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Steven M. Sipple: Frost keeps it real on OL woes and other takeaways from Husker luncheon

Steven M. Sipple: Frost keeps it real on OL woes and other takeaways from Husker luncheon

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Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel discuss the four most interesting things they heard at Nebraska football's media availability Monday at Memorial Stadium.

It's Homecoming Week at Nebraska. Not that I care about that. 

I do care about this: Nebraska coach Scott Frost and a handful of his players were on hand Monday for the Huskers' weekly media luncheon.

Some takeaways: 

1. Frost's frank comments: If I were Nebraska's offensive line coach, Frost's comments regarding the group's play this season would get my attention.

"Overall, I think we need to play better there," Frost said. "If we had gotten good play there, we'd be in a completely different spot this year." 

Special teams also has let down the team, he said. 

Nebraska is 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. Anyone who's paying any attention at all knows the record should be better. This is a good Husker team that's being held back by a couple of key areas.  

It was good to hear Frost speak in frank tones about those areas — and answer questions head-on. 

That doesn't mean Frost is ready to make in-season moves on his coaching staff. In fact, if you've listened closely to Frost in his last two media appearances, he has expressed at least a degree of confidence in both offensive line coach Greg Austin and special-teams coordinator Mike Dawson, who doubles as outside linebackers coach.

In discussing the offensive line's issues Monday, Frost noted, "We have maybe the most athletic quarterback in the country, and he still got sacked seven times (against Michigan State). There's a lot to fix there. Coach G's working hard, and so am I."

Austin has to get more out of his crew. Same goes for Dawson on special teams. The boss' comments make that clear. 

"I don't want to beat these guys down," Frost said of the O-line. "This is the same group we finished the year with last year and it played really well. I don't know what it is right now, but I have faith in these guys." 

However, "They've got to pick it up," the coach added. "They didn't play well enough Saturday, and we still should've won the game. We're going to keep working with them. But we've got good players, with good talent. We've got to get more out of them." 

Yeah, that definitely would get my attention. 

Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel give a two-minute roundup of Monday's football press conference.

2. Emphasis on maximizing: Frost offered an excellent nutshell assessment of his program since he took it over in late 2017. 

By the way, his records at Nebraska in his first three seasons: 4-8, 5-7, 3-5. 

"We've been a bad team that won a few games, then a pretty good team that won some and lost some," he said. "Right now, we're a good team that's lost some games. We've got to get over that hurdle. The more opportunities we get, the better. I love this team. I love being around it every day. I can't wait for them to get another chance." 

Nebraska plays Northwestern (2-2, 0-1) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. 

You heard urgency in Frost's voice Monday. He knows in his heart he has a good team. He also knows it's a coach's job to maximize his roster's talent. That hasn't happened to this point. As the regular season reaches its halfway point, Frost needs to get this team much closer to maximization. If the coaching staff maximizes talent on hand, Nebraska reaching a bowl game remains very possible. 

Tell me you're not intrigued.

Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost speaks at the NU athletics press conference on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

3. JoJo's frank talk: Frost wasn't the only one keeping it real. 

Nebraska senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann, who's enjoying an excellent season with 27 tackles, made no bones about the challenge the Huskers face in coming back strong from this past Saturday night's overtime loss against 20th-ranked Michigan State. 

The Spartans took advantage of an inexplicable special-teams gaffe by the visitors to sneak away with the triumph.

"This game (MSU) is really testing our will to fight," said Domann, who nevertheless expressed confidence and excitement for this week's game.  

"The adversity is tough," he said. "But this is what you live for." 

It's pretty predictable how the Blackshirts will respond. They're playing at a high level. They're playing as a unit. They're rallying hard to the ball consistently. Their passion is evident. 

I'm guessing they'll be revved up under the lights.

See you at the stadium.

4. Quote of the day: "The will to be great is burning within his chest," Domann said of Nebraska outside linebacker Garrett Nelson.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Nelson, of Scottsbluff, recorded six tackles against Michigan State to increase his season total to 23, with a team-high seven for losses. He recorded a sack against MSU and also swatted down a pass. He played like someone who's grown extremely tired of losing.

He possesses a clear love for his sport. 

Along those lines, Nebraska inside linebacker Nick Henrich shared a telling vignette about Nelson — they're roommates, by the way — from their earliest days in the program. As freshmen in 2019, their parents visited them one day. When the parents left at about 9 p.m., Nelson turned to Henrich with a question.

"Hey, you want to go lift?" 

Whatever it takes to be great, right?

Contact the writer at ssipple@journalstar.com or 402-473-7440. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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