By the first week of his fourth season at the helm at Nebraska, Scott Frost fully expected all the talk to be about how he has restored the Cornhuskers to the glory days of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
Instead, all the discussion this week has been about setting the program back to the dark days of the late 1950s.
It has not been close to the expected homecoming for Frost, a former quarterback at Nebraska who came back to his alma mater after leading UCF to an unbeaten season in 2017.
Things seemingly hit rock bottom last Saturday, when after proclaiming all offseason how this was the most depth and talent he’s had in his time in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers (0-1) lost at lowly Illinois, 30-22.
Nebraska played a mistake-filled game, fell behind 30-9, and couldn’t recover, which has led to calls for Frost’s firing from irate fans all week heading into Saturday afternoon’s home opener against Fordham.
Frost is 12-21 in his tenure at Nebraska, and admitted he was puzzled when seeing some unexpected strategy by Illinois defensively.
“About half of our game plan was kind out the window when they came out and lined up the way they did,” said Frost, referring to the Illini coming out with a different alignment on its defensive line than what was seen on film. “We had to scramble and go to an alternative plan. We tried to adjust and did some good things, but not enough.”
Already faced with a Big Ten loss, Nebraska will try and regroup against a nonconference opponent in Fordham, an FCS team in the Patriot League that played an abbreviated three-game schedule this past spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the Rams’ season opener.
“This will be a tremendous opportunity for them,” Fordham coach Joe Conlin said back in May. “Playing a game at an FBS power five school, especially one as steeped in tradition as Nebraska, will be an experience that the team will remember for years.”
The home fans will hope to see more consistent play out of veteran Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, who was shaky in the loss to Illinois.
Martinez fumbled late in the first half, which resulted in Illinois returning it for a backbreaking touchdown just before intermission.
Martinez also overthrew a wide-open receiver in the end zone in the first half that would have been a touchdown, which resulted in the Huskers having to settle for a field goal.
Martinez finished 16-of-32 passing for 232 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 111 yards and a score.
“There are little mistakes we need to clean up as an entire team, as a unit, and as an individual,” Martinez said.
The biggest question going into the game might be whether Nebraska keeps its celebrated home sellout streak intact.
The Cornhuskers have sold out every home game since 1962 at Memorial Stadium, a streak that spans 375 games, but the combination of recent losing and an FCS opponent coming in could put that streak in jeopardy.
–Field Level Media