Scott Frost and his Nebraska football team ran into the proverbial buzzsaw Saturday night in Minneapolis.
A motivated and confident Minnesota team had its way with the Huskers. When it was all said and done, the Huskers were on the short end of a 34-7 score.
And again, Frost was left to say hang in there Nebraska fans. It’s going to get better. They just have to keep rowing the boat.
Wait, that’s P.J. Fleck’s line. The Minnesota head coach rubs some the wrong way, but the guy knows what he’s doing.
He has the Gophers revved up and ready to go. With Rutgers and Maryland up next, the Gophers should be 8-0 by the time the face Penn State Nov. 9 at TCF Bank Stadium.
While the Gophers are exceeding expectations, the Huskers aren’t. Maybe that says something about those expectations.
Frost said before the season that he didn’t understand why there was so much optimism surrounding a program coming off two straight 4-8 seasons.
Maybe there shouldn’t have been. In any event, Frost didn’t like getting pushed around up front by the Gophers.
“I thought we had a team that was ready to play,” Frost said. “I don’t think the weather had anything to do with it. I don’t think the cold had anything to do with it. We got pushed around up front.”
Nothing good happened for the Huskers until late in the third quarter. The Gophers had just scored their seventh touchdown of the game, but missed the extra point for a 34-0 lead.
Maurice Washington, trying to make something happen, lost the ball as he was going down on the kickoff and Minnesota recovered, but that call was overturned after review when it was ruled Washington was already down before he fumbled.
And finally the Huskers got something going. Fourteen plays later, Dedrick Mills went over from 2-yards out, and there would be no shutout in this game.
That was pretty much it for the good news for the Huskers from this one. And it was exceptionally bad news when freshman Wan’Dale Robinson went out with an apparent ankle injury midway through the second quarter.
Robinson has been the key offensive player for the Huskers. Without him, they needed somebody else to step up.
And there was no Adrian Martinez to do it.
There are those that have thought Martinez hasn’t played that well and needed to be benched. We saw Saturday night that the Huskers need Martinez on the field.
Noah Vedral did a good job. He was solid and made some nice throws, especially late in the game.
But Martinez is the guy. Frost said before the season that the sophomore might be the best player he’s ever coached. That’s saying something.
Even with a healthy Martinez on the field, the Huskers probably don’t win this game. Minnesota was just the better team right now.
The Huskers needed a break or two in this one, and they just never got them.
They also needed to execute at key points, and they didn’t do that either.
Like in the first quarter when a good gain by Robinson would have moved the ball deep into Minnesota territory, but a block in the back nullified the play.
Or after Vedral hit J.D. Spielman for 51 yards to move into Minnesota territory. That play was followed by two straight sacks which halted the drive.
At one point in the second quarter, the Gophers were pinned back inside their 10 with a third and 9, but Mohamed Ibrahim broke loose for an 11-yard gain to get the Gophers out of a big hole.
That’s when a play needed to be made, a play that might have turned the momentum of the game.
Once again, a Huskers opponent went through the entire game without a turnover. That’s been a common theme in the past couple of seasons.
So now comes the first of two bye weeks, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Huskers need time to get some guys healthy before they face Indiana in Lincoln and go on the road to Purdue.
Those are two big games, games that the Huskers can win, games they need to win.
“I love this team. I love the guys,” Frost said. “I love the attitude, but we have to continue to get better.”
Progress has been made, just not as much as many would like. A year ago, the Huskers won their first game under Frost in week seven. This year they are 4-3 and definitely have a chance to become bowl eligible.
“We’re still in a better place than we were last year at this time,” Frost said. “’I’m pleased with that, but we still have a long way to go.”
Indeed. Maybe Huskers fans are starting to realize that, and hopefully accept it.
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.