Christian Peter. Jason Peter. Grant Wistrom. Tommie Frazier.
The stories from the 1990s are legendary in Nebraska. They might not have always been the most popular players on those great Husker teams, but they were respected by their teammates.
That may be one of the things lacking on the 2019 team heading into the final two games of the season on a four-game losing streak with a 4-6 record overall, 2-5 in the Big Ten.
This Nebraska team has some guys that are trying. Captains Adrian Martinez and Matt Farniok on offense and Mohamed Barry and Darrion Daniels on defense are doing what they can.
“We still don’t have leadership where we need it to be,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said. “We have some good leaders but not enough and we still have a few pieces that are working against that. That doesn’t help. But we have been really young on offense all year.”
There are others, like sophomore tight end Austin Allen, who may at some point be the kind of leader the Huskers need.
“Some of those guys like Austin Allen and Jack Stoll, Matt Farniok has been a good leader for us all year (and)Adrian,” Frost said. “A lot of those guys are young though. We’ll be in a better place when those guys are senior leaders and in charge of everything and setting the standard for everybody.”
Frost wants to make sure that those young players have the opportunity to become the kind of leaders he’s looking for on his team.
“...We need to make sure we clear the path for the kids who want to be leaders, that there’s no obstacles in their way of being leaders and continuing to put them in positions where we can challenge them to take charge,” Frost said.
Every player isn’t cut out to be a leader of course, but those that aren’t can be good teammates.
Good teammates can set the standard for the team by doing their job and giving 100 percent every day.
“Leadership usually starts when you’re able to do that, then brings that one person along with you, then that spirit grows and you’re able to bring more and more people with you,” Frost said. “You don’t need a whole team of leaders, you just need a team of good teammates and several good leaders.”
Senior Kanawai Noa, a grad transfer from California, would be one of those good teammates.
Noa hasn’t produced as much offense as many expected with 17 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but the Huskers coaches are happy with his play.
“He really reminds me of Stanley (Morgan) last year,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “Every time he steps on the field he has that enthusiasm, that excitement, he’s been doing a great job, running great routes, he’s been getting better each week. There’s times this season where maybe the quarterback didn’t see him or didn’t have time. They just haven’t connected, but we love what he’s brought on and off the field.”
Walters said the Husker have Morgan, the leading receiver from a year ago, but this year’s receivers have improved as the season has gone along.
“There can’t be any gray area,” Walters said. “...We’re getting there. Kanawai, he’s a guy the quarterback has confidence in, JD (Spielman) obviously, now he needs to get confident in Mike Williams, some of the other guys — Jaron Woodyard — so, that, when he hits his step, he knows where we’re going to be.”
Frost said that confidence has to be there for the passing game to work.
“There is timing to pass routes. There is spacing to pass routes,” Frost said. “And for a quarterback to trust to throw things before guys come out of the break, they need to be where he is expecting them to be. Some have improved and progressed well. Others we are waiting on to have it click for them.”