Team’s frustration is evident
A 2-4 start is far below what the Huskers expected this season, according to junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. So, it was obvious after the Wisconsin loss on Saturday that the frustration grew.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Westerkamp said. “It’s obviously not the way we wanted to start. What happens happens and we just have to continue to work and see what hasn’t been working and fix it and continue to get better.”
For senior defensive end Jack Gangwish, it was the loss against Wisconsin that was frustrating.
“My frustration is that it (Wisconsin) was a tough loss,” Gangwish said. “We are all here. We all want to win games. All of us are competitive individuals and that’s what we’re here to do. Frustration at this point is that we really just haven’t done our job well enough yet.”
The 2-4 start is the worst start to a season the Nebraska football team has had since 1959. Gangwish said it’s a tough sport to be in when each loss is a detriment to the season, especially with months of preparation being put into it.
“College football is kind of an interesting situation. In a normal work place, you might be judged on your craft every day. The product of your work is what you do every single day.
“Football is somewhat like that, because preparation is the most important part of it, but at the same time, we’re working 365 days a year, but there’s only a few days in here where we’re judged on what we do.”
With expectations thinning for the team, Gangwish and his teammates are working on progressing as a team right now. They hope the progression turns into wins.
“For us, at this point, it’s just we have to perfect our craft,” Gangwish said. “We have to fix the little things, fix the mistakes and take a step toward the right direction.”
When asked about what improvements can be made in the final six games of the season, coach Mike Riley started off with the obvious one.
“Well, we’ve worked at getting a shorter, 59-minute game,” Riley said jokingly.
But joking aside, Riley said it starts on the offensive side of the ball, which has been an anchor for most of the team’s he’s coached.
“I think one of the initial things that has to happen is we have to find balance in our offense,” Riley said. “We’re not going to live effectively like we are right now, so we have to, as coaches, be selective in what we do and then be good at it.”
In the first four games this season, Nebraska scored at least 28 points. But in the last two weeks, the Huskers scored 13 against Illinois and 21 against Wisconsin.
Even though the team has had its troubles, the players are still behind them.
“They always have a great game plan for us and we trust them 100 percent,” Westerkamp said. “What they say goes and that’s how it will always be.”
Former coach reaching out to current players
There were recent reports of former defensive line coach Rich Kaczenski texting current players about this season. Former players such as Adam Carriker called out Kaczenski on social media for bringing a certain negativity to the players even though he’s no longer with the program.
Senior defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who was coached by Kaczenski along with the last staff, denied the reports on Monday.
“Just for the record, (Kaczenski) wouldn’t say anything like that,” Collins said. “I’m a captain. I represent this whole team. If he was saying those types of things to anybody, he would be saying them to me.”
The current defensive line coach, Hank Hughes, isn’t bothered by the idea of a former coach talking to his players.
“I don’t even deal with that,” Hughes said. “That has zero to do with anything.”
Collins, who was recruited by Kaczenski out of high school, still has respect for him.
“You know, Coach Kaz, that’s the reason I came to Nebraska, to be coached by Rick Kaczenski,” Collins said. “Me and him still have a relationship. That’s my first D-line coach here. I respect the hell out of that man.”