Husker notes: Technique hounds NU offensive line in loss; Battling the elements

Broc Bando and Matt Farniok both said mistakes in technique and fundamentals cost Nebraska in the trenches, leading to 151 rushing yards and 3.5 yards per rush.

MINNEAPOLIS — Offensive line coach Greg Austin gathered his players on the field as Nebraska’s fate was going final. He presented them with two choices.

“He told us it was a moment that we need to realize that it’s a time to either quit or to get better,” said Broc Bando, who entered in the second half for Nebraska at left guard. “And I’m going to get better.”

Bando and right tackle Matt Farniok both said mistakes in technique and fundamentals cost Nebraska in the trenches, leading to 151 rushing yards and 3.5 yards per rush. The linemen need to stay on their blocks, Farniok said, and not just knock defenders back.

“(The running backs) are a special bunch and we need to start making them look that way,” Farniok said.

Added Bando: “It’s never as bad and never as good as you think. But right now it feels pretty bad.”

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Battling the elements

Cold and wet conditions didn’t make a long night for Nebraska feel any shorter.

A steady wintry mix descended upon TCF Bank Stadium all evening, with a heavier first-half flurry giving way to a chilly mist as Minnesota expanded the lead. The kickoff temperature was 37 degrees — it felt like 28 with the wind — in what was the second coldest October game in the 10-year history of the facility.

“It’s a little chilly, but you saw us with no sleeves on,” said NU receiver Kade Warner, who made his first three catches of the year for 38 yards after sitting with an injury. “... I think our offense wasn’t clicking because of the details and a few other things. But the weather wasn’t a big factor.”

The wind was unrelenting, though, blowing steadily at upwards of 17 mph and gusting to 28 at kickoff and continuing to howl throughout. The blasts came from the north, pushing against the Huskers in the first and third quarters (Minnesota scored 27 points in those frames).

Those winds affected both teams’ strategy and production. Nebraska was 9 for 16 passing for 109 yards in two quarters against the wind while the Gophers were 2 for 3 for 4 yards.

Some welcome time off

For the first time in a long time, Nebraska is heading toward an in-season break.

The Huskers enter a bye week after playing their 24th straight game without bye on Saturday night. They lost their scheduled open date last year when thunderstorms wiped out the 2018 opener against Akron and forced NU to make up the game against Bethune-Cookman later in the year. Big Red last enjoyed a bye in late October 2017.

NU tight end Austin Allen echoed what coach Scott Frost said after the game: The time off will be valuable in recovering both mentally and physically before the stretch run.

“We’ve been together since Aug. 2,” Allen said. “We’ve had fall camp and seven straight weeks. I think we just need to get away from each other for a bit. We get so locked up in this. If you get to relax sometimes (that helps). I think that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to relax.”

Nebraska’s coaching staff has never had a traditional in-season off week in nearly four years together. Hurricane Matthew forced unwelcome off time in 2016 with Frost and Co. at Central Florida and Hurricane Irma interfered with their 2017 campaign.

The Huskers get another bye after facing Indiana (Oct. 26) and Purdue (Nov. 2).

Quick warm-up didn’t work

Frost wasn’t kidding.

The Nebraska football coach said after NU’s third-quarter struggles in a win over Northwestern that he was considering running actual plays before the start of the third quarter to get his team’s juices going.

Frost did it. On Nebraska’s side of the field before the second half, the Husker players lined up and ran plays against each other, similar to its warm-up plays before the game.

It didn’t work. Minnesota started the second half on offense, returning the opening kickoff to its own 37, hitting a 45-yard pass on its first offensive play, and scoring a touchdown in five plays. NU eventually lost the third quarter 20-0.

“We tried a fake punt,” Frost said of a direct snap to Austin Allen that fell a half-yard short of the first down. “They were looking for it, so that probably wasn’t the right situation. We can’t put ourselves in that situation. We didn’t have very disciplined eyes on a couple plays on defense. We gave them some easy throws. We’re lucky they dropped one.”

Minnesota tight end Jake Paulson dropped a certain playaction pass for a touchdown. No Husker was within 20 yards of him.