LINCOLN — The wait seemed to go on forever.
Scott Frost on Thursday recalled a stretch during an Oregon-Stanford game when the Ducks’ offense didn’t get the ball for 30 minutes of real time. As the offensive coordinator at the time, Frost couldn’t do anything but watch as his team’s defense couldn’t get off the field.
“Shoot,” Frost said, “I could have left the press box and gone out to dinner and come back and still been there in time to call the next series.”
The Nebraska coach said the story is a cautionary tale for facing Wisconsin on Saturday. The offense has to take advantage of the snaps it gets. The defense needs to make tackles and create turnovers.
The Badgers have been good at controlling games in recent years. They rank seventh in average time of possession (35 minutes, 2 seconds) this season and are allowing their opponents to run 55.75 plays per game. Nebraska, conversely, is 104th in time of possession (27:43) and averaging 73.25 plays on offense.
“We gotta be efficient with the snaps we get,” Frost said. “You get in a game like that and your defense gets some stops and gets us the ball back, that’s when you got a chance. If we allow them just to march it down the field — 4 (yards), 8, 2, 3, 9 — and we don’t see the ball, that’s the kind of game they want to be in. Our defense has to step up and do well and our offense has to be efficient when we have it.”
» Frost said the receiver room continues to be “really thin,” especially in the wake of Tyjon Lindsey’s departure. Jaron Woodyard has “definitely taken a step forward,” and true freshman Andre Hunt will be an asset when he returns from a knee injury.
Another possibility at some point will be true freshman Miles Jones, a receiver/running back hybrid who Frost said is “getting close.”
“For a freshman to play, more than talent it’s how ready they are, how mature they are, how ready they are to attack everything and treat things like a pro,” Frost said. “Miles does some really good things. It’s gotta be consistent. We just can’t put somebody out there until they’re completely ready.”
» JD Spielman has “probably always been the best option” to return kicks, Frost said, but there are other considerations when deploying returners on special teams. One is the lack of depth at the receiver position. Another is trying to keep players healthy in the midst of playing 12 straight weeks of football.
» Running back Devine Ozigbo had the best week of practice before the Purdue game, and his effort was rewarded that weekend. Frost said he saw “better” play from fellow backs Maurice Washington and Greg Bell this week.
“A couple of those guys had no choice but to step up because Devine practiced really well and it showed up in the game,” he said.
» Frost repeated a line from Big Ten media days that Wisconsin looks how Nebraska used to look, and the way the Huskers want to look in some regards. But the team doesn’t want to get caught up in the specifics of other programs.
“It’s gotta be a nameless, faceless opponent every week,” Frost said. “We’re playing against our former selves. We just gotta be better than we have been.”