The Scott Frost era has gotten off to a bit of a rough start in Lincoln, NE. A lot of that has too do with issues and problems that Frost inherited and not his ability as a coach.
I think Frost is a going to turn that program around by his third year. Adrian Martinez is a special QB. After not playing a snap in his senior year of high school, he has looked extremely comfortable and calm playing high level D1 football.
However, watching Nebraska’s game versus Northwestern live, after having watched every game he coached last season, he has no one to blame for the loss, but himself. Don’t get me wrong, there is no excuse for the defensive performance on those final two drives, but Frost called the final 3 offensive drives like he was coaching an 0-5 team.
At UCF, Frost, obviously had a team he was confident in. The passive style he coached at the end of the Northwestern game, versus the couple of close games he was in last season (Navy, Auburn, USF) in which UCF had the lead late, couldn’t be more polar opposites.
Last season, UCF ran 67 plays in the 4th quarter with an 11 point or less lead, essentially the same situation as Nebraska was in against NW.
Frost split up these calls, 28 pass and 37 run. With the lead, kind of what you can expect.
Nebraska ran 14 plays with the lead in the 4th quarter not including the TD drive that started in the 3rd quarter and leaked over.
Frost went 72% run on these plays compared to the 57% he had at UCF.
If you look at the 4 passes, Nebraska hit at a 75% success rate while out of the 10 runs, only 2 were successful.
The first play in particular I want to look at is the 4th and 1 at their own 43. With around 11 minutes to go, up by 7, Nebraska had a chance to have a drive that essentially put Northwestern out of it. It wasn’t even a yard to go, it was like 2 inches.
Frost decided to punt.
Last season, he was in almost the same exact spot.
A 4th and 1 up 7, with 8 minutes to go, at his own 35 yard line in the conference championship game. Frost went for it, and Frost got it.
Could’ve been a major turning point for Nebraska in the game and season.
However, Nebraska’s D held and they were able to get great field position that led to a FG to go up 10.
Following a long FG drive by Northwestern, they attempted an onside kick which Nebraska recovered, up 7 and left.
The drive started on Northwestern’s 46 yard line and NW had all 3 timeouts left.
Frost had 2 Drives start with 4 minutes or less, up by one score last season. Against Auburn and USF, two opponents you can argue are better than the Northwestern one he was against on Saturday.
Those two drives resulted in a missed FG and a TD so essentially two potential dagger drives. A killer mentality from Frost. Not wanting to let his defense have even a chance to let up a score to tie it.
Against Auburn, after an unsuccessful run on first down, he dialed up a 30 yard pass to put UCF in prime FG range which should have ended the game, but it was blocked. Point still remains.
Against USF, Frost ran the ball a couple of times successfully until a first down run went for no gain on his own 47. On 2 and 10 he called a pass that led to a first down. He then called two more passes that led to a TD.
So at UCF, he tried to get into scoring position no matter the clock. He conservatively ran until he was put in second and long and then he got aggressive.
Against Northwestern, he went run, run, run, punt. The first two runs went for 0 yards and the third went for 3. He was a first down away from winning the game with a QB who played great.
Instead of being aggressive, he was passive and it cost them the game. If Northwestern doesn’t touch the football again, they can’t win.
Now, you might be saying well, the run was working all game so why abandon it here. On 43 designed runs, 22 of them were successful and Nebraska averaged 5.63 ypc, so the run did work.
But, the passing attack was even better. On 34 designed dropbacks, Nebraska hit at a 56% clip and average just over 7 yards per attempts.
Breaking it down further, on first down Nebraska ran it 23 of 35 times, only 9 were successful. On the 12 pass plays, 7 of them were successful.
Nebraska faced 7 2nd and 10’s. They ran it 4 times, successful twice, while they were successful on two of three passes in the same situations.
In the end, Frost went away from what was working on the final drive in order to make Northwestern lose their timeouts.
Granted, it took an incredible 99 yard drive to tie it, but 2 minutes in college football is an absurd amount of time, timeouts left or not.
At UCF, Frost showed a killer mentality and not wanting to leave any doubt up to the defense. If he were to do the same on Saturday, Nebraska would be sitting at 1-5 and not 0-6 and a huge monkey would have been lifted off Scott Frost and this program.
To me, this is just Frost coaching like he has an 0-5 team and not the confidence he had coaching an undefeated team.