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 get ready to take on No. 3 Oklahoma this week...
1. Nebraska-Oklahoma still resonates with Huskers
The last time Nebraska and Oklahoma played each other was Dec. 4, 2010, in the Big 12 Conference championship game in Arlington, Texas.
Sixth-year senior defensive lineman Ben Stille, one of the oldest players on the 2021 Huskers’ roster, was just 13 years old back then.
As NU officially kicked off its preparations for Saturday’s trip to face the third-ranked Sooners, the current Huskers did their best to reflect on rekindling a storied rivalry that most were too young to truly remember.
While the heyday of the Nebraska-Oklahoma series may have been well before their time, the players said they still understood what the series meant to both programs and college football as a whole.
"Everyone knows the big-time rivalry games like Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn, and there's Nebraska-Oklahoma,” freshman offensive lineman Turner Corcoran said. “It’s something we look forward to playing in."
Added junior quarterback Adrian Martinez: “I’m from California, and I knew about the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry."
Head coach Scott Frost is as familiar as anyone with what NU-OU represents as a life-long Husker fan and a player in two games.
“This was my favorite game of the year growing up my entire life, just like every Nebraska fan, I think,” Frost said. “I was lucky enough to play in two of them. One of them was Coach (Tom) Osborne’s 250th victory.
“It was one of the best rivalries in sports and kind of a shame that it went away. But it’s going to be special to be a part of it in a different role.”
2. No updates on several key injuries going into game week
Nebraska’s offense has a long list of notable players who were either already injured or left the Buffalo win with injuries.
No. 2 tight end Travis Vokolek has yet to play this season while starting receiver Oliver Martin has missed the past two games.
Then on Saturday, wideout Omar Manning was a late scratch before kickoff, and top tight end Austin Allen and receiver Zavier Betts were both knocked out of the game.
Frost had no update on any of the injured players but did confirm that Allen was dealing with a head injury after his helmet slammed against the turf while being tackled.
3. Improving the ‘base runs’ is a top priority
For Nebraska’s offense to have the balance and efficiency it wants, it knows that its base running plays must work at a significantly higher level than they have the first three games.
Frost said there was no single reason that had stood out for the Huskers’ inability to establish a traditional run game. Instead, he said it was a collective failure from one play to the next that has kept that element of the offense stuck in neutral.
“It’s a combination,” Frost said. “We’ve just got to be a little more consistent. It’s one guy here or there on some plays, it’s missing a hole on another play. (Buffalo) had the box packed, so it made it a little tough. But we’ve still got to pop a few more of those, and it’s got to be a collective effort.”
No unit has been harder on itself for the run game struggles than the offensive line, as Corcoran made quite clear on Monday.
“I’m not satisfied with how the offensive line’s playing. None of us are,” Corcoran said. “It’s not just me, it’s not just Coach (Greg) Austin, it’s all of us. We’re a unit, and we all think and feel the same thing.
“We know when things are supposed to hit, and they weren’t hitting the way we wanted them to. We weren’t blocking them the way we should have and like we know how to do. We’ve just got to flat-out do a better job.”
4. Reimer rewarded with Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week
For the first time in five years, Nebraska had a player honored in the Big Ten Conference’s weekly individual awards.
After his impressive effort in the Huskers’ win over Buffalo, Luke Reimer was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week.
The sophomore inside linebacker racked up a career-high 16 tackles, including a key fourth-down stop, and a game-changing fourth-quarter interception in the 28-3 victory. His 16 total tackles were the most by an NU player since 2015.
Reimer became the first Husker to earn a weekly Big Ten honor since Nathan Gerry on Sept. 12, 2016.
Reimer said he had no idea he’d received the accolade until follow linebacker JoJo Domann congratulated him for it in the weight room on Monday morning.
"JoJo came up to me, he's like 'Hey, congrats man.' I was like 'For what?'" Reimer said. “But, no, that’s a huge honor for me.”
5. Freshman OL Prochazka ‘in the conversation’ for increased role
True freshman offensive lineman Teddy Prochazka lined up for his first play against Buffalo at the tight end spot.
There was no one for him to block while setting the edge on that play, but he had his shot on the next. Nebraska scored a touchdown on a 68-yard pass to Samori Toure on the following snap.
“That 60-yard touchdown, that's how I like it - get out there for two plays maybe,” Prochazka said. “We get a big-play touchdown, right back to the sideline.”
Frost said that Prochazka was “in the conversation” of earning even more reps on going forward this season.
The 6-foot-9, 310-pound offensive lineman said the coaches told him a few weeks ago that he had an opportunity to play. Prochazka said he felt like he could really contribute in mid-fall camp.
“I felt I was making calls better, and then reading the defense better and understanding the playbook more, and getting my skills down and detailing all my work,” he said.