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Five things we learned from NU's weekly press conference

Here are five of our biggest takeaways from Nebraska's weekly press conference on Monday as the Huskers look to bounce back vs. Fordham...

1. Illinois' four-man front caught NU completely off guard

With a new head coach and staff taking over at Illinois, it's understandable that Nebraska had to play a bit of a guessing game as to what the Fighting Illini would do on either side of the ball.

The four-man defensive front that Bret Bielema used was apparently a curveball that left Scott Frost and Co. without an answer.

Frost said Monday that the Huskers had prepared all offseason expecting to see Illinois use a three-man front. When the Illini came out with an even look, "about half of our game plan was kind of out the window when they came out and lined up the way they did."

"We kind of had to scramble and go with an alternative plan and try to adjust. We did some good things but not enough of them."

It wasn't just four defensive linemen as opposed to three that caused NU confusion. Frost said the Illini also used wide-nine and five-technique looks with defensive ends lined up on the outside shoulders of the tackles.

"We just hadn't had many reps with that, so that had a little bit to do with it," Frost said. "But, hey, we've got to be better. We've got to establish the run, and we've got to be ahead in the game so we can commit to the run."

2. Frost is still calling the plays on game day

There had been speculation all offseason that offensive coordinator Matt Lubick would have a bigger hand in Nebraska's play-calling this season.

However, Frost said Monday that he was still the one picking the plays at Illinois.

"No, I was calling them," he said.

Lubick seemed to have a more active role in calling NU's offense toward the end of last season when the Huskers appeared to make some strides in establishing a relative identity on offense.

Frost said Lubick and the rest of the offensive staff still played a big part in Nebraska's game plan during the week, but Frost ultimately made the calls on game days.

"I talked about Matt and I doing it," Frost said. "We collaborate - the whole staff collaborates."

3. Rogers, Vokolek are both 'close' to returning to action

As if Nebraska didn't have enough to worry about on Saturday, it had to play Illinois without two key pieces on both sides of the ball.

Tight end Travis Vokolek and defensive lineman Casey Rogers missed the game with undisclosed injuries they suffered during fall camp.

The good news was Frost said Monday that he didn't expect either player to miss significant time and that both were "close" to returning to action.

However, Frost gave no additional information on when Vokolek or Rogers would be back on the field or go into the details of their respective injuries.

4. Nebraska hopes to make the most of this week

Coming off such a disappointing loss at Illinois, Nebraska is now in an odd situation where a win this week vs. Fordham won't do much to ease fan frustration or build back momentum.

But the Huskers are still looking at this week, as a few players said, to "make a statement." Not just to fans and media, but also to themselves to prove they're better than what they showed in Champaign.

That effort started with Monday morning's practice. Nearly every player who spoke at the press conference said the team returned with a crisp, focused session with plenty of enthusiasm.

Nebraska even changed things up by not playing any music during practice and forcing the players to "bring our own energy."

Receiver Wyatt Liewer said he "saw a lot of fight out of the guys today." Fellow wideout Samori Toure agreed.

"We're going to bounce back," Toure said. "We're not going to let one game decide our fate."

5. Huskers to fans: 'Stick with us'

All this week, the elephant in the room will be whether Nebraska can save its NCAA-record sellout streak for another game on Saturday.

The loss at Illinois was a major gut-punch to a fan base whose enthusiasm was already waning. Now the Huskers are hoping to fill nearly 90,000 seats for an 11 a.m. kick against FCS Fordham.

Frost and his players' message to NU fans was to keep the faith and continue their support as the team worked to get its season back on track.

“Look, we’re here to play some football, here to enjoy it, here to have fun,” quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “And our guys are going to do that. And we’re getting better. And we’re giving it everything we have — everything we have.

"There’s a lot of investment here on this end. We are going to get things right. So stick with us. We’re going to play our tails off every week, and I sincerely hope you enjoy watching that.”

Frost was asked if he was worried about whether the lack of excitement around the fan base could threaten Nebraska's 375-game sellout streak.

“I hope nobody lost excitement after Saturday," Frost said. "This team has a chance to be really good. If there are still some tickets out there, buy ‘em up and come watch this team.

"This is a special group of kids. There’s a lot of character, a lot of talent. We can’t wait to play in front of the fans, so we need you there.”