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Nebraska is much better in 2020 than it has been in recent years, Scott Frost said Monday. More talent. Better running and hitting on defense. Better skill players on offense.
But Frost said NU did not show that Saturday in a 41-23 loss to Illinois. The frustration outside the program was matched inside it.
"The progress is evident when you're inside these walls," Frost said. "But it's got to show up on the field. And we're playing three games against three good opponents. We're going to take our swings."
So this week, Frost said the coaches and team are both more dialed in. The Huskers are practicing in a way Frost likes.
"We do as well as I wanted last week and the execution wasn't what I wanted," Frost said. "We didn't change practice. I just think the intensity's better. That's what we need when we're playing any game — especially Iowa."
Iowa will be a "black and blue" game, Frost said, referring to the kinds of bruises that tend to come from the contest.
Nebraska outside linebacker JoJo Domann said NU's practices have already been rigorous to start the week.
"We're ramping it up," Domann said. "It's tough to bang during the week when guys are banged up from the game on Saturday, but definitely this week, more than past weeks, we're being as physical as humanly possible. We're throwing our bodies out on the line, we're preparing ourselves, not only mentally, but physically, more than we have before, based off how practice went today."
Nebraska's pass game struggled Saturday, and Husker wide receivers said it's because they didn't practice well or run their routes full speed in workouts last week.
Iowa has won five straight games in the series and run for at least 200 yards against Nebraska in the last four. The Hawkeyes' physicality once prompted former NU defensive coordinator Mark Banker to surmise Iowa practices were "a bloodbath" because that's how the team played in a 40-10 win over the Huskers in 2016.
Domann said NU has to dial in to beat Iowa's run game.
"You've got to be sound in your run fits, you've got to play more physical than them on defense, and you've got to get them out of their game plan, what they want to do to you, which is run the ball vertically down your throat," Domann said.
More quick notes from Frost's chat:
» Nebraska will have a team meal on Thanksgiving but otherwise treat the day as a usual practice-and-travel day on the way to Iowa.
» NU's quarterbacks will compete as usual this week, Frost said, with the guy who gives the Huskers the best chance to win playing against the Hawkeyes. Frost noted Adrian Martinez was playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder after getting benched in favor of Luke McCaffrey.
“There’s no doubt in my mind Luke McCaffrey is the future around here," Frost said. "But right now we have to play the guy that gives us the best chance.”
» Collin Miller has been diagnosed with a spinal concussion, Frost said, and is doubtful to return this season after being carted off the field against Illinois.
If the Rewind told you the Huskers could hang in there against Iowa, would you believe it? Well, they can. But NU’s coaches better have the kind of week they should have had last week. Nothing’s easy in the Big Ten.