LINCOLN, Neb. — Embattled Nebraska coach Scott Frost said there is no tension between him and new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple following the Cornhuskers’ season-opening loss to Northwestern in Ireland.
Frost, 15-30 over five seasons, said in his remarks minutes after the 31-28 loss that the Huskers need to be more creative on offense and the coaching staff must work together better.
His comments were interpreted in some quarters as criticism of Whipple, who took over the play-calling duties from Frost when he was hired away from Pittsburgh.
Asked at his weekly news conference if he and Whipple were at odds, Frost said, “No, not at all. He’s really smart. Really good at what he does. We have a lot of other coaches who are really smart and good at what they do. We need to find our rhythm of putting all the best stuff together. I thought it was good on Saturday. It can be better.”
Whipple is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday. The Huskers play North Dakota this weekend.
Frost had called plays for nearly a decade, since his time as an assistant at Oregon, and he understands the singular focus the task requires.
“Simply said, if I was calling a game, I wouldn’t want somebody else shoving a lot of stuff down my throat,” he said. “You get in a rhythm as a play-caller. That’s the approach I took. Whip’s an elite play-caller. I think that showed up in the first two-and-a-half quarters. You see what can be done with this offense.”
In the first half, the Huskers’ offense was as sharp as it’s been at any point in the Frost era. But it bogged down in the middle of the third quarter and never recovered, and the running game did next to nothing besides Anthony Grant‘s 46-yard touchdown run.
Frost has taken full blame for his ill-advised call for an onside kick when the Huskers led Northwestern 28-17 in the third quarter. The Wildcats recovered at the Nebraska 44, seized the momentum and scored two touchdowns while the Huskers’ offense went dormant.
Frost raised eyebrows with two postgame comments. First, he said, “I think we’re going to have to learn as an offensive staff that you’ve got to be a little creative in this league.”
Later, he acknowledged it’s been difficult for him to give up play-calling.
“I’ve said this, there’s no one way to do things, but I think we can cooperate a little bit more,” he said.
The Huskers rushed for only 110 yards, mostly on plays run between the tackles.
“In the Big Ten it’s hard to just turn around and hand it to a back and think you’re going to be real consistent,” he said Tuesday. “I think I was referring (in the Saturday postgame) to having a few more things in the run game that are schemed for the particular opponent.”
There was one designed run for quarterback Casey Thompson, his 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and backup Logan Smothers entered for one play and carried for 7 yards.
Asked if he would have liked to run the quarterback more, Frost said, “We did run some of it. If I was calling it, maybe we’d call a little more, but I also wouldn’t have been able to call the things (Whipple) did to score us the first 28 points. It’s going to have to be a marriage of different things and I think we’ll continue to get better at that.”
The Huskers finished with 465 yards, but they netted just 84 on their last six possessions.
“It was 75 plays on offense, and not a lot of complaints about the play calls from my end,” said Thompson, who passed for 355 yards. “I think every run and pass play we could have executed. We have to make a few changes and adjustments.”