Photo by Allyssa Hynes/Nebraska Communications

Huskers More Eager Than Ever After 'Buzzkill'

By Brian Rosenthal

Scott Frost, like most native Nebraskans, understands certain weather patterns in this state.

The wind calms at sunset. A sudden rush of cold air probably means hail has fallen nearby. Spring snows are wetter than January snows.

And when a thunderstorm rolls through, so, too, does a cold front.

Sure, sometimes another small pocket may follow, but, for the most part, the worst is behind.

Or, as Frost said, “You’re still going to have the fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

So naturally, Frost held out hope that Saturday night’s lightning and rain that sent players from Akron and Nebraska to their locker rooms only minutes after the opening kickoff wouldn’t be long-lasting.

For about 90 minutes, the Nebraska football coach, primed to make his long-awaited debut, remained antsy, eager to play after a delay that kept lengthening. Not for another hour after that did Frost, following dozens of peeks at the radar and plenty of consultation, finally accept the fact a football game might not happen Saturday night because of a stubborn, late-summer storm system.

“This one just seemed to be tracking right across Lancaster County,” Frost said, “and wouldn’t give up.”

Nobody in the bowels of Memorial Stadium, which had just displayed an electric “Tunnel Walk” grand entrance for a jazzed-up, sold out crowd, wanted to give up, either.

Frost counted six times he gathered his team during the three hours of uncertainty, each time with a different message.

1. Relax, but stay ready.

2. OK, take off your pads and shoes; this could be a while.

3. “I don’t know where this is going.”

4. We might not play tonight.

5. We might play Sunday.

5. Go home and to bed and be ready to play Sunday.

Then, en route to their homes, Nebraska players received a text message – the same message, at the same time, that everybody else did.

Nebraska and Akron would not play a game this weekend. Nebraska would open the Scott Frost era the following game, against Colorado, instead.

“Buzzkill, to say the least,” Nebraska captain and senior linebacker Luke Gifford said. “Everybody’s pumped, excited. To have that happen is pretty frustrating.”

Frost agreed, calling the events disappointing, what with all the buildup, all the work.

“We got all dressed up for nothing,” Frost said Monday at his weekly news conference.

More than anything, though, Frost was proud with how his team responded.

“They handled it like pros. They wanted to play,” he said. “A couple of guys were yelling out, ‘Let’s just play in Hawks,’ which would have been epic, but probably not safe.”

The Hawks Championship Indoor Center did, however, host what Frost said was the best Monday practice he’s ever seen. Granted, this was a 100 percent fresh team, so the energy was to be expected. But forget about any lack of concentration or focus or signs of frustration.

“We’re on the right track,” Frost said.

Specifically, Frost said he’s impressed with Adrian Martinez, waiting to become the first true freshman quarterback in Nebraska history to start a season opener.

“You can tell when a kid’s ready, and I think he was ready,” Frost said of Saturday night. “I think evidence of that was today. He had his best practice I’ve ever seen him have today. He was one of the first ones to speak up and say, ‘We want to play; however it works, we want to play.’ I think we’ve got a team full of guys like that.”

Nebraska will now begin the season on Sept. 8, the latest start to a season since 1989, when the Huskers opened on Sept. 9 with a home victory over Northern Illinois.

Colorado, meanwhile, played on Friday night, defeating Colorado State 45-13 in a neutral site game. While it’s true the Buffaloes have no game film to scout of Nebraska, Frost said he’d still rather have the advantage of having played a game.

“Most coaches will say you improve your most between game one and game two,” Frost said. “We don’t get the benefit of that.”

While there was initial discussion of playing a game on Sunday, Frost said Akron ultimately decided against it. The biggest reason, among many, being a lack of accommodations Saturday night.

Had he been in Akron coach Terry Bowden’s situation, Frost, too, would have declined to play, he said.

Nebraska players, of course, wanted to play, no matter the day or time.

They still do, and so does Frost.

While adding a game to the schedule doesn’t paint a picture-perfect scenario -- particularly if it means playing 12 straight weeks -- it’s better than losing a game to schedule, too.

“These guys work so hard, they deserve to play a full slate of games,” Frost said. “If they give us an option to fill that game in, somewhere, we’re going to take it.”

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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