Husker Dan: The game that wasn’t
For fellow Nebraska football fans, Saturday night’s cancellation of the Husker-Akron game was like Christmas morning-only the gift you’d been shaking for weeks, was snatched away just as you were getting ready to untie the ribbon on the box.
It was Lucy Van Pelt grabbing the football just as Charlie Brown was getting ready to kick it.
You get my drift. What a bummer.
For all those people who came from far away to witness the beginning of the Scott Frost Era, what a sad ending to what could have been a historic game. And prior to the kickoff, there were no empty seats. The crowd was at a fever pitch. Maybe the loudest crowd Memorial Stadium has ever experienced.
YUENGLING SAVES THE DAY!
One of my long time buddies and a passionate Husker fan, Bill Moran, who lives in Pennsylvania, flew in Thursday morning to begin his Husker football weekend. And he even brought his two grandnephews, Ken and Joey with him. They stayed in a downtown Lincoln hotel for three nights. Bill was able to secure tickets for his group. They ate at Misty’s, shopped at Husker Hounds, went to the Husker tailgate Saturday. He even got former Husker Heisman winner Mike Rozier to pose for a picture with his grandnephews. Life was pretty dang good. And at the stadium Saturday night, they got to experience the new Tunnel Walk ceremony and got to see the kickoff.
And then, bang. Thunder struck – or rather lightning struck and after an almost three-hour delay, the game was canceled, sending 90,000 devoted Husker fans home. In the rain and lightning.
And had the game been played Sunday morning, Bill still wasn’t going to be able to see it. No, his group had a plane to catch that day. No mulligans for air fare, hotel, car rental etc. And probably not for the tickets he bought.
Bill has been coming to Lincoln for Husker home openers for over 10 years. And now, this. Well, at least he brought me some Yuengling beer! Thanks, Bill!
ON WITH THE REVIEW
It’s hard to find anything good about the game that wasn’t. Maybe the only plus is that no player from either team was injured. That’s about it.
On the other hand, the bad news is that the Huskers lost an opportunity to get a win – especially when the Huskers’ schedule includes trips to Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern and Iowa and a home game with Michigan State.
GOING FOR SIX
Nebraska may likely be in the hunt for a bowl game late this year, and getting to at least six wins is going to be essential. Can the Huskers make up for the Akron game by beating a team they maybe shouldn’t? I don’t know.
MAKE IT SNAPPY
There are a couple of other things to consider about the “game.” Husker QB Adrian Martinez hasn’t played in a real game for over 600 days. You would think that every snap he could take prior to the game at Michigan would be golden.
Now, Martinez has to somehow regain those lost snaps – if that is even possible. And Frost & Company will be facing a Colorado team this Saturday in Lincoln that is better than Akron. Will CU have an advantage because they already have a game under their belt (a 45-13 win over Colorado State – a team that lost to Hawaii the week before)? I don’t know.
But with a true freshman QB like Adrian Martinez, who is running a brand new offense, you’d like him to have a game under his belt, too.
But you play the hand you’re dealt. I suspect the Huskers will find a way to make things happen this Saturday.
WHAT FROST NEEDS TO DO
Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked with several former Husker football players (and a former Husker coach) to get their thoughts on what Scott Frost needs to do to get the Husker football program back to national prominence.
I’ll post these responses each week until I’ve gone through all of them.
ERIC CROUCH Quarterback (1998-2001)
2001 Heisman Trophy
2001 Davey O’Brien Award
2001 Walter Camp Award
There are three things that have to happen to get the Husker football program on track: 1.) Buy-in 2.) Belief and 3.) Leadership
The players have to buy in to the Husker football program – everything from nutrition to strength and conditioning. And foremost is in the classroom. If you’re not a good student, you won’t succeed on the field.
The Huskers have tremendous talent, but also, a lot of youth. And Scott Frost needs to find out who can play. I’m impressed with all the coaches. And Frost brought all his assistants with him which, I believe, signals a great commitment from them.
The foundation of the Husker football program is about ten feet thick with Frost, as opposed to the one inch thick foundation that’s been there in the past.
And with the hiring of Dave Ellis, the Husker program will have a tremendous impact this fall. Dave has a special connection with the players – each one will have a nutrition plan specific to his needs. The players need to know that what they put in their bodies will be important for the rest of their lives.
What I especially like about Frost is that he won’t back down from a fight. I expect that by the end of 2019, the Huskers will be in the conversation for conference and national championships. There is no reason not to!
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net.