Scott Frost: Nebraska to ‘let it rip’ against Northwestern in Ireland

Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska will play a Week Zero game for the second straight season, and coach Scott Frost can’t afford a repeat of what happened a year ago.

The Cornhuskers’ loss at Illinois set the tone for a 3-9 season that ended with Frost clinging to his job after taking a $1 million pay cut and firing four offensive assistants.

Frost’s fifth season begins against Northwestern in Ireland, and another Week Zero flop would be an ominous sign. Frost said his team must play looser than it did in the 30-22 loss to Illinois.

“We’re going to go out there and let it rip,” he said. “I’m going to have more conversations with them about it. They have earned the right to be confident, and I’m sure Northwestern is, too. I think they’re going to be a really good team this year, and I don’t want the guys to worry about anything.”

Nebraska beat Northwestern 56-7 in Lincoln last year and is nearly a two-touchdown favorite for the game at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Northwestern, also looking to bounce back from a 3-9 season, is the home team. With temperatures forecast in the 60s, it should be ideal football weather.

“I’m looking forward to the experience,” Wildcats defensive back Cameron Mitchell said. “I’ve heard a lot of things about the food and the weather. It’s going to be interesting. But it’s a business trip. We’re going to get some revenge on Nebraska.”

The Huskers are scheduled to fly to Dublin and practice at the stadium. Shaking jetlag and getting acclimated to the six-hour time difference is the priority.

The staff has spoken with people from NFL teams that have played in London and consulted with researchers in the Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab to prepare for the trip.

“If you’ve traveled to Europe, I don’t think there is a perfect way to do it,” Frost said. “You’re not going to feel perfect when you get over there.”

Frost said it’s a delicate balance getting ready to play a game while allowing the players to enjoy the experience of visiting the Emerald Isle.

“I think it would be a mistake to go over there and have the guys’ mind on football 24/7,” Frost said. “That is when you do get tight. We’re going to try and enjoy the people and the country and when it’s time to focus I want the guys to be sharp and focused.”

All nine of Nebraska’s losses last year were by single digits, with turnovers at the worst possible times and shoddy special teams play the difference in most.

“Last year was really hard for a lot of people,” linebacker Nick Henrich said, “but we took that and learned a lot of lessons from that, and we are going to take those over to Ireland with us.”

Nebraska brought in 15 players from the transfer portal, and seven or eight likely will be starters. Among them are quarterback Casey Thompson (Texas) and defensive end Ochaun Matthis (TCU).

“Last year is last year,” tight end Travis Vokolek said. “Guys know what we need to get done this year. Obviously, we have thought about it a little bit, but we know how important this first game is. We know how important it is to start on the right track. This first game is huge.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.