Nebraska Huskers Football: Five things we learned from NU's weekly press conference
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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 get ready to host Northwestern...

1. Shakeups could be coming to bolster offensive line

Head coach Scott Frost has been as disappointed with the play of Nebraska's offensive line as anyone, and from the sound of things on Monday, he and his staff are actively searching for new solutions.

While he didn't confirm that there would be changes made to the starting o-line this week against Northwestern, Frost said "competition is always open" at every position, and they would be taking a hard look at potential shake-ups this week in practice.

In particular, Frost mentioned that left guard and right tackle spots would be evaluated heavily.

"We're going to look at it," Frost said. "There are some guys that I know have the ability to play better than we have had a few positions. So competition is always open and we're going to give some other people a real shot...

"It's kind of been a little bit here, a little bit there, but we've got to find a left guard, and we've got to play a little bit better at right tackle. Those are probably a couple of the spots we'll look at."

Asked if true freshman Teddy Prochazka could have a chance to work more into the o-line rotation, Frost said:

"All hands on deck. Teddy has got a chance to compete for it just like anybody else."

2. 'Rough' Monday meeting set urgent tone for special teams  

Special teams have once again been a disaster for Nebraska this season. First, it was punt return blunders, and then Connor Culp was missing field goals and PATs left and right.

On Saturday, the punters and return teams cost the Huskers dearly in their loss at Michigan State. Daniel Cerni punting the ball to the wrong side of the field for the game-tying touchdown return highlighted an awful night for that group.

But William Przystup, who got the start for the second week in a row, wasn't any better. He shanked a seven-yard punt and averaged just 29.0 yards on four attempts.

As if that weren't bad enough, NU lost countless "hidden" yards by failing to catch punts and kickoffs. Nebraska's average field position on Saturday was its 22-yard line. Michigan State's was its 33.

Frost said Monday morning's special teams meeting wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone, and coordinator Mike Dawson "got their attention" on how critical it was for those units to improve dramatically going forward.

"The special teams meeting was tough," Frost said. "It was rough, but it was honest. Coach (Dawson) did a great job. He got their attention. He's had their attention the whole year, but I think he really got their attention this morning. And I want to see guys respond.

"We're so close in getting this over the hump. It's going to take a complete team deal, and we're all in this together."

3. Defense not pointing fingers for losses 

Nebraska's offense has had its share of issues all season, and the special teams have been one fire to put out after another every week.

The one element of the game that has been a consistent strength is the defense, which just had one of its best overall performances and certainly best halves of the Frost era at Michigan State.

Even Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald took note of how well the Blackshirts played on Saturday night.

"(Nebraska) held Michigan State to zero first downs in the second half," Fitzgerald told local reporters on Monday. "It was one of the best defensive performances I've seen in a long time."

And yet, despite how well the defense has played this season, Nebraska has still lost more games than its won.

Rather than point fingers at the offense and special teams for not doing their part, the defensive players who spoke on Monday stressed that the only way NU would turn the corner was by rallying together.

4. Inside linebackers have highlighted Blackshirts' impressive start

The strongest unit on Nebraska’s team is its defense, and the inside linebacking corps has been as productive as any group on the roster this season.

NU linebackers Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich had the most tackles, 11 and nine respectively, and got to the quarterback a total of three times against Michigan State. Reimer and Henrich were also the top two tacklers against Buffalo and Illinois.

The Husker’s defense held MSU to 15 yards and no first downs in the second half. Every piece of the defense has to be playing elite to hold the best running back in the country, Kenneth Walker III, to 61 rushing yards.

Nebraska’s left East Lansing with their third loss of the season despite what head coach Scott Frost described as “elite” second-half defense against the Spartans.

“We need to bring the rest of the team up to our level,” Reimer said.

The Husker’s defense forced one turnover versus Michigan State on an interception by safety Marquel Dismuke about two minutes into the game. Reimer said the defense needed to force more turnovers, specifically strip fumbles.

Frost said Nebraska’s offense has slowed down this season which helps keep the defense off the field. Reimer said it shouldn’t impact the Blackshirts whether it’s play No. 70 or No. 85

“You should always have the mindset that the defense has to be out there, and we just have to go win,” he said.

5. Another night kickoff on tap for Michigan game

While Nebraska's full attention is on this week's 6:30 p.m. showdown with Northwestern, it also learned that another primetime kickoff was added to the schedule on Monday.

The Huskers' Oct. 9 home game against Michigan was officially set for 6:30 p.m. CT and nationally televised on ABC.

That marks the first time NU will have played three straight night games since 2019.

Frost said having two night home games would be an advantage with the crowd energy and added recruiting opportunities. But he also knew that it didn't matter when the games were played if Nebraska didn't play better.

"We just need to get back on the field and win," Frost said. "That's what we need to do. I don't care if the game's at 2 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon. We're so close. We've been a bad team that won a few games and then a pretty good team that won some and lost some.

"Right now, we're a good team that's lost some games. We've got to get over that hurdle, and right now, the more opportunities that we get, the better. I love this team. I love being around them every day. I can't wait for them to get another chance."