LINCOLN — Here we are a third of the way through the Nebraska football season.
And we’re still waiting for something good to happen. Something really good.
Maybe a 70-yard touchdown run by Adrian Martinez, or an 80-yard pass to Stanley Morgan for a touchdown.
Or maybe a big interception by the Huskers — without a penalty to go along with it.
Or definitely a win.
But none of those things happened Saturday against Purdue. What did happen was the Huskers racked up 259 yards rushing and another 323 through the air for 582 total yards. Those numbers will win most games, but not this one.
That’s because the Huskers continued to do undisciplined things that are driving head coach Scott Frost nutty. Those mistakes contributed mightily to Purdue’s 42-28 win over the Huskers and extended Nebraska’s losing streak to eight straight games dating back to October of 2017.
It also extended the Huskers’ home losing streak to seven in a row.
Frost was obviously frustrated after the game. He once again saw flashes of what this team could do — this is, if he can ever get the players to play with more discipline.
It’s not so much about effort. It’s discipline and playing smart football.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you play if you don’t play smart,” color man Matt Davison said during the radio broadcast.
There were so many examples of the Huskers playing undisciplined football that it’s hard to know where to start.
Maybe you start with allowing Purdue quarterback David Blough to run for 16 yards on third-and-14.
Or maybe with a roughing-the-quarterback penalty — although maybe a disputable call — on third-and-long that gave Purdue a first down on the Nebraska 30.
Or maybe hitting a receiver two yards out of bounds on another third-down play that gave the Boilermakers a first down.
Or maybe both an illegal block in the back and a holding call on a nice punt return by JD Spielman that put the ball on the Nebraska 7 instead of out near midfield.
Or maybe letting the H-back get loose for a 22-yard catch and run on second-and-19.
Or a holding penalty that nullified an interception.
Or a broken coverage that resulted in a wide open receiver and a 51-yard gain deep into Nebraska territory.
We could go on and on.
When asked why this was happening, Frost seemed to point the blame back at the previous coaching staff without naming any names.
“I’ve got a sense of why but I don’t really want to say why because this is my team,” Frost said. “This isn’t somebody else’s team. In order to have a disciplined team, you have to have guys that really care and guys that are accountable, and you have to have an environment where they’re held accountable.”
Frost’s frustrations were palpable. He sees the mistakes. He understands what’s happening. He doesn’t like it, but so far he’s been unable to do anything about it.
Those things keep happening, like 11 penalties for 136 yards. That’s 12 yards per penalty, or in other words a bunch of 15-yarders like personal fouls and things along that line.
That’s why you lose games you could have won.
“In three of our games, we played well enough to win a game,” Frost said. “In my opinion, we honestly look like one of the most undisciplined teams in the country, and it kills me because it isn’t like we aren’t trying to give them messages. It isn’t like we aren’t trying to hold them accountable.”
You could sense Frost’s unhappiness with some of the back-ups dancing on the sidelines during kickoffs when the Huskers are losing.
You can bet that’s going to stop.
“They look like they love losing, and they look like they’re undisciplined,” Frost said.
You get the feeling listening to Frost that he’s had it with stuff like this, with the penalties and mental mistakes.
He left no doubt that there could be personnel changes in the future.
“There’s really no difference from a coaching perspective from ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘I won’t do it,”’ Frost said. “The people that won’t make good decisions, the people that are hitting people that are three yards out of bounds — if that keeps up I’m just going to ride with the guys that are doing it the right way.
“We’ve got a lot of warriors on this team and a lot of guys that played well enough to win, but I’m tired of coaching an undisciplined team.”
Frost and his staff are in uncharted waters. If they didn’t know it before, they know it now.
“Trying to get this team where I know it needs to be to win games and championships is a different process than other teams that I’ve been on,” Frost said. “But we’re gonna keep fighting.”
So it’s on to Wisconsin next week for the Huskers with their 0-4 record. No one is going to expect them to win this game, and most likely they won’t.
They will win at some point this season, and eventually they will start playing the kind of football Frost wants to see.
That may not happen this season, but Frost is sure it will happen.
“Like I said last week, I know where this is going,” he said. “Nobody hates this more than I do, and we’re gonna keep swinging.”
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.