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The Frost Era

Cornhuskers7

Recruit
A Breakdown of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska, and my belief, in hindsight, on why those seasons played out like they did.

2018: 4-8 record. One big question is would the SF era have been any different if we had opened with a win against Akron (as we then fought the winless monkey that rode on our back)? We had Colorado beat and blew it in the 4th. Andrew Bunch performed admirably against Troy, but was not FBS talent (knew an FCS coach at the time that recruited Bunch and was shocked he saw the field at NU). Could have beaten Northwestern. Still managed to finish the season playing like a team that should have gone to a bowl (won 4 of final 6 and nearly won the two we lost).

Martinez was a special player as a freshman, despite the early injury. He came in and was difficult to defend. Frost and company helped develop Ozigbo into a solid RB. The biggest issue with this team was the defense. They could never get off the field when they needed to. Played well on 1st and 2nd down and then somehow would find a way to give up the first. There was still a lot of hype leaving this season, despite the slow start. Most people believed we'd play the following year in the same fashion we finished this season- and that would put us back where we belonged.

2019: 5-7 record. The last time we were ranked in the top 25. Again- should have beaten Colorado and blew it in the 4th. Much hyped game against Ohio State proved we were very far from being back. Right when we hit the part of our schedule that we needed to dominate- Martinez got hurt again, and Vedral couldn't pull us across the finish line to a bowl. There was also a feeling during this season that defenses had figured out how to scheme against our offense better. They had enough tape on Adrian that they could figure out how to put the pieces together to keep him from beating them. It would be a few years before Martinez really made any measurable improvements in his deficiencies, which defenses we not exploiting.

We didn't have any support from the backfield, as Mills was lackluster. Wan'Dale would have some nice touches, but wasn't a featured part of the offense yet. The defense played well enough to not lose us games, but wasn't necessarily winning us games either. Once again, it felt like we were a couple of bad breaks away from being a bowl bound team. Despite some of the concerns that crept up with him during the season, it felt like if Martinez could stay healthy and develop, we could still get back to being a good team. It wasn't time to consider it a lost cause. While there was still plenty of reason for concern, there were somehow still some bright spots.

2020: (COVID season) 3-5 record. The first drive of the season was easily the most fun of the year, as we rolled down the field and scored- silencing an empty Horseshoe. We got trounced by OSU, once again, but we saw some stuff with McCaffery that made everyone wonder what type of magic could be harnessed with him, Martinez, and Wan'Dale. The Wisconsin cancellation was a gut punch, as they had a number of people get COVID, but still potentially had enough to play. That potentially could have been a win against a shorthanded- yet highly touted Badger squad. Go back and look at the Northwestern game team stats and you would assume we won that game- nope. However this game only further stoked the McCaffery vs. Martinez debate. We beat a subpar Penn State team. Losses to Illinois and Minnesota are arguably some of the worst in the Frost era.

We close the season with a win over Rutgers in the Big 10 Crapionship game. We elected to not go play in a bowl, which we could still debate whether or not was the right call. By the end of the year, the promise we felt offensively after the OSU game had completely flipped. Instead, we were now left shaking our heads trying to figure out what this team would be going forward. McCaffery proved he wasn't the answer at QB, but Martinez only narrowly earned his job back. Wan'Dale closed the year being the only person who could seem to give us consistently positive plays on offense, but he was taking an absolute beating (and he would ultimately leave). It was the first time during the Frost era, where it didn't feel like we had made any positive momentum coming out of a season.

2021: 3-9 record. The first game of the college football season featured the Nebraska Cornhuskers finding unique ways to lose. The beginning of my punt return PTSD began in Champaign. It was a game we should of won and knew we needed to win if we wanted to get to a bowl game. Our schedule was going to be really tough and we couldn't afford to make it any tougher on ourselves. The trip to Norman brought so many different emotions. For the first time in a while, one of those emotions was hope. Our defense showed in that game they were good enough to compete with any team in the nation, we just needed our offense and- most importantly- special teams to find ways to be even average. Michigan State- we literally didn't allow a first down the entire 2nd half and lost.... HOW!?! Michigan game felt like it could have been the momentum shifter for the program. Night game, Memorial rockin', Top 10 team on the ropes. Nope- still found a way to lose. Minnesota was remarkably the least close game of our season, yet we still nearly had a chance to win the game, but we couldn't cover what seemed like the perfect onside kick. With our last hopes of bowl eligibility on the line- we gave Ohio State all the could handle. It never felt like a game we should actually win, but it didn't feel out of place that we were giving them a battle. Wisconsin and Iowa- again we found more creative ways to lose.

From the outside, it seemed like a program on the right track. We were "the best 3-9 team ever". Hoist the banner!

From the inside, it was weekly torture. The season couldn't have been set up any better to rip at our hearts. We took Oklahoma and Ohio State- two top teams to the brink. We had Michigan State- who would fly into the top of the rankings- beat. Michigan felt like a game we had in our hands. All four teams who would be considered among the best. Meanwhile, we'd be stuck crying into a pillow through all of bowl season (that's what we all did, right?).

The defense in the Frost era went from the reason we were bad, to the reason we were nearly great. The offense only seemed to move in reverse (2021 there was drastic improvement, but still had plays that effectively lost us games). When you look at the journey retroactively, there are lots of what ifs, where you could easily see the story being very different. Nonetheless, here we stand. One constant in all four years was Martinez's inability to stay healthy. In each season he got hurt and left us in a bind during critical games. How much of that was his fault is up for debate. But, there is little doubt in my mind that despite the negatives he brought to some games, that we could have been to a bowl game in multiple seasons under Frost if he had remained healthy.

Every new season brings fresh hope, but with each failure the expectations temper.

2022 will be the year that ultimately defines the Frost era. Will Nebraska finally turn the corner and come out on the other side as a team that lives up to the potential that has been there all along? Or will this be the final chapter in the story of what could have been, but never was?
 

Brew City Husker

Travel Squad
20 Year Member
Long post. I read through it, I post some long posts, too. Your post gave me a little bit of PTSD. Last season was the most heart-breaking season of Husker football in my lifetime. I mean our hearts got broken almost every week. Here’s a few observations about your conclusions:

1. Adrian Martinez…………the enigma. Amazing talent, but never one to pay attention to ball security. It was as if someone was telling him, don’t worry about the turnovers, we’ll score next time we get the ball. I would have thought it was just him, but the turnovers didn’t necessarily stop when others (see McCaffrey, Luke) were playing QB which leads me to be that the turnover problem is (was) systemic.
2. We ran a high risk offense coached by guys who were teaching “play with no fear”. I’d rather have a coaching staff that says, “You better be afraid of turnovers. See this clipboard and see that bench? You keep throwing the ball away and dropping it at key moments and you’ll be right there on that bench or right next to me holding this clipboard. Now get back in there and play within the system and protect the damned ball or you know what will happen.” Hopefully Whipple, Joseph and Applewhite bring some sanity to the turnover issue within our offense.
3. Best 3-9 team ever? Yeah, maybe, but I’m going to throw up if I hear someone say that again. Those kinds of accolades are for losers.

Good post, though. Thanks for putting it out here.
 

Captkenny

Travel Squad
10 Year Member
I think too much credit is given to how close we were in games during 2018-2020. The scores ended up close, but usually due to fourth quarter scoring that was good enough to make it look close, but never an real chance of winning. But a good write up nonetheless.

I think 2021 was the first time we were competing in a way that we had legitimate shots at winning against our top competition. Inexplicably, we managed to struggle more over the teams we would have expected to play better against.

Hopefully, there is light coming in 2022. There has to be light up ahead somewhere, doesn't there?
 

Cornhuskers7

Recruit
Long post. I read through it, I post some long posts, too. Your post gave me a little bit of PTSD. Last season was the most heart-breaking season of Husker football in my lifetime. I mean our hearts got broken almost every week. Here’s a few observations about your conclusions:

1. Adrian Martinez…………the enigma. Amazing talent, but never one to pay attention to ball security. It was as if someone was telling him, don’t worry about the turnovers, we’ll score next time we get the ball. I would have thought it was just him, but the turnovers didn’t necessarily stop when others (see McCaffrey, Luke) were playing QB which leads me to be that the turnover problem is (was) systemic.
2. We ran a high risk offense coached by guys who were teaching “play with no fear”. I’d rather have a coaching staff that says, “You better be afraid of turnovers. See this clipboard and see that bench? You keep throwing the ball away and dropping it at key moments and you’ll be right there on that bench or right next to me holding this clipboard. Now get back in there and play within the system and protect the damned ball or you know what will happen.” Hopefully Whipple, Joseph and Applewhite bring some sanity to the turnover issue within our offense.
3. Best 3-9 team ever? Yeah, maybe, but I’m going to throw up if I hear someone say that again. Those kinds of accolades are for losers.

Good post, though. Thanks for putting it out here.
1. I think Luke and Adrian had similar mentalities and failure, but I'm not sure how much of that was tied to coaching. They were incredible athletes who had been able to get away with making spectacular plays based on their athleticism alone. I think all players experience some of that adversity when they move to the next level and competition is stiffer, but I think both struggled to find ways to tighten up their play and move away from those mistakes. I think 2AM finally made some progress on that last season, but even then he was good for a couple plays a game that were free turnovers if the defense took them.
2. I think in 2020 our offense actually got too conservative. Remember all the clips of guys running wide open 30-40 yards down field, only for our QB to never look their way. Last year we whipped it around a lot more, and I think it (mostly) paid off. The offense wasn't too bad, but again made those needless mistakes when it hurt the most.
3. I hate it too. I'd much rather have been remembered as a very average 8-4 team.
 

Cornhuskers7

Recruit
I think too much credit is given to how close we were in games during 2018-2020. The scores ended up close, but usually due to fourth quarter scoring that was good enough to make it look close, but never an real chance of winning. But a good write up nonetheless.

I think 2021 was the first time we were competing in a way that we had legitimate shots at winning against our top competition. Inexplicably, we managed to struggle more over the teams we would have expected to play better against.

Hopefully, there is light coming in 2022. There has to be light up ahead somewhere, doesn't there?
There are certainly a number of games where we came back and made things look better than they actually were. Minnesota in 2021 is one example of that, and there are definitely a few others from the beginning of the era. That being said, we have avoided (mostly) the Pelini era slaughters we took annually. We've just traded them for inexplicable losses.
 

Captkenny

Travel Squad
10 Year Member
There are certainly a number of games where we came back and made things look better than they actually were. Minnesota in 2021 is one example of that, and there are definitely a few others from the beginning of the era. That being said, we have avoided (mostly) the Pelini era slaughters we took annually. We've just traded them for inexplicable losses.
Not a great trade from my perspective.

The 2021 game against Minnesota is a perfect example of what was happening in the years before. We drop behind early on and manage to claw our way back enough to make it look close, but it never felt like we really had a chance.

As opposed to other games in 2021 where we had a legitimate shot to win from beginning to end but just couldn’t seal the deal.

in any event, that’s the past. I hope we aren’t having these conversations about how close we were to winning come December.
 

wcbsas

All Big 10
15 Year Member
Lots of things to discern. In my opinion starts with:

1. Culture … SF did some good things. He re-engaged former disenfranchised alumni. I think he did disenfranchise too large of a segment of inherited players. Most athletes just want to play, most will do whatever is asked of them if given a chance. Created too much turbulence in year 1. Today we hear little things about culture, about favoritism, about lack of buy-in here in year 4. Not a lot of noise but enough to cause concern.

2. Coaches … the Tom Osborne school of unrequited loyalty doesn’t work in todays world. SF really didn’t make changes until pushed into it. The great leaders are the ones who surround themselves with people smarter/better than himself. SF didn’t do that.

3. Players … once again SF was so unapologetically loyal that he sowed seeds of discontent. Cam Jurgens is an example. SF was proved more right than wrong but CJ’s first season didn’t warrant the loyalty extended to him. Same with 2AM.

4. Game management … Colorado, Michigan State … once again SF thought he was smarter than the guy across the field … is it coaching, preparation, talent?
 

Hville

Travel Squad
5 Year Member
Lots of things to discern. In my opinion starts with:

1. Culture … SF did some good things. He re-engaged former disenfranchised alumni. I think he did disenfranchise too large of a segment of inherited players. Most athletes just want to play, most will do whatever is asked of them if given a chance. Created too much turbulence in year 1. Today we hear little things about culture, about favoritism, about lack of buy-in here in year 4. Not a lot of noise but enough to cause concern.

2. Coaches … the Tom Osborne school of unrequited loyalty doesn’t work in todays world. SF really didn’t make changes until pushed into it. The great leaders are the ones who surround themselves with people smarter/better than himself. SF didn’t do that.

3. Players … once again SF was so unapologetically loyal that he sowed seeds of discontent. Cam Jurgens is an example. SF was proved more right than wrong but CJ’s first season didn’t warrant the loyalty extended to him. Same with 2AM.

4. Game management … Colorado, Michigan State … once again SF thought he was smarter than the guy across the field … is it coaching, preparation, talent?
SF wasn’t loyal to AM. He played him because he had nobody else who was any better. If anything he was of disservice to AM. He played him over and over injured and was designing an offense that put him at high risk to injury given the protection he was getting from the offensive line. AM is lucky to have survived his career at Nebraska.
 
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joncarl

Nobody important
15 Year Member
I think looking back the Frost era will look something like: Started rough but with good leadership it was turned around and in the end was deemed a success. No national championships but conference championships, athletes that were drafted and players that were successful in other things.

At least that is my hope.
 

joncarl

Nobody important
15 Year Member
I think looking back the Frost era will look something like: Started rough but with good leadership it was turned around and in the end was deemed a success. No national championships but conference championships, athletes that were drafted and players that were successful in other things.

At least that is my hope.
 

Red October

Travel Squad
5 Year Member
I think looking back the Frost era will look something like: Started rough but with good leadership it was turned around and in the end was deemed a success. No national championships but conference championships, athletes that were drafted and players that were successful in other things.

At least that is my hope.
the first 4 years of Frost are a disaster any way you Frost the cake
 

TFrazier

2022 No More Kool-Aid
10 Year Member
the first 4 years of Frost are a disaster any way you Frost the cake


58a03192985559504e78c66a2153633d3807d5ef.gifv
 

joncarl

Nobody important
15 Year Member
the first 4 years of Frost are a disaster any way you Frost the cake
Absolutely they were, can't deny or argue that, but for me it's how the tenure ends. Do we improve, do we start to see the silly mistakes that cost us games disappear? There is absolutely nothing we can do about the past, not sure why everyone dwells on it so much. Going forward I believe we will see improvement. I guess what can be argued is 'what exactly' is the improvement. I believe we will see going forward anywhere from 8-10 wins a season, maybe a little better every once in a while. I guess we will see.
 

Cornhuskers7

Recruit
SF wasn’t loyal to AM. He played him because he had nobody else who was any better. If anything he was of disservice to AM. He played him over and over injured and was designing an offense that put him at high risk to injury given the protection he was getting from the offensive line. AM is lucky to have survived his career at Nebraska.
You are right, SF didn't have unending loyalty to 2AM. He benched him in 2020 in favor of McCaffery. Much of his perceived "loyalty" was based on his unwillingness to throw someone who wasn't ready or capable to the wolves.

2018- Bunch wasn't better than AM.
2019- Vedral wasn't better than AM.
2020- McCaffery brought the most to the table, but wasn't better than AM.
2021- Smothers had probably the best argument. I think you could argue that if we were focusing more on the future, you'd go ahead and see what Smothers could develop into. AM gave us the better chance to win, but we knew that wasn't going to be good enough to go far. Smothers could have benefited from more in-game reps.

I will say that I don't think SF designed an offense that put him in harms way. I think AM is a player who plays in a way that he leaves himself open to injury. Sure, Frost could have used a Pro-style offense where AM just sat in the pocket, but that isn't what he is good at. What makes him special is him ability to run. That in and of itself is going to leave him open to a higher probability of injury.
 

Cornhuskers7

Recruit
Not a great trade from my perspective.

The 2021 game against Minnesota is a perfect example of what was happening in the years before. We drop behind early on and manage to claw our way back enough to make it look close, but it never felt like we really had a chance.

As opposed to other games in 2021 where we had a legitimate shot to win from beginning to end but just couldn’t seal the deal.

in any event, that’s the past. I hope we aren’t having these conversations about how close we were to winning come December.
Sure, I'd prefer to take a lump once or twice a year and still make a bowl and be respectable. Problem is that shouldn't have to be the choice at Nebraska.

I agree, there have been too many games in the Frost era where we came out flat and not ready to play. We hear about the "best week of practice I've seen in my time here" and then get crap on gameday. It's the reason why Frost is justifiably on the hot seat.
 
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