Bye weeks are a time to heal up, a time to work on fixing mistakes and a time for reflection.
To that point, it seems Nebraska's football players did plenty of the latter over the last seven days.
"We're sick and tired of being the reason that we're losing. We've hurt ourselves so many times (and) we're getting sick of it," junior captain Matt Farniok said Monday. "There's nothing the coaches can really do — it comes down to us."
Certainly, there's blame to go around. Nebraska has held double-digit leads in three losses this season, including both of its last two games. NU led Indiana 14-3 before losing 38-31. The Huskers led Purdue 10-0, and could have all but put the game away by halftime if not for a cavalcade of self-inflicted errors.
"Well, we are all tired of it. Not to take anything away from anyone else, there are several games this year that if we just didn’t make some mistakes, the outcome could have been different. I think everybody sees that," NU coach Scott Frost said when told of Farniok's comment. "I wish the team just had a little bit more conviction to get it done at times, and I wish we would get to a point where some of those mistakes aren’t happening. We are addressing them, we are teaching them, the guys are tired of little mistakes here and there, and part of that is having a young team in a lot of places and that has cost us some.
"But, part of it is just a mindset to do jobs perfectly, and we have to continue to be better as coaches to make sure that happens, and the players have to help us with it."
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Now, here comes Wisconsin. A team known for execution, known for doing what it does and waiting for the other team to make a mistake. The Badgers, after losing two straight games, spent three hours bashing into Iowa on Saturday before coming away with a hard-fought, 24-22 win.
Does Nebraska have that kind of mentality this week?
"We’ve got to make sure that we have a type of grit to make sure that we get our job done and dominate our job, and that’s what it’s got to come down to," Farniok said. "I’d say it’s come more from players. We’re demanding more out of each other, saying, like, 'Your job is this,' we’ve got to find a way to get it done. Doesn’t matter what’s going on. Find a way to get it done."
Words are one thing, actions are another. Nebraska will have to play better than it has in weeks to have a shot against the Badgers. No one is arguing that. But perhaps a renewed effort on the field begins with a renewed mindset off it.
"A lot of us got our legs back so that’s No. 1. No. 2, just mentally. It’s not fun to be in that locker room when we’re losing the way we are losing, so I feel like a lot of the players just found a renewed mindset," junior JoJo Domann said. "We are digging deep. This isn’t what we wanted, this isn’t what we hoped for, but it’s our reality, so just trying to do our best day in and day out and preparing for this week."