Nebraska football’s defense had major positives against Northwestern to push off from going into its matchup with Penn State.
After Northwestern gained 80 yards and a score on its opening drive on Saturday, the Husker defense held the Wildcats to 54 yards the remainder of the first half, including just 23 yards in the second quarter.
“For the second half, I think we’ve got to go in with the same mentality we had in the first half,” senior safety Marquel Dismuke said during Monday’s press conference.
Head coach Scott Frost said he was impressed and pleased with the defense’s progress throughout the team’s first two games. Frost said that the success of the Blackshirts will help open up the offense as well.
“Part of the reason we haven’t gone light speed [on offense] around here is we didn’t want to leave the defense on the field that long,” Frost said. “I’m really impressed and happy with how they are coming along. That’ll free us up to potentially get more aggressive with tempo on offense.”
Nebraska’s offense shouldered most of the blame after the team’s 21-13 loss to Northwestern in Evanston Saturday, scoring only 13 points in six trips to the red zone.
Nebraska’s defense played well enough to keep the Huskers in the game, and also gave them an opportunity to win, according to Frost.
“We need the offense to put up points that correlate with the number of first downs and yards we are getting,” Frost said.
One of the bright spots on Nebraska’s defense was sophomore linebacker Luke Reimer, who recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a strip-sack recovered by Northwestern.
Senior linebacker Collin Miller said Reimer is “the most athletic linebacker” in the group and that he was happy Nebraska fans were able to see the version of Reimer that shows up in practice.
“You just need more Luke Reimers on your team. Scholarship or not, you just need more of them,” Miller said.
A position group that struggled on Saturday was Nebraska’s quarterbacks. Junior Adrian Martinez went 12-of-27 for 125 yards along with 13 carries for 102 rushing yards. Both Martinez and redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey threw an interception in the end zone.
Despite their performance against Northwestern, senior wide receiver Kade Warner has an “unwavering belief in both of them” to get the job done.
“[Martinez] knows that he didn’t play his best,” Warner said. “He also knows that no one will work harder to fix those mistakes than him.”
The Huskers starting quarterback next week is still up in the air. According to Frost, the choice will be decided on their performance in practice and capability to win against Penn State in Nebraska’s home opener.
Frost said the 0-3 Nittany Lions are better than their record suggests and are a really talented football team that had some “unfortunate” things happen to them this season. These things include the team’s top two rushers from last year, running backs Noah Cain and Journey Brown, possibly being out for the season.
“I’m sure they are going to be hungry for us,” Frost said.
Nebraska football is also searching for its first win of the season with more talented Big Ten teams on this schedule looming over the program.
“It’s about turning the page and finding a way to win a game and getting on a roll and getting some momentum,” Frost said. “I think once that starts to happen, we have all the pieces in the program that we need to win.”