Buffalo vs. Nebraska, 9.11

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost follows the team off the buses for the Unity Walk on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel give four highlights from Monday's NU athletics press conference.

You know, it feels like a big-game week around here, as it should.

Nebraska playing Oklahoma on the gridiron should always carry with it more oomph than most games on the schedule. 

So, some takeaways from the Huskers' weekly luncheon Monday. 

1. Wise phrasing: Coaches all over America might do well to take note of how well Nebraska coach Scott Frost handled a question about his team's offensive pass-interference penalties this season, particularly the flags for alleged "pick" plays.  

Frost specifically addressed the penalty Saturday on sophomore wideout Wyatt Liewer, which negated Adrian Martinez's second-quarter touchdown pass to Samori Toure. 

Could Nebraska have done anything differently on that play to avoid a flag?

"I don't think on the one Saturday we could do anything differently," Frost said flatly. 

That's an excellent choice of words. He essentially said it was a lousy call — my heavens, it was lousy — without saying it explicitly. 

He isn't getting fined for that statement.

Well done, coach. 

Liewer, in the process of running a basic route from the slot, made incidental and inconsequential contact with a Buffalo defender. The bump occurred far away from the play. It had no impact whatsoever. 

I'm typically not one to criticize officiating. But bad calls that negate touchdowns are another story. 

The officiating Saturday was generally disappointing, especially in the final moments.

But, yes, it's time to move on. It's Oklahoma week, and all that goes with it. 

Buffalo vs. Nebraska, 9.11

Nebraska coach Scott Frost questions an illegal forward pass penalty that was called against the Huskers late in the game against Buffalo on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

2. 'Wow' factor: Oklahoma is ranked third nationally for a reason. 

There's a reason the Sooners are gunning for their seventh straight Big 12 crown.  

There's a reason Lincoln Riley, at age 38, is regarded as one of the nation's brightest offensive minds. 

Actually, there are several reasons for Oklahoma's success in recent years. Frost, though, identified one major reason when he was asked for his early impressions of the Sooners (2-0). 

"It's a talented team," he said. "Wow. You turn (the film) on and the speed just pops out right away at every position — the size and speed of the guys. So, we're really encouraging our guys to execute the same way we have been, but try to do it absolutely as fast as possible. Because I know the speed of Oklahoma is going to be a little different than what we've seen the last couple of weeks."  

Oklahoma's speed causes foes discomfort. It produces stress. How well Nebraska, which isn't a particularly fast team, handles it will go a long way toward determining the nature of the outcome.

3. Perfection unnecessary: Yes, of course, Oklahoma is a formidable outfit. So, I understand there's a temptation to say Nebraska (2-1) will need to play a perfect game in order to prevail. 

But I'm going to resist that temptation. 

After all, Tulane had six penalties and lost three fumbles and still pushed Oklahoma to the absolute limit before falling 40-35 on Sept. 4 in Norman. 

The Green Wave outscored the Sooners 21-3 in the second half. 

Nebraska obviously should respect Oklahoma. But it shouldn't fear OU. 

"I wouldn't say we have to play a perfect game," Toure said. "But we definitely have to be dialed-in on everything, and we can't beat ourselves. That's one thing we can't do. I won't say we have to play an absolutely perfect game, but we can't shoot ourselves in the foot. We've got to play disciplined, that's for sure." 

Frost's program hasn't exactly been a bastion of in-game discipline. But the Huskers are making strides in that regard. 

Bottom line, there's no way Nebraska can pull off the upset this week if it doesn't believe it can do it.

As for playing perfectly — it's pretty unrealistic in the sport of football. 

"What type of team would we be if we didn't believe in ourselves, you know?" Toure said. "We're always going to have belief in ourselves. I have belief in my teammates and coaches and our game plan. You also have to believe in all the work we've put in throughout the offseason, and how well we bounced back from game one and had two really strong games. 

"I see no reason why we can't go over there and shock the world." 

4. Standup guys: Nebraska's struggles to get its downhill running game untracked have become a defining narrative during this young season. 

For his part, Frost pointed to a variety of factors that are holding back that part of the offense. 

But, c'mon, the issues up front are glaring. Some questions Monday were even geared toward trying to determine if lineup changes may be coming.

The linemen surely hear the discussion. But you know what, I saw three of them at the luncheon. They addressed the hard questions in a stand-up way, as opposed to failing to show up at all. There's a lot to be said for that. 

Starting right guard Matt Sichterman, a junior from Cincinnati, closed his session with reporters by saying, "Thanks, everybody. Appreciate it." 

We appreciate it, too, big man. 

Enjoy the week.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.



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