Five burning questions heading into Iowa week
Here are five of the biggest questions still facing Nebraska as it gets ready for its Black Friday showdown with Iowa this week...
1. Does this team still have hope?
The players who spoke during Nebraska's post-game press conference on Saturday all said the right things, like how the team was ready to get back to work and how they were still confident they could turn the season around.
But those words only meant so much after arguably the worst loss of the Scott Frost era.
You had players like freshman defensive back Ronald Delancy, who didn't even suit up on vs. Illinois, taking shots at the team on Twitter during the game (which was quickly deleted).
There were also comments by quarterback Luke McCaffrey and tight end Austin Allen about there not being enough "attention to detail" and "energy" and "just a lack of execution throughout the week" in practice.
That was after a win. What will the Huskers' mindset be after falling to 1-3 and having just played their worst all-around game of the season?
This week is going to be a major culture test for head coach Scott Frost's program.
2. What will happen at quarterback?
Just when you thought Nebraska's quarterback situation had finally been resolved, things got turned upside down once again on Saturday.
McCaffrey's second start as a Husker was pretty much a disaster from start to finish, as he turned the ball over four times while going 15-of-26 through the air for 134 yards.
After his third interception in the fourth quarter, Frost sat McCaffrey and put Adrian Martinez in for the rest of the game. Though it all came during garbage time, Martnez completed three of his four passes for 43 yards with a four-yard touchdown toss to Levi Falck.
While it's unlikely that Frost gives the keys back to Martinez as the starter, it will be interesting to see if the junior gets worked in more not only to give NU's offense a lift but also to take some of the pressure off McCaffrey's shoulders.
3. What is the status of Collin Miller?
The scariest sight of the Illinois loss was when senior linebacker Collin Miller was carted off the field and taken to a local Lincoln hospital after suffering an injury on the field.
After the game, Frost gave a positive initial update saying Miller was talking and moving before being taken off on a stretcher and had feeling and movement in his extremities.
The news got even better a few hours later, as the Huskers released this statement from head football trainer Mark Mayer:
"Collin Miller was transported to Bryan LGH West Hospital for precautionary reasons. Miller has movement in all of his extremities, and the results of all diagnostic imaging and testing on Miller were normal. He will stay overnight at the hospital for observation, and at this point, the prognosis looks promising."
Miller himself put out a tweet thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers, saying, "They definitely worked. God was with me."
But the question now is whether Miller will be ready to return to the field on a short week against Iowa on Friday? Miller currently ranks fourth on the team with 27 tackles, and his leadership on the defense is even more valuable.
Luke Reimer would likely get the start in Miller's absence, while Nick Henrich was the fourth inside linebacker in the rotation on Saturday.
4. Is Cam Jurgens still the guy at center?
Cam Jurgens has so many physical tools that make him such an intriguing player at center, which is why Frost has been so high on him the past two years.
But until he can consistently snap the football back to the quarterback without issue, questions will continue to be asked about his long-term potential at the position.
Snaps were once again a problem for Jurgens against Illinois, as he and McCaffrey had troubles connecting all day.
On top of that, Jurgens was flagged for a costly holding penalty that negated a one-yard touchdown run by Marvin Scott. Instead of cutting the deficit to 21-14, the Huskers had to settle for a field goal to make it 21-10.
Jurgens was eventually replaced at center by senior Matt Farniok, and there weren't any noticeable problems with the snaps from then on.
Frost said Jurgens was taken out of the game after re-aggravating a foot injury that forced him to miss the Northwestern game earlier this season. However, Frost added that the snapping woes had to get fixed one way or another.
5. When will Dedrick Mills return?
Nebraska's offense needs all the help it can get right now, and not having it's supposed "bell cow" running back in Dedrick Mills has been a notable absence.
After missing the majority of the win over Penn State with an undisclosed injury, Mills did not suit up against Illinois. That left true freshman Marvin Scott making his first career start and redshirt freshman Rahmir Johnson as the No. 2.
Receiver Wan'Dale Robinson ended up being the primary ball carrier out of the backfield, but once again, the Huskers failed to do much of anything in their traditional run game.
Robison carried seven times for 62 yards, though 32 of those came on one attempt. Scott had eight rushes for 22 yards (and a negated touchdown), while Johnson ran once for three yards.
In all, NU's true running backs combined for just 25 yards on nine carries.
For Nebraska to beat Iowa or anyone else left on the schedule, it's rushing attack has to go beyond quarterback runs. Getting a healthy Mills back would undoubtedly help in that regard.