Got no issue with what Scott Frost did in the third quarter of Saturday’s Aer Lingus College Football Series, 2022 edition, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
The guy went for the kill shot … and got burned.
Hey, it happens. Even when you make the "right" call.
Oh, the Nebraska head coach may be on the hottest of hot seats until his likely, and probably deserved, dismissal later this season, but, really, honestly, going for an onside kick in a 31-28 loss to Big Ten rival Northwestern should not be why.
Frost’s Cornhuskers had just scored to take a 28-17 lead. They may have seemed in charge, especially to vision experts who read about things postgame, with the purple-clad Wildcats struggling to stop new Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson and Co.
But they weren’t. Thompson’s counterpart, Ryan Hilinski, was brilliant throughout, and Northwestern’s ground game was really starting to take its toll on the Huskers’ D. Frost could see it, smell it – with every Hilinski completion and run by Evan Hull or Cam Porter that ate up large chunks of yardage – that his team couldn’t stop the ‘Cats. Only the ‘Cats were stopping the ‘Cats.
Momentum, at that moment, was on Nebraska’s side. But it was fleeting, and Frost knew it.
So, he went for that kill shot right then and there, hoping that might finally stop the ’Cats in their tracks … and he got burned.
Frankly, the Huskers were going to lose, eventually, the way the game was going – unless they were successful on that onside kick. They lost the turnover battle, 3 to 1. They gave up 528 yards. They were a physical team … that was not the more physical team in this one.
They weren’t going to win the game … unless that kill shot had landed.
It didn’t, but, from the vantage point of someone who watched the game with no vested interest in either squad, Frost was fine with taking it. In fact, he was right.
REVERSING THE FIELD
On the other hand, Frost later took “responsibility” for making the decision with the onside kick, then didn’t stand by his decision and, to make matters worse, threw his new offensive staff under the bus for the loss.
This would be the same staff that is headline by OC Mark Whipple, a guy fresh off guiding Kenny Pickett to a better season at Pittsburgh in 2021 than Dan Marino ever had, and who had Thompson slinging it all over the yard against Northwestern. It’s not like Nebraska had issues moving the ball; it did finish with 465 yards of its own.
Frost brushed off questions about him possibly stepping down. Maybe Nebraska’s (former??) favorite son, now 15-30 since returning to his alma mater after earning National Coach of the Year honors while leading Central Florida to an unbeaten season in 2017, should take a long, hard look in the mirror and not dismiss the idea.
Not a lot to choose from the Week 0 file, since, well, there wasn’t exactly a ton of high-caliber competition taking place. Hilinski could be considered after his 314-yard, 2-TD effort in what easily was the best game of the weekend.
But two others seem more worthy of consideration, even with facing lesser competition.
- Illinois junior RB Chase Brown, looking to match, or surpass, his 1,000-yard campaign from 2021, got off to a quick start in the Illini’s 38-6 whitewashing of Wyoming, ripping off 151 yards rushing and 3 TDs total.
- North Carolina freshman QB Drake Maye threw for 294 yards and 5 TDs, and tossed in another 55 yards on the ground on just four carries in leading the Tar Heels to a 56-24 pounding of Florida A&M.
Things pick up in Week 1, starting with the renewal of the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia on Thursday night, with the 17th-ranked Panthers playing host. Penn State, surprisingly unranked to start the season, visits Big Ten foe Purdue the same night.
On Saturday, the biggest biggie is No. 5 Notre Dame visiting No. 2 Ohio State and the next biggest biggie is No. 11 Oregon taking on No. 3 Georgia, the defending national champ, in Atlanta. No. 23 Cincinnati travels to No. 19 Arkansas, and, on upset watch, No. 7 Utah steps into the Swamp to face Florida in Billy Napier’s first game as Gators head coach.
Bonus holiday weekend action includes big, but currently unranked teams, Florida State and Louisiana State meeting up in New Orleans on Sunday night, and No. 4 Clemson going at ACC rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Monday night.
Should be a good week.