All Nebraska needed was their guy. Their problems would go away if they could just get their coach. He was the answer. Once they got him, it was only a matter of time before they were back.
Getting Scott Frost
Nebraska football fans’ high expectations became evident when they fired Bo Pelini after going 9-3 in 2014. Pelini was 66-27 with Nebraska, and never won fewer than nine games in a season. Mike Riley replaced Pelini, and it was a surprise that he lasted three seasons. They needed yet another coach. This one had to be perfect, and they had one special candidate in mind. They just needed to lure him away from UCF.
Scott Frost’s Knights made history by winning every game in 2017 and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. The decision to leave for Nebraska weighed on him, but he never looked back once he made it to campus. An 0-6 start was followed by a 4-2 finish, and the hype snowballed from there. Frost’s reputation, a successful history, and a few potential playmakers are fueling that fire.
A big reason for Frost’s success at UCF? Quarterback play and improvement. McKenzie Milton showed tremendous potential, and the offense provided him with a ton of playmakers. UCF went 13-0 and Milton won AAC Offensive Player of the Year, so obviously the quarterback put in the work. Now Frost must do the same with another young quarterback.
Adrian Martinez, a former four star recruit, came to campus as a potential candidate for the starting job. He won the job from Day 1, and never looked back. A solid arm and an ability to elude tacklers helped him accumulate 3,246 yards and 25 touchdowns. In order to improve on those numbers in 2019, he must find new playmakers.
No returning (and eligible) running back has more than 100 yards and just one player has more than 300 yards receiving. However, Nebraska’s schedule essentially exchanges Michigan and Michigan State for Indiana and Maryland. Still not a given, but that certainly makes life easier. It’s safe to say that Nebraska will score plenty, but the other side of the ball must do it’s job too.
With Martinez at quarterback and a handful of great playmakers last year, the Cornhuskers offense produced 456 yards and 30 points per game. Unfortunately, the defense allowed 434 yards and 31.3 points per game. They only held two teams to under 28 points last year (Michigan State….in the rain and Bethune-Cookman). Luckily for Huskers’ fans, UCF went through a similar situation under Frost from 2016 (they went 6-7) to 2017 (13-0).
Is the hype justified?
Nebraska fans have plenty to be excited about, but that doesn’t mean their team replicates UCF’s run. The Big Ten presents a completely new challenge for Frost. Martinez returns as one of the more intriguing and exciting college football players in the country, but he needs to grow as a passer and take care of the ball better. A lot of fans and media members’ feeling towards this team fall on his development.
Scott Frost took over a program that’s desperate to return to national prominence, but they need to be patient. His turnaround at UCF isn’t normal, and the level of difficulty increased. Nebraska can improve their record in 2019, but how much? Six wins seems realistic, but it could be more. Hype always comes with caution, so it’s better to be safe with excitement with this team. If Martinez shows the level of improvement that Milton did, we are in for one entertaining ride.