him harder than most because he’s an older guy,” Daniels said. “He took it and he took everything in and I feel like he adapted pretty well.”
Kickoff set for Minnesota game
The Big Ten announced Monday that Nebraska’s Oct. 12 game at Minnesota will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and be televised on either FS1 or BTN.
The network will be decided following this Saturday’s games.
It’ll be Nebraska’s fourth night game of the season following wins over Northern Illinois and Illinois and a loss to Ohio State. The NIU and OSU games were in Lincoln.
The Huskers play Northwestern at 3 p.m. this Saturday for Homecoming.
Spanish broadcast for ’Cats game
Fans can hear the Huskers take on Northwestern on Saturday in English or Spanish.
Nebraska and the Husker Sports Network announced that the game will feature a Spanish-language radio broadcast. It will be the first non-English broadcast of a Nebraska game by the Husker Sports Network, according to a release from the athletic department.
“This broadcast is an important step in making sure we engage a growing demographic of Nebraska’s population and welcome all fans to Husker Nation,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said in the release.
The Spanish broadcast will be available for free on Huskers.com and the Huskers app. It will play on Lobo 97.7 FM in Omaha, Lincoln and eastern Nebraska, and on Le Grand 93.3 FM in Grand Island and central Nebraska.
Enrique “Kike” Morales and Oscar “El Tico” Monterroso will call the game. Morales and Monterroso also serve as the Spanish-language announcing crew for the Kansas City Chiefs, in partnership with Tico Sports.
During a press conference Monday, Frost said he thinks the offering is “awesome.” Frost took three years of high school Spanish in Wood River, Nebraska. While he doesn’t remember as much as he should, Frost said he knows many Nebraskans speak Spanish as a first language.
“Nebraska’s one team, one heartbeat. One state, one heartbeat,” Frost said. “I think it’s great that we’re going to broadcast the game so that every Nebraska fan can enjoy.”
— Sierra Karst, Sam McKewon, Evan Bland