Here are some quick takes and reactions following Nebraska’s 41-23 loss to Illinois on Saturday.
This was a low point of the Frost era
There was Michigan 2018, Colorado 2019, Purdue 2019 and Ohio State 2019, but nothing comes close to Illinois 2020.
This was the low point of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska. Never in a million years did I expect NU as a 17 point favorite at home to not only get beat by the Illini, but embarrassed in nearly every aspect.
Illinois won every phase on Saturday. Their offense put together long drives, converted over 60 percent of their third downs and finished with touchdowns. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s offense turned it over four times, compared to none for the Illini.
On special teams, they gave up a fake punt for a key first down to start the second half, along with a key block in the back penalty on a punt return. Everything went wrong for the Huskers Saturday. It’s almost a blessing 90,000 fans weren’t in attendance to witness it.
Back-to-back wins in the Big Ten don’t come easy, and Nebraska once again learned that on Saturday. You can’t show up mentally unprepared no matter who the opponent is.
Blackshirt week has been less than memorable
After a promising showing at times last week vs. Penn State, not only did NU hand out the Blackshirt, they decided to wear their Blackshirt alternate uniforms.
All of it sounded great in theory. The Huskers were at home and probably favored by more points than they will be in any game this season.
Then reality sunk in. The same third-down issues we’ve seen on defense were a huge problem again on Saturday. There were also coverage busts and assignment errors stopping the run.
It was a thorough beatdown from an Illinois offense that hasn’t look like this all season. Nothing went right for the Husker defense.
The lack of downfield throwing remains a huge issue
In the first half Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey ran the ball 20 times. The school record in a game for rushing attempts is 38, which came from running back Rex Burkhead in 2011.
There is no way NU went into this game expecting McCaffrey to run the ball that much in the first half.
It came off as desperation. He wasn’t seeing things downfield and didn’t feel comfortable making throws, so instead, he just tucked it and ran it. That’s ok from time to time, but by no means is it something you can live off as an offense.
The question is were the issues due to McCaffrey not seeing guys, or Illinois just doing that good of a job covering things up?
The bottom line is Nebraska’s downfield passing game seems broken. It’s been an issue all year and showed up in a worse way on Saturday.