Troy Walters

Nebraska needs to find itself after a blowout loss to Ohio State, says Nebraska's offensive coordinator Troy Walters. "This is a ‘get back’ week,” he said. “A ‘get back on track’ week.”

LINCOLN — Offensive coordinator Troy Walters was already fired up Wednesday when he dropped in a bit of prophecy about the rest of NU’s season.

He’d just been asked about the Huskers’ struggles to block Ohio State defensive end Chase Young in OSU’s 48-7 win Saturday night. It’s not like Nebraska will face Young and the Buckeyes again, but ...

“We hope to play them again,” Walters responded. “We hope to take care of business, get better and win our side and play them in Indianapolis if they make it.”

Taking care of business, at least on NU’s offense, requires cleaning up a lot after five games. Nearly three turnovers per game. Nearly three penalties per game. The Huskers’ points per play, a decent measurement of scoring efficiency, ranks 10th in the Big Ten. Illinois is better. So is Michigan State. So is Iowa. The offense remains explosive to the good — 11 plays of 40 yards or more leads the Big Ten — and also to the bad, when turnovers created short fields for the Illini and Buckeyes.

It was messy enough Saturday night to draw criticism for quarterback Adrian Martinez, which Walters and coach Scott Frost viewed as unfair. Frost suggested Monday that Martinez needed more help from his teammates. Walters was more blunt Wednesday.

“The interceptions, a lot of times the quarterback’s going to get blamed for it,” Walters said. “No. No, it’s all of us. It’s the receivers not running the right routes or not getting the right depth or not being detailed, it’s the running backs, it’s the offensive line giving the quarterback a little extra time — more protection.

“Is the quarterback making the right read? It’s all of us. Coaches calling a better play. It’s all of us.”

And so Nebraska’s offense had a come-to-Jesus meeting this week. A “do your job” meeting. Especially NU’s receivers, who have 47 catches this season.

Nineteen of those belong to JD Spielman. Another 18 belong to Wan’Dale Robinson, who has caught several passes while playing running back. Senior graduate transfer Kanawai Noa — pressed into duty as an outside receiver despite playing most of his career as a slot receiver — had logged nearly every snap this season, in part because other receivers haven’t played with enough confidence and technique for Walters’ liking.

“Our job as receivers is to give the quarterback an accurate picture,” Walters said. “When he gives his third step, his fifth step, whatever it is, we’re where we’re supposed to be, and he trusts we’re going to get there. Right now, I don’t know if there’s that trust.”

So this week, in addition to preparing for Northwestern’s stingy defense, Nebraska spent time building that trust. Walters said the offense would be simplified so receivers could play faster with more ease. He suggested Jaron Woodyard, sidelined with an undisclosed injury, would play Saturday.

Woodyard, a sprinter for the track team, represents a deep threat NU has been lacking as two other speedsters, true freshmen Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston, work with the scout team.

Receivers need work getting off the line, too, especially against defenses that station their corners in press coverage — close to the line of scrimmage and try to physically prevent receivers from getting into their routes.

“We try to preach not taking a whole lot of time at the line of scrimmage,” Walters said. “If we’re standing there, and we’re juking and jiving, and not getting into our routes, the defense is doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Walters also said Spielman, who had one catch Saturday, needs more targets.

“JD, to have one catch, is inexcusable,” Walters said.

On Monday, sophomore tight end Austin Allen stumped for the tight ends to get more involved in the passing game. Allen has three catches this season. Jack Stoll has 10. They’ve been on the field often in the past three games in double-tight sets.

“Seems like last year we were more run-heavy out of two-tight end sets, which makes sense, but Coach Frost is getting to a point where we can run all of our offense out of two-tight end sets,” Allen said. “We know it. He’s getting to that point where we can do anything. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Nebraska’s goal is to give Martinez — the team’s best player and sophomore captain — more help in tight spots. Martinez’s usage rate — 202 plays — ranks 16th nationally. His 76 carries, which includes sacks, ranks 26th overall and second nationally among quarterbacks. He has more carries than the leading rushers of eight Big Ten teams.

“We’re putting an awful lot on him anyway, but when he’s worried about where the snap is, worried about who’s coming unblocked, worried about whether his receiver is going to be in the right place, that’s too much to put on a quarterback,” Frost said Monday.

Quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco did not talk to reporters Wednesday. Other position coaches did.

Offensive line coach Greg Austin said his line is playing hard and making progress with a diverse offense that now includes a double-wing option scheme. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said Frost has been “really impressed” with the play of the tight ends. Running backs coach Ryan Held said ball security and finding a way to keep Maurice Washington healthy looms large in his room.

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Indeed, most of the fire came from Walters, who was bullish on NU making immediate improvement against a Northwestern defense that shut down Wisconsin and slowed Stanford earlier this season. If the Huskers make penalties in practice, they run, Walters said. When missed assignments and turnovers occur, he reminds them of the scoreboard. That’s a lesson in itself.

“This is a ‘get back’ week,” Walters said. “A ‘get back on track’ week.”

He still expects the track to lead to Indianapolis.