Where do we go from here?

Sometimes it only takes a split second to send a message.
That appeared to be the case, and I’m guessing not many people inside the stadium on Friday afternoon saw it, but when Husker senior safety Joshua Kalu crossed the 50 yard line to chase down a football during warmups, he received an abrupt couple forearms to the chest from an Iowa player, the two then having to be separated by a few players and a couple coaches.
A couple hours later after repeated body and head blows, the Hawks scored a TKO in the third round (quarter), sending the Nebraska program to the canvas once again in a story all too familiar to Husker Nation.
Unlike Arkansas’ Brett Bielema, who was fired that same day before he could make it to the locker room, Mike Riley’s press conference sounded more like a political rally, making his own case for why he should remain in charge.
From 10 feet away, the man with a 19-19 overall record in Lincoln looked worn out and tired. He looked like he was searching, like he was waiting for someone to give him a sign that everything was going to be okay.
But this story was written much earlier this season against Northern Illinois, Ohio State and then Northwestern and Minnesota.
I’m still amazed but not totally shocked how fragile this Husker team is, how it can let things slip away on one play. From my vantage point, sitting in the south end zone, that certainly appeared to be the case when Husker Tony Butler inexplicably came in and roughed Iowa punter Colten Rastetter near the end of the second quarter when Nebraska led 14-7.
Iowa was able to take advantage on a 4-yard pass from Nate Stanley to former Omaha South tight end Noah Fant, then the Hawks reeled off an amazing 42 points after halftime, some fans exiting the stadium at the end of three quarters in what has become all too common at home games.
After a few early successes, the Blackshirts eventually looked helpless in defending Iowa’s horizontal game plan, getting the ball side to side either on swing passes or on stretch runs that we’ve seen year after year. Husker defenders were unable and out of position to make simple stops.
The 56-14 setback was the third straight game opponents have scored in the 50s, and it marked the fourth straight home loss and fifth of the season, something I for one never could imagine happening.
Riley ended up 0-3 against the Hawkeyes, getting outscored 124-44. His brief tenure came to an end on Saturday morning when Husker Athletic Director Bill Moos announced it was over.
Before the game as temperatures hovered around 70 degrees in downtown Lincoln at the corner of 13th and P streets, there were signs of frost, as in Scott Frost, as two young teenage boys were selling red t-shirts with the caption, “FROST Make Nebraska Great Again.” And during the game there were signs referencing Nebraska’s starting quarterback who led this program to the national championship in ‘97.
After the game, Riley said he truly believed he’s the right person to get Nebraska back on top, that his team needs to do a better job of scoring points and running the football.
But talk is cheap, and with a fractured fan base, simple words aren’t going to get it done.
“They rolled us at the end, but I told the team it didn’t have to be like that,” Riley mentioned near the end of his press conference.
Indeed it didn’t.
Final stats show the Hawkeyes ran for 313 yards and averaged 6.6 per attempt, while the Huskers managed only 67 on the ground, an average of just 3.2. In Lincoln. On Tom Osborne Field.
And there were other things, too. Husker receivers going downfield seven yards to make the catch when they needed nine. Nebraska’s team not taking advantage of the energy from the home crowd during much of the first half. And the Husker offense looking like they wanted no part of the game after intermission.
Talk about signs.
When I was leaving the stadium I happened to bump in to former Husky Austin Allen, who just finished his freshman redshirt season and who is technically off limits when it comes to interviews. However, he did tell me that the players were told there would be a meeting sometime this week, “With the coaches or a new coach,” to get things organized for the off-season.
Three years ago, I for one was in favor of Frost becoming Nebraska’s head coach instead of Riley. With December looming, my only Christmas wish is for cooler weather.
A little Frost this time of year will be just what the doctor ordered.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@ hamilton.net

Rate this article: 
No votes yet