Head coach Scott Frost appears to be fed up with the media cycle surrounding his program.
It started in his postgame press conference last Saturday when he lamented the sheer averageness of his team in a 38-31 loss to Indiana. He then fielded nearly 20 minutes of questions on Monday morning, with a scant few of them being about his team’s upcoming game at Purdue (2-6, 1-4 Big Ten).
By Thursday morning, he was in no mood to talk. He was receiving national criticism for complaining about some of his players wearing hoodies in warmups, as he himself was wearing a hoodie. Local chatter began to swell about the feasibility of Frost’s fast-paced scheme in the physical Big Ten Conference.
To top it all off, as he was walking off of the practice field, he was informed that starting safety Marquel Dismuke skipped a Wednesday court date for driving with a suspended license.
The result was a three-minute press conference, almost half of the length of a normal Thursday press conference.
The main storyline for Nebraska going into Saturday’s game is the status of sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, who said on Tuesday that he is ready to play after missing the previous two games with a leg injury. On Thursday, Frost offered no further insight into how Martinez looked in practice.
"Adrian looks like he has dark hair and weighs about 225 pounds," he said. “That's how he looks.”
Should Martinez return, he will look to build off of an encouraging performance by Nebraska’s wide receivers last week. Seven different players caught passes in the loss, but a fumble by senior Kanawai Noa following a reception allowed Indiana to build its lead to 14 in the third quarter.
True freshman Wan’Dale Robinson made six of Nebraska’s 20 catches for 71 yards, and carried the ball 22 times for 83 yards and a touchdown as well despite not being fully healthy. Against Purdue, he may be competing against an old friend, Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore.
Wan’Dale and Rondale both played high school football in Kentucky and train together during the offseason. Moore had a breakout freshman season with the Boilermakers in 2018, finishing with 1,258 receiving yards. His sophomore season, however, has been hamstrung by an injury suffered in a late September loss against Minnesota.
Moore has not played since that game, and is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game.
On the same play that Moore was injured, Purdue starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar broke his clavicle and is out indefinitely. Freshman Jack Plummer has started Purdue’s last four games, going 1-3 in the stretch while throwing for 935 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Plummer’s top target this season has been fellow freshman David Bell, who has 44 receptions for 653 yards this year. Plummer may catch a break this weekend as well, as Frost mentioned that multiple players in the secondary are battling injuries and Dismuke’s status for the game has not yet been determined.
Despite Purdue’s injury situation on offense, Nebraska’s defense will still have a fierce challenge on Saturday. The Huskers are hoping to improve play on third and fourth down after allowing Indiana to convert 7-14 third downs and 2-2 fourth downs last week.
"Bottom line, we just need to show up on Saturday and play and execute," Frost said. "We've got to be better on third down on defense and we’ve got to not make mistakes on offense.”
The Huskers will be going for just their second road win of the Scott Frost era. Prior to Nebraska’s 42-38 win at Illinois in September, its last win on the road came in October of 2017 at Purdue. Nebraska hasn’t won a road game against a team other than Illinois or Purdue since Oct. 15, 2016.
“Purdue does a great job with their schemes," Frost said. "They're going to give some stuff we haven't seen and try to give us some tricks and gadgets that our guys can't fall for. Experience is going to matter, attention to detail and whoever is out there has to do a good job."
Nebraska and Purdue will kick off at 11 a.m., and the game can be viewed on FOX.