Matt Farniok remembers the 2017 game when Northern Illinois came to Lincoln.
The Huskies returned two first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns and went on to a 21-17 victory.
Farniok was a redshirt freshman at the time and started at right tackle that day.
“We lost,” Farniok said. “We didn’t play that well and for whatever reason we just weren’t really who we were supposed to be and we lost. That’s really all I remember.”
As much as that loss hurt, Farniok said the veterans on the team won’t be looking for revenge when the Huskers face Northern Illinois Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
“Honestly that’s not ever what we do,” Farniok said. “The past is the past and whatever happens it’s written in stone, we can’t change it.
“What we can change is what we’re going to be today and tomorrow. How are you going to be today, how are you going to practice today, how are you going to attack practice tomorrow?”
Farniok says this year’s team, despite the loss Saturday at Colorado, is much better than the 2017 squad that lost its last four games which led the coach Mike Riley being fired at the end of the season.
“A better understanding of the offense (this year),” Farniok said. “I’d say we’re a little more physical, we play a lot faster. It’s just as time has gone on we’ve gotten better. We’re a better team than we were two years ago.”
Sophomore safety Cam Taylor-Britt wasn’t with the program in 2017, but he’s confident there won’t be another loss to Northern Illinois.
“That’s not going to be the outcome this year,” Taylor-Britt said. “The way we’re practicing, the way we’re going to practice for the rest of the year, we plan to get W’s.”
It’s all about team
Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle isn’t into talking about how he played Saturday.
For Bootle, all that matters is how the team did.
“It doesn’t really matter how the one person plays. It matters how the team plays,” Bootle said. “All 11 guys on the field, it matters how they play, how they interact with each other.
“I was matched up against a pretty good receiver for most of the day. I would go ahead and say I did my job against a pretty good receiver. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we’ve got one job, and we’ve got to come out with that win.”
Huskers give up 96-yard TD
Taylor-Britt was in the middle of Colorado’s 96-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Steven Montez to K.D. Nixon early in the fourth quarter that got the Buffaloes back into the game. Taylor-Britt was in coverage and had his hands on Nixon, but the receiver broke away and carried it on into the end zone.
“It was a crack and go basically,” Taylor-Britt said. “Looked like he was going to block the safety. We (the safeties) both had bad eyes and he just came free.”
As he was leaving the field, Bootle was seen giving him some encouragement.
“He was just telling me to hold my head up because the game’s not over,” Taylor-Britt said. “He told me I could make up for it, and I ended up making a play on a kickoff.”
That play was huge at the time. Colorado’s Laviska Shenault returned a kickoff 62 yards, but Taylor-Britt caught up with him and stripped the ball away. Teammate Luke Reimers recovered on the Nebraska 43.
First night game
Saturday’s 7 p.m. start will be the Huskers’ first night game of the season. That means the players have to find something to do for the entire day before they hit the field.
Senior nose guard Darrion Daniels has his own routine he likes to do.
“Film, film and more film,” Daniels said. “Personally, I like to watch highlights. I watch some Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Suh, some Fletcher Cox just to get my mind right and to see what I want to do.
“I put that in my head and watch more film to get a good grasp of the team and make sure I know what to do. That extra time will be a lot of mental rest to get ready for the game.”
More work for tight ends?
The Nebraska tight ends haven’t been that involved in the Nebraska passing offense so far.
Jack Stoll has five catches in two games, including one for 42 yards in the opener against South Alabama. Austin Allen has one catch for six yards so far.
“Jack had a couple of great plays the first game,” Allen said. “The looks weren’t really there for us last week, but coach will get us in the right sets.”
But they have also contributed by blocking in the running game.
“When we have two tight end sets I think our ground game gets going a little bit more,” Allen said. “Hopefully coach gets more trust in us being on the field so we can grow into not just being a run group but more of a pass group.”
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.