LINCOLN — Count penalties among Nebraska’s areas of improvement this season. Even if it might not feel that way.
When the Huskers are flagged — particularly on offense — the infractions have often been costly. But the overall totals indicate NU is avoiding the flurry of laundry that prompted coach Scott Frost at one point last year to observe that Nebraska looked like “one of the most undisciplined teams in the country.”
Nebraska has committed 45 accepted penalties for 378 yards this season. That breaks down to 54 penalty yards per game (59th nationally) and 6.4 penalties per game (70th). Last year’s respective averages were 70.8 yards (117th) and 7.7 penalties (115th).
When the current Huskers are committing penalties, they are spreading them evenly in nearly every way. Consider:
» Twenty-seven players have committed a penalty, but none has more than three (nickelback JoJo Domann leads the team with three for 38 yards). By comparison, corner Lamar Jackson (seven for 81) and offensive lineman Jerald Foster (seven for 70) were the lead offenders last year.
» The second quarter is Nebraska’s most penalized at 12 times for 85 yards. The other three periods have each seen 11 flags with respective totals of 92, 106 and 95 yards.
» The offense (20 flags for 125 yards) and defense (10 for 131) both are on pace for much cleaner seasons than last year. The 2018 offense finished with 42 for 308 while the defense had 30 for 370.
» Special teams, however, are 14 for 107 and trending to outdo the 2018 totals of 20 flags and 172 yards.
» Nebraska has been called for 12 false starts and eight personal fouls. It has been whistled five times for offensive holding and four times for an illegal block. Nine other penalties have gone against it, with none on more than three occasions. Last year, Nebraska had 23 personal fouls, 15 false starts and 15 offensive holds in 12 games.
Nebraska’s final five opponents are all over the map when it comes to penalties: Indiana (58 yards per game, 72nd nationally), Purdue (40.7, 11th), Wisconsin (39.8, ninth), Maryland (61, 87th) and Iowa (28.2, third).
Frost said Saturday the team needs to use the bye week to shore up fundamentals for the stretch run.
“We need to get a lot better at some basic things,” Frost said. “I want the guys to get away for a couple days and get ready to come back and go to work. We need to be a more physical team, we need to be a smarter team.”