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The beginning of the 2019 season was perhaps the high point of Scott Frost optimism in Husker Nation. After a bewildering six-game losing streak right out of the chute, Frost and his team seemed to find their way down the stretch of the 2018 season, winning four of their final six games, and impressed Urban Meyer in a hard-fought 36-31 loss to Ohio State in Columbus.
Even though Frost and the Huskers frittered away an almost-certain victory in Boulder, Colorado, in Week 2 of the 2019 season that would have given them a tremendous amount of momentum, the arrival of ESPN’s College GameDay three weeks later gave NU a chance to redeem itself. The 100 Husker fans I talked with the morning of the Ohio State game in Lincoln felt good about Nebraska’s chances to flourish under Frost’s leadership. In fact, 54 percent predicted that GameDay would return to Lincoln within two years.
That didn’t happen, of course, but a few of the less-optimistic respondents pointed out that the 2022 Oklahoma game in Lincoln would be a logical return date. They almost got it right; ESPN’s rival, Fox, is back in town for its pregame show, the Big Noon Kickoff.
Ironically, in the immediate aftermath of Frost’s Sept. 11 firing, with rumors flying everywhere about Meyer being a prime candidate for the Husker head coach job, he’s back in Lincoln with the Big Noon Kickoff crew. He won’t be seen in Lincoln much after that, though, because former Husker All-American offensive lineman Brenden Stai, now serving as assistant athletic director-Leadership Giving & Football Relations, has pushed back on those rumors, telling Jack Mitchell Sept. 16 on KLIN Radio’s Friday Husker Tailgate, “Urban Meyer isn’t going to be the next head coach.”
Like everyone else, Meyer will be watching Mickey Joseph in his debut as interim head coach. Even though Oklahoma has a new head coach of its own in Brent Venables, Joseph will be the focus of today’s game. Will he spark something positive in key moments of the game, something that was missing under Frost?
Joseph has shown himself to be a no-nonsense type in this week of OU game preparation, mandating full-speed tackling drills and eliminating the loud music that dominated most practices under Frost and his predecessor, Mike Riley. Stai called it a return to accountability. That sounds encouraging.
What will we see from Joseph? Will he use more of the old-school speed option game that Frost teasingly showed on just one series of that 2019 Ohio State game? How will Joseph work with Frost’s longtime defensive coordinator, Erik Chinander? The large and boisterous crowd that showed up this morning to greet Meyer and his Fox cohorts hope that stability from Joseph will spark grace under pressure from his team as the former Husker quarterback from Marrero, Louisiana, performs his nine-game audition to keep the most visible job in the Cornhusker State.
Husker analysis without pretense. You can reach Tad at email@example.com.