Sjuts’ Slant: Nebraska vs. Illinois
Nebraska opened the 2021 season with a 30-22 loss to Illinois on Saturday. Here are some wide-ranging thoughts from 1011 NOW Sports Director Kevin Sjuts on the game.
-Nebraska had three primary areas of focus during fall camp - penalties, turnovers, and special teams. The Huskers missed 2 PATs, fielded a punt inside their 1 yard line, had a fumble that Illinois returned for a touchdown, and were flagged five times.
-It was great to see fans back at a Big Ten regular season game. Fans on both sides seemed to relish the opportunity. Early-arriving crowd. Cheers throughout. Playful banter. In-game traditions are back. Attendance was 41,064. Crazy to think how bizarre last season was.
-Long game. Lasted 3 hours and 34 minutes.
-For those that had Gabe Ervin in Nebraska’s starting running back pool, collect your earnings.
-Nebraska lost to a team picked to finish last in the Big Ten West with their back-up quarterback.
-Scott Frost says his team is better. Its been a constant message throughout the off-season. On Saturday, the Huskers looked worse.
-Nebraska’s defense looked solid. They often got pressure on the quarterback. Pheldarius Payne may be in for a big season.
-Saturday marks Nebraska’s first loss in the month of August. The Huskers were previously 14-0 in August.
-Bret Bielema might have something cooking in Champaign. The Fighting Illini have a manageable schedule, and Bielema seems to have a Wisconsin-esque recipe. Nothing flashy from Bielema’s team. Run off tackle, occasionally run on the perimeter, hit some intermediate passes.
-Good to see Adrian Martinez bust a long, 75-yard touchdown run in the second half. In that moment, there were flashes of 2018 Adrian.
-Take away Martinez’s rushing production, and the Huskers ran the ball 22 times for 49 yards.
-Temperatures were in the upper 90′s throughout the game. Hot and humid. Strangely, the on-field thermometer was not pointing toward the sun. Impressively, Scott Frost wore sleeves and pants.
-Down by 8, Nebraska got the ball with 1:00 left. The Huskers’ ran 7 plays. All passes. 6 were incomplete passes.
-Fans’ thoughts on the 2021 Huskers likely won’t change until October. Win big against Fordham? Won’t matter. Win big against Buffalo? Won’t matter. Upsetting Oklahoma on September 18th might be the only way to change the way Husker Nation views this team in the first half of the schedule.
-Good thing its also volleyball season.
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